Frederick Exon

Dr Frederick Exon BA DipLib PhD FALIA

  • Fellowship conferred 1996

Dr Frederick Charles Andrew (Andy) Exon began his association with the library and information profession in Australia when, in 1980, he joined the (then) Western Australian Institute of Technology for the joint positions of Assistant Librarian and Lecturer in the School of Library and Information Studies. In 1984, Dr Exon was appointed to the position of Research and Development Librarian of the WAIT Library (now the Curtin University of Technology Library and Information Service).

Dr Exon has made a significant and sustained contribution to the theory and practice of library and information services both in Australia and internationally. His career is distinguished by his commitment to the development of library and information services and its practitioners. Andy's leadership has taken many forms: he has initiated and conducted several major research projects, initiated and organised meetings and seminars on issues related to theory and practice, participated actively in Australian and international professional associations and published widely. Moreover, he has been a generous and valued mentor of students and professional colleagues throughout his career.

Dr Exon's professional concerns have been the development of theory in library and information studies as the basis for effective practice, and the development of structures for transferring theory into practice. These concerns have driven his professional activities, research and publications and resulted in a coherent body of work from which Dr Exon's outstanding contribution internationally, and to practice in Australia, can be judged.

Dr Exon's international contribution includes his activities as a member of international associations in the field, organisation of meetings, seminars and speaking tours by leading international researchers and practitioners, and research and publication. A corollary of his beliefs in the importance of diffusing theory into practice has been Dr Exon's commitment to the sharing of knowledge about library and information services. He has been active in attending, speaking at and organising meetings, seminars and conferences. He was a co-founder of the International Meeting on Research into Information Science which has held successful meetings coinciding with the annual meeting of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA).

An active member of the ALIA Western Australian Branch since 1981, Dr Exon was a member of the State Library and State Archive Legislation Working Parties, led the Branch's delegation to the State Minister for the Arts to advise on the redrafting of legislation for the State Library, and Convened a Task Force to mount a national Think Tank on Library Statistics. He contributed significantly to the 1990 ALIA Conference held in Perth in his capacity as conference secretary. An active participant, organiser and/or facilitator of ALIA continuing professional development programs, Dr Exon has played an integrating role in many of these activities. His contribution to the profession and the Association is all the more outstanding because, while contributing to ALIA, he has drawn on international sources and professional bodies.

Dr Exon's concern with the development of theory as the basis for effective practice and the development of structures for transferring theory into practice were explored in a compilation of essays by international experts which has since become a textbook in Australia and the United Kingdom. Together with an English colleague, Dr Exon founded a journal to explore the methodological crisis within information research, and a report on the most recent international conference on information research methodology has influenced subsequent research in the field. Dr Exon's research has also examined the effect of the paradigm shift within modern librarianship from passive collection-building to pro-active delivery of access to information sources, and has included the results of the first national survey of Australian document supply traffic - significant for the innovative techniques used, including the production of a training video, and for being the first time that all Australian libraries co-operated in the gathering of data for a research project. Other studies have become a part of the received literature of library performance measurement and Dr Exon's doctoral thesis extended this work with a survey of inter-library loan clients.

The conduct of research and development, including the supervision of higher degree students, has underpinned Dr Exon's contributions to library and information studies. Dr Exon has also been engaged as a consultant on both local and national projects. Many of Dr Exon's consultancies have been undertaken on a voluntary basis, reflecting his view that the results of research and development in library and information studies should be disseminated widely.

Throughout his employment at Curtin University of Technology, Dr Exon has been an active advocate for both the library and information services and for information research. His activities in these areas have helped to promote a positive image of librarians and to raise the status and awareness of the profession within the University. The energy and commitment reflected in Dr Exon's many activities is not limited to formal contribution. He has given his time generously to students and colleagues who have sought information or advice about theory and research, and acted as mentor to many Western Australian librarians who have embarked on research since 1980. His vision and method have informed applied and theoretical library and information research in Western Australia in practical ways and he is held in high regard both nationally and internationally. There is no doubt that Dr Exon has made a significant contribution to the development of library and information services in Australia and is a worthy recipient of the distinction of Fellow of the Australian Library and Information Association.