Library adds to RSL’s new role as educator

Lilydale RSL president Bill Dobson was very grateful to Wandin/Seville Community Bank manager Jackie Butler for supporting the library. Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS. 399181_02

By Mikayla van Loon

Continuing to carry out its purpose of safeguarding the history, memory and sacrifice of those who served in war, while passing on the knowledge to future generations, Lilydale RSL has installed a library.

As part of its upgrades to the 1922 building, as well as its new educational sessions, the sub-branch has redesigned one of the front rooms with shelving, storing a collection of books in the now Ralphe Goode Memorial Library.

Completing the renovations of the front room, Lilydale RSL president Bill Dobson said would not have been possible without the support of the Wandin/Seville Community Bank, who granted the sub-branch $6000 for the works.

“To have the cabinetry done, it cost a lot more so we’re grateful to receive the extra, almost double what we initially asked for, and we’re very happy,” he said.

“We’re just grateful for Bendigo Bank Wandin/Seville for what they did for the community.”

Branch manager Jackie Butler said for the bank, it was a really worthwhile project to support because the library’s use would not be limited to just the RSL.

“We saw a benefit for this because they’re going to be utilising it for schools and it’s not just for the immediate members of the Lilydale RSL, it’s for the community but also for providing information to the children on past wars,” she said.

Broken down into categories to reflect time periods and different conflicts, ranging from World War I to Vietnam, Mr Dobson said “it’s a work in progress” but slowly the RSL is building a solid collection of educational material.

“We’re starting a school campaign next year and schools have put on the curriculum to come through so it will be well used,” he said.

Receiving the books through donations and ones the RSL already had, Mr Dobson said every book has been catalogued according to the regulations in Canberra.

“When you catalogue a book, there’s a section in Canberra you have to register it to. So we know every book here, where it has come from, and if it’s let out who it has gone to just like a normal library,” he said.

Seeing this as a really positive shift in how the RSL operates and what its future role looks like, Mr Dobson said the committee and its members are pleased to be heading in this direction.

“Years ago, blokes treated the RSL just as a place to booze on. But nowadays, it’s more about educating the younger generation. We feel that’s our role now.

“So I think the role of the RSL has changed a lot.”

The library just extends the educational material already on offer within the clubrooms, with the sub-branch receiving a State Government grant in 2022 to renovate the memorabilia room, enabling the RSL to use it as a classroom.

The multimedia room has been decked out for school groups to attend and learn about the history of war, as well as try on uniforms and hold significant items, like the bugle of Ernest Albert Pearson.

Running the first successful sessions last year with Mount Lilydale Mercy College and Lilydale Primary School, the RSL has created programs to suit various age groups and curriculum.