Former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam died on Tuesday 21 October, aged 98.
Mr Whitlam led the country through a period of massive social change from 1972 to 1975.
Mr Whitlam was honored by ALIA on 22 July 1994 for his outstanding service to the library and information profession.
He was the recipient of Redmond Barry Award. The citation states:
Fundamental to Mr Whitlam’s vision for our country has been his philosophical commitment to the ‘right to know’ and therefore the importance of providing equality of access to information for all members of the community.
The citation notes that of particular significance was the establishment of the committee of Inquiry into Public Libraries on 11 March 1975. The Inquiry not only examined issues related to the effective provisioning of free public library services but made other detailed recommendations on planning, coordination, finance, regionalisation, technological matters and the need for innovation. The Inquiry’s broad premise that the provision of public library and information services should be the collective responsibility of the Commonwealth, State and local spheres of government, funded in part by each, was strongly welcomed by the LIS profession at the time.
The citation also notes that Mr Whitlam introduced the Public Lending Right which ensured financial support for authors whose books were made available in public libraries. The establishment of the Australian Archives was recognition of the importance of preserving our documentary heritage and the funding of tertiary institutions led to the development of impressive collections in university libraries.
Mr Whitlam was made an Honorary Life Member of ALIA and we salute his contribution to the LIS sector.