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Earth Sciences Rare Book Collection

The Earth Sciences Rare Book Collection is an important research collection of rare and early geological and palaeontological texts. The collection includes many seminal works from the 19 th and early 20 th centuries. It has particularly strong holdings of early palaeontological works in English, French & German. The collection also includes significant runs of many early periodical titles. Approximately 65% of the items are the only known copy available in Australia . This element of rarity, and the collection's links with important figures in the history of Australian science, render this a collection of national significance. The collection's origins as the private collections and personal libraries of individuals such as Ernest Skeats and Frederick McCoy mean it is historically and socially significant not only to the School of Earth Sciences but also the Faculty of Science and the wider University of Melbourne community. The collection is socially significant and highly regarded by academic staff in the School of Earth Sciences for its connection to the history and evolution of the School and the development of geology as a discipline at the University of Melbourne . Parts of the collection are representative of both a working geologist's library and as teaching resources in the late 19 th and 20 th century and as such have interpretative potential. Finally, the collection also has aesthetic significance as many volumes are unique examples of binding and publishing styles and also includes some exceptional and rare illustrations.

The collection has been catalogued on the University of Melbourne Library Catalogue with funds available through the Miegunyah Trust.

Books may be viewed at the Earth Sciences Library by request, or in the Special Collections Reading Room in the Baillieu Library, by arrangement in advance with staff in the Earth Sciences Library.

If you decide to view the items at the Baillieu, please note that this will take 72 hours to process requests. Contact the Earth Sciences Library to request items. Because of the fragile state of many items in this collection photocopying is not allowed.

History of the Library

The Library has its origins in a collection of books donated by Professor Ernest Willington Skeats (1875-1953) in 1928. Skeats was Professor of Geology and Mineralogy from 1904-41. From this collection, grew the Department of Geology Library which was run by a part-time Librarian until 1948. In 1948, the departmental Library became a branch library of the University of Melbourne

In 1993, the Department of Geology and the Department of Meteorology merged to form the School of Earth Sciences. The Geology Branch Library and the Department of Meteorology collection merged to form the current Earth Sciences Library.

To learn more about the history of the School of Earth Sciences as a whole please refer to the History of the geology department Project (H.gd.P) page. This project began documenting the history of the School of Earth Sciences as part of the University of Melbourne's 150th Anniversary Celebration in 2003. It concentrates on the story of the geology department from its initiation under Professor Gregory in 1900 up to today. A history of the Meteorology Department (now joined with Geology in the School of Earth Sciences) produced in 1993 by Uwe Radok covers the period from 1937 to 1990.

The Earth Sciences Library includes a comprehensive collection of books and journals in the Earth Sciences, with particular strengths in Victorian geology and invertebrate palaeontology. Many of the journals to which the library subscribes are available electronically. The library also holds a Theses Collection of Honours, Masters & PhD theses completed in the School of Earth Sciences and a Rare Book Collection, including many of the books that Professor Skeats donated in 1928.

Selected List of Books donated by Professor Skeats

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