Kenneth Myer

Kenneth Baillieu Myer AC DSC

  • Redmond Barry Award 1989

Kenneth Baillieu Myer has in the last thirty years given outstanding service to the National Library of Australia and to the Australian library profession.

Mr Myer served on the National Library of Australia Council for twenty-one years, an unparalleled record of public service to the Library. Its Annual Report, 1981-82, fittingly refers to this in the following terms:

"The Chairman of the Council, Mr K.B. Myer, retired on 22 March after more than twenty-one years' distinguished service to the Library. Mr Myer, who had been Chairman since August 1974, was appointed a member of the Interim Council in October 1960 and served continuously as a member of the Council from the establishment of the Library on a statutory basis in March 1961. He was closely involved in the planning for the Library building and in the application of new technology to the Library's operations, particularly in the field of computer-based services."

What this published record for obvious reasons cannot make clear is the time, effort and restless enthusiasm which Mr Myer also brought to the Library's cause. He came to the Council at a time when he had heavy responsibilities to his business interests, but quickly established a reputation for thorough preparation for Council meetings and for raising and pursuing significant issues. These included the question of adequate financial support for the Library, where his business background was of considerable advantage to the Library. He took a particular and constructive interest in the question of gaining government approval for the construction of the National Library building, but also spent much time and effort developing his knowledge of library matters and in pursuing National Library interests overseas.

Mr Myer while chairman of the National Library Council from 1974-1982 was also an informed and articulate advocate of its interests in a range of public forums. He also established the National Library of Australia Trust Fund, and through this action the policy of seeking private sector support for the Library. He has since vacating office on the Council continued his financial support to the Library through regular capital donations to its Trust Funds, the income of which has enabled the Library to undertake projects of advantage to the broader library community but on occasion also outside the normal opportunities available through Government funds. The most obvious example of this in recent years is of course the Australian Libraries Summit. The concept of the Summit planning process very much attracted Mr Myer's interest at the stage it was being developed, and a separate and special donation of $20,000 from him in 1987 largely funded the Summit's central expenses. It goes without saying that he himself, notwithstanding his strong personal interest in the Summit planning process, as usual attached no conditions to this donation nor sought to influence the Summit planning process itself.

In addition to his involvement with the National Library of Australia Mr Myer has also over the last thirty years demonstrated a deep interest in broader Australian library matters, and has been an articulate and committed advocate on the profession's behalf. His appointment as a Companion in the Order of Australia in 1976 demonstrates his national standing as a man of affairs participating in a wide range of intellectual and cultural forums. In all of them he has when appropriate articulated the profession's interest, but especially concerning the nation's need for dynamic scientific and technological information services and effective broad information planning with libraries as a major participant. The Redmond Barry Award may be conferred by the Australian Library and Information Association on any lay person not employed in a library who has rendered outstanding service to the promotion of a library or of libraries, or to the practice of librarianship. Mr Kenneth Myer has in the last thirty years given outstanding service not only to the National Library of Australia but also to the Australian library profession. The General Council of the Association considers him a most worthy recipient of the Award.