James Bennett

James Bennett, Redmond Barry Award 

The Australian Library Journal 19 October 1979, pp331-332.

His citation reads in part:

‘He began as a library supplier in 1958, and between then and his retirement 20 years later his career is marked with a series of achievements. Ever the egalitarian, he was the first to take on successfully those monopolists who had for years fattened on the premise that the witless colonies should pay premium for overseas books. His greatest coup was to break the infamous “closed market”, and thereby ensure that Australian libraries could buy at the English or American price converted to Australian currency without loading for a cursory handling by the London or New York bookselling gentility.

‘His firm set a number of precedents, including cataloguing data supply, and its marketing and the comprehensive stocking of Australiana ensured that Australian publishing output secured a foothold in the rest of the world.

‘While the acquisition of, say, British publications from one of the major British suppliers might be relatively straightforward, the problems of obtaining material from less organised markets are considerable and James Bennett has prided himself on obtaining books from Reykjavik to southern Chile, and virtually everywhere in between.

‘The introduction of the library supplier into Australia has freed librarians from the more traditionally operated local booksellers who were not able in all cases to meet the specific requirements of libraries. One wonders if the growth of libraries since 1962 would have been as free-moving had librarians still to operate through booksellers not geared to offer libraries the prices available from a library supplier, the overall speed of supply, and the associated services.

‘What is notable about James Bennett was the informed flair with which his operation was conducted, his development of personal contacts with librarians, and his study and analysis of the needs of Australian libraries. As a pioneer of library supply services in Australia in a distinctive and individualistic way, he merits the regard, recognition (and already holds the affection) of Australian librarians.’

 

Link to obituary in INCITE, April 1994.