John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library Program Statement
Introduction and purpose
The John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library (JCPML) recognises the contribution to Australian society of war-time prime minister and international statesman, John Curtin (1885-1945). It is Australia’s first prime ministerial library and is situated on the Perth campus of Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia. The JCPML aims to advance knowledge and enrich culture by providing a focus for research and educational programs which engage Curtin staff, students and the wider community.
The JCPML develops and manages a unique collection of scholarly resources focussing on the life and times of John Curtin. It provides modern facilities and services to support researchers, as well as an outreach program, which provides enjoyable and educational experiences and enriches the life of the University campus and the community.
The JCPML operates within the framework of the University and Library strategic plans.
Overall management responsibility for the JCPML rests with the University Librarian who is the JCPML Director. The Coordinator Library Special Collections is responsible for the day-to-day management of the JCPML and implementation of its programs.
The JCPML is sustained by its research program and online resources. The research collection is the integral core resource for the JCPML and is at the heart of its programs. Through its programs the JCPML:
- Develops and manages the archival collection, including original records and copies according to archival principles.
- Preserves the collection and makes it accessible to researchers in the JCPML, via the Library’s Special Collections catalogue, and through federated search services such as the National Library of Australia’s Trove.
- Offers specialist reference services to clients making use of the archival collection.
- Acquires and maintains a collection of items suitable for exhibition.
- Develops small temporary displays and travelling exhibitions showcasing the JCPML collection.
- Maintains a content rich website, providing access to research output and resources connected to the JCPML collection and programs (e.g. public lectures, educational resources, online versions of exhibitions, web resources).
- Promotes a high-profile speaker for the annual JCPML Anniversary Lecture and organises other public events as appropriate.
- Conducts a Visiting Scholars program.
- Provides group tours of the JCPML Archive.
- Hosts meetings and activities connected with the JCPML collection.
The JCPML Historical Consultant and Patron provide invaluable support to the JCPML and its programs.
The JCPML has developed partnerships and co-operative arrangements with a number of key institutions and individuals. These benefit collection development, as well as public programs around visiting scholars, exhibitions and events. The most significant of these relationships is with the National Archives of Australia (NAA).
The JCPML is part of the Network of Prime Ministerial Research and Collecting Agencies, which includes similar organisations like the Australian Prime Ministers Centre at the Museum of Australian Democracy; the National Library of Australia; and the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Library, among others.
The JCPML cooperates with other archival institutions in the acquisition of original records, only collecting archival material relating to its collection focus. Original records in the JCPML collection are private records, not Commonwealth or State records.
The JCPML’s research facilities and services are available to all clients who wish to make use of the research collection. JCPML staff assist researchers to make the best use of the collection. Researchers for whom the JCPML offers a comprehensive collection of resources include:
- Members of the public who have an interest in the collections (e.g., authors, journalists, political analysts, filmmakers and playwrights)
- JCPML Visiting Scholars.
The primary focus of the research collection is John Curtin and the events and people most closely connected to his life and work.
The JCPML develops and manages a unique archival collection which includes personal records of the Curtin family, published items, ephemera, objects, photographs, oral histories, film, sound recordings and copies of unpublished official records.
Building the collection more than 50 years after Prime Minister Curtin’s death posed particular challenges, with materials dispersed amongst private individuals, organisations, and state, national and overseas archival institutions.
The JCPML provides electronic access to these records, as well as to other records held in the JCPML, in a seamless manner via the Special Collections catalogue. Records are accessible online as images (photographs, documents), text (contents of documents), audio or video (oral histories, sound recordings, motion pictures) or as finding aids.
The JCPML accepts donations in accordance with the Library’s Collection Principles and Archival Collection Guidelines. Every reasonable effort is made to secure original records within the JCPML collection guidelines.
Donors can feel confident that the records will be stored in secure and environmentally stable facilities to preserve and make them accessible for future use.
The JCPML is an approved institution under the Commonwealth Government’s Cultural Gifts Program.
Deeds of Gift
All original records acquired are accompanied by appropriate deeds of gift. Conditions of such gifts are clearly stated and the rights of all parties are protected. Any conditions take account of current legislation, including that concerned with privacy and freedom of information.
Conditions of acceptance for donations are:
- The depositor must be authorised to transfer title to the records
- The records must be free of legal encumbrances or access restrictions which will diminish their research potential
- The records become the property of the JCPML, to be administered as it sees fit.
As a matter of usual practice, the JCPML does not pay for original records, but may, in special circumstances, consider purchasing items.
Collection items are made available for loan to other institutions for use in exhibits.
De-accessioning will only occur when records have been re-appraised and found to be unsuitable for the JCPML collection. Records recommended for de-accessioning will be offered to other public institutions. The decision will be fully documented and the outcome recorded with the original acquisition records.
The JCPML collection is housed in a purpose-built repository which meets the environmental, storage and security standards required for an archives repository in Australia. The JCPML has access to specialist conservators who undertake work on a contract basis.
The JCPML collection was valued for insurance purposes in 2004 and significant collections donated under the Cultural Gifts for the Arts program are separately valued. Artworks in the collection are valued along with the University’s art collection on a periodic basis.