I’m not a prolific tweeter but every now and then I’ll log on and have a look around at what’s going on in the Twitter world (if you wish to follow me, search for @jessb3). Three days ago I noticed a number of tweets talking about Trove and using #fundTrove and I immediately thought the worst. What in the world was happening to my beloved Trove?
After a bit of searching and reading of other tweets I realised that #fundTrove was in response to the budget cuts announced by the National Library of Australia that have come as a result of the Government continuously cutting their funding.
For more detail on the funding cuts, please read the ABC’s report from 11 February: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-11/senators-urge-federal-government-to-fund-institutions/7160370
What does this mean for Trove?
According to The Canberra Times’ article while Trove will continue to exist, the funding cuts to the National Library of Australia mean that they will have to stop collecting and adding content from museums and universities.
It’s important to note that Trove’s existence in the world has never been because of specific funding allocated to it. It exists because the National Library of Australia included it in their budget. It’s time Trove’s lack of funding changed.
At the time of discovering all of the above I put out my own tweet stating how I used Trove and how important it was to my research but it wasn’t until I was sent the link to Tim Sherratt’s blog post (http://discontents.com.au/fundtrove/) that I thought I’d also write a post which would (hopefully) help bring more awareness to the funding cuts.
My relationship with Trove began about seven years ago. It started with genealogy and while I voraciously added new names and ancestors to my family tree, I wondered if I could discover more out there than simply names and dates. It was after learning about the death of Herbert Henry Voss at age 29 that (on a whim) I decided to Google his name. Among the results were listings from the National Library of Australia’s Australian Newspapers website – what would eventually merge into Trove. I had found gold.
Back then, there weren’t as many Western Australian newspapers available on Trove as what there are now so initially I wasn’t that excited about it. Nevertheless, I continued checking it and once The West Australian was added, I began using Trove regularly. I spent a great deal of time searching for my Barratt ancestor (Enoch Pearson Barratt) and one of the first snippets I found relating to him was advertising for his nursery.
Once I realised the potential for my research, that was it. I was hooked. Birth notices, death notices, marriage notices, eulogies, funeral details, advertising and general articles, it didn’t matter what it was; I scoured the digitised newspapers for them all. Most all, I couldn’t believe it was actually free!
I delved deeper into my research and as I asked questions, I turned to Trove.
When I puzzled over why Thomas Lisle Crampton lacked a death certificate in WA’s BDM register, I searched on Trove. It was Trove that enabled me to first learn that the reason he had no death certificate was because he’d gone missing in the bush west of Collie and his body had never been found.
I eagerly used Trove to search for information about George Mather and was amazed to discover an article titled ‘The Oldest Publican in the State‘ which was overflowing with information about his life.
As the years went by, Trove changed and so did I. I still used it for my genealogical research but I’d also started to take an interest in history outside of my family. When I wanted to see how Australia celebrated Australia Day (or Anniversary Day) in the past, I used Trove. When I decided to do a blog post on Friday the 13th, I used Trove. When looking for an old Christmas Cake recipe (that I’ve now baked two years in a row), I used Trove. When researching history about a particular place, I opened Trove. Images relating to the past: Trove. Historical advertising: Trove. A question about the past: Trove.
Honestly, I couldn’t count how many times I’ve opened up Trove and eagerly began searching for information. Using it has become second nature to me and it is by far my favourite reference website.
As stated at the start of this post, Trove isn’t going anywhere. But what we have to think about is what’s going to happen in the future. If we want Trove to remain the amazing treasure that it is and continue to grow then we have to fight for it and we have to fight for it to receive funding. Tim Sherratt put it most eloquently in his blog post:
The current round of cuts have made it clear – it’s time for Trove to be appropriately funded. Not as an add-on, or a ‘nice to have’, but as key component in our cultural landscape.
It’s time we #fundTrove
- 1879 ‘Classified Advertising’, The Western Australian Times (Perth, WA : 1874 – 1879), 6 June, p. 6. , viewed 25 Feb 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2981282
- 1894 ‘BUNBURY NEWS.’, The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 – 1954), 21 September, p. 2. , viewed 25 Feb 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3066873
- Information and direct quote obtained from Tim Sherratt’s blog post: http://discontents.com.au/fundtrove/