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History of the State Library of South Australia: Mortlock Wing

Details the Library's interesting history from 1834, its buildings, legislation, Board membership, staff and exhibitions.

Crawford Room

The Crawford Room is on Level 2 of the Mortlock Wing and currently being used by the National Archives of Australia.

Mr Sidney Crawford (1885-1968) founded Adelaide Motors Ltd and then established Commercial Motor Vehicles Pty Ltd of which he was chairman and managing director until his death. In its first year of trading, C.M.V. paid bonuses to its workers, but no dividends to its shareholders. Staff continued to receive the greater share of the firm's profits. He dedicated his book Hauling for profit to truck drivers. He advised federal and state governments on economic matters and was a member of the Commonwealth War Workers' Housing Trust during World War II. In 1947 Sidney Crawford established the C.M.V. Foundation, a charitable trust which fostered educational and cultural activities for children by supporting kindergartens and library services. In the 1960s he and his son Jim (who succeeded him as head of the business) donated money and vehicles for South Australia's first mobile libraries.

Mr James Allen Crawford (1922-1999) continued in the role of philanthropist businessman after his father's death. He became a member of the Libraries Board of South Australia in 1972 and was Chairman from 1977 until 1987. The report of the Library Services Planning Committee, which he chaired in 1977, was supported by Premier Don Dunstan and led to a program to increase the number of public libraries in the state, especially in the Western suburbs of Adelaide and in country areas. Jim Crawford was an important friend to public libraries and the Jim Crawford Award recognises achievement in the state's public library network.

Symon Library

Sir Josiah Symon
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The Symon Library is now housed on Level 3 of the Mortlock Wing.

The Symon Library is named after Sir Josiah Symon (1846-1934), lawyer, scholar, politician and Federationist, who made a bequest to the State Library of some 7,500 books reflecting his interests in Shakespeare, travel, history and biography. The collection also came with some shelving and furniture from Manoah, his family home at Upper Sturt, including the desk on which Sir Josiah worked on the Australian Constitution prior to Federation. More information on Sir Josiah Symon and his collection can be found in the Benefactors and donated collections Library Guide.


Mortlock Wing

The Mortlock Wing is the eastern building in the State Library complex. Opened in 1884 the building housed the Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery. In the Jubilee 150 year of 1986 the State Library's South Australiana collections were brought together in the Jervois building and named the Mortlock Library of South Australiana after the Library's major benefactor. As part of the State Library redevelopment the building has become an exhibition showcase and also houses the Royal Geographical Society of South Australia Library.

Mr John Andrew Tennant Mortlock (1894-1950) was the eldest son of William and Rosye Tennant Mortlock, a wealthy pastoralist family whose residence at Mintaro was Martindale Hall, made famous through the movie Picnic at Hanging Rock. He was educated at Cambridge University. After his father's death in 1913 he took over administration of the family estates, worth over half a million pounds. The family also had properties in Victoria, Western Australia and England. 'Jack' Mortlock earned the goodwill of his workers and neighbours. When he died in 1950 his estate was left jointly to his beneficiaries, the University of Adelaide and the Libraries Board of South Australia. These bequests were to be made on the death of his wife, Dorothy (née Beach).

Mrs Dorothy Mortlock was a longstanding member of the Friends of the State Library, and was a benefactor to the Library in her own right. She gave an annual donation to the Library for children's books and her support enabled the Friends to purchase many rare books. Dorothy died in 1979 and a major bequest of $1.8 million came to the Libraries Board, with the University of Adelaide acquiring Martindale Hall. The usable interest on the bequest has funded over $9.6 million worth of projects to the end of the 2007-08 financial year. The bequest has enabled the State Library to develop in directions which would not have been possible within government funding. These funded projects are documented in the annual report of the Libraries Board.

Jervois Room

The Jervois Room on the ground floor of the Mortlock Wing has had many uses, including former use as the heritage materials reading room.

Lt-Gen Sir William Francis Drummond Jervois MCMB CB(1821-1897) was born on the Isle of Wight and during a distinguished military career he specialised in military engineering. He had postings in the Cape of Good Hope and British Kaffraria, and was appointed governor of the Straits Settlements in 1875. In 1877 he was asked to survey the defences of Australia and New Zealand, and on 2 October 1877 he was appointed Governor of South Australia. He laid the foundation stone of the Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery building in 1879, opened new railways and visited the far northern and southern limits of settlement. He was Governor until 1883.

More information on Sir William Jervois is in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.