Local History in My Community

Throughout high school I have always been interested in my local history. Whenever I would walk past any old photographs I would stop and study the photo reflecting on the change that has occurred over the years. As a child my local library was at Warringah mall. During one visit there I notice in the foyer there was a photo of Manly Corso from 100 years prior. Alongside this was a photo of the swamp lands at Brookvale where Warringah Mall is now situated. Seeing this local history opened by eyes to the range of different histories that come from the northern beaches. I knew my family had a strong history on the beaches, but it was interesting to think that this history went well beyond my family. Because of this desire to understand more about my local history I was led towards the library. When researching different local histories, I came across the library’s local history page.
Sydney’s Northern Beaches Library is a great place to come and access local history. On the Northern Beaches there are six Libraries. Manly, Warringah Mall, Dee Why, Mona Vale, Forestville and Glenrose. For the purpose of my research project I will primarily be working with Dee Why Library and the local Historian there, however I will also be working with Mona Vale and Manly libraries’. The local history department has spent years collecting and developing local histories. The Local History Collections within the three libraries, cover many aspects of life on the Northern Beaches, including indigenous and social history, the built and natural environment and many contemporary and current issues. Each of the Local Collections are managed by the welcoming staff who collect, conserve, maintain and promote the collections as well as undertake different research projects.
Since the amalgamation of the three councils into one, the library has in somewhat merged. Prior to the merge, all their libraries had their own collections of history. Each collection would be relevant to the local area. Post amalgamation their aim is find a way to make all collections accessible to all people on the Northern Beaches.
Prior to approaching the library and going to my first meeting, I was unaware of how extensive their collections were, however after my meeting I was blown away at the range of different histories they had collected. The Libraries can collect items such as photographs from events and significant openings to personal histories that have been donated by families. During my meetings with the local historians I was able to understand their purpose and aims within the local history department. The work they are doing with the collections are remarkable and it’s great to see a place where local history is maintained and well respected.

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