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In the nineteenth century the B.M.I.F.L. offered a full range of educational books and journals and newspapers. Instructive and improving lectures were held and the Berwick Mutual Improvement and Debating Society presented stimulating debates on topics as diverse as Is the moderate use of tobacco on all its forms injurious? Is reason confined to man? Will the British nation decay as the great nations of antiquity have done?. Alongside these lectures and debates was also a lending service and the B.M.I.F.L still continues to provide a lending service to the public. This service is run entirely by volunteers and in the last year over 44,000 items were lent to adults and children.
Among the gems of the Berwick Mechanics' Institute and Free Library is the Casey Collection. This collection is from the private Library of Lord and Lady Casey from their home at Edrington in Berwick. The collection provides an insight into the lives and interests of Lord and Lady Casey.
There is other Casey memorabilia as well including a portrait of Lady Casey by Cecil Beaton and a portrait of Lord Casey by Sir William Dargie. Lord Casey (1890-1976) was the Governor General of Australian from 1965-1969. He married Maie Ryan (nee Ethel Marion Sumner Ryan, 1891-1983) in 1926 and they had two children. Lady Casey donated the Casey Collection to the Institute and donated $50,000 in 1979 for a new Library building. Their daughter, Mrs Jane Macgowan, has also been a generous benefactor to the Institute.
The information and illustrations for this post were taken from Berwick Mechanics' Institute and Free Library by Richard Myers. It is available for loan at our Cranbourne, Narre Warren and Pakenham branches. You can also purchase copies at the Berwick Mechanics' Institute and Free Library, 15 High Street, Berwick. Visit their website at http://www.berwickmilibrary.org.au/