Desmond Tellis

Desmond Tellis FALIA

  • ALIA Fellowship 1989

Des Tellis has brought to librarianship in Australia a combination of vision, intelligence, creation and pragmatism. He has made a distinguished contribution to the theory and practice of librarianship through his leadership on the role of information science and its importance to special libraries. His dedication to library and information services has enhanced the profession of librarianship well beyond its own boundaries.

He began his career in Bangalore, in the Technical Information Centre, Electronics and Radar Development Establishment where he was a documentation officer and subsequently officer-in-charge.

His first job in Australian libraries was with the Research Service of the State Library of South Australia. From there he moved to the library of the South Australian Museum of Natural History and thence to the Australian Mineral Development Laboratories where he was a report editor and information officer.

In 1973 he was appointed as the first librarian of the Australian Mineral Foundation (AMF) and his association with the AMF continues to the present. He is currently the Information Services Manager of the organisation - a position he has held for the last ten years. He has been responsible for the development of its library and information services and also for the substantial task of the development, co-ordination and running of the Australian National Geoscience database AESIS (Australian Earth Sciences Information System). The development of AESIS benefited not only the earth sciences industry in Australia but had ramifications for the role of libraries and for special librarians as information professionals.

Des Tellis has played a major role in the theory and practice of database development and information science in Australia. In 1984 Des Tellis was awarded the Robert D Williamson Award for his 'outstanding contribution to the development of information science in Australia' and 'for demonstrated potential for positively influencing future directions in information science'. He was subsequently elected a Fellow of the Institute of Information Scientists, London in 1985.

Des Tellis has published prolifically on a variety of subjects including online databases, communication and access to information. He has not only written papers for conferences, journals and books but has edited and produced many others including his contribution as co-compiler of various editions of the Australian Thesaurus of Earth Sciences and Related Terms.

In all his written and spoken contributions Des Tellis has been a keen advocate for the concept of information as a valuable resource for all organisations. His presentation of papers is always informative, entertaining and memorable. In addition, he conveys a keen sense of the value of information and of his chosen profession, taking every opportunity to promote the profession to non-librarians and librarians alike. Between 1984 and 1987 Des Tellis was invited to give guest lectures on corporate information at the Australian Administrative Staff College at Mt Eliza, Victoria. This confirms that his reputation as a speaker is also recognised outside of library circles.

Des Tellis has ably served on many and varied committees. These include work in various capacities for the Australian Advisory Council on Bibliographic Services (replaced by the Australian Council of Library and Information Services) and three years as president of the Special Libraries Section of the Library Association of Australia in South Australia. He was also instrumental in founding the Australian Geoscience Information Association. In the international arena, he has worked on several projects promoting information services in other countries in the Asian Pacific region including India, Pakistan and New Caledonia.

It is significant that Des Tellis's commitment to information services has led to his membership of the Australian Academy of Science, National Committee for Scientific Information and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, Information Technology Committee. His interest in and enthusiasm for information science is not restricted to this country or to our own profession. He knows the value of information for effective economic development and promotes the cause of librarians being indispensable members of any organisation by their provision of timely and relevant information.

Des Tellis's significant and far reaching contributions to library and information services in Australia and internationally make him a most worthy recipient of this Fellowship of the Australian Library and Information Association.