Fellow of the Library Board Award

The Library Board of Western Australia established the Fellow of the Library Board of Western Australia Award in May 1984. The purpose of the award is to recognise a person, a group of people or an organisation that has made an excellent contribution to the work of the Board and by their outstanding efforts furthered the cause of library services in Western Australia.

On 28 July 2022, the distinction of the Fellow of the Library Board of Western Australia was conferred upon Emeritus Professor Margaret Nowak AM for her exemplary commitment to the Library Board and to the people of Western Australia.


  • Chairman of the Library Board of Western Australia - 2012 to 2019
  • Member of the Library Board of Western Australia - 2002 to 2019
  • Board representative on the Finance Committee - 2004 to 2012
  • Chair of the Finance Committee - 2004 to 2014
  • Board representative on the Policy and Legislation Committee - 2010 to 2012
  • Independent Non-Executive Director of the State Library Foundation - 2013 to 2016 Board representative on the State Library Foundation Council

Emeritus Professor Margaret Nowak AM made an invaluable contribution to the Library Board of Western Australia as one of the longest serving members since the Board was established in the 1950s. She brought to the Board her vast skills, knowledge and experience especially in the area of financial compliance, governance and accountability. Margaret gave freely of her time as a Board member and to meet with Ministers, government officials, potential donors and community members to advance the work of the State Library for the benefit of all Western Australians.

Margaret Nowak contributed to the strategic planning and championing of many significant State Library initiatives, including:

  • The multi-award-winning Better Beginnings Family Literacy Program, Australia’s most extensive family literacy program making a difference to hundreds of thousands of families across Western Australia.
  • The Storylines online archive of Aboriginal history that significantly increased the wealth and depth of the State Library’s Heritage collections;
  • The rationalisation of the acquisition of public library materials, significantly reducing the cost of delivering materials to public libraries across the State;
  • The introduction of Legal Deposit legislation that ensured future generations have access to the State’s published works; and
  • The mass digitisation of State Library collections, including ten thousand hours of oral histories through the Oral History Records Rescue Group Project and tens of thousands of images through the Historical Records Rescue Consortia.

These achievements were in an era of significant change in every aspect of the delivery of contemporary library services, mostly driven by the increasingly sophisticated demands of clients, and in an environment of budget constraint.

On 28 July 2022, the distinction of Fellow of the Library Board of Western Australia is conferred upon Emeritus Professor Margaret Nowak AM for her exemplary commitment to the Library Board and to the people of Western Australia.

2021 - FamilyHistoryWA

Tracing the story of your family is a keen interest for many Western Australians. For more than 35 years, FamilyHistoryWA’s dedicated volunteers have ably assisted tens of thousands of people with family history services at the State Library of Western Australia. In 2019-2020 alone, FamilyHistoryWA volunteers answered more than 2,000 public enquiries.

While supporting the research needs of family historians, FamilyHistoryWA volunteers have also mentored State Library staff to build staff skills and enhance staff knowledge and understanding of family history resources and research techniques.

FamilyHistoryWA’s trusted collaboration with the State Library has also resulted in the successful presentation of forums and talks during National Family History Month plus other events such as family history fairs.

Importantly, FamilyHistoryWA volunteers have diligently created indexes to many of the resources that form the basis of family history research in the J.S. Battye Library of West Australian History. Many of the resources have now been digitised and are accessible to family historians across the world.

On 20 May 2021, the distinction of Fellow of the Library Board of Western Australia was conferred upon FamilyHistoryWA for their exemplary commitment to providing information and research assistance to family historians and for their outstanding 35 year partnership with the State Library of Western Australia.

Left to right: Mike Murray, Lesley Silvester, Christine Harris, Lyn Watt, Heather Simon and Ian Simon.

Since its inception in 1981, the Friends of the Battye Library Incorporated has made an invaluable contribution to the people of Western Australia through their support of the State Library of Western Australia and the State Records Office of Western Australia.

The Friends of Battye Library aims to assist the State Library’s JS Battye Library of West Australian History and the State Records Office with the acquisition, preservation and making accessible Western Australian archival and documentary heritage materials and raising funds for these purposes. Friends of Battye members have also volunteered significant amounts of their time to assist the work of these agencies.

In supporting the Battye Library, the Friends of the Battye Library have repeatedly proven themselves to hold true to their laudable aims, especially in their efforts to raise funds for work that would not have been possible otherwise.

In 2005, the Friends of Battye successfully led a bid for Lotterywest funding for the Historical Records Rescue Consortium. The $3 million received enabled a project to preserve and ensure the ongoing accessibility for high demand Western Australian heritage collections such as historic newspapers, photographs, and motion pictures held in the Battye Library that were at risk of loss due to the effects of time and use on their original formats.

In 2009, the Friends were again successful receiving $849,000 Lotterywest funding for the Oral History Records Rescue Group project that supported the Library’s efforts to physically and digitally preserve 11,500 hours of oral history recordings of thousands of voices from Western Australia’s past, ensuring their ongoing accessibility for future generations. The project also saw 200 oral histories digitised and made available online via the State Library’s catalogue.

The Friends of Battye continue to make funding available for the digitisation of Western Australian heritage materials and the publication of finding aids for heritage publications.

On 14 July 2020, the distinction of Fellow of the Library Board of Western Australia was conferred upon the Friends of the Battye Library for being an outstanding long-term benefactor, and partner in the State Library’s endeavours to preserve, and make available for the future, Western Australia’s documentary heritage and for being a champion of Western Australian history.

For a child, learning to read is the single most important factor in school success. Since 2005, Rio Tinto has provided funding and support for the State Library of Western Australia’s Better Beginnings Family Literacy Program that delivers long-term positive community outcomes through raising literacy levels.

Rio Tinto has enabled Better Beginnings to evolve and grow to become a successful State-wide, community-based family literacy program through a continued shared vision to influence generational change in the literacy outcomes of Western Australian children and their families. This continued partnership support has deepened engagement with prospective and current participants, and delivered measurable improvements in literacy outcomes and school readiness through collateral, training and new and existing community services partnerships.

Better Beginnings provides developmentally appropriate programs for Western Australian families with newborns to three year olds, school aged children, families in remote Aboriginal communities and culturally and linguistically diverse families. Almost 800,000 families have received reading packs and each week thousands of families attend public library sessions that develop parent’s skills to be their child’s first teacher.

In 2019, Rio Tinto generously extended their funding of Better Beginnings for a further five years, bringing their total commitment to more than $4 million.

On 23 May 2019, the distinction of Fellow of the Library Board of Western Australia was conferred upon Rio Tinto for being an outstanding long-term benefactor and partner in the State Library’s Better Beginnings Family Literacy Program; championing family literacy and the place of public libraries in delivering positive outcomes to communities throughout Western Australia

Nola Allen, Susan Ashcroft and Sue North have made a substantial contribution the State of Western Australia as advocates for early childhood literacy.

Their contribution to the development, implementation, and most significantly, their championing of the State Library of Western Australia’s Better Beginnings family literacy program has made a lifelong positive impact on children and families in our community. Linking families to the wealth of resources and services that public libraries offer, the Better Beginnings program provides developmentally appropriate programs for families with newborns to three year olds, school aged children, families in Aboriginal communities and culturally and linguistically diverse families.

Since its foundation in 2004, Better Beginnings has reached over 550,000 Western Australian families including 95 per cent of families with newborn babies and is available in every local government in the State.

Nola, Susan and Sue were instrumental in the development of a unique mix of partnerships between local governments, State Government and private organisations to fund and deliver Better Beginnings and ensured the program is delivered by the right people at the right time to have the greatest impact on Western Australian children and families.

Better Beginnings has been recognised nationally and internationally as an exemplary family literacy program. The program received the Western Australian Premier’s Award for Excellence in Public Sector Management in 2006, the Toyota Community Award at the 2007 Australia Business and Arts Foundation Awards, the Western Australia category at the 2007 Australia Council Young Arts for Young People Awards and the Strengthening Families and Communities category at the 2013 Western Australian Premier’s Awards.

Better Beginnings was also recognised as an Honoree in the Library of Congress Literacy Awards.

For championing family literacy and the place of public libraries in delivering positive outcomes to communities in Western Australia, the distinction of Fellow of the Library Board of Western Australia was conferred upon Nola Allen, Susan Ashcroft and Sue North on 25 May 2017.

Ronda Jamieson has made a substantial contribution to the State Library both as a staff member and as an advocate for Western Australian documentary heritage collections. In particular, she has enabled the State Library to become a leader in the field of oral history, as well as enabling the State Library to preserve and digitise the heritage collections. More generally she is an author who has written about the State’s history.

Ronda undertook the Bachelor of Applied Science (Library Studies) degree in the early 1970s and joined the State Library in 1978 as a part-time oral history officer. She quickly became an expert in the field and in 1989 took over management of the newly formed Oral History Unit. Ronda was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 1991 to study oral history in New Zealand, the USA and Britain and in 1995, she was made a life member of the Oral History Association of Australia.

Ronda has enabled access to an extremely valuable resource for future historians with a particular focus on interviews with Western Australian politicians, but she has also conducted interviews with people from many backgrounds. Ronda also shared her knowledge and contributed to the training of future oral historians by writing two guides – Oral History – how to interview (1987) and How to Interview for family history (1992, updated 2005). In 1995 she was appointed Manager of Preservation Services, responsible for material conservation, photographic, micrographic and digitisation services, and was appointed Director of the Battye Library in 1998.

Ronda obtained grants and sponsorships for the Battye Library to help preserve its collections, and she worked tirelessly to raise the Library’s profile in the community.

While undertaking all of this work, Ronda also completed a doctorate at Murdoch University in 2001, with her thesis examining the history and social significance to the community of the Daw family store in Ravensthorpe and other country areas from 1838 to 1957. Since her retirement in 2005, Ronda has continued her passion to promote and preserve WA’s documentary heritage collections through her commitment to the Oral History Records Rescue Group and the Friends of Battye Library. In 2010, Ronda was recognised as a ‘Gem of Time’ by the Friends of Battye Library.

Ronda Jamieson has made a significant and sustained contribution to the State Library for over thirty years, both as a staff member and as an advocate. In particular, she has expanded the Library’s oral history collection to be the second largest in Australia after the National Library; she has helped to educate oral historians for the future; and she has helped to digitise and preserve WA’s documentary heritage. She is a worthy recipient of the award of Fellow of the Library Board of Western Australia 2016.

Richard Hazlewood has been an enthusiastic benefactor to the State Library who has assisted in raising the profile of the Library through his participation in the Library’s fundraising and support organisations.

Richard was born in the United Kingdom and came to Australia in the 1970s. He worked in the computer industry and restaurant industry before moving into the executive recruitment industry in Melbourne, Sydney, and since 1992, in Perth, before retiring in 2013.

He has used his substantial professional network to assist with various projects for the community and in numerous charity fundraising projects. In 1998, he worked with then State Librarian, Dr Lynn Allen, as part of the Save Our Century Project, a campaign to preserve as much of the written, recorded, filmed and photographed history of WA in the 20th Century as possible as the century drew to a close. This led to his involvement with the State Library Custodians, a charitable trust incorporated in 1999 to raise funds to acquire collections for the State Library.

Another major project that Richard was involved with was drawing together the funds required to purchase the Freycinet Collection. Richard, as a Custodian, was instrumental in identifying and persuading benefactors to donate to the fund.

Richard was also a founding member and interim Chair of the State Library of Western Australia Foundation, the successor to the Custodians. He has been an important member of the State Library’s advocacy and fundraising organisations over a fifteen year period and was made a Fellow of the Library Board of Western Australia in 2015.

Associate Professor Kerry Smith has played a significant role as an educator and researcher for the library profession both nationally and in Western Australia, and has been a strong advocate for public libraries.

Kerry worked as a special librarian in the geoscience information field from the early 1980s and she continued to be an active member of the Australian Geoscience Information Association throughout her career. She joined the Department of Information Studies at Curtin University as a lecturer in 1991 and rose to be Head of School in 1996. Kerry exerted considerable influence in educating, mentoring and advocating for library education for two decades and retired as Associate Professor in March 2013.

Research has been of particular interest to Kerry and she has edited a number of online journals and was Convener of the ALIA Research Committee. Within the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) Kerry has taken on many roles, culminating at the national level as President in 1997. Not content with the local arena, Kerry pursued her interests at the international level, becoming an active officer of IFLA, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.

Kerry Smith was made a Fellow of the Library Board in 2014 and is an outstanding advocate for libraries and the library profession. She has made a significant contribution to the profession at a state, national and international level.

Peter Williams has been a generous donor to the State's heritage collections in the field of Australian children's literature.

Dr Williams is an acknowledged expert on Australian children's literature and has been a passionate collector for many years. Peter's fascination with children's book illustrators grew from collecting award winning Australian children's books and it was a natural progression to collecting original artworks.  In 2004, Peter approached the State Library as a possible home for his collection of 107 original artworks, in recognition of the library's strong collection focus on Australian children's literature.  The collection was presented to the Library in 2006, and since that time he has made a number of further donations to the library.

The works from the Peter Williams Collections showcase the work of major contemporary Australian children's and young adult book illustrators.  They form a core collection which has enabled the State Library to greatly expand its collecting in this area; as well as opening the door to developing a range of new programs and exhibitions, and building the profile of children's and young adult literature in the hearts and minds of Western Australian.

Peter gave long and valuable service to the Children's Book Council of Australia. In 2006 he received the inaugural Muriel Barwell Award for his signification contribution towards the promotion of quality children's books.

He held a number of national executive positions with the Council, and was also a board member of the Fremantle Children's Literature Centre.

Dr Peter Williams was made a Fellow of the Library Board in 2013, in recognition of his significant contribution to children's literature both in Western Australia and nationally.

Lindsay Peet (1939-2012) was a passionate advocate for the collection and preservation of Western Australian material, and a great friend, generous supporter, and contributor to the State’s heritage collections.  Over many years Lindsay enabled the purchase of important and valuable collections of original and rare material, including personal papers and photographs. He also contributed enormously to the State Library’s published works, ephemera, and map collections.

Lindsay was instrumental in the establishment of the Historical Records Rescue Consortium (HRRC) Project. Through his advocacy and financial contributions, Lindsay helped to secure a $3 million Lotterywest grant for the Consortium. A number of years later, similar support from Lindsay helped to establish a project to preserve the State Library’s unique Oral History collection. Lindsay also contributed significantly to enable the establishment of the State Library of Western Australia Foundation, and continued to support the State Library through the Foundation since its inception.

Lindsay was a long time member and Committee Member of the Friends of Battye Library (Inc.), a member of the National Trust (WA) and the Royal Western Australian Historical Society. He also held close ties with the Professional Historians Association (WA), and held the role of Vice President of that organisation. As a professional historian, Lindsay researched and wrote authoritatively on World War II and on the history of real estate development in Western Australia. Lindsay held a particular interest in military aviation, and wrote numerous academic papers and two books on the history and role of the armed forces in Western Australia.

Lindsay was made a Fellow of the Library Board in 2012, in recognition of his efforts and contribution to the recording, collection and preservation of Western Australia’s history.

Dr Lynn Allen was Chief Executive Officer and State Librarian from 1989 to 2001, the first female to hold this role. Under her leadership significant improvements were made in the provision of access to the state's collections through technology, achieved largely through a major overhaul of the Library's IT infrastructure under Project Information Access.

Lynn oversaw the passing of new legislation to improve the care of the State's government records, the State Record Act 2000. Under Lynn's direction, the State Library made submissions to a number of Federal and State government information initiatives and lead a seminar on "Western Australia as an Information Society", leading to greater State Library involvement in the State's information policy. With a PhD in literature, Lynn was also passionate about the value of books and reading, and encouraged the Library's participation in international years for reading and literacy.

Lynn Allen served in a number of roles in the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), including State President for the WA Region (1988), National Vice President (1989) and National President (1990). Lynn also served on the Organising Committee for the 1990 ALIA Conference held in Perth. As State Librarian Lynn was Chairman of the Council of Australian State Libraries for two years. Lynn was made a Fellow of the Library Board in 2011.

Patricia 'Pat' Gallaher (1937-2014) devoted almost 30 years to delivering exceptional public library services in regional Western Australia, in Paraburdoo and Karratha, and then for 20 years as the regional librarian for the City of Geraldton (1981-2001). During this time Pat introduced many new services and developments to the Geraldton Library, including a service to house-bound residents, the first country book sale, CD-ROMs and the Internet, and an automated library management system.

Pat also oversaw extensions to the Library, established its local studies collection and initiated the Randolph Stow Young Writers Award. Pat served on many committees promoting regional arts, including the Geraldton Arts Council and as a board member of Country Arts WA. In 1987 Pat formed the Mid-West regional chapter of the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA).  Following her retirement from the library, Pat was elected to the Geraldton City Council, serving from 2001-2003.

Pat Gallaher joined the Library Board of Western Australia in 2002 as the representative for the WA Local Government Association and served a four year term to 2006. She was named as a Fellow of the Library Board in 2011, in recognition for her commitment to libraries and the arts in regional Western Australia.

Kay Poustie (1944-2009) first joined the Library Board of Western Australia in 1990, serving until 1993 as representative for the Local Government Association. Five years later, in 1998, she returned for an eight year term as the representative of the Australian Library and Information Association

(ALIA) on the Board.  Her ability and experience was recognised when she was elected Chairman of the Library Board first for four months during 2001, and then again between 2002 and 2006.

During this time, Kay oversaw major developments in relations between the State Library and WA public libraries, including the signing of the Framework Agreement and the acquisition of a further $10.3 million in local government funds for library resources. Other achievements during this time include the launch of the Better Beginnings program and the securing of the $3 million Lotterywest grant for the Historical Records Rescue Consortium. Kay also guided the Library Board through the Machinery of Government Review, following which Cabinet endorsed the recommendation from the Minister for Culture and the Arts that the Library Board remain a Statutory Authority.

Kay worked tirelessly to see the State Library of Western Australia Foundation become a reality. A lifelong contributor to non-profit ventures, Kay also served in a variety of roles as a member of Zonta International and also for Meath Care. Kay was recognised as a Board Fellow in 2010.

Mary 'Lennie' McCall joined the State Library as a student librarian in 1955 and worked her way up to become Director of the Battye Library of West Australian History in 1995, contributing to all areas of the Library at a senior level during the course of her career.

During her time as Divisional Librarian of the State Bibliographic Centre from 1965 until 1982, Lennie used her skills to negotiate with Western Australian libraries to create union catalogues to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the interlibrary loan service. Lennie also played a vital role as Staff Training and Development Officer, including her installation of a cadet mentoring program. Lennie holds a particular interest in Western Australian history, reflected in her ongoing councillorship at the Royal Western Australian Historical Society (1991 to present), in addition to her enthusiasm as a previous Director of the Battye Library.

Following her retirement in 1998, Lennie continued to give her time generously for the betterment of the State Library and the Western Australian history discipline. As a member of the Historical Records Rescue Group, Lennie was one of a three member consortium that secured a $3 million grant from Lotterywest. This facilitated the Library's digitisation of over 81,000 images and 155 films, as well as the microfilming of over 833,000 pages of newspaper.

Lennie was named a Fellow of the Library Board in 2010, following years of committed service to the State Library and to the preservation of Western Australian history.

Brian is Emeritus Professor of History at Murdoch University, and has cultivated a distinguished academic career, with notable appointments at the University of Western Australia and the Australian National University. Born in Western Australia, he has taught and researched many aspects of the history of this State and has been a Director of the Western Australian History Foundation since its inception.

Professor De Garis has also published extensively on the history of the federation movement and other aspects of Australian political history, including significant contributions whilst at the Centre for WA History at the University of Western Australia. Professor De Garis is currently a member of the Editorial Board for the Historical Encyclopaedia of WA project at the University of Western Australia, alongside fellow, previous Library Board member Emeritus Professor Geoffrey Bolton. In addition, he worked on a history of Australian popular culture.

A member of the Library Board since 1991, Professor De Garis was elected as Chairperson in December 1993. Brian was an energetic leader during a challenging period that demanded imaginative administration decisions and organisational changes. He continued to perform his duties with distinction, balancing the busy schedule of his university role with Library Board commitments.

In June 2000 Professor De Garis resigned from the Library Board to take up a two year appointment as Keith Cameron Professor of Australian History at University College, Dublin. He was awarded Fellowship of the Library Board at his final meeting, in recognition of his invaluable contribution to its work.

Wendy Birman graduated from the University of Western Australia in 1947 and gained a Carnegie scholarship to study librarianship at the Public Library of New South Wales. She was Librarian of the University of Western Australia's Adult Education Board, inaugurated by Board Fellow, Professor Fred Alexander, from 1949-54. Wendy retired from active library work in 1973 to pursue historical research. She worked as a part-time contributor to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, and contributed to numerous academic projects and texts in various areas of Western Australian history.

Wendy was appointed to the Board in 1982, serving as Vice Chairperson from 1989-90 and later as Chairperson from 1991-93. Ever the forward thinker, as Chairperson Wendy championed the State Library's use of emergent electronic technologies and encouraged full engagement with the online world. Upon naming her a Library Board Fellow in 1994, succeeding Chairperson, Professor Brian De Garis, commended Wendy for her years of service "well beyond the call of duty" in all roles.

Professor Reeves enjoyed a distinguished academic career, holding a diverse range of research interests within and related to the field of South Asian studies. He authored and contributed to numerous research publications and held memberships of scholarly bodies such as the Asian Studies Association of Australia, the Australian Historical Association and the Australian Maritime History Association. More recently, Peter has contributed to the South Asia Research Unit at Curtin University in the roles of Founding Director and Affiliate Member. Professor Reeves was also on the judging panel for the WA Premier's Book Awards for the 1990 and 1991 awards.

Professor Reeves joined the Library Board of Western Australia in 1984, serving as Chairperson during 1989-90.  During his time as Chairman he worked on many accountability issues including the establishment of two Standing Committees on Public Libraries and State Records, and the development of corporate planning into the State Library.  He was made a Fellow of the Board in 1992.

Initially a classroom teacher and school librarian, Chris Priest entered the public library service in 1980 as Children's Librarian at Bassendean Public Library. Chris went on to join the State Library Service, serving as Children's Specialist (later Young People's Consultant) from 1981 until her retirement in 1989. During this time Chris greatly strengthened the State Library's Children's Collections by streamlining the selection process to bolster the quality and variety of books available. A passionate advocate for children's literacy and specialised children's collections, Chris organised a number of conferences and events, including the 1984 seminar 'Does it matter what children read?', to raise the status of children's librarians and to help set standards relevant to the needs of young people. Chris was an avid supporter of the Research Collection of Children's Literature, and made an enduring contribution to the State Reference Library through her work in this area.

Chris encouraged new concepts in children's library services, and was closely associated with the development of the State Reference Library's holiday reading program, KRABS (Kids Raving about Books) and QUEST, a game to encourage reading. A dedicated supporter of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), Chris attended conferences in London, Sydney, Japan and Norway, and served as convenor/host for the joint IBBY-Loughborough conference on youth literature held in Perth in 1985.

An inaugural member of the Western Australian Young Readers Book Committee, Chris also served as Vice President of the Children's Book Council of Australia from 1986-87, and as National President of the Children's and Youth Services Section of the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) from 1989-90. In addition, Chris was actively involved in the Children's Literature newsletter Orana, a Library Association of Australia circular.

Chris contributed a wealth of material to the journal and took on a number of roles over time including Business Manager, Production Manager and Treasurer.

Chris was awarded a Fellowship of the Library Board in 1991 for her services to children's literature.

Margaret first joined the State Library in 1955 when she was appointed to the Archives staff, later travelling overseas to study archives management and earning great respect throughout her career for her expertise. She rose to become Principal Librarian of the J S Battye Library of West Australian History in 1972, a position she held with great interest as a Western Australian history enthusiast. During her time at the State Library Margaret instigated many invaluable developments, perhaps the most notable of which was her 1974 Oral History program for the Battye Library, considered a major development of national significance. Margaret consulted widely on State and local government archival projects, and was invited to report on the establishment of the Northern Territory Archives Authority for that government. Holding a keen interest in biography and bibliography, Margaret spoke on these subjects at numerous conferences of the Library Association of Australia.

To this day, Margaret is a committed member of the Friends of the Battye Library and the Royal WA Historical Society, which made her a Fellow in 1995.

A long-time member of the Australian Library and Information Association, Margaret was also named a Fellow of this organisation in 1986.

Margaret was Acting State Librarian following the retirement of Robert Sharman and the appointment of Lynn Allen in 1989.  She retired from the State Library in 1989, after 17 years as Principal Librarian of the Battye Library and many more years of significant service to the Library Board of Western Australia. In this same year she was granted Honorary Life Membership to the Australian Society of Archivists. Margaret was appointed as the Library Board's Visiting Scholar and named as a Board Fellow in 1991.

A retired farmer and investor, Norman King represented the Country Shire Councils Association of Western Australia from 1977-1989 as its nominee to the Library Board of Western Australia. Norman served on the Wickepin Shire Council for many years and was awarded the honour of Citizen of the Year for Wickepin Shire in 1980. He was also a Justice of the Peace, and held the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal for 1977. As a result Norman had a keen discernment for the needs of people living in the country, and was delighted to be a serving member of the Library Board at a time when the last of the State's 138 local government authorities were welcomed into the public library network as participating bodies.

Norman served as Chairman of the Library Board from 1984-85. During this period he oversaw the move of Library Board staff and resources from nine buildings scattered across the Perth area to the landmark, $39 million Alexander Library Building in the heart of the Perth Cultural Centre. An enthusiastic and supportive founding member of the Westralian Library Foundation, Norman also served on the Foundation's Executive Committee from inception, and chaired the Executive Committee's Constitution Sub-Committee.

Norman was presented with the Library Board Fellowship in 1990 following years of dedicated contribution to its work State-wide.

Mollie Lukis (1912-2009) graduated from the University of Western Australia in 1933 and commenced a career in mathematics. A change of direction came in 1944, when Mollie was appointed to oversee the creation of the government archives collection, pioneering the creation of the State Archives. Mollie remained State Archivist until her retirement.

A passionate and proactive collector of material for the Battye Library of West Australian History, Mollie inaugurated a travelling oral history collection program in 1961 that was the first and largest for any Australian state. She is particularly remembered for her work on behalf of country districts, including copying important Battye materials to be held as part of local archival collections in regional public libraries.

Mollie was generous with her support for, and input to, a number of community organisations, mainly in the fields of Western Australian history and the promotion of education and opportunities for women. A passionate advocate of women's rights, Mollie served actively on the WA Committee for Equal Opportunity during 1975-1983. Mollie was a founding member of the WA Branch of the National Trust of Australia, and strong supporter of the Royal Western Australian Historical Society, which later named her a Fellow.

Mollie was a founding member of the inaugural Library Board of Western Australia, serving from 1952-55 and again in 1974-77. She was also a member of the Library Association of Australia and in 1963 was awarded a Fellowship of that organisation in recognition of her invaluable work as an archivist.

Mollie was made a Fellow of the Library Board in 1989.

Tasmanian-born Robert Sharman (1928-2018) served as State Librarian from 1976 until 1988, following on from appointments as Archives Officer at the Australian National University and Assistant State Librarian at the State Library of South Australia. Initially trained as an archivist, Robert always considered the preservation of historical records to be of vital importance.

Whilst serving as the State Archivist of Tasmania, Robert founded the Tasmanian Historical Research Association as a pressure group to further the status of the state's then-neglected State Archives.

Significant developments were made under Sharman's direction as State Librarian of Western Australia. These include the construction of the Alexander Library Building, and the relocation of Library Staff and collections from many buildings and annexes to this new home in 1985. Sharman also oversaw the realisation of his predecessor, F A (Ali) Sharr's ultimate goal of creating a public library within every Western Australian local government authority, with this achieved by 1982. Under Sharman's leadership a regional library support system was implemented, providing subsidies and additional book stocks for libraries in remote locations.

Robert Sharman guided the State Library through a difficult period of upheaval, including a major State Government review in 1987 aimed at reducing the size of the public sector, itself culminating in a major structural review of the State Library's services. His technical and administrative expertise was recognised and rewarded when he was named a Fellow of the Library Board in 1988.

David Hickson ( -2011) worked in the State Library's Circulation Division from 1965 - 1972, having already accrued fifteen solid years of experience as a public librarian in his native Britain, and later returning to the public library service as the Librarian and Cultural Officer for the Shire of Canning. Throughout his career in librarianship David developed a keen interest and knowledge in library design, building and planning, and leaned towards more practical roles. David's expertise lead him into consultancy work on projects such as the proposed Northern Territory State Library in 1979, which later became a joint State-University library, and to the Busselton Shire Council's plans for an extension to the Busselton Library.

David also worked determinedly on the design and project management of the new Riverton Public Library, a 'showplace' amongst modern public libraries that opened in 1973 after six years of David's lobbying. David also contributed to the development of the public library service in WA in his capacity as WA Divisional Secretary of the Australian Library Association, organising a major meeting of public librarians in 1969 to discuss computerising library services.

David received the Fellowship of the Library Board in May 1987, in recognition of his services to the profession of librarianship and to library services in Western Australia. The award was intended in particular to commemorate David's painstaking work on the Alexander Library Building project. David worked tirelessly on the architectural brief, acting as an essential link between the Library Board and employees, and the architects, engineers and builders on the project.

James 'Jim' Hammond served as Chief Assistant Librarian with the Library Board from 1954 until his retirement in 1972. Jim performed single-handedly much of the bibliographic groundwork needed to create the State Library Service, with only the Library Board legislation, the Board itself, and his funding as his guide. His management saw the inauguration of monthly Book Selection Meetings between himself and representatives from the State's public libraries, with Jim playing a vital role as 'bibliographic liaison' between the State Library and other public libraries. Jim was also largely responsible for recruiting the State Library's staff - no mean feat owing to the difficulty of finding qualified Australian librarians at this time - and for educating new recruits.

Jim is warmly remembered by those at the State Library, not just for his excellent management of the State Library's book selection during the 'early days' under Ali Sharr but also for his good humour and sense of fun.  James Hammond was made a Fellow of the Library Board in 1984, to show appreciation for his significant contribution to the creation and development of the State Library Service.

Francis Aubie (Ali) Sharr (1914-2002) served as Secretary of the Library Board of Western Australia from 1953-1976 and as the Library's first official State Librarian from 1956-1976. In his time, Sharr oversaw the growth and development of the State Library. His goal was to have a public library in every local government authority, a dream which came to fruition in 1982. In addition to the creation of library services to rural and remote areas of Western Australia, Sharr directed the partitioning of the State Library's collections into subject divisions. The J S Battye Library of West Australian History was opened as a result of this initiative, with the dual function of acquiring and preserving WA documents and archives and materials written by Western Australians, and of providing an information service to the public based on this material. Sharr also created the State's Music Library, the first publicly accessible repository of its kind in Australia.

As President of the Library Association of Australia (now the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA)), Sharr also served as an advisor to the government of Nigeria for UNESCO's library development program during 1962-63, and from 1969-70.  Whilst serving as a Senior Examiner in Library Administration for the Library Association, Sharr also helped to establish a program at Perth Technical College to enable WA librarians to gain formal librarianship qualifications, and later at the Western Australian Institute of Technology (to become Curtin University of Technology).

Sharr was made a Fellow of the Library Board in 1984 to commemorate his invaluable work in developing the State Library of Western Australia and the State-wide public library service.

Professor Alexander (1899-1996) served as the inaugural Chairman of the Library Board from 1952-82. An eminent academic and patron of the arts, Professor Alexander was actively involved in the educational and cultural activities of Western Australia for many years.

Enjoying a distinguished career as Head of the Department of History at the University of Western Australia from its inception in 1948 until 1966, Professor Alexander travelled to South Africa, Canada, USA and Europe in Fellowship capacities and to India as a visiting Professor. Alongside these appointments, Professor Alexander also served as Director of Adult Education at the University of Western Australia. Determined for Western Australians to enjoy world class cultural events in spite of their geographic and cultural isolation, Professor Alexander was inspired to expand the activities of the University's summer program into the first ever Festival of Perth in 1953, a hugely successful venture that has since continued to blossom as the Perth International Arts Festival.

Professor Alexander was also Director and WA Representative of the Australian Elizabethan Trust, Director of the Australian Ballet Foundation and President of the WA branch of the Australian Institute of International Affairs.

Professor Alexander is remembered at the State Library for being a policymaker of wisdom and integrity who showed respect for the library profession by leaving professional judgements to the librarians, and focussing instead on policy direction. Under his direction, the State Library established many lasting and amicable relationships with Western Australian local governments and public libraries following the restructuring of these relations under the Library Board of Western Australia Act 1951. During his time as Chairperson, Professor Alexander also oversaw the renovation of the State Reference Library and creation of the J S Battye Library of West Australian History in 1956.

Professor Alexander was presented with the Library Board Fellowship in 1984 in recognition of his invaluable contribution both to the State Library and to public libraries in Western Australia. The Alexander Library Building is named in his honour.

This page last updated on 29 July 2022