History of The Library | Trinity College

History of the Library

Leeper Library

The first Warden of Trinity College, Dr Alexander Leeper, began to collect books that reflected his personal classical interests in the College Provost's Lodge in 1872.

The College collection grew rapidly in the early days, to a large extent through gifts of books, made notably by Bishop Perry, Dr Leeper and George William Rusden. Many of Dr Leeper's own books and his valuable classical and philological serials remain on the Library shelves.

In 1958 the senior Law Tutor, Mr Peter Balmford, established a Law Library. It contained an extensive range of Law Reports for which newly published editions are still collected.  

Several other Trinity graduates have contributed to the Leeper collection. A generous bequest to the College by Mr Colin Caldwell in 1990 enabled the acquisition of books and manuscripts and a visiting lectureship. 

The Leeper Library was originally managed by tutors and students with the help and encouragement of chaplains, including the Reverend Dr Barry Marshall. In 1966, Trinity’s fourth Warden, Dr Robin Sharwood, appointed the first Leeper Librarian and in doing so, inaugurated a tradition of professional custodianship that continues to the present day.

In 1993 the College Council approved construction of a new building to house the Library in the academic tradition and to bring the collections under one roof. The new Library was opened on 19 April 1996 and designated the Leeper Library, in appreciation of Dr Leeper’s interest in and care of the collections.

Leeper Librarians from 1966

2008  Gale Watt
2000  Nina Waters
1989  Gillian Forwood
1985  Eirène Clark
1978  Jean Waller
1966  Florinda Rusden
1965  Gillian Blain

Mollison Library

In December 1848, Bishop Charles Perry, the recently arrived first Bishop of Melbourne, established a lending library for the use of the clergy and lay preachers of the Diocese of Melbourne. By 1858 the Diocesan Library was established and housed at the Bishops' Registry, at the western end of Little Collins Street; WE Morris was the Librarian. The Library principally comprised books presented by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and gifts from the libraries of Bishop Perry and Thomas Hart Davies, the first Archdeacon of Melbourne.

The Mollison endowment

 Miss Elizabeth Mollison donated £2,000 ($4,000) to the library in 1889 in memory of her brother Alexander Fullerton Mollison who died in 1885. In 1992 a library committee comprising Archdeacon Stretch, Canon Handfield, Reverend John F Stretch, Reverend AW Cresswell, Mr Henry Henty, Mr T Brodribb and Mr Henry S Barlow, was established and provision made for the library to be moved to new diocesan offices that adjoined St Paul’s Cathedral.

The endowment, which was barely adequate in 1893, was quite inadequate 70 years later. Few books could be purchased; the only new items were occasional gifts or bequests. From the 1950s an annual grant was made by the Diocesan Book Society.

Trinity becomes involved with Mollison Library management

By the mid 1960s, the future of the Diocesan Library hung in the balance with others showing interest in its space. The collection was poorly catalogued, unattractively shelved and becoming dated. In 1967 an arrangement was negotiated with Trinity where the College’s Leeper Library would provide services for Anglican clergy and Trinity College theological students.

Building on the standard Anglican theology texts from the 17th and 18th centuries, the Mollison Library now holds a wide ranging collection of Anglican theology, devotion, liturgy, history and biography. Included are most publications of the Parker Society, of the Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology and of the Alcuin Club, together with an extensive run of Bampton Lectures.

As well, the Library provides a comprehensive collection of publications on Australian Anglicanism, by Australian Anglicans. This includes a range of periodicals such as complete runs of the Colonial Church Chronicle the Melbourne Church of England Messenger, and the definitive collection of Moorhouse Lectures.

Archival materials from the Library, notably an extensive collection of parish histories, were moved to the Melbourne Diocesan Archives when they were established in 1984.

Trinity Librarians, Miss Mary Rusden (1970–78) and Miss Jean Waller (1978–93) greatly extended the Library's usefulness, especially for academic and research communities. The Mollison Library Collection continues to grow today.

Mollison Librarians from 1893

2008  Mrs Hazel Nsair
2002  Mrs Nina Waters
1994  Mr Ken Horn
1993  Mrs Gillian Forwood
1978  Miss Jean Waller
1970  Miss Mary Rusden
1951  The Reverend SH Smith
1944  Dean Roscoe Wilson
1942  The Reverend EG Veal
1937  The Reverend WR Cooling
1927  The Reverend William McKie
1923  The Reverend WA Phillips
1922  The Reverend HF Miller
1919  The Reverend Joseph Allen
1904  The Reverend JC Love
1901  The Reverend Amos Brazier
1893  Mr WF Wyatt