Jan Fullerton

Jan Fullerton AO, BA (UQ), Grad DipLib (UNSW), FAHA, ALAA

  • HCL Anderson Award 2010

Jan Fullerton has made an extraordinary contribution to library and information profession in Australia, in particular to its practice. Jan's library background has spanned all the fundamental areas of library operations including cataloguing, acquisitions and collection development, preservation, information services and document supply. In her position as Director of Collections and Reader Services, and subsequently as Director-General, she was instrumental in leading the development of the National Library's digital collection and access policies and services.

Jan Fullerton is a worthy recipient of the HCL Anderson award for the outstanding leadership she has shown, particularly in recognition of her work to make unique Australian library materials accessible to all through innovative resource discovery services and digitization, not only at the National Library but through collaboration with other libraries and cultural institutions. This commitment to increase the visibility of collections and services can be seen in the Treasures exhibitions, resulting in a greatly increased awareness of the value of national and international documentary heritage. In opening up free access to the national catalogue, Libraries Australia, Jan has taken the nation's collections to the virtual doorstop of all Australians.

Jan has led the development of a range of new digital services and initiatives at the National Library. It was her visionary approach that led to the establishment of the world renowned PANDORA archive, the first archive of its type in the world. From the first small scale experimental approaches to archiving the web at the National Library, PANDORA has become a truly collaborative national service with state libraries contributing, in addition to the National Film and Sound Archive, the Australian War Memorial and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. Examples of significant documentary heritage material that now exist only in the PANDORA archive are the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games site, the first Olympic Games site to be archived and the Centenary of Federation site, a perennial in the top ten most visited sites in PANDORA. In 2005 digital archiving expanded with the commencement of whole domain harvesting whereby the Internet Arc hive is contracted by the National Library to capture a snapshot of the entire .au domain. It is typical of Jan's pragmatic attitude that regular whole domain harvests are being made even though the limitations of Australian copyright law and Legal Deposit provisions mean much of the archive cannot yet be made available to the public. The 2008 harvest has captured a billion pages, which might otherwise be lost to posterity.

Picture Australia is an outstanding example of a collaborative national discovery service instigated under Jan's leadership. From modest beginnings as an experiment with cross searching between the digitised pictures collections of the State Library of NSW and the NLA, Picture Australia now includes 1.5 million images drawn from 46 collecting institutions, the latest being Warringah Library Services in NSW.

Another example of Jan's determination to improve access to significant documentary resources is the recent launch of the beta service of Australian digitised newspapers. When applications for external project funding for this major national initiative proved fruitless Jan decided the National Library would support the project using its collection depreciation funds. When the Beta service was launched on 25 July 2008 it contained 70,000 newspaper pages from 1803 onwards with thousands of additional pages being added each week.

In 1999 when Jan became Director-General the National Library was digitising only about 4000 pictures each year, using the services of an external contractor. Under Jan's leadership digitisation was brought in house and extended to cover many formats including maps, sheet music, manuscripts and selected print items as well as pictures. At 30 June 2008, a total of 134 228 National Library collection items have been digitised, earning the Library inclusion in the list of the 25 Most Modern Libraries in the World, for its extensive digital collections.

Jan's formative professional years were spent as a cataloguer. The National Library's record in creating online bibliographic holdings for its vast and rich collections is testimony to Jan's belief in the fundamental importance of basic cataloguing to make collections accessible. Currently more than 88% of the Library's collections have online catalogue records which can be discovered through Google and OCLC as well as the Library's OPAC.

The redevelopment of Kinetica to become the new Libraries Australia service, launched in 2006, is another example of Jan's vision that information about library collections should be free to all Australians and those interested in Australia. To make the subscription service free to anyone with access to the Internet required a degree of risk taking. In order to prevent loss of the subscription revenue from participating libraries which essentially funds the operation of the service, great advocacy was needed to convince libraries to maintain their subscriptions in the public interest and support the new business model. There were more than 14 million searches on Libraries Australia to June 2008, showing the relevance of this service.

Jan has provided outstanding leadership to the Australian library sector in a time of major change and challenges relating to the emergence of the internet as a powerful and complex information creation and delivery tool for libraries and other collecting institutions. Jan has raised the profile of libraries and improved services across the sector through a wide range of collaborative and innovative initiatives. Jan has bought the library and other collecting sectors closer together in an effort to provide services at the national level that all Australians can use with ease.

With a fine combination of vision, extraordinary personal skills and great commitment, Jan has provided inspiration to all in the Australian library sector. The HCL Anderson Award is ALIA's highest honour, noting outstanding achievement. In conferring this honour to Jan Fullerton, the Association recognises the significant and valuable contribution she has made to the field of library and information sciences. Congratulations Jan.