victoria duckett:Thanks for agreeing to talk to me, Meg. I really appreciate it, especially to have someone from Australia in our collection of voices in the archive. I thought I'd start by asking you about your professional background. When did you start working in the archive? What did you start doing?
meg labrum:I often say I began as a “child” archivist. It was a combination [of factors]: I was an honors graduate, and I had a librarian graduate diploma when I joined the National Library [of Australia] in 1980. So, I went into the system and began in what was then called the National Film Lending Collection as the reference librarian. The Lending Collection was the direct sibling of the then National Film Archive, which lived in the National Library.
vd:And this was in Canberra?
ml:Yes. It was in the days when there were (I think) about seven of us in the whole archive. We have gone up to, on occasion, to round about 230 people. Back then we were very, very tiny. My first job in the National Film Archive was as what was called the documentation officer, the person who was responsible for the collection of all the nonfilm aspects of production—scripts, stills, posters, costumes, private papers, and anything else you can imagine. It was a blissful job. It was something that was, in some sense, quite unformed in those days.
I discovered that even then we had a mountain of posters that lived on top of big map cabinets in the film section, which had come in from a couple of distributors over the years. It was a combination of Australian and international posters. We had a …