Introducing the Fairfax Archive Team

Behind the scenes
New acquisitions

SLNSW Fairfax Archive Team Members
From left to right, Rosemary Shepherd, Peter Arfanis, Elise Watts - members of the SLNSW's Fairfax Archive Team standing next to part of the archive

The acquisition of the extensive and significant Fairfax Media Archive has been a long time in the planning, involving many different branches of the State Library of New South Wales.

From initial negotiations between the Mitchell Librarian and Fairfax Media representatives through to the assessment of significance by Collection Strategy and Development, appraisal by Research and Development, and preparation of condition reports and transport by Collection Care, this company archive has been a major challenge.

Now the Library has acquired the archive the biggest task has begun - the arrangement and description of the collection. With financial support from the Library Foundation, a small team from Collection Access and Description has been formed to carry out the work of ensuring approximately 2000 boxes of records are made discoverable and accessible by the public.

The team with the assistance of volunteers has 12 months to complete the task. Below are the core members of our team.

Introducing the team 

Peter Arfanis, Project Leader, Fairfax Archive Project

Peter Arfanis - Project Leader

I have over 20 years’ experience in archives management, having worked at the Powerhouse Museum, National Archives of Cambodia, The Prime Minister’s Court of Bahrain, Parramatta Heritage Centre and Transport for NSW.

I have been employed by SLNSW specifically for this project. For me this project provides an exciting opportunity to work with a complex business archive offering a unique and valuable insight into the, at times, tumultuous world of media companies. To have the opportunity to work on this a amazing collection with such experienced Library staff is a bonus.

Elise Watts, Librarian
Elise Watts – Librarian

Completing my Graduate Diploma in Information Management in 2014, I first came to the State Library of New South Wales in 2015 to create metadata as part of the Oral History Project, which aimed to digitise the library’s oral history collection.

Since then, the door has been opened to other projects, most recently the Fairfax Corporate Archive. This is an extensive archive, spanning in time from 1831-1991, and consisting of over 2000 boxes of manuscript and pictorial material.

As a young librarian, this presents an amazing opportunity to gain skills, knowledge and experience in collection management, data migration, and original cataloguing; as well as exposure to a variety of physical formats, including manuscript, typescript, pictorial, and negatives.

Rosemary Shepherd, SLNSW Volunteer
Rosemary Shepherd - Volunteer

I’ve been a volunteer at the library for nearly 14 years. 

For nearly a decade I worked with Rosemary Block in Oral History, doing summaries of oral history tapes.  The range of these tapes is enormous and very varied, from architects to survivors of the Holocaust, long term book club members to members of the Communist party!

Other work here has been helping in administration, some transcribing, and now helping on the Fairfax files, as well as helping with the vast Max Dupain collection.  These two tasks involve a degree of precision.  Being so closely involved with major collections and the importance they have, means it is really worthwhile.  

Woman taking a box down from library shelves
Cleo Lynch - Volunteer

I was originally recruited with a group of ‘extras’ in 2006 for the National Treasures Exhibition. After my retirement from the Department of Corrective Services, I worked as a volunteer tutor at TAFE and read newspapers at 2RPH, the radio station for the visually impaired. As a Library volunteer I have conducted front of house tours and hosted the Shakespeare room. For ten years I have been on the committee for Voices, the magazine for volunteers, ensuring a that issues meet professional standards and deadlines for publication.

I now work with Peter and Elise on the Fairfax archives, a fascinating area, particularly as there are journalists in my immediate family. I also work on the Dupain project with Cathy and Belinda and have joined the Library choir (albeit with some questionable talent)!  It has been wonderful to have these opportunities to develop rapport with Library staff.