Bruce Chamberlain

The Hon Bruce Anthony Chamberlain AM

  • BA, LLB  University of Melbourne
  • Redmond Barry Award conferred posthumously  on 3 September 2007

The Honourable Bruce Anthony Chamberlain AM, was an effective champion and leader on behalf of libraries for almost thirty years. He was always passionate about library service and his contribution was substantial and evident. His dedication to libraries went far beyond his public roles and responsibilities as a councillor and parliamentarian. Bruce was an outstanding exemplar of support for the library and information profession.

Bruce Chamberlain's support of libraries was evident during his 18 years as Chairman of the Glenelg Regional Library Service where Bruce, in a gesture that highlighted his commitment to libraries and rural communities, remained as Chairman of the large municipal library serving Western Victorian even after being elected to the Victorian Parliament. This action was a most prominent example of Bruce's belief in public libraries as fundamental to the health of rural communities. Bruce went on to Chair the Glenelg Regional Library Service for a further sixteen years while a Member of the Parliament of Victoria. The period to 1989 was remarkably fruitful for the region and for a stronger library service. Bruce's leadership and vision were vital to the beneficial outcomes.

During his years as Chairman, Bruce redefined the traditional role of Chairman. He knew all the staff. He used the library. He personally promoted the programs, the extension of services, and he emphasised the importance of celebration of outcomes. He was committed to delivering better services to remote and isolated settlements. While the jargon of good governance was then something for the future, Bruce lived and breathed best practice, best communication, and a belief in the service.

Bruce Chamberlain had almost twenty years experience as a parliamentarian when he was elected President of the Victorian Legislative Council in 1992. He had all the right credentials for the job: a background in the law, plenty of parliamentary experience, a great appreciation of democratic processes and a desire to uphold the independence of the office and the parliament. He also recognised the unique role the Parliamentary Library could play in a robust parliamentary democracy and in improving community understanding of parliamentary processes.

Bruce was also enthusiastic about and committed to, implementing new technology both in the parliament and in the library. When Bruce became Chairman of the Library Committee, the Parliamentary Library was beginning to provide automated library services. When he resigned his seat and his term as President, the Parliamentary Library delivered almost all its services to members 24/7 to home and electorate offices via the internet and to Parliament House offices via a wireless LAN.

Bruce Chamberlain enjoyed over a decade as President of the Legislative Council and in many ways, it was his role as Chairman of the Parliamentary Library Committee that allowed him to leave such a lasting and positive legacy. He used the library to promote the use of IT among Members and to realise his vision of "online legislators". He used the library to encourage better understanding of government and democracy. He used the library to improve the public perception of the Parliament of Victoria.

Bruce took every opportunity to emphasise the importance of the Parliamentary Library as an integral element of parliamentary democracy. It is only with an effective library and information service that government and the executive can be called to account.

If doubts were ever raised about the future of the library in the parliamentary administration, Bruce would give the reassuring reply "Don't worry about the library, you know it’s my baby!".

The Redmond Barry Award is the Australian Library and Information Association's highest honour that can be bestowed on an individual not eligible for associate membership. It is awarded in recognition of outstanding service to or promotion of library and information services, or the practice of library and information science. The Honourable Bruce Chamberlain's outstanding contribution to the promotion of library and information services make him a most worthy recipient of the ALIA Redmond Barry Award.

ALIA President