Edward Parr

Edward Parr BA(Hons) MLib FALIA

  • ALIA Fellowship 1990

Ed Parr has brought to librarianship in Australia a combination of vision, vigour and adventurousness. He has made a distinguished contribution to library and information services through his dedication to the development of the potential for co-operation and resource sharing, his vision for extending information services beyond the traditional limits of an academic library and his active participation in furthering education for the library profession.

He began his career in 1963 as a branch librarian in Perth. After a period as a librarian at the University of Papua New Guinea from 1968 to 1972, he took up a position as a lecturer in the Department of Library and Information Studies in the Western Australian Institute of Technology. Ed was later to return to the Department of Library and Information Studies after three years of service as principal librarian at Nedlands College of Advanced Education. He was also associate college librarian at Western Australia College of Advanced Education before taking up his current position as director of the Learning and Information Centre at the University of New England, Northern Rivers.

Ed Parr's involvement in networking began in 1982 when he was elected chairman of the interim board of the Western Australian Library Network. This Board comprised university, college and state library authorities and assessed the feasibility of an integrated library network for Western Australia. His appreciation of the potential for networks and his ability to give life to concepts of co-operation later led to his election to the CLANN Board of Directors, and subsequently to his election as deputy chairman of that Board.

In 1989 Ed carried out an investigatory study on multi-campus university libraries in the United Kingdom and the United States. His report to the deputy vice-chancellor is being used to lay the groundwork for linking the disparate systems of the constituent members of the new networked University of New England. His visit further strengthened his ideals if equity and access. A paper on this study was later presented at a conference titled Merge and mutate: the administration and organisation of multi-campus academic libraries which was held in Adelaide in February 1990.

At the University of New England, Northern Rivers he has been entrusted with a range of responsibilities extending well beyond those of his position as director of the University Library. He serves on the Executive Committee of the University and the Northern Rivers Combined Schools Academic Board and is widely respected for his administrative skills and his ability to bring people of divergent views to a workable consensus. In so doing, he has achieved an excellent name for librarians, their capabilities and their contribution to the academic and the university community.

He has also extended the role of the University Library staff in a similar way, such that they play an interactive role in the learning process and are perceived by students as a resource in themselves and not as passive custodians of materials. Library staff work closely with academic staff towards a common goal of promoting individual student learning.

Ed Parr has served as a member of the Association's Board of Education for nine years, and has participated in many course recognition visits. At the time of his retirement from the Board in 1989, he was convenor of the Professional Standards Committee. He has also served the Association in numerous other capacities. He has been the president of two Association Branches: the Papua New Guinea Branch from 1970 to 1971 and the Western Australian Branch from 1979 to 1980. He has also represented both Branches on the Association's General Council.

Ed Parr's professional interests and publications have been wide ranging. This can be illustrated by his publications which are as diverse as Curriculum design in librarianship: an international approach to his most recent The keeping place: an annotated bibliography and guide to the study of the aborigines and aboriginal culture in Northeast New South Wales and Southeast Queensland. He has also successfully completed consultancies with the Commonwealth and New South Wales Parliamentary libraries and the International Development Programs of Australian Universities and Colleges (IDP).

Colleagues are impresses with his thoughtful and thought-provoking approach to the profession. He inspires colleagues to develop and extend themselves, his sense of humour often serving as a catalyst. The energy and stimulus he has contributed to the profession make him a worthy recipient of the distinction of Fellow of the Australian Library and Information Association.



After a short but fatal illness, Ed Parr died at his home in Fremantle in December.  Born in Taunton, England, Ed migrated at a young age with his first wife to Canada.  He had a varied working life there before coming to Australia where his career in librarianship took root.  His qualifications were capped by a Master’s Degree in Librarianship from the University of New South Wales in 1975.  He worked in several universities in Australia in both teaching and management capacities.  Ed also spent five years in Papua New Guinea at the Library of UPNG.

Among his abiding interests were education for librarians, professional standards, and public relations with users.  He carried out consultancies on user needs and services which included those available in the Parliamentary libraries of the Commonwealth and New South Wales.  His range of professional papers was also broad and he well merited the Fellowship the Library Association bestowed on him for contributions listed in the impressive Fellowship Citation he received.

Ed’s involvement in the Affairs and activities of the professional library associations he joined was also characteristically considerable and varied.  They too are recognised in his Award of the Fellowship.

Ed Parr was a softly-spoken and unassuming man with a sharp mind and a wide knowledge of the human condition.  His character was both attractive and warm to those whose path crossed his.  Very striking was his passion for trekking and doing major walks in Europe, Asia and Australia.  He was a fascinating raconteur on his experiences.  He was not what we call a limelighter, but easily earned and merited the respect and affection he received.  His record speaks for itself and is not done justice by this short memorial.


Russell Cope

Former Parliamentary Librarian New South Wales