Out with the old in NSW

Rob Brian sent this in from The Sydney Morning Herald The library of the NSW Parliament is getting rid of more than half of its old and rare book collection. They need to sell some, to pay for cataloging what they keep. Sales so far have brought in $110,000, enough to employ staff to continue cataloguing the remaining finds. The ex-parliamentary librarian Mr Russell Cope, had wanted the collection kept intact.

\"The fact that parts of [library] holdings are not \'used\' is advanced, especially by uninformed parliamentarians, as an argument for getting rid of \'unused\' items. If they happen to be valuable as well, the monetary attraction becomes hard to resist.\"Mr Brian said he had repeatedly asked the Government for money to catalogue the rare collection, because he was required by the Auditor-General to value it. \"You can\'t really value what you don\'t know.\"

When no extra money was granted he decided to \"derive the money from within\".

Among the treasures are a 1848 copy of John Gould\'s Birds of Australia, valued at $500,000, and the first-edition copy of Darwin\'s book on the theory of evolution, published in October 1859.

\"It is considered the most important book of the 19th century,\" Mr Brian said.

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