Alison Crook

Alison Crook AO HonDUniv BA(Hons) DipEd DipLib MBA FAICD FAIM FALIA

  • Fellowship conferred 1993

Alison Crook has made a distinguished contribution to the profession of librarianship since 1976, when she was appointed lecturer, Resource Centre, in the South Australian Department of TAFE with responsibilities for College resource Centres at the Flinders Street Technical College and the Adelaide College of Further Education. Subsequently, from December 1979 to May 1982 she was principal librarian of the North Brisbane College of Advanced Education responsible for the management of the College Resource Centre. From June 1982 to December 1987 Alison was deputy state librarian in the State Library of New South Wales. Her major achievements in this position related to the internal management of the state library, including the preparation of a strategic plan, the implementation of automation, a strong emphasis on staff development and training and more effective organisational structures.

Alison was appointed as state librarian of New South Wales in September 1987, and has made an outstanding contribution to the State Library of New South Wales' development since that time. In leading the State Library, Alison has displayed outstanding vision and management skills. Her achievements have included the dynamic high profile range of public program activities, the establishment of a series of specialised business enterprises marketing carefully designed services to raise additional funds to supplement government sources, the establishment of a Foundation that has raised over five million dollars in five years, the introduction of new services targeting specific groups, with a particular commitment to library services for people with disabilities, the use of technological innovations, and an emphasis on 'best practice' with improved workflows and greater productivity. The State Library of New South Wales has in the last five years built a very high profile as a public institution, and Alison has capitalised skillfully on the opportunities provided by the new Macquarie Street Wing of the library, and the remodeled Mitchell Wing opened in 1988.

Two aspects of these achievements need particular note. The first is that they have required the concurrence, co-operation, support and effort of her staff. Refocusing a major public sector bureaucracy is a difficult enterprise, and in this respect, the commitment gained from her staff demonstrates the strength of her vision and her outstanding leadership skills. The second is that, in very difficult economic and political circumstances, the State Library has generated considerable revenue from business activities and fund raising initiatives, while at the same time skillfully preserving the Library's basic commitment to free public access.

Alison has also made a major and sustained impact on national professional development during her career. She has given considerable service to ALIA, including positions as a Branch Councillor, Queensland General Councillor in 1982 and as vice-president and president of the South Australian Branch in 1978-79 and the New South Wales Branch in 1985-86. Alison has made a major contribution to the work of the Australian Council of Libraries and Information Services (ACLIS), as vice-president of the National Council from 1988-90, president from 1990-92 and NSW representative from 1988-93. She was also active in the work of ACLIS' predecessor, AACOBS, the Australian Advisory Council on Bibliographical Services. Her leadership in ACLIS has included a strong commitment to implementing the outcomes of the Australian Libraries Summit of 1988, and in particular the development and implementation of the concept of the Distributed National Collection.

Australian librarianship benefits when its senior practitioners in addition to meeting their professional responsibilities involve themselves in wider community activities, and Alison has done so extensively in recent years. She is one of the most senior women in the NSW government and is the current president of the NSW Division of the Royal Australian Institute of Public Administration. She is a director of Open Learning Technology Corporation and the Open Learning Agency of Australia. She is a member of the Board of Governors of the University of Western Sydney. Her achievements have been recognised through the ALIA Library Manager of the Year Award in 1988, the Achievement award for outstanding achievement since graduation of the South Australian Institute of Technology Graduates Association in 1989, the Business Leader of the Year (Professions) in the Business Review Weekly/Alcatel Award for 1991, and the Bulletin/Qantas Businesswoman of the Year for 1993.

Alison is well regarded as a public speaker both within the library and information sector and the wider community. She has also written articles that are both provocative and visionary. She is an innovator in organisational change in libraries, constantly emphasising the need to respond to environmental changes and focusing on the centrality of clients in service development. As an energetic and inspiring leader in the re-positioning of libraries and in stressing the value of information for the economic and cultural growth of Australia, Alison Crook is a worthy recipient of the distinction of Fellow of the Australian Library and Information Association.