Frank Tate

Frank Tate (1864-1939)

From Australia’s Library & Information Services – an Encyclopaedia of Practice and Practitioners (ALIAS), 1991. Ed Harrison Bryan, vol. 3 p.89-90:

Frank Tate, educationalist, senior public servant and lay supporter of libraries, was born and educated in Victoria. He trained as a school teacher but his unusual abilities soon led to his appointment as a lecturer, and later Principal, of the Teachers Training College, Melbourne. In 1902 he was appointed Victoria’s first Director of Education, a position he held for twenty-six years. His work as Director was outstanding, particularly his efforts to make secondary education widely available.

On his retirement in 1928, Tate became a leading figure in the establishment, with funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER).  He served as its Chairman until his death.

As President of the Library Association of Victoria (LAV) Tate became involved in the movement for free public libraries in Australia. He used his connections with the Carnegie Corporation to win support for a survey of Australian library conditions, which ACER published and distributed (the Munn-Pitt Report). Subsequently Tate chaired an informal body known as the Library Group, which met under ACER’s auspices and acted as a channel of advice for the Carnegie Corporation on opportunities for furthering library development in Australia. He also became Victoria’s leading spokesperson for the Free Library Movement (FLM).

Tate discovered libraries as a cause only in the last decade of his life, but having done so he devoted to them the enthusiasm and missionary fervour which had characterised his revolutionary work in Victorian education. In recognition of his outstanding contribution, the Australian Institute of Librarians (AIL) made him its first honorary member in 1938.

An MA of the University of Melbourne, Tate was twice honoured nationally, being awarded both the ISO and CMG.

NEIL A. RADFORD