Unlock The Past will be at

Unlock the Past Cruises

Learning, Adaptation & The Enlightenment: The Library

Event Information

  • 1 Mar 2018 6:00pm - 7:30pm
  • Sydney Mechanics School of Arts, Mitchell Theatre, L1, 280 Pitt Street
  • Sydney
  • New South Wales
Other Information
  • Cost: $15 SMSA or Royal Society Members / $20 Non-members

State Library

About This Talk

Rather than a simple dumping ground for convicts, colonial New South Wales was a child of the Enlightenment. Founded on the belief of personal improvement and progress, the new penal colony was an experiment in Enlightenment values.

Join Paul Brunton OAM, Emeritus Curator of the State Library of New South Wales, as he explores the key role libraries played in the moral and intellectual improvement of the individual.

Paul will discuss the foundations of four libraries: the Australian Subscription Library and the Reading Room (now the State Library of NSW), Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts Library, Evandale Subscription Library in Tasmania and the Melbourne Public Library (now State Library of Victoria), and the Enlightenment values which guided their founders.

About Paul Brunton OAM

Paul Brunton OAM, FAHA is Emeritus Curator, State Library of New South Wales. He worked with the Mitchell Library’s Australiana collections for 40 years and was Curator of Manuscripts from 1986 to 2001 and Senior Curator from 2002-2012. Paul has published on archives administration and on various aspects of the State Library’s collection. He was President of the Australian Society of Archivists, 1991-1993. He was curator of the exhibition Matthew Flinders: the Ultimate Voyagewhich opened at the State Library in 2001, and traveled nationally during 2002-2003. His annotated edition of Flinders’ letters, Matthew Flinders: personal letters from an extraordinary life was published in 2002.

About this series on The Enlightenment

The Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts (SMSA) — the two oldest institutions in NSW dedicated to education — are proud to present a collaborative lecture program, The Enlightenment Series.

Over the course of four lectures across 2017 & 2018, our speakers will investigate the beginnings of the Enlightenment and its influence on colonial Australia. The series will conclude with an interactive sophistry in which we will endeavour to answer the question — is the Enlightenment dead?

View the full Lecture Schedule