Part of VCA Library 2018
The Victorian Canine Association's (VCA ) Library is a unique world class asset. Its collection of books and references ranks up there with the Kennel Club (UK) and the American Kennel Club. More than 15,000 catalogued items now make up this unique collection which consists not only educational material, but also pedigree information.
The amazing collection of books, videos and DVD's is unsurpassed by any other specialised canine collection in the Southern Hemisphere. There is information on every breed recognised by the ANKC plus many which are either historical or have not yet arrived here. The disciplines and information on dog training and general topics are among the most popular items in the VCA Library.
Some of the Founding Library Committee 1994
The collection is mostly made up of donations from VCA members, deceased estates, plus people from interstate. It is all fully indexed and catalogued. The computer programme and cataloguing system initially chosen by the then VCA Library Committee 25 years ago is now being used by specialist dog libraries both within Australia and overseas. This system makes access to the collection simple and enjoyable. As such, it is regularly visited by researchers, including the dozens of Ph D students writing theses on various dog related subjects.
Part of VCA Library Collection 2018
This extensive collection also means that it can be used as a pivotal tool when dealing with Government officials. Currently, these politicians are demanding that Dogs Victoria undertake Information and Training for the General Public to satisfy obligations as an Applicable Organisation. As the Library can be accessed by the General Public as well as its own members, this asset could potentially be used to fulfil part of these particular Government requirements.
Accessing Pure Breed Dog Pedigree Information
Recording animals' parentage is what pure breed organisations are all about. So many passionate enthusiasts access historical pure breed dog information from pedigrees. In England, USA, New Zealand and many European countries there have been continuous Kennel Clubs with Stud Books dating back to their first dog Shows.
However, in Melbourne when our first dog show was conducted in 1864, although the dog's pet name, breed, and the name and address of the dog's owner is stated, there was no Stud Book in which to record such details. On an Australia-wide basis, this continued until the ANKC digitised the system in 1997. That leaves a gap of 145 years before there was an Australian Stud Book.
My published article '145 years of Registration in Australia' traces each State and Territory's various registration systems, explaining the history of registering each State's dogs. Despite some schemes formed in various States to register dogs and their pedigrees, these were haphazard and varied from State to State, akin to founding our State and Federal Governments!
Digitising Pure Breed Dog Information
Enter the 21st Century and simple computerised pedigree programs! Finally, in 1997 the ANKC made litter registrations available for public view. But for anyone passionate about compiling the continuous history of their breed from when it first arrived in Australia, it is still necessary to source the information privately and type it into their own individual computerised pedigree program.
These records come from many sources. For example, during the 1990's the then VCA Library Committee found hundreds of hand-written registration certificates dating back to the 1920's like the one on the right. These were housed in a deteriorated wooden cabinet at the Melbourne Showgrounds, stored beneath the Woodville Pavilion. What remained after the rats had been at them, were rescued. It was a disgusting job with bodies of dead rodents stuck between paper records - not to mention the droppings! It took truly passionate volunteers to go through these pedigrees and roughly sort them into breeds.
Then volunteer breed enthusiasts took over - driven by the thrill of finding pedigrees of dogs they remembered or were ancestors of their own dogs. These pedigrees are now in plastic sleeves contained within folders, carefully stored in the VCA Library.
The VCA library's pedigree information is also contained in a continuous set of Royal Show catalogues from all States, some dating back to 1918. These, plus litter registrations published in every State's monthly magazine since their inception are in addition to the surviving Victorian Litter Registrations outlined above. This unique Australia wide collection is why pedigree researchers and breed enthusiasts travel long distances just to access this part of the VCA Library's collection.
The VCA Library recently received a Victorian State Government Grant of $13,900. Under the State Government Local History Grants Programme, this amount was granted to digitally archive, and make available to the general public, our KCC (Kennel Control Council) Gazettes from 1932 to 1970, as well as the KCC 'Annuals' produced from 1933 - 1938. Now everybody can read these publications on line on the 'Trove' website.
'Trove' is a free Australian online resource run by the National Library of Australia, in Canberra. 'Trove' contains historic newspapers, books, images, maps, music, archives and so much more. Although other countries have similar resources, our 'Trove' is unique. We in Australia do not have to pay fees to access any material on their website. With no Stud Book of Australian dogs ever produced, for pedigree researchers this is essential. It is the only way of accessing our old KCC Gazettes, which present a wonderful opportunity to look back on Litter Registrations, photographs and other published material about our beloved dogs' ancestors. This way, we can get somewhat close to creating a 'Stud Book' Australia has never had!
Last year, Heather Simpson, Chairperson of the VCA Library Committee, applied for this Grant on behalf of the Library. The success of her application demonstrates the significance of the material housed within the Library. The VCA Library had previously attracted another grant from the Frankston City Council, the local Government for KCC Park. This grant paid for uniform magnetic label strips for all our Library shelves. Congratulations, Heather, on these two initiatives!
References and Further Reading
2019 - Jane Harvey - VCA Library Renovations? in Dog News Australia (Top Dog Media Pty Ltd Austral NSW) Issue 1 January 2019, Page 8