George Brooks Library and Learning Centre

The George Brooks Library and Learning Centre is one of the world’s most significant motoring libraries.

 

The century old stone mill building of the Museum holds more than just memories of its days as a bustling flour mill. It is now a library of approximately 11,000 books and 40,000 magazines on motoring. The books and manuals provide reference material for most makes of cars and include parts catalogues, repair guides, tool catalogues, sales brochures, motoring fiction, travelogues, historical reference books, owners manuals, instruction books, mechanical engineering books, restoration guides , automobile encyclopaedias and registration details.

In addition, there are large collections of periodicals ranging from weekly motoring and trade journals to popular monthly magazines. These cover an extensive range of topics from sales and marketing to technical and trade magazines. The magazines are predominantly Australia but there is also a collection of British and American periodicals. Many of the magazines are rare, some dating back over a century.

The Library also holds posters, sales brochures, VCRs, DVDs, 16 mm and 35 mm cine films and thousands of photographs and negatives.

Opening Hours

The Library is open to public and researchers by appointment only, Tuesday preferred. The collections are available for use and research on-site only.

Any enquiries contact 08 8568 4000 or email motor@history.sa.gov.au

History of the Library

When Len Vigar joined Jack Kaines in establishing the “Birdwood Mill Motor Museum” he took the opportunity to store some of his own motoring books on site. Before long the Museum’s book collection had grown to several hundred books and over the next thirty years the informal library gradually evolved through donations and purchases. Many of the books were provided by the public libraries of South Australia, purchased at book store closing down sales or stumbled upon at swap meets such as Bendigo.

Around 1993 a number of the regular Museum volunteers began cataloguing the book and workshop collection, which then numbered over 3000 volumes, using the National Motor Museum of Beaulieu’s system.

In 2010 the State Government funded the restoration of the interior of the main Old Mill building and it was chosen as an appropriate site for the Library.

Who was George Brooks?

George Brooks OAM (1922-2011) was a civil engineer who played a significant role in the establishment of South Australia’s water pipelines. He was a founding member of the Vintage Sports Car Club of Australia and belonged to many other Australian and overseas clubs. He had a deep interest in researching, compiling and editing motoring history and wrote a highly regarded series of books and magazines on South Australian motoring. His determination and sheer hard work transcribing registration entries for all SA motor vehicles up to the 1930s was much admired, and his work and contributions have been widely acknowledged.

In 2011 the Library received a generous bequest of more than 500 volumes from George Brook’s estate (bringing his total donations to 1300 books alone). It also included his world-renowned collection of personal files, papers, letters, articles, photographs and memorabilia.

His contribution to South Australian motoring history and his generosity to the Museum have been acknowledge by the naming of the Library in his honour. The George Brooks Library and Learning Centre was officially opened on 20 October 2013.

Library Management

The Library collections are the responsibility of Museum staff, with day-to-day management being carried out by volunteers. The Library volunteers catalogue, sort and index the collection. Many of the volunteers have retired from technical and professional backgrounds and share a passion for motor vehicles.

With such a large collection only recently collated, the volunteer duties are primarily focused on the management of the collection and conducting research on public enquiries. It is anticipated that these services will expand once the collection is fully organised.

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