As the 1920s were a period of post-war optimism channeled through wealth and excess in the West, the 1930s was its complete antithesis. As the American economy buckled under the decline of steel production and automobile sales, citizens were racking up enormous debts due to easy credit, and in October 1929 the stock market came crashing down. Its devastating effects plunged the world into the Great Depression, with Australian unemployment climbing to 32% in mid-1932, due also in part to unprosperous social and political factors. The decade was punctured with bullet holes from wars and assassinations, and despite being far-removed geographically, our nation felt the sting, as one Trinitarian eloquently notes:

“We cannot, of course , be blind to the disintegrating forces in our own State—in politics, in industry and in the social sphere : we are not deaf to the distant rolling and rumbling of angered elements in the world beyond our shores, nor are we insensible to the dangers and the perils which lie latent in all this bewildered restiveness.”
(The Triangle, August 1930)

Meanwhile in Forms V.D. and IV.A., there were other such tribulations:

“Nothing of very great importance has happened this term. Mr. Aubrey promised last year to take us  for a Form picnic. We have not had it yet. It either has been too wet or Mr. Aubrey couldn’t go. Every Divinity lesson we remind him, but he only smiles and says. “Oh yes! So I did ! All right! Now. last time I told you about . . ‘ When the boarders have a free week-end we all rush him, but he always “has work to do. ” So, to this day we wait.”

Despite Mr Aubrey’s constant ghosting of Forms V.D. and IV.A. and the pervading air of hopelessness throughout the nation, the libraries were a shining beacon of hope for Trinity boys wishing to be whisked away to another land through a book. I say libraries, plural, as there was now a boarder’s library which too was frequented.

1930s-boarders-library(‘1930s Boarder’s Library’ – photo provided by Trinity Archives)

Library updates were few and far between in the Triangle from the early 1930s due to the movement to and from the Strathfield and Summer Hill campuses, although increased use of the Reference library was heart-warming, despite the perpetual disappearance of books:

“The reference library has been well used however, in fact, too well used, for some of the books have not been returned. If any boys have books belonging to the reference library would they kindly return them this year.”
(The Triangle, Dec 1931)

It is worthy to note that the boarder’s bravely undertook the task of re-cataloguing in May 1933, a heroic act that we ourselves dread here at the library. In August 1938 a copy of a book on DDC (Dewey Decimal System) was procured, detailing the system we still use today to categorize our non-fiction collection. About the same time this purchase was made, a scandal occurred:

“…the waste-paper basket seems mysteriously to find its way into the staff room, so much so that the librarians have given up going to the Library by its door, but enter though the staff room and pick up the wastepaper basket en route. However, a state of peace has been established. If this will hold out until the end of term we will be able to buy a lock and chain for our waste-paper basket. Till then, we can only grin and bear our property back (pardon us). R.A.B.”
(The Triangle, December 1931)

A new reference library opened in 1938, of which remained a space for quiet yet earnest study. The Reading Room in the Boarder’s library was being well used, and life floated on into the 1940s.

Founder's collonade and boys c 1940.jpg
(‘Founder’s collonade and boys c.1940’ – photo provided by Trinity Archives)

“Certainly it is the only place in this crazy world where a man can forget his surroundings and cares. The influence of a book is amazing! In the first place, a book to the school pupil is almost the only means of contact with the world outside his own sphere, and, too, the only link with days gone by. With a book, a person can imagine himself anywhere and doing, anything. Outlook is broadened in every way. We can follow the scientist into his laboratory, the poet into his attic, the politician into his Parliament, and the miner into his coalpit. No phase or existences of life need pass unnoticed. And the peculiar thing about a book is that a person can broaden his knowledge immensely in such an interesting way that he hardly realises the change he is undergoing.”
(The Triangle, Aug 1944 editorial)



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