In the late 1970s, senior librarian Jean Ryding (later the shire librarian) started collecting newspaper articles, environmental assessments, structure plans and other documents, which form the basis of today’s City of Joondalup local history collection.
‘It was important because people then did not keep old records,’ Joondalup’s reference-local history team leader Barbara Hellriegel said. ‘The thinking was, once they were acted on why keep them?’
The collection has grown over the years, boosted from 1993 by an oral history program in which volunteers interviewed the area’s pioneers.
There are now more than 600 oral history interviews available on CD.
‘In its heyday, the program had up to 30 volunteers on its books providing up to 40 interviews a year,’ said Barbara, who has almost 20 years’ service with the cities of Wanneroo and Joondalup.
‘We have the Leach, Chitty, Gibbs, Duffy and other pioneering families, Margaret Cockman is there and Bill Marwick talks on how he set up the Times.
‘It’s a very popular program and very important because the pioneers were passing on and also because of the rate of change in the city.
‘In the 1980s, it was the fastest growing council in the whole of Australia. There were incredible changes.
‘(Former mayor) Rita Waters talks about council meetings going on until 3am ” and they used to meet twice a month.’
The local history collection includes hard copies of the Times from 1975 to 1990, a microfilm version from ‘day dot’ and almost 70,000 newspaper clippings.
‘The reason we focus on the paper is because it is such a strong record of the community, what is happening is published in the local paper,’ she said.
Barbara said the local history collection, which includes microfilmed Wanneroo Road Board records from its 1903 inception, was popular with researchers.
‘We have the whole gamut of users, from private historians doing research to primary school students to university students doing a thesis,’ she said.
‘The design and layout of Joondalup is a favourite with town-planning students having been thought of as a satellite city way back.
‘People do feel a sense of ownership of the collection.
‘We rely heavily on donations and work closely with the City of Wanneroo.’