In 2006 foundation JCPML Archivist Kandy Jane Henderson retired. Her enormous contribution to the JCPML and to the archives profession would later be recognised by awarding her a Curtin Fellowship and naming the foyer of the JCPML in her honour.
In replacing Henderson, a separation began between the management and archival roles within the JCPML. Although an experienced archivist was still needed on staff, it was decided that an archival background was not required of the JCPML Manager. The manager role was initially temporarily filled by a non-archivist senior librarian, then on an on-going basis by Lesley Wallace, former JCPML Collection Development Librarian.
In 2007 the University Librarian moved to more closely integrate the JCPML with the University Library. This decision was in part brought on by necessity. The special University funding which had supported the JCPML in lieu of donations and endowments to the John Curtin Centre was wound down, with the JCPML to be run subsequently from normal University annual funding to the University Library. The University Library also needed to prioritise the JCPML against new services such as research support, for which no additional University funding or staff positions were available.
Although staff remained located in the JCPML building, administratively the JCPML became a part of the University Library’s Research and Learning Services Unit. No further specifically JCPML strategic and operational plans were developed – instead the JCPML’s activity and reporting was included in University Library documents. While her management workload was thus somewhat reduced, the JCPML Manager was called on to apply some of her JCPML expertise to emerging University Library endeavours: acquisition and curation of additional special and archival collections and the expansion of the University Library’s institutional repository (e-space) to meet government demands around the accessibility of university research. The JCPML archival storage began to be used to house the physical material for the new special and archival collections, while the JCPML office and work space was used to accommodate repositories processing staff.
In late 2009, an external periodic review of the organisation and activities of the University Library’s research support included commendations for the JCPML. Meanwhile, the JCPML’s foundation programs and activities continued: building the John Curtin collection, the Electronic Research Archive and a rich website (now including podcasts); the Visiting Scholar and schools programs, and outreach activities. A popular innovation was the compilation of a “John Curtin Diary” web resource – not his actual diary but a schedule/chronicle of John Curtin’s daily work 1917-1945 based on resources in the JCPML collection.
Anniversary Lectures continued to be held annually and became a key part of the University’s calendar. By 2009, Mr Whitlam was finding the annual trip to WA more difficult and relinquished his role as Patron to former Prime Minister Paul Keating (with Whitlam staying on as Foundation Patron).
Through a special arrangement, funding was secured for a new exhibition Pursuit of Knowledge. Unlike previous exhibitions, this one focussed not only on John Curtin’s views and experiences of education but also showcased the research activities of the University.
This period also saw the development of a new relationship for the JCPML – with the National Trust, which in 2002 took responsibility for John Curtin’s home in Cottesloe.
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JCPML Patrons Gough Whitlam and Paul Keating
Lesley Wallace, Manager of the JCPML
First, the Library no longer had access to the space and funding to mount major exhibitions. When the exhibition Pursuit of Knowledge closed in August 2012, the space it had occupied in the Curtin Gallery was re-purposed by the University. Even if space for another major exhibition could have been found, the special funding arrangement which had been made with the University for earlier exhibitions was no longer available. Online exhibitions remained popular, but loans of travelling exhibitions had declined with the increased cost of transporting them.
The closure of the exhibition adversely affected the JCPML’s schools program, which had used the exhibition as a key component in its interactive program, particularly for primary school students. School policies on permissions for excursions had changed and the University now had different target schools for on-campus visits. Although some schools still took the physical Treasure Boxes the JCPML had developed, its digital Treasure Boxes reached more schools across the state and elsewhere. Library sponsorship for the National History Challenge could still be afforded, but not the staff time involved in associated activities such as essay marking.
Finally, the 2013 University Strategic Plan introduced a greater emphasis on community engagement, leading in turn to a review by Library senior management of all the Library’s activities in this area and how University priorities could best be supported.
As a result of all these developments, it was decided that small exhibitions in the JCPML foyer area and elsewhere on campus would be mounted rather than the major exhibition, the Education Officer position and school visits would be discontinued, and physical Treasure Boxes phased out. JCPML staff involvement in the National History Challenge would be reduced and other librarians would provide the programs for targeted lower socio-economic schools. With the cessation of the University’s Sir Charles Court Young Leaders Program, JCPML staff input to this program was no longer required.
The Anniversary Lecture however remained and another former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, took over as Patron from the beginning of 2015. In welcoming US President Barack Obama to the Australian Parliament in 2011, Gillard had made specific mention of the JCPML, noting that the Library held a book given to John Curtin in 1944 during Curtin’s visit to the US, which the late Prime Minister had treasured.
The Visiting Scholar program also continued but from 2014 applications were sought rather than a scholar invited. In a combination of the two programs, a play, The Fremantle Candidate, by the 2010 Visiting Scholar Ingle Knight was performed as an “anniversary event” at Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts in 2012. 2013’s Visiting Scholar was Toby Davidson, great grandson of John Curtin.
Compared with the period 2004-9, the addition of print archival and special collections slowed. The collecting of material on the office of prime ministership including the role of/impact on spouses (which had been part of early collection development plans) was discontinued, although the material donated by prime ministerial wife Hazel Hawke was retained. Greater attention was paid to distinguishing what should be considered truly archival, securely housed at the JCPML and managed by archival staff, and what should be treated differently. The material on the life and times of John Curtin was now brought together under the terminology “John Curtin Prime Ministerial Archive”. The JCPML storage stacks were also made available to hold non-archival but fragile, irreplaceable and vulnerable material from the University Library’s collection.
Unlike outreach and physical collections activity, the need for Library staff to provide research support and e-research activity (particularly metrics and research data management) continued to expand. New positions were created reporting to the Manager, JCPML, alongside the staff involved in the JCPML’s more traditional activities. Due to space limitations in the University Library’s main building, these research staff were co-located with JCPML staff in the JCPML building but largely operated separately.
In 2014, as part of a whole of University Library restructure, the JCPML team moved administratively from the Research & Learning Services Unit to the Research & Collection Services Unit. Two of the staff with most expertise and experience in archives had retired: Lesley Wallace, Manager JCPML & Library Archives (December 2011) and archives technician David Wylie (October 2012). A non-archivist, Deanne Barrett, was appointed to manage the JCPML and other aspects of research services. To maintain archives expertise, a separate Library Archivist was appointed, assisted by a JCPML Librarian.
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Following tradition, Patron Julia Gillard adds her signature to the lift
John Curtin’s great grandson and JCPML Visiting Scholar, Toby Davidson
The building today continues to house the extensive collection of physical material relating to John Curtin (formally known as the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Archive). This material has been and continues to be acquired through extensive identification of donors and partners, and judicious relationship-building with them. Material which was scattered and at risk of loss or deterioration has been brought into excellent secure storage with professional handling.
Alongside the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Archive, the storage in the JCPML building is used to house other archival collections and vulnerable material from the University Library. Some space has also been made available to store University records in need of protection. Tours of the archive are offered.
A JCPML reading room is still available for accessing the archival collections, with supervision and assistance provided by JCPML staff.
Beyond the physical collection is an enormous digital archive, accessible to researchers globally. Not only has material been brought together virtually, archival expertise has been used to add value to it. Still referred to by the name given to it in 1998, the Electronic Research Archive (ERA) continues to utilise Digitool software developed and provided by long-standing JCPML and Curtin University Library partner, ExLibris. In 2020 it is planned to move ERA from Digitool to ExLibris’ Alma software, as used by the University Library for its collections. ERA is also accessible through federated search services such as the National Library of Australia’s Trove service.
Long-standing JCPML outreach activities still continue. The Anniversary Lecture continues to be held each July and is still able to secure high-profile, interesting speakers and high attendances.
The JCPML website continues to offer resources for researchers, schools and the general public, with over 1000 pages available.
Large exhibitions are no longer offered but small, temporary exhibitions showcasing the JCPML collection continue occasionally. School support is now offered almost solely through website resources and online Treasure Boxes. The Visiting Scholar program is in abeyance but not discontinued. In lieu of a visiting scholar, in 2016/17 an internship was offered in conjunction with the University’s HIVE (Hub for Immersive Visualisation and eResearch), leading to the development of a timeline of images of John Curtin’s life compiled using resources from the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Archive.
Partnerships continue to be an essential element of the JCPML’s approach. The role of JCPML Patron continues to be filled, currently by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard. David Black, now Emeritus Professor, continues as JCPML Historical Consultant. The key partnership with the National Archives of Australia, established at the beginning of the JCPML’s existence, continues. In addition, the JCPML has been an active participant in the Network of Prime Ministerial Research and Collecting Agencies, a group of cultural institutions, university libraries and heritage-listed homes which hold prime ministerial collections and/or promote research and public engagement with Australia's prime ministers. A close relationship has also been built with the Australian Prime Ministers Centre (APMC) at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House.
Following the resignation of Deanne Barrett as Manager in 2017, the JCPML and University Library’s research services support staff were again separated, with research support staff re-located out of the JCPML building to the University Library’s main building, the TL Robertson Library.
Current JCPML staff comprise: the former Library Archivist, Sally Laming, whose position on the departure of the JCPML Manager was upgraded and re-titled Coordinator, Library Special Collections; and Debbie Williamson, Librarian, Special Collections. Both now report to the Manager, Collections who is also responsible for other collections staff across the University Library. Both Sally and Debbie are located in the JCPML building but work with their University Library colleagues. They support all the University Library’s special and archival collections, not just the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Archive. Conversely, other Collections staff assist with JCPML work as necessary. Other University Library areas also support the JCPML, in particular Library Systems and Infrastructure staff, Engagement staff (especially for the Anniversary Lecture) and Library Operations staff (including Communications Officers). The University Librarian proudly retains the joint title of Director, JCPML.
21 years after its opening (and more than 30 years after the idea of a John Curtin memorial library was floated), the JCPML continues to operate and to honour the man after whom the University is named. While the John Curtin Centre, of which the JCPML was supposed to form part, developed very differently from its early promoters' dreams, the JCPML continues to display the hallmarks envisioned for it as early as 1993: an excellent collection in climate-controlled conditions; innovative use of technology; research and outreach programs; and an integration of the professional skills of librarians, archivists and educators.
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JCPML Patron Julia Gillard with Curtin Vice Chancellor Deborah Terry
Exterior of the JCPML today
- George Nichols, “Report on the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library at Curtin University of Technology,” (unpublished internal Curtin University Library report, 2003), typescript, 17.
- JCPML Information Update, April 2007.
- JCPML Information Update, February 2008.
- JCPML Information Update, February 2008.
- Margaret Jones, “Research & Learning Services Unit Review,” (unpublished internal Curtin University Library report, 2009), typescript, 3.
- Jones, “Review,” 7.
- In 2006 the Vice Chancellor accepted the papers of former WA Premier Geoff Gallop (who held the seat of Victoria Park in which Curtin University is situated). The University Library subsequently accepted donations of other archival and special collections from or about people and events connected with Curtin University rather than with John Curtin: the papers of former WA Premier Carmen Lawrence (who went on to hold John Curtin’s federal seat of Fremantle) and non-political collections on Jon Sanders, Elizabeth Jolley and WA Folklore. Gaby Haddow and Lesley Wallace, ”Politics, Literature, Folklore and Circumnavigating the World: The What, Why and How of Digital Collections at Curtin University Library” (paper presented at the Australian Library and Information Association Biennial Conference, Alice Springs, NT, 2-5 September 2008), 3-4.
- Jones, “Review,” 8, 12.
- Jones, “Review.”
- JCPML Information Update, October 2007 and October 2008.
- Kandy-Jane Henderson, interview by Heather Campbell, 4 April 2011, transcript, John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library, Perth, WA, JCPML01295/1, 23.
- JCPML Information Update, February 2008.
- The space was utilised instead for the University’s Visualisation and e-Research Hub, the Hive.
- ”JCPML Engagement Program Review Report,” (unpublished internal report to Curtin Library Management Team Meeting, 1 October 2013), typescript, 6.
- ”JCPML Engagement Program Review Report,” 6-8.
- ”JCPML Engagement Program Review Report,” 1.
- Curtin Library Management Team, Minutes of the Meeting 1 October 2013, typescript, Curtin University Library, 6.
- ”JCPML Patrons”, accessed 1 December 2019 https://jcpml.curtin.edu.au/about/patron/
Prime Minister Gillard’s speech 7 November 2011 available at:
- ”JCPML Engagement Program Review Report,” 3-5.
- JCPML Information Update, July 2012 and December 2012.
- “Library Special Collections and the Closed Collection,” (unpublished internal report to Curtin Library Management Team Meetings 1 October 1 and 26 November 2013), typescript.
- “Library Special Collections.”
- JCPML Information Update, February 2012 and September 2012.
- Curtin Library, “Hive summer intern”, blog post, 1 March 2017, https://blogs.curtin.edu.au/library/library-services/jcpml/hive-summer-intern/
- Includes the Australian Prime Ministers Centre at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, the National Library of Australia, the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Library, the Alfred Deakin Prime Ministerial Library, the Whitlam Institute, Noel Butlin and ANU Archives, the National Film and Sound Archive, the Chifley Home, the University of Melbourne Archives (which holds the Malcolm Fraser Collection) and the John Howard Reading Room at the UNSW Canberra Library. “Network of Prime Ministerial Research and Collecting Agencies”, accessed 1 December 2019, https://primeministers.moadoph.gov.au/network
- ”Research program”, accessed 1 December 2019, https://primeministers.moadoph.gov.au/australian-prime-ministers-centre/research-program
- JCPML Program Statement (Perth, WA: Curtin University, 1994).