[Paul Dee, wearing a dark long-sleeved shirt, spins handle and opens compactus shelving in the storeroom and walks in.]
Paul, speaking to camera, from between two shelves of the compactus shelving, surrounded by books and publications: I spend a lot of my day answering questions from all round the world. I could be researching feral dogs in Melbourne, I might be doing shipwrecks, or it can be what my dad’s time was in the Big M Melbourne Marathon in 1979, all of which we can answer. So, when I come to work, I just take a question and I start researching.
Paul, sitting down and talking on the phone: Talking about peaceful harmony or musical harmony? Alright. Thank you. Bye.
Paul, speaking to camera: That was an artist from Switzerland calling, and she wants to know what an Aboriginal word for the word ‘harmony’ is.
[Shot of Paul walking through the Library holding a pen and paper, with many Library patrons reading or writing in the background. Paul grabs an Aboriginal dictionary from a shelf.]
Paul, speaking to camera: My first port of call is just to come to a basic dictionary, which covers many parts of Australia, and see if I can get lucky and get a direct translation.
[Paul looking through a book, then walking through the Library. Paul then grabs a book, The Aborigines of Victoria and opens it.]
Paul, speaking to camera: There are several hundred Aboriginal languages throughout Australia and there isn’t one set dictionary. And, sometimes, you don’t find an exact match, so you have to broaden your search and think of other words that might mean ‘harmony’, like ‘wellbeing’ or ‘song’.
[Shots of the La Trobe Reading Room ceiling, a shelf filled with books with a bright lamp in front of it.]
Paul, speaking to camera from Library storeoom, intercut with shots of Paul opening up a pamphlet: What I’m doing now is just looking at some of our resources we have down here in the storage facilities. I’ve come across this lovely little pamphlet that we have from the late 1800s, which captured some of the Aboriginal words, ’cause it was an oral tradition language, so many of the words have slipped through. It doesn’t contain what I’m looking for, a word for ‘harmony’ or ‘music’ or ‘song’.
[Paul opens up a book, The handbook of Australian languages.]
Paul: So I’ve narrowed it down to a couple of books that I’ve found.
Paul, reading from book: Dirrmbay, which is ‘corroboree’, and then there’s wulnggu, which is a corroboree song. It’s a broader definition that she wanted, but that often happens with the Aboriginal words.
[Paul opens up another book.]
Paul: This, the Macquarie book, offered something different. ‘To sing’ – nyarrepa or nyarrepila. There’s a couple of pronunciations, and I apologise for getting that wrong, which I’m sure I have. There also is in the same language warrangga, which is ‘to sing’. So there’s a few of the options that I’ll email the patron, and hopefully she’ll be able to use them in her paintings. So now it’s back to the office to write up the email.
[Paul walks off camera.]
[Text onscreen: State Library of Victoria. Produced by Renegade Films. Music by Kevin Macleod. Copyright State Library of Victoria 2011.]