A key to the past – the library continues to be used by past students

(This post has been written by Pam Saunders, Head of Library).

It is not uncommon for us to receive queries from past students. It would seem ‘once a Melbourne High boy, always a Melbourne High boy’ and this entitles one to keep using the school and its resources.

Yesterday was typical, with a request from an old boy.  He had graduated in the mid 1980s and was asking for a copy of the school biology textbook which he would have used back then. It was The Web of Life, a familiar text for many of us.

Web of Life Books

With some deeper reference questioning it was revealed he was actually after a dichotomous key for eucalyptus. He recalled his HSC biology teacher had shown one to the class. Now, as an avid bushwalker, the old boy wanted to use it, ideally the same key, to identify trees on his walks.

We found The Web of Life and several books on eucalyptus. We also found dichotomous keys online (thank you Mr Google) including a beautiful item on the State Library of Victoria website.


This raised a discussion this morning amongst the library team about what books we should be keeping and whether they should they be on the open shelves. I am starting to think we need to consider an archived collection (we do have some space for this and a small collection already) so the books are retained but not distracting library users from a fresh, current collection.

I wonder what the next request from an old boy will be for.




2 thoughts on “A key to the past – the library continues to be used by past students

  1. Pingback: A key to the past - the library continues to be...

  2. That is very cool! I can see that happening too! Possibly a small collection of old textbooks? That could become cumbersome, but is worth some thought. Thanks for sharing!

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