Brian Cook

Brian Cook BA Grad Dip Lib MEd MA PhD FALIA

  • Fellowship conferred 1997

Brian Cook's contribution to the library and information profession, both in the practice of his profession and its theoretical body of knowledge, has been outstanding. His administrative style and practice are regarded by colleagues as progressive and are recognisable by the use of technology to deliver services and by the importance he places on staff development and training. His recent work and writing in the area of convergence of library and computing services is especially notable.

Before concentrating his career on library and information science Brian Cook displayed leadership in the field of education and administration. While serving as a teacher and later as a deputy principal with the NSW Department of Education, Brian was a constant advocate for the library in the schools to which he was posted. In 1974 he became a lecturer in Curriculum Theory and Practice at Wagga Wagga Teachers' College, later to become Riverina College of Advanced Education, and within two years was appointed as director of the Information Resources Centre (IRC). As director, Brian had administrative oversight and policy direction responsibilities for the College Library, Computer Services Unit, Educational Technology Unit, Printery and several other services in support of the College's off-campus studies program.

Realising the importance of professional qualifications in the field of library and information science, Brian enrolled in a Graduate Diploma in Librarianship which he completed in 1980. In the same year he was admitted as a Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Oregon and was invited to become Head of the Department of Library and Information Science at Riverina CAE. At the same time the library school at Riverina was pioneering the off-campus delivery of library and information science courses in Australia and consequently its courses were subject to close review and attention by the library profession. It is a tribute to Brian's leadership and advocacy that those courses could be defended and accepted by the profession.

In August 1982 Brian was appointed the foundation librarian of the newly formed Brisbane College of Advanced Education. Under his direction the library systems of four previously separate Colleges of Advanced Education were merged into a single integrated information system. Through outstanding management and leadership, Brian drew the new organisation together obtaining increased respect and increased financial support for the library. An important achievement in this period was the design and installation of computer-based systems serving technical services and circulation as well as a system-wide take-up of on-line information retrieval services.

Notwithstanding the intensity of these activities, Brian was becoming increasingly involved in the wider affairs of the College and, in 1987, he was promoted to assistant director. In this role he was responsible for a wide range of services, including educational technology, audio-visual services, library and computing. In this position Brian also became heavily involved in a wide range of committees, reviews and new initiatives such as directing the College's new programs for fee-paying overseas students.

When Griffith University resolved to integrate its library, computing, audio-visual and educational technology services, Brian was appointed in 1990 as director, Information Services and University Librarian. As his role expanded to include university policy matters, he was promoted to pro-vice-chancellor (information services) in 1992. Brian was instrumental in establishing the Brisbane University Libraries' Office of Co-operation, the first substantial co-operative venture among the three university libraries in Brisbane. The organisation has evolved into a co-operative body of nine university libraries in Queensland and northern New South Wales.

Brian was successful in obtaining major funding from Commonwealth Government sources for co-operative library projects including the regional linking of library systems. In 1994, as part of its library program, the Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee asked Brian to co-ordinate a major component of the information infrastructure projects. Projects ranged from investigating the copyright issues of electronic reserve collections to the development of software for improved transmission of electronic documents.

Throughout his career, Brian has adopted a strong mentoring role towards younger and more junior members of the profession, nurturing and developing individual staff, in particular those who may have believed they lacked the experience to seek positions which they were capable of performing. In his capacity as pro-vice-chancellor at Griffith University, Brian has retained his interest in and relationship with the activities of the profession. He continues to explore innovative methods for meeting university information needs. In particular, his work at Griffith University aimed at integrating major aspects of its library and computing services is seen by many as a model for university libraries of the future.

An Associate of ALIA since 1980, Brian has demonstrated his support for the objects and work of the Association through his willingness to serve as president of the Queensland Branch in 1985 and 1986 and subsequently as a member of the Queensland Branch Council. Brian has contributed papers and presentations to ALIA conferences and to Branch Council sponsored activities. As part of his commitment to staff development and training, Brian encourages his colleagues to develop papers for ALIA conferences and facilitates their attendance at various ALIA activities.

Brian Cook has been dynamic and inspirational in his work for the library profession. Colleagues speak of his preparedness to push the boundaries of the profession, his personal integrity and his leadership style which wins the total loyalty and support of staff. Brian Cook is a most worthy recipient of the distinction of Fellow of the Australian Library and Information Association.