Although he admits a certain bias, Stephen Connelly believes there is something unique about the Dalton McCaughey Library located at Centre of Theology and Ministry in Parkville.
“I believe this library is loveable, it’s quite palpably different from other academic libraries I know.”
That lovableness was affirmed by other speakers and guests as the tributes flowed for Mr Connelly’s leadership of the library, which is operated jointly by the Jesuits and the Uniting Church. The gathering was held to celebrate Mr Connelly’s 22 years of service as Dalton McCaughey head librarian on Wednesday .
Dalton McCaughey Library council member and Pilgrim Theological College associate professor Katharine Massam said it was “one of most browser-friendly hospitable libraries on the planet”.
“The DML is intrinsic to the work that we do here, to the learning teaching that happens here and other communities of Melbourne.”
A number of other speakers affirmed the library’s high standing with commendations for its accessibility and the outstanding breadth and depth of its ecumenical collections.
Mr Connelly said he believed that the library was in “good shape” and serving an important mission.
“The library I believe is now more relevant than ever,” he said.
“It’s deeply ecumenical collection provides the best possible base for open and constructive dialogue between denominational groupings, churches and faiths.”
“It values all comers and excludes no one. It offers effective hospitality to anyone with a research interest in a large diversity of theological problems as theological problems multiply.”
Noting that libraries are expensive, and that most of the income still came from the two parent church organisations, Mr Connelly made an impassioned plea for continued support to maintain the Dalton McCaughey Library’s standing.
“I would emphasise it’s a library that needs its friends and it needs its friends to be active on its behalf,” he said.
As for retirement, Mr Connelly is hoping to get more serious about his hobby of beekeeping, as well as, perhaps somewhat ironically for librarian, catching up on some reading.
“You never get a chance to open a book, you see plenty of the outsides but never the insides,” he said.
It is not only Mr Connelly who is retiring from library duty.
Esteban, the three-year-old standard poodle who accompanied Mr Connelly into work nearly every day for the last three years, will give up his favoured spot on the floor of near the chief librarian’s desk
“He’s got so many people here who give him dog chocs, so many friends and admirers, he’s bound to miss that,” Mr Connolly said.
Estaban will now be joining Mr Connolly in what he calls “bush pursuits” in central Victoria.
“There’s nothing in life he loves better than sniffing out some rabbits, even though he has no hope of catching them,” Mr Conolly said.
However, as it turns out though their might be a new bookhound among the shelves soon.
Charlotte Clements, who is taking over as chief librarian, met Estaban and has in mind a possible replacement.
“I have an old dog who would love to come to work,” she said.
Rufus, her terrier, will have to explore the surrounds first but was likely to be just as happy sleeping in the office as Estaban.
Ms Clements said in taking over from Mr Connelly she would strive to maintain the impressive library’s impressive legacy but would look to what she might be able to add.
“You can’t leave a thing the same it has to always develop,” she said.