Monday, September 7, 2009

The Trade Librarian and Trade History

Photo: Chinese garden - Dunedin 27 August 2009 / Graeme Siddle.

Last month I was on holiday and visited Dunedin in the South Island of New Zealand. We visited the new Chinese Garden which was opened in 2008 located near the Early Settlers' Museum and Railway Station. As can be seen from the photo it looks new, the rocks and structures have not developed any coverings such as moss or lichens and the plantings are all young. This photo shows new growth on the willows.

There is a wall near the entrance listing supporters and benefactors - one of these has been the Sew Hoy Family - well-known in Dunedin's business circles. The Sew Hoys were a long established Dunedin Chinese family, and Hugh Sew Hoy formed a company Sew Hoy and Sons in 1958 for the manuafacture of clothing. Between then and its closure in 1989 the company esstablished five factories in the Otago region and one in Christchurch. The company employed up to 600 staff and won an export award in 1971 and formed substantial overseas holdings chiefly in clothing.

Because the company relied heavily on New Zealand's protective tariffs, when these were reduced from 1988 this impacted badly on the company and Sew Hoy and Sons in New Zealand was placed in receivership in December 1989.

For 30 years the Sew Hoy company had been a major employer in Otago. Hugh Sew Hoy did not want to shift the company's Head Office and manufacturing elsewhere. He also had great pride in the accomplishments of his grandafather Choie Sew Hoy.

Information source: retrieved August 18th 2009.

Unlike the Sew Hoy story, there is a great deal of unwritten trade history in New Zealand and maybe in other countries as well. Is it the role of the trade library and information professional to collect and preserve it? What are we doing about this in our own companies and organisations?


Reference Services said...

Your blog is outstanding! Here is a blog post with vintage photos of factories in Northern Ohio:

Graeme S. said...

Thank you for your comment - it made my day! I have enjoyed looking at your blog and also had a quick look at the City website. It reminded me of our visit to Fredonia over thirty years ago!!! It also highlighted how little I know about your state let alone its industrial past. Have you looked at our Exporters blog?
Do you ever see any New Zealanders (Kiwis) in your Library? If so please let them know about our website which has details of our course.