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The National Library hosts a program of events that highlight aspects of our collections. If you missed a talk or conference, you can listen to and read highlights here.

The National Library hosts a program of events that highlight aspects of our collections. If you missed a talk or conference, you can listen to and read highlights here.
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The National Library hosts a program of events that highlight aspects of our collections. If you missed a talk or conference, you can listen to and read highlights here.




Comets in Canberra



Fellowship Presentation

Perhaps the best-known Australian colonial castaway is Eliza Fraser who was shipwrecked in 1836 on K’gari-Fraser Island, where she spent time with local Indigenous peoples. Many early accounts present Fraser as the civilised captive of cruel and primitive savages. Less known are the many instances of castaways whose survival depended on the sustained assistance of Indigenous peoples, who treated them with care and kindness. This presentation interweaves some extraordinary stories with...


1968: Events that changed the world

1968. A year of protests, war, Hendrix and a missing Prime Minister. Curator Dr Guy Hansen introduces our new exhibition 1968: Changing Times, and looks at the highlights of that year—locally, nationally and internationally.


Perceptions of missionary failure

Join Dr Linda Zampol D'Ortia as she considers different understandings of missionary failure, analysing the tensions they created in the Jesuit mission in Japan from 1524 to 1639. Dr Zampol is an NLA Fellow in Japan Studies, supported by the HS Williams Trust


Bold Women in Print

Curator Dr Grace Blakeley-Carroll looks at the experiences of early twentieth-century Australian female writers Henry Handel Richardson, Miles Franklin and Christina Stead and the publishing industry, as revealed through a new display in the Treasures Gallery.


Dramatising Taboos

In this creative presentation, Timothy Daly and actors will show how dormant historical material is turned into viable and exciting contemporary theatre. Timothy Daly is one of Australia’s most internationally-produced playwrights with a string of national and international productions to his credit and featuring leading companies and actors, including Geoffrey Rush in The Don’s Last Innings, Cate Blanchett in Kafka Dances, and Jacki Weaver in Derrida in Love. Kafka Dances has won over a...


Ray Mathew Lecture 2017

Novelist Kim Scott reveals how reclaiming Aboriginal language and story may offer a narrative of shared history and contribute to social transformation. The Ray Mathew Lecture was established in 2009 as a major annual event for the National Library of Australia. It is named in honour of the Australian poet and playwright, Ray Mathew (1929–2002), who left Australia in the late 1960s, never to return. Mathew spent most of the remainder of his life living in the New York apartment of his...


Author Talk with Judy Horacek

Random Life finds one of Australia’s favourite cartoonists at the height of her creative career; still making us think and laugh. It is full of all the things we have known and loved about Judy’s work over the years – her concerns for the environment, social justice and feminism, along with her off-the-wall quirkiness and trademark flights of fancy. Join Judy in conversation with Alex Sloan as she explores the cartoons that will make you laugh a lot, and occasionally weep.


Author Talk with Rusty Young

For seven years Rusty Young, author of the international bestseller Marching Powder, lived and worked in Colombia, where he interviewed Special Forces soldiers, snipers, undercover intelligence agents and members of two vicious terrorist organisations. The result was Colombiano.Rusty speaks to Karen Middleton about the path that lead to his latest book.


Fellowship Presentation

The alliance between Axis Powers during World War II brought together an unexpected coalition between Italy and Japan. Reversing decades of racist assumptions, orientalist views and diverging politics, this partnership sought to cross boundaries in order to cast the two countries as similar and united by common goals. Was this just an illusion created by war propaganda? Or did the encounter between these two countries in fact generate, at times, a sense of mutual understanding and...


Beauty in Thorns

Kate Forsyth's new novel Beauty in Thorns tells the story of love, obsession and tradegy that underlies Edward Burne-Jones' famous painted depiction of Sleeping Beauty. Discover the drama that surrounded Pre-Raphaelite Burne-Jones and the many influential women he loved. In association with Penguin Random House


Fellowship Presentation

Shōjo, the girl positioned between child and adult, is an iconic representation of femininity and girlhood in Japanese culture. A pretty and stereotypically feminine aesthetic that sometimes disguises dark and disturbing themes, shōjo has fascinated artists working in many fields from literature to manga, film to fashion, and not just in Japan. Researching the National Library’s significant contemporary shōjo collection, Masafumi Monden explores the multifaceted importance of shōjo as a...


NAIDOC WEEK: Our languages matter

Our manuscripts collection holds some of the earliest records of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander languages, written in the post-European contact period. Shannon Sutton provides a fragmentary glimpse of the diverse range of the hundreds of languages spoken in Australia before European contact.


Treasures Curator Talk Life & Death

Treasures Curator Nat Williams sheds light on the brief life of Dorothy English Paty. Creating two exceptional sketchbooks filled with watercolours of plants, Dorothy’s work is now held in the Library’s Rex Nan Kivell collection. The Treasures Curator is supported by Catalyst-Australian Arts and Culture Fund. A Treasures Gallery Access Program, supported by National Library Patrons.


In Conversation: Capital Ideas

This Capital Ideas event explored the causes of repeated budget projection errors. Describing how these are affecting policy choices and asking whether anything fundamental has changed that might require a rethink of how budgets are prepared. It also explored the institutional barriers to better outcomes, and the opportunities for reform. Katharine Murphy, political editor at the Guardian, and 15-year veteran of the Canberra press gallery, discussed the issues with John Daley, CEO of the...


Indigenous Lives

Discover first contact through the eyes of Indigenous people and the Europeans they adopted into their families. Professor John Maynard, Professor Victoria Haskins and National Library Curator Matthew Jones explore these encounters.


Narratives of Identity

From his London base, the enigmatic Kiwi ex-pat, Rex Nan Kivell spent much of his life voraciously collecting material documenting the European discovery and conquest of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. How did Māori in Aotearoa-New Zealand feel about being ‘discovered’ and were they ever conquered? Paul Diamond has surveyed the extensive Māori presence in the Nan Kivell and other Library collections, using his Māori heritage and knowledge to turn around the lens on European and Māori...


Author Talk with Hugh Mackay

Hosted by the Australian National University and National Library of Australia, prolific and well-known social researcher, writer and commentator Hugh Mackay, discusses his latest book Selling the Dream with Alex Sloan.


Who Shafted Les Darcy?

Researcher Roger Ley revisits the century old cold case concerning Les Darcy and his disappearance. He answers the questions - What made Australian boxing legend Les Darcy stow away to America two days before the 1916 Conscription plebiscite? What crime led Australian and American newspapers to vilify him mercilessly? Why did three American state governors ban him from boxing?