Fancy a crack at Australia's first humour writing prize?

The State Library of NSW has announced the launch of the inaugural Russell Prize for Humour Writing, the only award of its kind in Australia.

Light or dark, fun or farce – published works of fiction, memoir, poetry and verse by Australian writers will be considered for the biennial $10,000 prize, with entries now open.

The Prize has been made possible by the generous bequest of the late Peter Wentworth Russell, a farmer, businessman and passionate reader.

Administered and presented by the State Library of NSW on behalf of the estate, the prize aims to celebrate, recognise and encourage humour writing, and to promote interest in this genre.

As a proud and long-time supporter of Australian literature, the State Library of NSW and its Foundation are thrilled to announce this unique new prize as part of its large stable of awards and prizes it administers, including the NSW Literary and History Awards and the National Biography Award.

 “The Russell Prize for Humour Writing will celebrate the written works that have amused us over the last two years, and encouraged us to ponder what is so unique about the Australian sense of humour,” said Alex Byrne, NSW State Librarian & Chief Executive.

Entries for the 2015 Russell Prize for Humour Writing closing on Friday 6 February 2015.

Entry forms and guidelines are available here:

Download media release

State Library of NSW's unique collection of WWI soldiers' diaries recognised by UNESCO

A unique collection of soldiers’ intimate accounts of war has been included on the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Register, just as the State Library of NSW releases 50,000 pages of digitised World War One diaries for the public to transcribe, announced today.

According to Alex Byrne, NSW State Librarian & Chief Executive: “With the centenary of the Gallipoli landing in April and growing interest in the personal accounts of war, I am thrilled UNESCO has recognised the cultural importance of the Library’s collection  of soldiers’ diaries that tell of Australians in the First World War.”

From 1918 to 1920 the State Library purchased 236 soldiers’ diaries as part of the European War Collecting Project, an extraordinary collecting drive spearheaded by the forward thinking principal librarian William Ifould.  Recognising the historic value of these diaries for future generations, Ifould advertised in Australia and overseas with the promise of “good prices paid for good material.”

The State Library has been adding to its collection of World War One diaries and letters ever since. The collection has now grown to over 1,200 handwritten accounts by soldiers of all ranks, doctors, nurses, stretcher-bearers, journalists and POWs.

“The news from UNESCO is timely as we have just completed the major digitisation of our entire collection of World War One diaries and letters, 180,000 pages, made possible through the support of the NSW Government,” said Dr Byrne.

See the full media release attached.

Download media release

Message from the State Library of NSW

We would like to thank our readers and visitors for their cooperation and
support of Library staff yesterday as we closed our doors early due to the
police operation in Martin Place.

Our thoughts are with those involved in this terrible incident and with the
families and friends who lost their loved ones.

Alex Byrne & Library staff

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