Dietrich Borchardt: Towards a Bibliography of His Writings: A Preamble to a Third Assay

By Ives, Alan | Australian Academic & Research Libraries, June 1998 | Go to article overview
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Dietrich Borchardt: Towards a Bibliography of His Writings: A Preamble to a Third Assay


Ives, Alan, Australian Academic & Research Libraries


This is the third time that I have looked at the bibliography of the writings of D H Borchardt.

The first was in the 1970s when under my Pearce press Processed Publications imprint I produced an initial bibliography of Borchardt and a supplement. These straightforward lists were the basis of the list of Borchardt's works covering 1948-1981 prepared by myself and Fiona Lodge for the festschrift edited by Harrison Bryan and John Horacek, Australian Academic Libraries in the Seventies: Essays in Honour of Dietrich Borchardt.(1) 1984 seems a very long time ago and Borchardt went on writing for many years afterwards, cajoling others to do the same across the breadth of fields of books, bibliography and librarianship, especially in Australia. This paper is a step towards a fuller bibliography of his writings.

Borchardt was an educated man whose knowledge of languages, literature, and words and their meanings meant that he had a perspective on books and bibliography, libraries and librarianship that was broader than many of his Australian counterparts. In part his views on the above reflected his European origins: his education derived from schooling in troubled Europe, his move to New Zealand and an innate intellectual substance and rigour in the manner of his work and writing.

Borchardt and two other Australian librarians have exerted an influence disproportionate to their numbers on the tide of archives, institutions and work, bibliography, books, libraries and librarianship in Australia since the late 1940s. The other two people are Harrison Bryan and Robert Sharman. All three have been communicators of the first order; all have gone out of their way to generate interest in the younger members of the professions of librarianship and archives work in the substance and detail of those fields.

Borchardt and Harrison Bryan share the background of academic librarianship. Robert Sharman has been both archivist and librarian, but with exception of his term as ANU Archives Officer, not in academia. Sharman and Borchardt overlapped in terms of the period in which both were working in Tasmania--Sharman in the State Archives and Borchardt in the University Library.

Borchardt and Bryan shared a number of lines of interest: Borchardt was interested in printing and its history; so was Harrison Bryan, but from the point of view of the inky-fingered printer. Both were academic librarians in Australia in the period 1950 to 1980, at which time Bryan diverged to become National Librarian.

Four Australian universities in those three decades owe much to the stature of their librarians. Harrison Bryan was first at the University of Queensland Library and then at the Fisher Library at the University of Sydney. In both libraries, when time permitted, he explored his interest in printing: librarian, printer, writer--a rare but logical trinity.

Dietrich Borchardt worked in Australia first as deputy and then librarian at the University of Tasmania. Not long after the end of World War II, Borchardt picked up the reins, so to speak, from the hands of the redoubtable E Morris Miller. During some part of the war Miller was Vice-Chancellor, University Librarian and Professor of Psychology and Philosophy.

From Hobart Borchardt moved to Victoria to become the foundation librarian of La Trobe University in Melbourne. The full spectrum of skills as a librarian and administrator were to be exercised in the creation of the library that now bears his name.

Again, through the above period Borchardt and Bryan exerted a strong hand, and often a concerted one, on AACOBS, the Australian Advisory Council on Bibliographical Services. Borchardt was for an extended period the chair of the Working Party on Bibliography. The AACOBS annual reports record both men's efforts, and especially the activities of that Working Party.

In terms of what each wrote, Borchardt's contributions are more visible than those of Harrison Bryan.

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