Nancy Booker

Nancy Booker (1906 - 2006)

Nancy Booker was one of the pioneers of children's library services in Australia. She was instrumental in the development of the Children's Section of the then Library Association of Australia, the forerunner of ALIA. She grew up in the Chatswood area and after attending Sydney University worked as a library assistant at Sydney Teachers' College [1925-1939] and Armidale Teachers College [1940-1942].

Following her return to Sydney she took charge of the Teacher's College Library [1942-1953] followed by her time as a lecturer in school library practice [1954-1958]. She joined Sydney University as Senior Cataloguer in 1959, and from there she took leave to work with Unesco in Paris [1961-1962]. She resumed her work as a cataloguer-librarian until 1966 when she became a school library consultant to private schools.

Nancy's commitment to the establishment of a professional section of ALIA devoted to children's and young adult needs is legendary. In 1946 a School Library Committee was set up with Nancy as Convenor. At the 1947 conference of the Australian Institute of Librarians the Discussion Group of School and Children's Libraries, chaired by Nancy, agreed to work towards the establishment of School and Children's committees in each state.

By 1950 the NSW Branch of the Library Association of Australia had appointed a School and Children's Committee, led by Nancy Booker, and she and her committee began exerting pressure to have a section formally recognised. In 1951 the committee held a five day training course at Mosman Municipal Library with 36 students attending. This was a landmark in the history of children's library services in Australia.

During the 1950's, Nancy ran courses in children's literature at WEA classes and professionals, teachers and members of the community enjoyed her knowledge and enthusiasm for her subject and her appreciation of the importance of children's literature.

Nancy has been described by Marjorie Cotton as a 'visionary who was totally unafraid of past traditions and bureaucracy'.