A curious thing at the library

Ned Kelly wanted poster
Ned Kelly wanted poster

Amaze is a wonderful sampling of some of the rare items held in the State Library’s collection. From one of Captain Cook’s letters, to a WW recruiting poster; from the only Ned Kelly wanted poster to Banjo Paterson’s poetry; from one of Henry IV’s great seals to a convict jacket – the range is enormous. The exhibition, however, is lovely and small: Rather than rambling on forever it’s a carefully chosen selection. Amaze is well worth a visit.

Adding to the interest is the Library’s new app, Curio. This free app, for iPhones and Adroid, is “location aware and streams interesting facts, surprising stories and multimedia directly to you as you roam the galleries and Mitchell building”. You can also play back your visit on the saved tours website. And if you missed anything, the app allows you to view collection objects and architectural features from the comfort of the coffee shop or your own home.

Recruiting poster
Recruiting poster

We found the app worked fairly well. It certainly added depth to the experience of visiting the library. The biggest issue with it was that the location awareness was not entirely precise so you would be given a list of nearby things to look at which were obscurely described – “wall 1” or “display case 6” for example. The problem was that we couldn’t see any labeling telling us which one was that particular wall or display case. Big labels would have made the whole thing very easy. While using the app is not necessary to enjoying the exhibition, it’s entirely worthwhile and adds a fascinating dimension to the experience.

Where will this go when we all go digital?
Where will this go when we all go digital?

If you don’t have the app on your own phone or tablet you can borrow a device from the library. Sadly we found that both the units we borrowed had technical problems, one had to be restarted several times before loading the app and both had issues with sound. I would put that down to teething problems and wouldn’t let it deter any potential visitor – but would recommend getting the app on your own device before setting out to avoid the whole issue.

You can also view the Amaze collection online – but that’s not the same as seeing the things for real.

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