Mollie Thomson

Mollie Thomson

  • ALIA Fellowship 1980

Brief summary in inCite 17 October 1980, p. 2

The distinction of Fellow of the Library Association of Australia has been conferred on Mollie Thomson, Deputy Librarian, Macquarie University.

Mollie Thomson has contributed to the professional nature of cataloguing by her encouragement of adherence to internationally recognised standards and by her efforts to improve existing standards and to promote new ones.  She has consistently worked towards her vision of a national network consonant with the role of international bibliographic agencies.

Mollie Thomson is an outstanding practitioner of librarianship who has made an unusually wide range of professional contributions to librarianship in Australia and North America. By her own example, her qualities of leadership , her publications, and her high standards of achievement she has contributed to the advancement of levels of practice and performance in the school, state, university and national libraries in which she has worked in Australia and North America.

In Memoriam

Obituary inCite vol 1, no 19, 21 Nov 1980, p. 7

Mollie Thomson, Deputy Librarian of Macquarie University, died peacefully at home on 21 October 1980, after a long illness. She had known that her illness was terminal and had been in hospital from time to time. Yet she had continued to come to work and as recently as the end of August she had attended the National Cataloguing Seminar in Melbourne, although she was too ill to take the active part that had earlier been arranged for her.  She retained her involvement in and commitment to all aspects-of librarianship to the end.

The citation for the distinction of Fellowship of the Library Association of Australia which had been awarded in recognition of her outstanding contributions to librarianship was read posthumously on 31 October at the Annual General Meeting of the Association and the award was handed to her husband, Mr Jim Falconer, privately, following the ceremony by the President, Denis Richardson.

Mollie Thomson made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of the practice and the profession of librarianship through her work in a number of library positions in Australia and North America.

After graduating from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Arts and Diploma of Education, Mollie was at first a high school teacher and then a teacher librarian before becoming a librarian at the State Library of New South Wales in 1951.

She trained primarily as a cataloguer to the highest standards of that library before becoming a cataloguer and reference librarian at Vancouver Public Library in 1954-58. She also worked as an indexer with the Canadian Library Association in Ottawa.  She returned to Australia in 1958 and joined the staff of the National Library of Australia.

She returned to North America for ANL as New York Liaison Officer of the National Library of Australia 1960-63. While in New York she gained the degree of Master of Science in librarianship at Columbia University in 1963. Mollie Thomson became Head Cataloguer at the National Library in 1964.

After a brief period of service at Monash University, she was appointed to the newly established Macquarie University where she was successively Head Cataloguer 1966, Technical Services Librarian 1967 and following the death of the former University Librarian, Mr Barry Scott in January 1970, she was Acting Librarian. She was Deputy Librarian from 1971 until her death.

Mollie Thomson will be remembered with affection and admiration by all who knew her. Throughout her career in librarianship of over 30 years she was able to inspire library staff and administrators alike to believe that institutional, professional and national goals were achievable.

She was a librarian with technical skills and standards of the highest order in almost all aspects of librarianship.  She was most generous in sharing her experience with others but was modest and almost self-effacing about her own very great abilities. Those who were privileged to work with her will always treasure her wisdom, common-sense, and steadfastness and her helpfulness and care for the individual. These qualities were combined with vivacity and a zest for living, a sense of elegance and an appreciation of beauty and good design which exemplified her sense of proportion and her view of what was right.

Despite her wide-ranging library interests which included management staff development, audiovisual, school librarianship, reader education and reference work, Mollie Thomson's most abiding interest was cataloguing and more recently network development.

ln 1977 she spent most of her study leave investigating network developments in North America and Britain. She spent several weeks at the Washington State Library, Olympia, studying the Washington Library Network system.

Her long experience as a cataloguer enabled her to recognise the importance of quality control function of authority files in networks at a time of changing cataloguing codes and integration of contributed entries from bibliographic agencies in a number of countries.

Mollie Thomson will always be remembered as a consummate cataloguer and as the epitome of the complete librarian.  In the course of her career she had excelled in school, university, state and national libraries in Australia and in various professional capacities in North America where she will also be widely mourned.  She has left it to others to continue to work for the attainment of a national bibliographic network, the vision of which she shared with so many of her colleagues who now mourn her loss

Eoin Wilkinson