Eric Wainwright

Eric Wainwright MA DAdmin MIInfSc ALA FALIA

Eric Wainwright has made a distinguished contribution to the profession of librarianship in Australia since he came here as a lecturer in the Department of Library Studies at the Western Australian Institute of Technology in 1972. He had entered the library profession through the Library Association (UK) post-graduate professional examination at the College of Librarianship, Wales in 1968, following his graduation from the University of Cambridge. He became the Reader Services Librarian at Murdoch University in 1975, deputy university librarian at the University of Queensland in 1978, and university librarian at the University of Adelaide in November 1981. His major achievements in Adelaide included initiating, planning and obtaining funding (outside the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission's major buildings program) for a complete remodeling of the main library building, almost completed by the time he left; a complete restructure of library staffing; acquisition of the Library's first major computer; and a restructuring of the materials budget on a more logical, quantitative basis.

In March 1988 Eric was appointed deputy director-general of the National Library of Australia and he has made an outstanding contribution to its development since that time. This has included responsibility for the development of the major 1990-1995 Strategic Plan Shaping out future: preserving our past, leadership of the staff team who produced the 1990 Collection Development Policy and responsibility for the major building upgrade in recent years.

He played a major part in the planning for the Australian Libraries Summit meeting of October 1988, especially in the thinking and debates leading to what emerged as the concept of the Distributed National Collection. He subsequently chaired the joint ACLIS/NLA National Taskforce on Conspectus of 1989. He was also the instigator and driving force for the highly successful March 1992 NLA sponsored Towards Federation 2001 conference, with the agreed mission 'to enable Australians to have the maximum possible bibliographical can physical access to their recorded documentary heritage by the year 2001'.

Eric Wainwright has also made a major and sustained impact on broad national professional developments during his career. He had given outstanding service to the Australian Library and Information Association, with a major contribution being his sustained and extensive work as a member of the Board of Education from 1983-1991 including his term as chairman from 1988-1989. He has given considerable service in a wide range of capacities to the Australian Council of Library and Information Services (ACLIS) and its predecessor the Australian Advisory Council on Bibliographical Services (AACOBS). While this contribution is too detailed to list in this citation, mention should be made of his long-term activity in promoting and developing research in Australian librarianship and of the particular importance of the 1976 publication Measures of adequacy for library collections in Australian Colleges of Advanced Education (the Dean-Wainwright Report).

He has made an outstanding contribution to the development of the governance and policies of the Australian Bibliographic Network (ABN). He has, with the exception of one meeting, been an ABN Network Committee member in one capacity or another since its establishment in 1981. He was deputy chairman of the Committee in 1984-85, and chairman in 1986-87. He was a key figure in developing ABN policies in the first few years of the Network, especially those concerning its governance, the basis on which membership categories and the financial structure should be developed, technical standards and the working relationship between the National Library and Network members. The continuity of his membership and policy contribution, albeit from different perspectives, has given stability and long term direction to ABN throughout its life.

Eric Wainwright has published extensively throughout his career, and indeed is among the most prolific of the present senior Australian professionals. His publications concentrate on national and co-operative activities, management issues, the impact of technology and strategic planning. They are always well research, solid in content, provocative and forward looking.

The most important contribution Eric Wainwright has made to the profession in recent years was through his membership of the Higher Education Council Working Party on Library Provision in Higher Education Institutions (the Ross Report). It is public knowledge that his sustained commitment through the life of the project was of central importance to the final report. This is only the latest demonstration of his preparedness to unstintingly devote himself to important national activities on the profession's behalf.

The General Council may confer a Fellowship on a professional member of the Association who 'has made a distinguished and sustained contribution to the theory and/or practice of librarianship'. Erica Wainwright's contribution to the development of the Australian profession has been sustained, of great diversity and of national importance. The General Council believes that he is a worthy recipient of the distinction of Fellow of the Australian Library and Information Association.


Recipient of the HCL Anderson Award 1997


Eric Wainwright is an outstanding librarian. His contribution to library and information services and to the profession in Australia has been formidable. Many practising librarians have been influenced by his thinking and personal example of professional practice performed at the highest level.

Following temporary posts after university studies, Eric was appointed Assistant Librarian (Information Services) at the University of Surrey Library in 1969. He came to Australia as Lecturer in Bibliographical Resources, Department of Library Studies, in the then Western Australian Institute of Technology in 1972, was appointed a Research Fellow in the Department in 1974, and then Reader Services Librarian at Murdoch University the following year, and Deputy University Librarian at The University of Queensland in 1978. Eric joined The University of Adelaide as University Librarian in 1981, was appointed Deputy Director-General of the National Library of Australia in 1988, and in August will be taking up the position of Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Support) at James Cook University.

He has been outstandingly successful in all his professional appointments. At The University of Queensland, for example, he developed a systematic approach to the withdrawal of lesser-used material from academic library shelves, which became a model for other university libraries. His time as University Librarian at The University of Adelaide was characterised by major achievements in strategic planning, collection development and computer policies. His achievements at the National Library of Australia include oversight of the development of the Library's last two strategic plans, the key role in the definition of the concept of the Distributed National Collection (DNC) and responsibility for the major Towards Federation 2001: Linking Australians and their Heritage planning process of the early 1990s.

Eric has also given distinguished service to the development of the Australian Bibliographic Network (ABN). He was appointed a member of the interim ABN Network Committee on its establishment in 1981 and has since served on the Network Committee almost continuously. He has been heavily involved in all key policy decisions underpinning ABN's operations and a fervent advocate for its importance to the Australian library infrastructure.

Eric has been involved in a wide range of broad professional activities which have benefited the profession. In the early 1970s, when colleges of advanced education were proliferating, he and John Dean undertook on behalf of the Commission on Advanced Education a major research project to investigate the feasibility of setting up quantitative and qualitative guidelines for the development of library collections in Colleges of Advanced Education. He was, on the nomination of the Australian Vice Chancellors' Committee, a member of the Working Party which reported to the Higher Education Council on Library Provision in Higher Education Institutions (the Ross Report) in 1990, and much of the intellectual rigour and comprehensiveness of the Report is due to him.

He has in the last two years made a major contribution to the policy work of the Office of Government Information Technology (OGIT) in the Commonwealth Government. He led the taskforce responsible for the Report of the Information Management Services Committee on 'Management of Government Information'. This work is of national significance, and his expertise was reflected in his recent appointment as one of the three Commonwealth Government nominees on the new Information Policy Advisory Council, advising the Commonwealth Minister for Communications and the Arts on national policy issues concerning information and communication services.

As the library and information sector copes with the implications of the dynamic growth in information technology and electronic networking, Eric has used every opportunity, through seminars, conferences, meetings and the professional literature, to draw his colleagues' attention to the opportunities the new technologies provide both in an institutional setting and in the global network context. His efforts to clarify and communicate the intricacies of developments such as convergence in technologies, so that librarians can help shape the strategic thinking governing their application, have been of enormous benefit. He is a prolific writer and has a record of publications equalled by few others in the profession.

Few members can match the contribution Eric has made to the Association over nearly three decades. This has included his distinguished term as a member of the Board of Education for nine years from 1983, and as chair of the Board from 1988 to 1989. He has a great interest in the issue of education for librarianship, where his strong views have often challenged the profession. He has continually sought improvement to the educational framework in order that it might better cope with the increasing complexity of library and information service delivery, and was a pioneer in advocating effective and broad-ranging staff development policies in Australian libraries. He has also given much service to the Australian Council of Library and Information Services and its predecessors, including the development of the AACOBS national research agenda in the 1980s.

Eric Wainwright throughout his career has cogently and lucidly argued for change, and for a clear articulation of the principles and strategic directions necessary for the profession to thrive. He has a catholic range of professional interests, and has both challenged and led through his publications, teaching, speaking and advocacy roles in many forums. He has given distinguished service to several of our major libraries, to the Association, and to the profession in wider professional and other forums.

The HCL Anderson award is the highest honour that can be conferred by the Association on a librarian, and in the opinion of the ALIA General Council, Eric Wainwright is a most-worthy recipient of it.