The Library is open only to staff and students affiliated with the RCH campus; it is not open to the general public. Swipe your hospital ID to enter and exit.
Library staff may be present during opening hours:
Library staff are not present on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.
Swipe your hospital ID to enter and exit. Items must not be removed from the Library after hours.
Off-site access to these resources, where available, is via an OpenAthens account.
The following text includes excerpts from the transcript of the video "Jock's Library", RCH Annual Reports, the "User Guide" compiled by Annette Spurr in 1993, and from the minutes of the Library Committee Meetings. Special thanks to the RCH Archives for assistance with information and photographs.
The RCH Library was established in 1910 at the old Carlton site, 40 years after the founding of the hospital:
"At the request of the Honorary Medical Staff, it has been decided to begin a Library in connection with the Clinical School for Students. Already some useful medical books have been obtained, and it is hoped these may form the nucleus of a valuable Library."
By the 1920s more material had been donated and it was noted at the time that it was beginning to look like a true library.
After the passing of J. W. Grieve in 1948, Dr Howard Williams, one of Dr Grieve's former students, petitioned for the Library to be named in his honour.
At a dedication ceremony held on December 15, 1949 in the RCH board room, staff "met together to honour the memory of Dr John Whyte Grieve, and to name the medical library of the Children's Hospital, wherever the hospital might be situated, the J.W. Grieve Memorial Library." (Annual Report 1949-50).
As part of this ceremony the Honorary Librarian, Doctor Leslie P. Wait, made a submission in which he stated:
"It is our ambition that this library will grow rapidly and ultimately become the reference library in Victoria for Diseases of Children. It will be of the greatest service to the Medical Staff of the Children's Hospital in that it will render available scientific journals and selected text books in the field of paediatrics.
Access to current medical literature is indispensable for members of the staff who appreciate the dynamic quality pervading medical research and are desirous of keeping abreast of its progress. No greater tribute could be paid to the late Dr J. W. Grieve than the dedication of this library to his memory. It is our duty, therefore, to ensure that it does not languish."
John "Jock" Whyte Grieve was born in 1892. Jock attended Wesley College with his brothers Frank and Robert. As well as being dux of his year he was also captain of the cricket and football teams.
Jock graduated with 2nd class honours from Melbourne University Medical School in 1916, gaining top marks for surgery at his final exams. His 29-year association with the hospital began with two weeks of clinical practice spent at RCH in his final year.
Jock served in WWI in France from 1917-1919, as a captain in the Australian Army Medical Corps, and was mentioned in despatches.
On his return to the hospital he was appointed as a resident medical officer in 1919, becoming senior resident in 1920. In 1921 he was appointed the First Registrar, having responsibility for the administration and clinical operations of the hospital.
In 1922 he resigned this position and was appointed as honorary attending physician to in-patients, a position he held until his resignation due to ill health in 1947. At this time he also opened a private practice in Collins Street.
In 1926 he married Margaret Jones, a nursing sister at RCH, and they raised three children in Malvern. He was elected to the Committee of Management of the hospital in 1944, a position he held until his death in 1948.
As a generalist paediatrician Jock practised over a whole range of children's diseases such as pink disease, rickets, tetanus, malaria, Friedrich's ataxia, transverse myelitis, rheumatic fever, epilepsy and cerebral sclerosis.
His special interests were in congenital abnormalities of the heart and behavioural problems in children. He was a major contributor to the meetings of the Melbourne Paediatric Society, of which he was secretary for many years.
The Library in 1952, with Jock's portrait on the mantle,
and ashtrays on the table for smokers
(smoking was banned from the Library in 1978)
His position as an authoritative children's physician, teacher, and examiner, allowed Jock to influence the thoughts and attitudes of the University of Melbourne's Faculty of Medicine and the Australasian College of Physicians, which slowly led to the field of paediatrics becoming a discipline in its own right. He also pioneered the view that children were not simply "small adults" in terms of their illness and treatment.
At the Library dedication ceremony Jock's colleagues observed that he was "high-principled and courageous, steadfast, dependable, genial but not ostentatious, well-informed and very wise." (Annual Report 1949-50).
He was "very studious and shamed them all by the way in which he managed to keep up with the essential medical literature".
It was reflected by pathologist Dr Reginald Webster that the qualities which the word "library" evoke - an "atmosphere of calm and serenity, in which knowledge might be sought for its own sake, ideas might be weighted in the balance of contemporary opinion, and assistance obtained in the solution of difficult and perhaps pressing problems" - were to be found in the personality of Dr Grieve "as witnessed by his even temperament, his reflective disposition, imperturbability under stress, and his store of knowledge and wisdom freely drawn upon by both senior and junior colleagues." (Annual Report 1949-50).
Lady Latham noted that "the calm atmosphere of the Library accords well with Dr Grieve's contemplative nature", and Dr H. Boyd Graham said that the Library "will be an imperishable memorial to a well-loved colleague".
Howard Williams remembered that "he taught the importance of clinical method, the need for gentleness and special skills to approach and manage a sick child, and how to talk to parents … He was a wise and loved person, his influence being more by example than by precept." (H.E. Williams, "My Four Teachers", MJA, 1979, 2, p.650).
In 1951 a professional librarian, Ruth Doig, was appointed, and the Library was opened for students. Assistance was gratefully accepted from the hospital's volunteers, and this assistance continues today. The librarian spent considerable time typing catalogue cards, indexing journals, searching journals for particular topics, and preparing journal references for publishing, all tasks that are now performed on computers through local or internet networks. She set aside two afternoons a week to make requests for loans by phone to other libraries; these were collected and returned in large mail bags by the hospital's mortuary assistant!
By 1954 the Library held a grand total of 106 journal titles and 1128 books and other items. The 1954 RCH Annual Report described the Library as "peaceful and commodious, a restful retreat".
No details were recorded of the move from the old Carlton site of the hospital to the new Parkville building in 1963, but it can be assumed that the move meant increased space and that the Library continued to mature and grow over the years after the move as evidenced by statistics recorded in subsequent years.
By 1968 space was becoming an issue, and alterations were made to the Library office to increase workspace and to reduce noise. The librarian noted the necessity of adding additional shelving and that "it is clear that if growth continues at the present rate, space will become a serious problem within the next few years", which contrasts with the statement of the librarian in 1949 who said "The room made available [for the Library] is now most suitably furnished and the atmosphere of comfort and quietness is all that can be desired".
Further extensions to the building were completed in 1978 (5 months behind schedule, with new furnishings not arriving until several weeks after that).
The problem of space is consistent with the problem faced by the hospital for much of its existence and is still a critical one faced by the Library today.
The Library faced severe problems in the 1970s and 1980s following increases in journal subscriptions, staff shortages, and a huge backlog of Interlibrary Loan requests (some were awaiting action for 9 months).
Responsibility for funding and maintaining departmental libraries was relinquished, fewer books were purchased, and service charges were instituted.
Even given the funding crisis, the Library kept pace with information technology by joining the Australian Medline Network in 1979, and began on-demand searches. These were performed through a single terminal in the Library, with the results arriving by post, and selected articles also arriving by post several weeks later.
Prior to this, requests for searches went through the single terminal located at the Brownless Medical Library at Melbourne University and took a week to process, which itself was a huge improvement on the MEDLARS system where requests took two weeks to process.
In 1985 an Integrated Library System (ILS) was purchased, along with four computer terminals, three for staff and one for Library clients. Interlibrary Loans were requested by phone or by post, and took several weeks to arrive by post.
Throughout the 1990s and up to the present time the Library has made increasing use of technology to improve the efficiency of service delivery to clients.
Upgrades to the ILS have provided an improved system not just for Library staff to work with, but also for Library members through better access to catalogued materials.
Remote access to databases, online journals and ebooks was implemented in 2000, giving Library members the flexibility to use Library resources from other campuses or even from home.
The Library website, in its numerous iterations, was always entirely built and maintained by Library staff. In 2011 it underwent an upgrade and rebuild to bring it in line with the look and feel of the hospital website. It is still maintained entirely by Library staff.
The website plays a vital role in Library operations. It is an important information gateway where Library clients can: find out about Library services; search the catalogue and renew loans; connect to databases, online journals and ebooks; make Document Delivery and Literature Search requests; and reserve a place in Training sessions for Medline and other databases and bibliographic management software.
Changes have also been made over the years to the physical Library in design, arrangement, and use of space. In 2000 the Library closed for a week to install new tables and chairs, along with new carpet.
According to Library minutes, the removal of the old carpet (bright orange!) was deemed to be no great loss, with the new colour receiving "many positive comments from Library users".
In 2001 the "Annex" (storage area) was converted to a Training room. It contained seven computers and a whiteboard for Library staff and other departments to use for formal Training sessions. It was also much used on an ad hoc basis by hospital staff and students.
The Library has come a long way since its humble beginnings. In 1949 the honorary librarian Dr Wait presided over the same small collection of medical books maintained since the 1920s. When a real librarian was appointed in the 1950s her only piece of equipment was a typewriter.
Today the Library has access to around 10,000 print and online journal titles, and over 8,000 print books, ebooks and other items. Fourteen computers are available for Library clients to conduct searches on multiple databases and get immediate results, and very often also get immediate full text articles.
Group and individual Training sessions in 2016 reached over 500 staff and students. Document Delivery (Interlibrary Loan) requests are now submitted online and can usually be retrieved on the same day or within 24 hours and emailed immediately to clients.
In 2011 the Library moved into the new hospital built adjacent to the old building (which was subsequently returned to park land). The new Library is part of the Health Education and Learning Precinct (HELP). It has more natural light, more space for quiet study, and provides better access for all staff and students.
Looking to the future, keeping up with the changing needs of Library clients and the pace of technology will be a priority.
Services, facilities and resources have changed dramatically since the Library began, however the Library's mission remains unchanged:
By the selection, acquisition, organisation, maintenance and dissemination of information, the role of the Library is to support patient care, education, research and management at The Royal Children's Hospital.