Sir Harold White

Sir Harold Leslie White

  • HCL Anderson Award 1983  

Article in inCite v4, no 15, 26 August 1983, p1:

New Honour for first National Librarian.

The 1983 HCL Anderson Award, the foremost award in Australian librarianship, is to go to Sir Harold Leslie White, CBE. Now living in retirement, Sir Harold was Australia’s first national librarian and the country’s senior librarian for 23 years. He was a founding member of the Australian Institute of Librarians and of the LAA, which succeeded the Institute in 1949.

Sir Harold’s long career in librarianship began in 1923, when he joined the staff of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library; four years later he became Deputy Librarian. In 1947 he became Commonwealth National Librarian and was subsequently involved with the establishment of the National Library. When this became a separate entity in 1961 Sir Harold was appointed National Librarian retaining this position until his retirement in 1970.

The HCL Anderson Award is named in honour of Henry Charles Lennox Anderson who was librarian of the Public Library of NSW from 1893-1906. Born at sea in 1853, he was educated in Sydney, and a master at Sydney Grammar School from 1873-82. He served as Chief Examiner to the Department of Public Instruction 1882-90 and Director of Agriculture from March 1890 to August 1893, when he was appointed Principal Librarian of the Public Library of NSW.  He quickly mastered his new profession, with an influence on Australian librarianship still in evidence today.

It was Sir Harold White's outstanding contribution to Australian librarianship that led to his selection as this year’s recipient of the H.C.L. Anderson Award.  His achievement in collection building is without equal in Australian librarianship.  Only after the scattered resources of the National Library were brought together in 1967 was the significance of this national asset, for which he had been so largely responsible, fully realised. The vision, pertinacity and political skill of Harold White were the qualities that brought about the National Library, its location, size and appearance -without doubt one of the most successful library promotion exercises in Australia.

Sir Harold is one of the outstanding figures in the history of the LAA, and he laid the basis for effective library co-operation in Australia through his acceptance and development on AACOBS. Past recipients of the HCL Anderson Award include John Metcalfe. Wilma Radford, Thurles Thomas, Dietrich    Borchardt, Allan Horton, Francis Sharr, Phyllis Mander-Jones and Ira Raymond.

The date for the formal presentation to Sir Harold has not yet been set.


Link here to the obituary by Harrison Bryan, published in INCITE, 12 October 1992, p16.