Charles Smith BA FLAA
Fellowship conferred 1970
Charles Edmund Smith was educated in New South Wales, graduating Bachelor of Arts of the University of Sydney in 1950. He completed the qualifying examination of the Library Association of Australia in 1952 and thus has been a professional member of the Association for nearly twenty years, and one of its foundation Associates. In 1957 he was awarded the Certificate of Competency of the Library Board of New South Wales.
Mr Smith has been, for more than a decade, a leading public librarian in New South Wales. Serving first on the staff of what was then the Public Library of New South Wales; he was seconded to the New South Wales Department of Education and was its librarian for five years before becoming, in 1954, librarian of the metropolitan shire of Sutherland. In 1956 he returned to the Public Library and was seconded to the New South Wales Department of Technical Education and the New South Wales Film Council, of which he was librarian. In 1958 he returned to Sutherland as librarian and in 1961 he was appointed city librarian of Newcastle.
The Board wishes to report that it is extremely impressed with Mr Smith's widespread contribution to libraries and librarianship in Australia.
In his performance as a public librarian, Mr Smith has been outstanding. In the Board's view the City Library of Newcastle stands apart from other public libraries, in New South Wales at least, in its development of archival and local history collections. As a result of Mr Smith's drive in this area his library can claim to assumed genuine regional responsibilities. The library has published archival inventories and annual indexes to the Newcastle Morning Herald. In addition it has now issued five publications in the series Newcastle History Monographs. Mr Smith initiated the series, has acted as its editor and himself wrote the first volume in the series.
As part of this actively promoted interest, Mr Smith is president of the Newcastle and Hunter District Historical Society and has fostered a local history museum of which he is a trustee.
The City Library has also emerged, under Mr Smith's leadership, as a regional centre in other respects. He directs and lectures at the Newcastle Library School, which he founded, in 1962, on behalf of the City Council and the Library Board of New South Wales and he has take a leading part in stimulating very effective library co-operation in the area.
Mr Smith's services to librarianship have been well expressed in his long and varied service to the Library Association of Australia. He has been secretary, treasurer and president of the New South Wales Branch, and secretary and treasurer of the Special Libraries section and has served on the committee of the New South Wales Division of the Public Libraries section. On going to Newcastle he assumed an active role in the Central Coast Regional Groups and is currently its president.
Outside the Association he was prominent in the Founding of the Association of Local Government librarians in New South Wales. He served as its secretary/treasurer from its foundation in 1959 until 1965 when he became its president, a position he still holds.
An important feature of Mr Smith's presidency of the New South Wales Branch was the well-attended Branch Conference in 1956 on the theme Reading and research in a technological age. Mr Smith's personal contribution to the success of this venture is universally attested.
Turning to Mr Smith's publications, the Board reports that he has written in the Australian Library Journal on subjects as diverse as the role of the Library Association of Australia in the development of libraries and the use of statistics in special libraries. His account of James Mitchell, the father of David Scott Mitchell, which appeared in the Newcastle History Monographs series is interesting and well-written and he has contributed to the Shire and Municipal Record. A thoughtful paper is to be found in the Proceedings of the Association's 1965 conference.
His major work, however, is certainly the published report of his observations of libraries abroad during the course of his Albert Mainerd Scholarship in 1968. This volume, Aspects of Public Library Administration has been referred to by a reviewer in the following terms:
Mr Smith is to be congratulated on having produced so comprehensive and well-written a document in so short a time; and in so doing have made a valuable contribution to our indigenous professional literature.
The Board concurs in this estimate and commends Charles Edmund Smith to Council as a leading public librarian who has brought honour to our profession by reason of his selection for an important award, who has added notably to our professional literature and whose work in building a major city library service has been outstanding.
The Board records it opinion that Mr Smith has made a distinguished contribution to the practice of librarianship in Australia and recommends that he be invited to the distinction of Fellow of the Library Association of Australia.