We may not be able to identify a foundation stone for the School’s Main Building, but the stone that commemorates the original 1956 library building is easily located to this day at the entrance to the Kathleen Lilley Wing of C Block, and four other plaques are accompanying it that celebrate further library iterations.
Foundation stones are interesting artefacts: they suggest stability and confidence in the future; they are laid publicly with great ceremony and celebration; they signify major milestones in the history of any organisation. Our beautiful, polished granite stone also attests to the significance placed on a library by the School, a belief that has remained constant to this day.
On 14 April 1956, the Governor of Queensland of the time and Official Visitor to the School, His Excellency Lieutenant General Sir John Lavarack, officiated at the foundation ceremony. The event was attended by accompanying dignitaries and the extended school community. The women were carefully dressed in frocks accessorised with gloves, hats, and handbags. The girls were similarly attired in neat school uniforms, summer hats, and navy gloves. After all, it was an important occasion.
Previously, the library facilities had been in rooms within the original school building and now, with the impetus provided by the Old Girls, a designated and purpose-built building was about to arise in the heart of the campus. The stone was laid within the rising brick walls of what would become a two-storey, separate building. The photograph above gives the impression of its central location and the interest of all the onlookers and stakeholders.
There were, of course, speeches on such an auspicious occasion and the Headmistress, Mrs Louise McDonald, looked suitably serious.
On the top level of this 1956 library, accessed from the main level of the School, was the ‘reference’ section where the non-fiction collection was held. It was furnished with beautiful wooden bookcases with sliding glass doors. Wooden tables and chairs, the latter with patriotic school-blue backs, provided student seating, and special reference books were centrally situated. The 1960s photograph (below) shows this upper level in use, and it is interesting to note that many of the pieces of furniture—and the prints on the back wall—are still visible and in use in the present library spaces.
The library’s lower level, with its boomerang-shaped and Laminex-topped counter, held the fiction collection and was accessed by an external staircase.
What is gratifying to a teacher librarian is that the School continually outgrew its library spaces, and the Beanland Memorial Library now makes its presence felt over all five storeys of the Elizabeth Jameson Research Learning Centre building. The Headmistress, Ms Sophia Beanland, who donated much of her personal collection to the School between 1882 and 1889 to establish the library, must be smiling.
Ms Kristine Cooke (1967)
Director of Information Services
The banner image shows Barbara Kennedy and Catherine Reid with the Library Foundation Stone in 1956.