At State Library of Queensland we regularly help visitors who are researching their families, trying to piece together the puzzles of their family tree and satisfy an innate desire to know where they come from.

 Our family history section is always busy with visitors using our vast resources, including:

  • immigration and shipping records
  • convict records
  • births, deaths and marriages indexes
  • adoption records
  • land records
  • notices and articles in newspapers, and
  • indigenous family history records.

 Our skilled and experienced librarians can help you make the most of these and other resources to trace branches of your family back several generations.

Unidentified family members standing next to a car

 Unidentified family members standing next to a car – John Oxley Library

But family research is not just about delving into the tales and characters of the past. SLQ has seen wonderful stories unfold of visitors who have discovered living relatives and made lasting connections with current generations of their family.

 Recently, an overseas visitor came to SLQ and was able to trace the Queensland branch of her family, make contact with them, and cement a life-long connection with Brisbane.

 Another visitor, who had been adopted at birth, had just a few clues as to her family’s past. Yet we were able to help her trace her family line, and within 24 hours she had met her elderly birth mother for the first time, returning to SLQ to let us know the outcome and express her thanks.

 Our library team are dedicated to helping you with your family research needs. We encourage and assist you to make the best possible use of the information you have, and use the records and resources available through SLQ to help you in your quest for answers.

 Embarking on the family research adventure is sure to yield some fascinating information about your family’s past – and there’s always the chance that it will change your future too!

 For information about how to get started and what resources we have, visit our Family History web page, which contains many useful and practical info guides.

 You can also visit us at SLQ, or use our Ask us service, where you can:

 We look forward to helping you make family connections!

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Queensland places in literature

We collect Queensland literature – including books written about Queensland. Now you can see the places in Queensland that feature in these books using a map interface called Placing Literature.

Placing Literature's online mapping featuring Queensland author locations

Placing Literature's online mapping featuring Queensland author locations

“Placing Literature is an online database of places from scenes in literature – sourced and plotted by readers and researchers. Created by an author, a geographer, and an engineer, the goal of Placing Literature is to connect readers to the places they are reading about, highlighting the meanings, values and emotions attached to a space.”

Take a look at the map to see books about your place or take a tour of Queensland by reading the titles on the map. If you’re traveling to Queensland, get a flavour of the place by reading about it before you get here and check out the places you’d like to visit – inspired by literature!

A location based description of "House on the Hill by Estelle Pinney"

A location based description of "House on the Hill by Estelle Pinney"

And if you’ve published a book set in Queensland please let us know – we might want to add it to our collection.

Visit the website – Placing Literature: Where Your Book Meets the Map.



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No More Hiding

April is upon us, and this month we’re taking a sideways look at technology. Specifically the way it’s changed us on one of our most profound human levels: the way we communicate with one another.

It’s an embryonic state that we find ourselves in  people my age (let’s say hovering just above 40 on some ragged wings) are adapting, working with the assimilation of an ever-new tech procession into most aspects of our lives, while people that have never lived without the sprawling, crooked genius of the internet seem to have the trick down: just go with it.

I’m not a luddite — I love the world that has opened up for me. As someone who used to manage a video store, by which I mean VHS, I have no calling to revisit the days of clunky, dirty video cassettes and the infuriating limits placed upon the consumer by physical distribution, and every time I hear somebody complain about the sound quality of mp3 files all I have to do is think back to the murky warbling of the cassettes I used to have. But, for the longest time I unconsciously resisted contemporary technology, waving my cane from my front porch at it, corn-cob pipe jutting from the corner of my sneering grill. Why? Because it would have meant that I had to change.

The fluid nature of early 21st century machines means that they are assimilating more organically into our lives, and if that’s all you’ve ever known, it makes it a lot easier to just dive in and see what the possibilities are.

UPSTREAM COLOR (6 Apr) is without a doubt the most poetic example I’ve seen of how external forces work with us and through us, connecting us in ways that we might not even fully comprehend yet. Engaging in the world of social media is something akin to having low-level psychic powers: my friend on the other side of the world feels elated this morning, how does that make me feel? My friend across town is hungry, a peripheral person that I barely know is worried about losing their job, a dozen people on my feed are reading a post by someone we’ve never met, all in real time. When experience becomes more collective, what does this do to our identity? What creates the tides? It’s a love story, beautiful, challenging, maddening and true.

The notion of power, held through wealth and visible prestige, hasn’t gone anywhere yet, but the cracks might be starting to show. COSMOPOLIS (13 Apr), adapted from the quietly shattering book by Don Delillo and adapted by the master of cinematic collapse David Cronenberg gives us the absurdist tale of a media tycoon driven by unknowable hungers. Isolated from the physical world, save for specifically cherry-picked encounters, we spend a day with a man who follows the hidden patterns of this power, even if they must lead him towards a self imposed doom. The old ways of doing business are dying, the concept of wealth and what it means are changing, and nothing will ever be the same.

The Cronenberg gene manifests itself again in our program through the debut feature from progeny Brandon, ANTIVIRAL (20 Apr). Either a grim, clinical dystopic sci-fi horror, or the blackest of black comedies, the viewer can decide what this unsettling and viciously intelligent film means to them. The concept of “celebrity” has changed. Where idols used to be presented to us, like sculptures or new gods, we now vote on the objects we lionise. Not in the crass, simplistic format of game shows where raw, naive ambition is pasteurised into some kind of final survivor to be shuffled off stage, but through this brutal 24 hour immediacy. Arrests, overdoses, weight gain, breakups, all fed out to the world live. How long until contracting the same strains of disease that your favourite celebrity is incubating becomes desperately appealing? How long until the cloned flesh of superstars can be used for unspeakable purposes? Antiviral would like to discuss this with you.

As a bonus feature, we’re extremely pleased to be holding an outdoor screening of the truly bizarre cinematic curio TRIBULATION 99 on the evening of Tuesday 8 of April, at the QUT Creative Industries Precinct in Kelvin Grove. Much like relationships, power, and fame — the idea of truth is being further warped through the lens of our new machines. If the “truth” was controlled in the past by large, selective media companies, it has now begun to run rampant as all of us go forth armed with a camera and a perspective. When there are seven billion versions of the truth, what currency does it hold anymore? A riotous collage of found footage and b-movie snippets, Tribulation 99 presents an alternate history of the world, in which the colonies of Martians that live in the centre of our planet wage an endless war with the covert forces above. It’s supremely silly and complete genius.

We finish the month with a look back at the 20th century, and the fears of technology that plagued us then. A quaint time, when the concept of surveillance, media thought manipulation, and de-humanisation in return for security were something that came from outside, from unknowable faceless forces, instead of being a process that we are complicit in, every day, every time we use our devices.

Our audience can choose from one of three features in our monthly voting forum: Videodrome, Blow Out, and THX 1138 — these are cautionary tales from the 1970s and 80s. The time of my youth, a time that now seems as impossibly distant and unworkable as the youth of my ancestors.

Links to trailers for all of our films, and further details about the shows can be found here:

Pitch In! and become a digital volunteer at SLQ

The Queenslander from 16 February 1918

The Queenslander from 16 February 1918

Call to action troops! Have you ever wondered how Queenslanders responded to the conditions of The Great War? How they reacted to news from the frontline, or how it changed their lives? Newspaper articles from the war years provide a fantastic insight to the experiences of many Queenslanders. At the time, before the digital revolution, newspapers were the main form of communication to reach a mass audience and via Pitch In! digital volunteers are able to discover this history themselves as well as make it an available resource for others. How, you ask? Well read on.

Trove provides over 10 million digitised newspaper pages that have been electronically transcribed. However, due to the quality of the original newspapers or the small text, sometimes the electronic translation process isn’t 100% accurate.

Pitch In! provides the opportunity for digital volunteers to text correct a variety of newspaper articles about Queensland experiences of World War 1. This makes the articles easier to search and a more valuable resource for everyone.
There are several categories to choose from, such as Women and the War, POWs and Stories from the front lines.
It’s as easy as visiting the Pitch In! page on the SLQ website, choosing ‘Text Correct Newspapers in Trove’ and away you go! You don’t need a Trove account to Pitch In! but it’s a better experience if you do and very easy to create one.

One article that stands out is from The Queenslander in February 1918 about a parliament meeting before an upcoming State election, where the author writes about equal wages for men and women in the same industry, claiming women’s efforts in joining the workforce during the war has proved this is a valid platform.

“One resolution which the women of Queensland will ponder deeply during the forthcoming election was that the plank “equal pay for males and females in the same industry” shall be added to the fighting platform. The resolution is either a direct blow at the employment of women, or it foretokens the slowing down of male employees to the speed of women workers. The report of a recent commission showed that generally speaking women are not capable of turning out or doing so much work as men. The war, however, must have the effect —it is one of the sacrifices which the nation is called upon to make —that more and more women will have to enter the industrial sphere as workers. With high wages ruling for males how will our women be affected if they have to seek employment at the same rates?”

It is both an excellent example of Queensland women’s experiences towards the conclusion of World War 1 and how although nearly 100 years have passed, this issue remains in our contemporary world.
Interesting articles like this one are waiting for you to cast your eye over and make them easier to search, while enjoying yourself at the same time.
We’d like to hear all about your discoveries and hard work. You can email us at, share on SLQ’s Facebook page, or start a conversation on Twitter by using this hashtag: #pitchinslq

Jacinta Sutton, Discovery Services

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I love you, pink shoes

Love was a four letter word at Friday night’s Now Hear This story slam, where eight seasoned and newbie storytellers bravely faced a full house to share their true stories of love gained, love lost and love that never existed in the first place.

Priscilla Sutton revealed a love for a pair of pink cons in Japan and our final storyteller, Scott Sneddon, bared heart and soul to show us how to say “I love you” in an ode to his girlfriend who was in the audience. Awwwww.

Sophie Townsend and Melanie Tait

Sophie Townsend and Melanie Tait

If you’re interested in knowing more about Now Hear This, head to Then make sure you come along to hear stories of forgiveness at our next event on Friday, 2 May. Bookings at


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Now Hear This: Now booked out!

That’s right, Now Hear This: Love is a four letter word is completely booked out. But never fear, another event is near! If storytelling is your thing, then you’ll be very interested in the following events:

Yarn: stories spun in Brisbane. Celebrating World Storytelling Day, this event explores all things gods and monsters. From acts of divine intervention, to paranormal activity, to the bogeyman under the bed, these stories are based on personal experience and are retold throughout the ages as they resonate with experiences of our own. Listen in to six true stories of the good, the bad, and the unexplained.

Date – Thursday, 20 March 2014

Time – 7:00pm – 8:30pm

Venue – The Library Cafe, Level 1, State Library of Queensland


Now Hear This: Reconcile. To fight, to forgive, to forget; come together as stories of reconciliation are shared in the final Now Hear This event at SLQ. Eight randomly selected storytellers will vie for the position of Slam Champion, judged by three teams from the audience. The winner will have their story played on ABC Radio National.

Date – Friday, 2 May 2014

Time – 7:00pm for a 7:30pm start (storyteller registrations open at 6:30pm)

Venue – SLQ Gallery, Level 2, State Library of Queensland

Head to  now to reserve your seat at these amazing storytelling events.

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Some deliberation over aims and strategies is normal enough, but in most libraries there’s been an exceptional amount for some time now, indicating a widespread feeling that far reaching change is necessary or inevitable, but also uncertainty about what change is required. Change is upon libraries, but what change?

Libraries have been undergoing deep and far reaching change for a long time now so the expectation that more change is on the way must mean that the original problem requiring change has not been resolved, or was only partially resolved, or has intensified, or has changed into another problem or several problems. Libraries are in the middle of something – a storm, a convergence of storms, a perfect storm.

Despite this the popular conception of libraries as timeless and unchanging remains remarkably intact. How can institutions that have been wracked by change for many years now and face an uncertain future still be considered timeless and unchanging? What exactly are people thinking about when they think about libraries in this way? And what implications does this have for libraries?

My library is running a series of structured conversations for staff about the future of libraries, an initial step in a renewed approach to strategic planning. I usually avoid this sort of thing, not out of a lack of interest but simply because I dread the prospect of not clearly saying what I mean. But this time I threw caution to the wind and went along.

I’m always struck by the quite utopian terms people resort to when they talk about libraries – empowerment, growth, freedom, identity, belonging and so on. Another thing that strikes me, which I suppose goes along with the choice of terms, is how people say them – guardedly at first, and then excitedly and with relief when they notice that they’re making sense. I sat quietly listening to my colleagues, many who I’d never come across before, bring to the surface obviously deeply felt ideas.

In one of the breakout groups I joined someone said they’d always thought of libraries as “parks for the mind”. A discussion ensued about what sort of parks libraries might be – wildernesses, or carefully designed and cultivated parks. Someone else said that you can get lost in the wilderness, or eaten by bears, and you’re not meant to get lost in libraries, or eaten. In a library you’re meant to be able to find your way. Another person worried about who gets to decide where the paths go. The group was divided about whether there had to be park keepers or whether the park could be crowd sourced. Then there was a discussion about maps; that as long as there were maps you wouldn’t need paths. Someone protested that map reading is not always easy and that some people would need paths. Everyone agreed that that would be OK. Then the person who introduced the mind park idea mentioned that she’d recently began to think it wasn’t such a good metaphor anyway and that someone should try and do better. She also said she had a particular park in mind – the High Line Park in New York, built on a 2.33 km section of a disused elevated rail line, which runs along the lower west side of Manhattan.

Jim Henderson, 3 February 2012,

The High Line in Manhattan, New York City at West 20th Street, looking downtown (south)

I came away from both conversations I attended feeling unexpectedly uplifted – not because everybody had agreed with each other (they hadn’t), or even because it was fun (which it was) – but because we’d begun to get at something important – the promise of libraries. I reflected on how lucky I was that coming to work meant continuously basking in the bright warm rays of a burning promise. But I did wonder about the gap that has to be crossed – between the promise and its fulfillment, metaphor and reality – and what a library like the High Line Park would do differently from any other library.

In most people’s minds libraries are identified with a deeply felt sense of promise. Thus libraries are imagined as relatively timeless and unchanging, even though they’ve been wracked by change for years. It’s the timeless promise people think about when they think about libraries.

The idea that libraries are imagined with a deep sense of promise is straightforward enough. However it is a little strange that the promise of libraries doesn’t seem to necessarily depend on actual contact with libraries. Libraries are highly valued by most people who use them frequently, but the same is true of a great many infrequent users and even non users. Why would you highly value something that you hardly ever, or never, use? It may be that the promise of libraries is always traceable to past experience – particularly the first experience of the possibilities of any decent library. What’s strange is that it seems to be able to endure with little or no ongoing affirmation.

It’s stranger still that beyond anchoring how libraries are imagined, the promise of libraries seems to autonomously shape how libraries are actually experienced. A very high proportion of library users identify their experience in libraries as being towards the enrichment/growth end of the spectrum, but, oddly, the proportion doesn’t vary all that much with what people actually do in libraries. It is to be expected that people undertaking in-depth research in a library, or attending an exhibition or an event in a library, feel they’re doing something quite special, but people using libraries for what are conventionally considered more prosaic purposes – hanging out with friends, doing homework, messaging, quietly gazing into space and so on – feel the same way surprisingly often, more often than would be the case in a different setting.

We feel good about libraries, regardless of the extent to which they practically figure in our lives, and when we’re in them, we feel good pretty much regardless of what we do. The promise of libraries has a potency of its own.

bbaunach, 9 July 2009,

At 10th Avenue Square in High Line Park, a window over the avenue provides unusual views

We’re all so captive to an empirical, utilitarian mindset that any proposition that ideas may autonomously shape how the world is imagined, let alone how it’s actually experienced, is likely to be considered absurd. Surely it’s always the other way round – that what we think and feel comes from out there – that if people imagine and experience libraries as great it must be because they are great.

The proposition that the promise of libraries operates autonomously of the reality of libraries may even offend some for its hard not to take it as detracting from the reality; as implying that it doesn’t really matter what libraries do. However, I’m not proposing anything like that. In marketing terminology all I’m saying is that the library ‘brand’ is so strong that it becomes part of the experience. Strong brands do this; they become part of the experience, sometimes a big part.

The potency of the promise of libraries elicits the fierce loyalty of communities, which perpetuates the favour of governments, but also gives libraries leeway in undertaking the difficult work of adapting to structural change. It means that libraries can afford to take the sort of risks that successfully negotiating structural change requires. From the perspective of library workers the promise of libraries is motivating, or is solace in coping with tumultuous change.

But on the other hand the promise’s bright burning light can be blinding or intoxicating. When you can be loved for a promise it’s perilously easy to slip into the habit of simply invoking the promise in lieu of actually fulfilling it. Worse still, you can start to believe that invoking the promise is the same as fulfilling it.

I showed a draft of this post to my eighteen year old son. “Not bad”, he said, “but you keep talking about the promise of libraries and saying it’s wonderful and timeless and so on, without saying what it is. You need to say what it is.”

“I did say what it is”, I protested, “it’s like a park”. He looked at me sceptically, waiting for me to go on. “You know – empowerment, growth, freedom, identity, belonging … timeless, unchanging sorts of things”. He still looked at me sceptically.

“But how are you going to know what to do?”

Jim Henderson, 3 February 2012,

High Line Park, New York - Looking along the 20th Street overpass as the sun sets

Up until about twenty years ago libraries could successfully fulfill their promise by doing pretty much what they’d always done. Now it seems that’s no longer enough – without it being clear what now is enough. Even so, the promise of libraries continues to burn brightly, but inevitably it will increasingly need to be replenished, which, amidst massive structural change, will depend on libraries having an increasingly acute understanding of exactly what their promise is.

I think of the faces of my colleagues at the conversations about the future of libraries I attended, their brows furrowed a little and their eyes turned inwards as they struggled to say what they meant, pulling up to the surface shining words like freedom, growth, empowerment, identity and belonging and metaphors about parks, and then the glee with which they tossed these words and metaphors amongst themselves.

We venture gamely out to our metaphors, sign-posts somewhere along the lonely road between the promise of libraries and its fulfillment. An option for libraries is to retreat from their promise, even under cover of actively invoking it, to withdraw to only a small part of it – a particular point of difference or a popular bit, or to manufacture an entirely new promise. The alternative is to travel the extra distance between metaphor and reality.

How would a library like New York’s High Line Park be different from any other library? What would its users actually do there; what would be there? What would the High Line Library actually do; how would it know what to do … how would it arrive at its aims and strategies? How would the ways that knowledge, creativity and energy flow and multiply amongst its workers, entirely by which any organisation comes to be what it is, be superior to any other library? These are all questions that cry out for definite answers; that call for more gleeful conversations.

Seasickness be damned! by Suzanne Verrall

Rough sea with a Dutch yacht under sail.

The following entry was received in the #YLibrary Writing Competition. Suzanne Verall writes about the library of the future.

Seasickness be damned! by Suzanne Verrall

On a ship sailing through life, sailing through time, through space. Sailing in fair weather and storms, under blue skies and strange stars. Iridescent flying fish and ghastly tentacled monsters. Unknown coastlines. Untravelled waters.

The ship’s captain is called Librarian. Excellent in a crisis, she supplies information, solutions, ideas and possibilities. She keeps the vessel seaworthy. She is first mate and navigator. Explorer extraordinaire. And when the sea is calm and I relax, or when there is nothing I can do but batten down the hatches and wait, she brings stories.

The ship has many charts. A compass. All manner of maritime instruments, some of which I have mastered. Still I have much to learn. One thing is certain: our course is plotted.

Destination – Future.

And then I dream and I realise I am the ship. Oh, the captain remains the same. For Library is the sea.

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YLibrary image competition

Libraries are changing to meet your needs now and in the future. Thinking about the future, we would like to know:

  1. What you want to be doing in the library of the future?
  2. What you think you will see in the library of the future?
  3. How we can be a part of your future?
  4. How do you connect to the library?
  5. What would bring you to the library?

How to enter:

  1. Submit an original photograph, image or infographic that you have created, that communicates your thoughts in response to one of the five #ylibrary questions to
  2. Tweet your image with the hashtag #ylibrary.

The competition opens 10.00am AEST Friday 13 December 2013 and closes 11.59pm AEST Sunday 2 February 2014. The top 3 entries will be posted to the SLQ Today blog and SLQ’s Facebook, Twitter and Flickr accounts. Prizes will be awarded to the most original and imaginative entries.

View the terms and conditions.

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It’s beginning to look like Murri Christmas!

Murri Claus’ little helpers are busy at work getting ready for his arrival from 2pm tomorrow!

Decorating the tree

Up goes the star!

Come along and make some Christmas decorations and design your own lanterns.

There will also be iPad activity workshops, singing and dancing…all in Murri Claus’ winter wonderland!

kuril dhagun

A winter wonderland!

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