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Science and the making of VictoriaRoyal Society of Victoria
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Royal Society of Victoria 1854-1959


Victorian Institute for the Advancement of Science

Philosophical Society of Victoria

Philosophical Institute of Victoria

Royal Society of Victoria



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Royal Society of Victoria (continued)

Throughout the history of the Society, the one important feature of its activities, the printing of the Proceedings, has given the council more cause for concern than any other single item. This is particularly significant when it is realized that the Society has always depended on its Proceedings as an exchange medium of literature throughout the world to build up the extensive and comprehensive library for which it has always been known. It is no exaggeration to state that the library has always been the most important single factor in the Society's development, and that no more important collection of scientific literature is housed in the building of any society in Victoria at the present time.

The question of sections, which had been in abeyance for a considerable number of years, was raised when interest within the Society developed around the subjects of mathematics and physics. The interest became so great in 1923 that a new section was formed—the mathematical and physical section—to be concerned specially with mathematics, physics, astronomy and chemistry. The functions were to be chiefly concerned with the development of these sciences as a whole and acquainting its members with the results of latest research work both at home and abroad. The section under the control of ten councillors, with Professor T. H. Laby as chairman, functioned immediately with special meetings being held for its members, attendances of up to 80 being obtained. After many years of successful operation, this section became absorbed into other scientific societies.

The decision in June 1923, that all papers submitted to the Society should be refereed prior to publication, was a noteworthy one in that it guaranteed the suitability of the material for the Proceedings. The only exception to this principle was to be in the case of no suitable referee being available in Australia, when the council would accept responsibility for publication.

A strong deputation to the government in 1923 for increased financial assistance brought immediate results. The deputation asked not only for the restoration of the annual grant but that action should be taken to repair the Society's premises and bind its library periodicals. Following an inspection of the property by the State Treasurer, Sir William McPherson, an assurance was given that the annual grant would be raised to £200, the volumes of the library would be bound by the Government Printer, and repairs to the building would be effected through the chief architect of the Public Works Department. While these negotiations were in progress, a further offer was received by the council through their agent for the leasing of the Exhibition Sreet. frontage for the erection of a garage at an annual rental of £300. The Treasurer of the government, stating that he was opposed to Crown Lands being leased in such a manner, brought about a refusal by the council not only of this tempting offer, but a cancellation of the earlier decision to lease portion of the site. Sir William McPherson's proposals being approved by the government, 800 volumes were bound by the Government Printer free of charge, while plans and specifications of works to cost approximately £1,000 were prepared by the Chief Architect. While the latter was not immediately forthcoming, renovations to the caretaker's cottage and the fencing were carried out expeditiously.

People in Bright Sparcs - Laby, Thomas Howell

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Pescott, R. T. M. 1961 'The Royal Society of Victoria from then, 1854 to now, 1959', Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria, vol. 73, no. 7, pp. 1-40.

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