Maxine Rochester

Dr Maxine Rochester BA MLS PhD FLA FALIA

  • ALIA Fellowship 1999

Dr Maxine Rochester has made a significant contribution to the development of the library and information profession in Australia, particularly in the area of education for the profession and research. Maxine is an academic of long standing and has been an active researcher. An outstanding list of publications attests to the breadth of her research interests. A committed and enthusiastic teacher, her students - whether undergraduates or postgraduate research students - have benefitted from her willingness to share her knowledge and experience.

Maxine's career in the library and information profession began in the State Library of New South Wales. After a period spent working in public libraries in England, at Fisher Library, University of Sydney and as librarian of the School of Librarianship and Information Science, University of Western Ontario, Maxine took up the position of lecturer and later, senior lecturer, in librarianship at the Canberra College of Advanced Education (now the University of Canberra). In 1990, Maxine was appointed Associate Professor, School of Library Studies, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga - a position she held until her retirement in 1998.

A recognised leader in library and information science research, Maxine completed her Masters and PhD in librarianship at a time when there were few academics with similar qualifications in this subject area. She is now regarded as a prominent researcher in historical librarianship. Her work on the contribution of the Carnegie Corporation to library development in the British dominions during the 1930s, including the impact of overseas aid to developing countries and the resultant change in library services, has received international recognition and acclaim.

But Maxine has also been attuned to immediate needs within the profession. When, in her teaching, Maxine identified a lack of material dealing with library management issues from an Australian perspective, she worked with her colleague, Fay Nicholson, to develop Challenges in Australian library management and Best practice: Challenges in library management education, both now regarded as leading texts on the subject.

Maxine's energy and enthusiasm for research were also channelled into encouraging others to become involved in research activities. To this end she has worked on many committees at the local, national and international level and in 1996 she organised a workshop on Research in the Asian Context for the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Conference in Beijing. Following her appointment to Charles Sturt University she became the Riverina Campus leader of the Women's Research Network, which aims to foster the growth of a research ethos among university women. Under Maxine's inspirational leadership ideas generated from the network assisted the establishment of research projects, the development of research tools and identification of staff members, both male and female, with particular expertise.

Maxine has represented the profession with distinction in a number of areas. She acted as an adviser and consultant on behalf of the then Library Association of Australia to Canberra Technical College, now Canberra Institute of Technology, for the proposed library technician course. She has served on course recognition panels for library schools throughout Australia and was a member of the Course Consultative Committee for the University of Canberra library and information studies program. Since 1993, she has been a member of the Library and Information Studies Reference Group, Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee Credit Transfer Project.

Throughout her professional career, Maxine has been active in the Australian Library and Information Association making important contributions and presentations at many of the Association's conferences. Whilst in Canberra she served on ACT Branch and also national committees, including the National Awards Committee of the then Library Association of Australia. In 1982 and 1983 she was ACT branch councillor and in 1984 became branch president. Maxine has also been a committed member of the Association's Education for Library and Information Services Section (ELISS) supporting its activities and translating ideas from her research into workshops, forums, and seminars to assist members in their continuing professional development. Further she has consistently encouraged Section members, as well as her colleagues and students, to extend themselves by challenging them to write and publish.

Under her editorial guidance from 1994 to 1997, the ELISS journal Education for Library and Information Services: Australia grew in stature to become 'essential reading for the information professional' as voted by an international panel of the International Federation of Documentation (FID). Maxine achieved this by having articles refereed, thus increasing the journal's academic rigour and by seeking a broader range of scholarly contributions from Australia and also internationally.

At the international level, Maxine has made an important contribution to the work of IFLA serving on several committees, including the Executive Committee of the Round Table of Library History (1990-1991) and the Standing Committee of Library Theory and Research (1992-1993 and 1997-1998). As chair of the Section of Library Theory and Research between 1993 and 1995, Maxine co-ordinated a major international research project which studied national trends in library and information science research in nine developed and developing countries. The research was funded by three separate grants, including one awarded in 1997 to Maxine as principal investigator in conjunction with Professor Pertti Vakkari of the University of Tampere, Finland, to compare national and international trends. A further grant followed in 1998 to expand the analysis by considering the social and cognitive institutionalisation of the library and information science research field in the countries studied which will help to explain differences in library and information science research in these countries.

Maxine's contribution to the profession has also been recognised internationally. In 1997, the Library Association of the United Kingdom conferred on her a Fellowship of the Association in recognition of her work in three areas: research and scholarship, contribution to library and information science education, and to the work of national and international library associations. The esteem in which Maxine is held can be judged in that only four Library Association Fellowships were awarded during the year in an Association of some 26 000 members.

Throughout her career Maxine has made a significant contribution to the library and information profession. Her leadership in research and scholarship, her role in educating future library and information professionals and her long-term involvement in professional activities demonstrate an outstanding personal commitment to the Association and to the profession at the local, national and international level. Dr Maxine Rochester is a worthy recipient of the distinction of Fellow of the Australian Library and Information Association.