Fay Nicholson

Fay Nicholson BA DipEd GDipLib MAdmin FALIA

  • ALIA Fellowship 1991

Fay Nicholson has made a distinguished contribution to the theory and practice of librarianship during the past twenty years. Her interest in the educational process, be it for children in schools or students at university has led to her involvement at the highest levels. Fay began her career in librarianship in 1973 as a teacher librarian at Oakleigh Technical School although it could be said that her interest was sparked in a previous position as a research officer with the Department of Defence. She then became a lecturer in the Department of Library and Information Studies at the Melbourne State College advancing to the position of senior lecturer in the same department when after two amalgamations it became the Institute of Education at the University of Melbourne. More recently she left academia to work as a consultant specialising in training and development whilst staying in touch as a senior lecturer at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

An inspirational teacher, Fay's students would describe her as well prepared, informative, challenging and entertaining. As executive officer for the Graduate Diploma in Library and Information Studies from 1985-1990, she was responsible for ensuring that the courses offered within the Diploma were constantly revised and abreast with current developments. Her role also included the marketing of the course and both graduates and employers were periodically surveyed with their responses being fed back into the development of the course. It must be said that Fay's interest in her students continues well after they have graduated and she is the inaugural chair of the Library and Information Management Alumni Group at the University of Melbourne.

An active member of the Australian Library and Information Association, Fay was a committee member of the School Libraries Section Victorian Group for many years and has been very involved with the Education for Library and Information Services Section having held positions as president of both the Victorian and National Groups. Her contribution included work on the conference planning committees for two seminal conferences conducted by the then Education for Librarianship Section on the Information Professional and the Information Workforce. In 1988 Fay participated in the planning for an international meeting of educators held in conjunction with the IFLA Conference in Sydney. She was elected to the ALIA Board of Education in 1987 and became chair of the Board in 1990. Her contribution to the maintenance of professional standards saw her heavily involved in the work of the Board's Professional Standards Committee at a time when there was considerable discussion throughout the Association on the overall quality of library education. Fay worked tirelessly with General Council, Branches and schools of library and information science to promote and explain the work of the Board and instigated with the Board an ambitious program of policy review and reassessment of the Board's priorities. Her ambassadorship of the Board and its activities culminated in a most successful meeting with Educators and Practitioners at the 1990 Perth ALIA Conference.

Fay has also been heavily involved with the Australian School Library Association both at the National and State level through her membership of the School Library Association of Victoria. She is at present the Australasian director of the International Association of School Librarianship, representing Australian and New Zealand interests on all aspects of school librarianship and keeping the International Association informed of current trends in the region.

One of Fay's overriding concerns has been to improve the standards for beginning professionals and further training and development and she is presently the ALIA consultant on the Federal Government's Training Guarantee Act. Although she has written on a number of her concerns such as library management and the significance of teaching qualifications for teacher librarians, the focus of her career has been on interactive education. Constantly asked to speak at conferences or to lead workshops and seminars, Fay has also worked extensively as a consultant on projects such as an analysis of the training needs of the Victorian State Library.

She believes strongly in the value of the profession and in presenting the image of the profession well to other sectors of the workforce. Fay Nicholson possesses the driving energy and vision to motivate others to look not only at what currently exists but to see and prepare for future trends. The inspiration which Fay Nicholson instills in her students and colleagues bodes well for the future of library and information services in Australia.

As a member who has made a sustained contribution to the theory and practice of librarianship and provided leadership to the profession, Fay Nicholson well deserves the distinction of Fellow of the Australian Library and Information Association.


Fay Nicholson passed in April 2021, she will be missed.