Insights on Western Victoria amongst digital treasures

Online exhibitions are offering fascinating insights to special collections at the Deakin Library.

The research notes, drawings and ponderings of Deakin geologist Edmund Gill, who researched the geology of Western Victoria for almost 50 years, make up the current exhibition on Deakin University Library’s Fusion: Deakin Exhibitions Online site.

Seventeen of Gill’s notebooks reveal his thoughts on topics such as Lake Condah, many of the ancient volcanos and the 250 million-year-old marine trilobite fossils found in the region.

The digitised geological notebooks were Gill’s personal records, written in the field and include his notes, photos and drawings, as well as cuttings he took from journals and newspapers. In consultation with Edmund Gill’s family, the Library decided to digitise the notebooks for their research value and potential interest to the community of Western Victoria. They are predominantly about geology, archaeology and ecology, but also include notes, quotations and jottings on a wide variety of other subjects.

Deakin research and many digitised manuscripts and books from the Library’s Special Collection are now being made accessible to the Deakin community and general public, thanks to digital exhibition software that has been developed by the library staff.

“Launched in 2015, Fusion: Deakin Exhibitions Online is a treasure trove of digitised books, manuscripts, pamphlets, and photographs covering a broad range of research themes, including education, religion, biology, disease prevention, and infant care,” said Deakin’s Open Access Librarian Ms Michelle Watson.

“Created using Omeka software, the site is open and accessible to the broader community, with the majority of content (including images) copyright free and available for download and re-use.”

In the two years since the Fusion launch, Library staff have curated a number of online exhibitions that put the spotlight on several collection gems. The exhibitions provide insights into topics ranging from the quirky and idiosyncratic (William Clarson and the Kitchen Garden – a life of note and notoriety) to showcasing research objects of national significance, such as the notebooks of Edmund Gill and the scientifically-photographed algae specimens of William Harvey.

Edmund Gill

Pages on Lake Condah from Notebook #17

Another exhibition, Learning to read, highlights a sample of material from the Australian Schools Textbook Collection, and includes a timeline, which tracks the publication history of significant educational texts.

Ms Watson noted that Omeka software is not only being used to reveal the hidden treasures of the Special Collection. The Library has also been partnering with Deakin researchers to showcase research content, with an inaugural research-based exhibition, Scholarships and Connections: Indonesians, Papua New Guineans and Australians 1960-2010, launched in 2015 and still accessible on the site. The oral history research project features the life stories of Indonesians and Papua New Guineans who studied in Australia with the assistance of the Colombo Plan.

Another significant oral history site, “PNG Voices,” features Papua New Guineans’ memories and experiences of World War II. This stand-alone instance of Omeka has been developed by Deakin University Library in close liaison with Papua New Guinea’s National Museum and Art Gallery. The site is supported by the Australian Government in partnership with Papua New Guinea, and will be launched on May 1st 2018.

In 2017 the Library began work on developing a new Omeka platform and service for Deakin researchers, aimed at enabling researchers to create their own bespoke Omeka exhibitions relatively independently. The Library will be working with key stakeholders in the University to refine the service model and establish appropriate workflows and procedures to manage issues such as ethics and copyright. It is anticipated that Omeka S, the next generation version of the software, especially built to support the independent curation of digital exhibitions, will be rolled out for researchers later in 2018.

  • Meanwhile, if you are a researcher interested in using Omeka to showcase your research, please contact Michelle Watson, Open Access Librarian from the Digital Libraries and Repositories team: or phone 03 52278220.
  • If you have any queries about digitised Special Collection items in Fusion, please contact the Special Collections and Preservation Coordinator, Kristen Thornton: or phone 03 52278253.

Published by Deakin Research on 8 February 2018

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