About Dr Juliet O'Conor

Expertise and areas of Interest

I have a working knowledge of five centuries of children’s books, through 25 years experience curating a heritage collection of Australian and overseas children’s books.

My experience includes selection of contemporary and antiquarian children’s books to comprehensively reflect the Australian child’s literary history and to counterpoint those developments with trends in the broader history of international developments in children’s literature.

I draw upon my experience curating the State Library Victoria’s Children’s Literature Collection from an initial 12,000 items to over 120,000 items today, of children’s book published between the 16th and 21st centuries.

I have supervised the acquisition, preservation and conservation of a large private collection of 25,000 Australian and New Zealand items added to the Library’s collection in 1994. In addition I have negotiated bequests, and smaller donations to the collection. I also actively selected relevant items for exhibition and online promotional opportunities to augment existing collection strengths.

I have published extensively, as shown in my bibliography, in refereed journals, the popular press, and children’s book society newsletters, given conference papers, given thematic children’s book presentations at Melbourne’s Rare Book Week, produced online blogs, and visited organisations to assess their children’s book collections.

I have a special interest in Indigenous Australian children’s literature. My PhD explored 20th century representations of Indigenous traditional story for child readers and in 2019/20 I selected the Indigenous children’s book component for State Library Victoria's Children’s Quarter.



I successfully completed a State Library Victoria Fellowship in 2004 and in 2015 a PhD on the 20th century history of Indigenous Australian children’s books. I have a Graduate Diploma of Librarianship and am eligible for associate membership of Australia’s peak librarianship body ALIA.

  Experience Highlights

  • 2009 Publication of my book Bottersnikes and other lost things, Miegunyah Press, MUP about illustrated Australian children’s books. I participated in radio and newspaper interviews across Australia in the promotion of my book.

  • 2009 onwards I presented conference papers for the International Research Society for Children’s Literature IRSCL and the Australian Children’s Literature Association for Research ACLAR

  • 2010 I co-presented a week of seminars for Australian and overseas visitors enrolled in the Rare Books Summer School on The Changing Image of illustrated books for children

  • 2012 talk to the Buildings, Books and Blackboards: Intersecting Narratives Conference, about the history of educational children’s books published between the 16th and 20th centuries

  • 2012 conference paper called Black Princesses or Domestic Servants to the University of Melbourne Colonial Girlhood Conference

  • 2013 presentation of a paper on Aboriginality in Australian children’s books at the Maastricht IRSCL Conference in the Netherlands

  • 2014 Conference Convenor for the ACLAR session on Race and Children’s Literature held at the Geelong Campus of Deakin University

  • 2014 participation in the Course Assessment Panel for Charles Sturt University in the role of advisor on course requirements for students studying aspects of heritage collection curation

  • 2016 presentation on Indigenous Australian voice in children’s book publishing history for the Blak and Bright conference at the Wheeler Centre

  • 2018 PowerPoint presentation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice books for the Geelong Art Gallery

  • 2019 panellist on the Bold Thinking series established by La Trobe University, with children’s book author Morris Gleitzman and academic Jo Lampert, on the topic of Breaking Taboos in children’s books

  • 2021 Keynote Speaker to Doctoral students at LLCL conference at Monash University, on the topic of Celebrating Resilience in Research, via Zoom



List of Publications


‘Indigenous voices in Australian children’s

literature’ in Marvels and Tales, vol. 35, issue 2,

2021, forthcoming publication

‘The Ken Pound Collection’ in The La Trobe

Journal, 2020, https://www.slv.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/Juliet- OConor.pdf


‘First edition of Alice’s adventures in

wonderland’ in The La Trobe Journal, issue 100, 2017, pp. 52-53. http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/La-Trobe-Journal-100-Juliet-OConor.pdf


‘Dorothy Wall illustrations: Blinky Bill collection’

in The La Trobe Journal, issue 100, 2017, pp.

76-77. http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/sites/default/




‘Black Princesses or Domestic Servants: The Portrayal of Indigenous Australian Girlhood in Colonial Children’s Literature’ in Colonial

Girlhood in Literature, Culture and History, 1840-1950, New York, Palgrave Macmillan,

Sept. 2014




‘John Mystery and the Australian Book Trade’

in Papers: Explorations into Children’s

Literature, vol. 22, no. 1, 2012, pp. 68-80.




Children’s Literature Research Guide, State

Library of Victoria online 2012 http://guides.slv.vic.gov.au/childrensliterature


‘From Colonial Superstition to the Hairyman: Aboriginality and the Politics of Race’ in Papers: Explorations into Children’s Literature, vol. 20,

no. 2, 2010, pp. 11-22. http://www.paperschildlit.com/index.php



Bottersnikes and Other Lost Things: A

Celebration of Australian Illustrated Children’s Books, Carlton, Vic., Miegunyah Press imprint

of Melbourne University Press, 2009.


 ‘Generational reading’ in FYI: The Journal for

the School Information Professional, vol. 11,

no. 3, Winter 2007, pp. 11-13.


‘The Legends of Moonie Jarl: our first

Indigenous children’s book’ in The La Trobe

Journal, no. 79, Autumn 2007, pp. 67-81. http://www3.slv.vic.gov.au/latrobejournal/issue/latrobe-79/t1-g-t7.html


‘Children’s Literature Collection State Library

of Victoria’ in History News: Royal Historical

Society of Victoria, no. 269, June/July 2007,

p. 6.


‘Description of a Concertina Book’ in Beatrix

Potter Society Newsletter, no. 103, January

2007, pp. 24-25.


 ‘Postcolonial transformation and traditional Australian Indigenous story’ in Papers:

Explorations into Children’s Literature, vol. 16,

no. 2, 2006, pp. 132-137. http://www.paperschildlit.com/pdfs/Papers_2006_v16no2_p132.pdf


‘The ABC of Horn-Books’ in La Trobe Journal,

no. 77, Autumn 2006, pp. 36-48. http://www3.slv.vic.gov.au/latrobejournal/issue/latrobe-77/t1-g-t4.html


 ‘100,000 children’s books for grown ups?’ in ACYL Newsletter, no. 4, Dec. 2004, pp. 10- 12.


‘State Library of Victoria, Children’s Literature Collection’ in CBCA News, no. 2, 2004.

‘Early alphabet books from A to Z’ in State Library of Victoria News, no. 24, Feb 2004, p. 9.


‘Novel things to do’ in Herald Sun (Melbourne), July 27, 2002 Weekend p.29.


‘Early alphabet books’ in The Dromkeen Society Bulletin, vol. 8, no.2, May 2002, pp. 4- 5.


‘A publishing snapshot’ in State Library of Victoria News, no. 15, Dec 2000, pp. 6- 7.

‘Library Profile: Margaret Ingham’ in La Trobe Journal, no. 64, Spring 1999, pp. 57- 60. http://www3.slv.vic.gov.au/latrobejournal/issue/latrobe-64/t1-g-t9.html


‘Children’s Literature Collections and Research Services’ in Back to Books: Creating a Focus on Fiction, edited by Susan La Marca. Richmond, SLAV, 1999, vol. 2, pp. 178- 180.


'Margaret Ingham's legacy' in SLVNews, no. 10, Sept.- Nov. 1999, p.8.


'Vale Margaret Ingham' in CBC News, no. 3, July 1999. p. 5.


‘Margaret Ingham’ in Viewpoint on books for young adults, vol. 7, no. 2, Winter 1999, p. 2.

‘A passionate collector’ in State Library of Victoria News, vol .1, no. 2, October- December 1997, p. 11.


‘Strange places for children’s books: the history of children’s literature at the State Library of Victoria’ in La Trobe Library Journal, no. 60, Spring 1997, pp. 122-133.



The children’s books of Margaret Mahy. Melbourne, State Library of Vcitoria, 1997. http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/45694/20041103-0000/mahy/


Evil Females in Children’s Books. Melbourne, State Library of Victoria, 1996. http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/45687/20041103-0000/slv/children/evilfemales/


Moving Tales: Paper Engineering and Children’s Pop-up Books. Melbourne, State Library of Victoria, 1995. http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/45690/20041103-0000/slv/children/popupbooks/


Moomintrolls: A travelling exhibition of the Finnish series of children’s books written and illustrated by Tove Jansson. Melbourne, State Library of Victoria, 1995. http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/45691/20041103-0000/www.statelibrary.vic.gov.au/slv/children/moomintrolls/


The Gingerbread Man Meets Dali: Postmodernism and the Picture Book. Melbourne, State Library of Victoria, 1995. http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/45689/20041103-0000/slv/children/postmodernism/


 ‘Stories told by Australia’s original people’ in Orana, vol.28, no. 1, Feb 1992, pp. 22- 28.