Grant thrills accidental librarian

Bing Crosbie is ''delighted'' that the future is looking brighter for an extensive collection of military memorabilia and the library at the Mosgiel Memorial RSA.

Mr Crosbie (83) has lived in Mosgiel for more than 50 years.

And he has spent much of the past eight years co-ordinating the RSA library and helping look after the memorabilia.

''I'm the temporary acting unpaid amateur librarian,'' he says with a smile.

''The job I got here was accidental.''

He had tried to find some books in the library but found the task challenging because the collection had become jumbled over the years.

When he started putting the books in order to find what he wanted, RSA authorities suggested he help look after the library.

Preserving the RSA's collection of about 3000 items of military memorabilia has been made possible by a $105,000 grant from the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board.

Part of the money will go towards developing a proposed climate-controlled storage room, and display spaces around the RSA premises.

And, also backed by some funds from that grant, North Island museum consultant Bridget Wellwood recently spent three weeks working intensively at the RSA, packing up and cataloguing the memorabilia.

''It's really good,'' Mr Crosbie said.

''It's something that needed to be done.''

The collection dates from African and New Zealand conflicts in the 19th century and includes a wide range of military treasures from the past, including ''trench art'' from World War 1 and a rocket launcher from Vietnam.

The RSA collection had earlier been hampered by not having ''proper storage and display areas''.

But he was pleased that artefacts that had been entrusted to the RSA had now been properly catalogued, and were likely to be protected in a climate-controlled room as part of the planned redevelopment of the RSA complex.

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