The first Warden of Trinity College, Dr Alexander Leeper, began to collect books that reflected his personal classical interests in the College Provost's Lodge in 1872.
The College collection grew rapidly in the early days, to a large extent through gifts of books, made notably by Bishop Perry, Dr Leeper and George William Rusden. Many of Dr Leeper's own books and his valuable classical and philological serials remain on the Library shelves.
In 1958 the senior Law Tutor, Mr Peter Balmford, established a Law Library. It contained an extensive range of Law Reports for which newly published editions are still collected.
Several other Trinity graduates have contributed to the Leeper collection. A generous bequest to the College by Mr Colin Caldwell in 1990 enabled the acquisition of books and manuscripts and a visiting lectureship.
The Leeper Library was originally managed by tutors and students with the help and encouragement of chaplains, including the Reverend Dr Barry Marshall. In 1966, Trinity’s fourth Warden, Dr Robin Sharwood, appointed the first Leeper Librarian and in doing so, inaugurated a tradition of professional custodianship that continues to the present day.
In 1993 the College Council approved construction of a new building to house the Library in the academic tradition and to bring the collections under one roof. The new Library was opened on 19 April 1996 and designated the Leeper Library, in appreciation of Dr Leeper’s interest in and care of the collections.
Leeper Librarians from 1966
2008 Gale Watt
2000 Nina Waters
1989 Gillian Forwood
1985 Eirène Clark
1978 Jean Waller
1966 Florinda Rusden
1965 Gillian Blain
In December 1848, Bishop Charles Perry, the recently arrived first Bishop of Melbourne, established a lending library for the use of the clergy and lay preachers of the Diocese of Melbourne. By 1858 the Diocesan Library was established and housed at the Bishops' Registry, at the western end of Little Collins Street; WE Morris was the Librarian. The Library principally comprised books presented by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and gifts from the libraries of Bishop Perry and Thomas Hart Davies, the first Archdeacon of Melbourne.
The Mollison endowment
Miss Elizabeth Mollison donated £2,000 ($4,000) to the library in 1889 in memory of her brother Alexander Fullerton Mollison who died in 1885. In 1992 a library committee comprising Archdeacon Stretch, Canon Handfield, Reverend John F Stretch, Reverend AW Cresswell, Mr Henry Henty, Mr T Brodribb and Mr Henry S Barlow, was established and provision made for the library to be moved to new diocesan offices that adjoined St Paul’s Cathedral.
The endowment, which was barely adequate in 1893, was quite inadequate 70 years later. Few books could be purchased; the only new items were occasional gifts or bequests. From the 1950s an annual grant was made by the Diocesan Book Society.
Trinity becomes involved with Mollison Library management
By the mid 1960s, the future of the Diocesan Library hung in the balance with others showing interest in its space. The collection was poorly catalogued, unattractively shelved and becoming dated. In 1967 an arrangement was negotiated with Trinity where the College’s Leeper Library would provide services for Anglican clergy and Trinity College theological students.
Building on the standard Anglican theology texts from the 17th and 18th centuries, the Mollison Library now holds a wide ranging collection of Anglican theology, devotion, liturgy, history and biography. Included are most publications of the Parker Society, of the Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology and of the Alcuin Club, together with an extensive run of Bampton Lectures.
As well, the Library provides a comprehensive collection of publications on Australian Anglicanism, by Australian Anglicans. This includes a range of periodicals such as complete runs of the Colonial Church Chronicle the Melbourne Church of England Messenger, and the definitive collection of Moorhouse Lectures.
Archival materials from the Library, notably an extensive collection of parish histories, were moved to the Melbourne Diocesan Archives when they were established in 1984.
Trinity Librarians, Miss Mary Rusden (1970–78) and Miss Jean Waller (1978–93) greatly extended the Library's usefulness, especially for academic and research communities. The Mollison Library Collection continues to grow today.
Mollison Librarians from 1893
2008 Mrs Hazel Nsair
2002 Mrs Nina Waters
1994 Mr Ken Horn
1993 Mrs Gillian Forwood
1978 Miss Jean Waller
1970 Miss Mary Rusden
1951 The Reverend SH Smith
1944 Dean Roscoe Wilson
1942 The Reverend EG Veal
1937 The Reverend WR Cooling
1927 The Reverend William McKie
1923 The Reverend WA Phillips
1922 The Reverend HF Miller
1919 The Reverend Joseph Allen
1904 The Reverend JC Love
1901 The Reverend Amos Brazier
1893 Mr WF Wyatt