It was a real joy on a recent tour to visit the Fryer Library, one of the University of Queensland’s great treasures. It was named in memory of a UQ student, John Fryer (1895 – 1923) who was badly wounded in WWI. He edited the student magazine, played rugby for the university and was a popular student. Fryer sadly died from TB and money was donated in his name to establish a library. Father Hayes presented the library with his extraordinary personal collection of books and artefacts in 1967.
The Fryer Library was created to assist the study of Australian literature and it has some wonderful collections. It holds the archives of David Malouf, Thea Astley, Helen Haenke, Gwen Harwood, Peter Carey, Oodgeroo Noonuccal and many more. Its collection has rare books, photographs, statues, archival records, oral histories, holdings relating to politics and Aboriginal affairs, and many other treasures. This is a library that does much to preserve Australia’s literary heritage for scholars and researchers, and it continues to extend its collections and share them digitally. I loved seeing a first edition of Henry Lawson’s The Drover’s Wife as it was published in the Bulletin, and then the first time it appeared in the pages of a book.
Librarian Simon Farley was a fabulous guide to the collection. I hope it won’t be long before I visit this very special library again.