Warren Horton

Warren Horton BA FALIA

Link to the Warren Horton special issue of Australian Academic and Research libraries - vol 36, issue 3, 2005

Fellowship conferred 1985

Warren Horton was appointed to the staff of the Public (now State) Library of NSW in 1957. Following experience in several sections of the library, including the new position of senior librarian-in-charge, Mitchell Library Reference and Research Sections and that of assistant principal librarian (Staff and Departmental Libraries) he was promoted to the position of deputy state librarian in 1975. He became state librarian of Victoria in August 1981, and in July 1985 took up the position of director-general of the National Library of Australia.

Among Mr Horton's principal contributions to the State Library of NSW were his part in the Sheldon Award, which established a clear professional structure for librarians and a separate career structure for paraprofessionals at the State Library, and his work as chairman of the LERN Committee, whose congently argued and wide-ranging report outlined future directions for the Library. He played a leading role in the State Library's submission to the Commonwealth Grants Commission's review of income tax sharing arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States, and many aspects of the submission were accepted by the Commission in its subsequent report.

As state librarian of Victoria, Warren Horton transformed the image and operation of the State Library, setting high professional and managerial standards. He was responsible for a complete organisational restructuring of the library, for the recruitment and development of a cohesive and effective management team, introduced new services and was instrumental in promoting a major program of planning for a new State Library.

Mr Horton is prominent in the affairs of the LAA. He was President of the Association in 1984, and has held numerous other offices, including president of the New South Wales branch in 1971-73 and in 1981, treasurer of the Branch from 1967-70 and it’s General Councillor in 1971-72. He was treasurer of the 1971 Biennial Conference Committee, and of the Public Libraries Section in 1970-71. He is convenor of the Corporate Plan and Review Committee which is charged with the responsibility of reassessing the Association's aims and objectives, preparing a corporate plan for the Association, and reviewing its structure and functions against the plan. A notable achievement during his presidency was the organisation and chairing of the important and successful Document Delivery Summit held in Canberra in November 1984 which paves the way for the development of more effective national services in this important area.

In addition to the official offices he has held in the LAA, Mr Horton has played an active part in promoting the welfare of the Association in other ways. He has lectured extensively to library school students, was a part-time teacher in librarianship at Sydney Technical College, and an examiner for the Registration Examination for many years.

Warren Horton has been a member of the AACOBS National Council since 1981, was the Victorian representative on its Standing Committee, and chairman of the AACOBS Victorian State Committee from 1982 to 1985. He is deputy chairman of the Australian Libraries and Information Council, and has been a member of all working groups established by the Council in connection with national information planning. A member of the Australian Bibliographic Network Committee since 1981, he was deputy chairperson in 1983-84.

The General Council of the LAA considers Warren Horton to have made a notable contribution to librarianship and to the Library Association of Australia, and that he is most worthy of the distinction of Fellowship of the Association.

WARREN HORTON.  HCL ANDERSON AWARD.   inCite Vol 9, no 8,  27 May 1988 p 9.

The General Council of the Association has conferred the H .C.L. Anderson Award on Warren Horton. Warren Horton assumed the highest position in Australian librarianship when he was appointed Director-General of the National Library of Australia in 1985. Prior to that he had been State Librarian of Victoria, and Deputy State Librarian of NSW.

He has held numerous positions in the Library Association of Australia, including President in 1984, President of the NSW Branch in 1971-73 and 1981, General Councillor for NSW in 1971-72.

As President of the Association he set an exemplary model, travelling extensively to speak to and meet the members of the Association and giving support and advice both to the membership and to the Head Office staff.  During this time, he was responsible for bringing about some major changes to the Association.  Under his leadership General Council established the Corporate Plan and Review Committee, of which Mr Horton was Chairman.  As a result of the  Committee's report to Council in 1986 the Association has a new  name and objects, and there has been a major review of its services and activities.

A notable achievement of Mr Horton's presidency, was the organisation and chairing of the Document Delivery Summit held in Canberra in November 1984. This paved the way for the development of more effective national services in this important area.  He has made a major contribution to the lobbying efforts of the Association by preparing lobbying policy papers and by voicing the concerns of the Association at every available opportunity. He has been a strong advocate of a national information policy. Mr Horton is a member of the IFLA 1988 Conference Committee and has promoted the conference actively in Australia and overseas.

Warren Horton was appointed to the staff of the Public (now State) Library of NSW in 1957and he was promoted to the position of Deputy State Librarian in 1975. He made several major contributions to the State Library, playing a dominant part in the Sheldon Award which established a clear professional structure for librarians and a separate career structure for para-professionals. As Chairman of the LERN (Library of NSW: Enquiry into Role and Needs) Committee, in 1974 he produced a wide ranging report which outlined future directions for the Library.

In August 1981 Warren Horton was appointed State Librarian of Victoria. In the four years of his appointment he was responsible for a complete organisational restructuring of the Library, for the recruitment and development of a cohesive and effective management team, introduced new services and was instrumental in promoting a major program of planning a new State Library building.

In July 1985, Mr Horton took up the position of Director-General of the National Library of Australia. He is an eloquent and committed advocate for the Library to government, the public and the profession. He has been a member of the AACOBS national Council since 1981, and was Chairman of the Australian Libraries and Information Council. It is through his efforts, primarily, that the Australian Council of Libraries and Information Services has been formed.

He is the instigator and Chairman of the Australian Library Summit which will be held in October 1988 and which will address key issues in librarianship and identify preferred alternative structures for library and related information services for the future.

Mr W M HORTON PRESIDENT 1984:  Brief note inCite Jan 1997 p9

When Warren Horton succeeded Harrison Bryan as Director-General of the National Library of Australia in 1985 (a position he still holds), his background for the position was impeccable -six years as Deputy State Librarian of one State followed by three years as State Librarian of another.

During his presidency of the Library Association of Australia, Horton initiated the corporate review.  His emphasis was on the importance of effective lobbying and the improvement of the image and status of the profession.

OBITUARY   inCite, vol. 25, issue 1-2, January-February 2004. p. 6.

Warren Michael Horton AM, BA [Syd], Hon D Litt [La Trobe], Hon D Lit [UTS], FALIA 23 June 1938 - 25 November 2003

Librarianship, like other disciplines, has its seasons and its personalities. Warren Horton will take his place as one of the great figures in the recent history of the profession in Australia during a period when a substantial restructuring of all aspects of Australian life, especially of its public and private organisations, was afoot. As director-general of the National Library of Australia from July 1985 until his retirement in July 1999, he led a great institution though one of the most turbulent periods in its history. At the same time he played a leading role on the national and international stages of the profession.

He was born in Ryde, and grew up in Dee Why. He attended primary school there, and was by his account, fairly summarily transferred to Canberra Grammar in 1949. This early dislocation in his life perhaps gave him the foundations of the political sense which was one of his outstanding gifts. He started professional life in the Public Library of New South Wales, and was soon recognised as a bright young achiever, working in the Information Service sections of the General Reference Library and the Mitchell Library. He was deputy of the State Library of NSW from 1975 to 1981, and State Librarian of Victoria between 1981 and 1985. Although one version of his life has him at first determined to become a politician, he never faltered in his service nor his dedication to librarianship. That profession has recognised his achievements, not least those on the international stage.

From 1991 to 1997 he was an elected member to the executive board of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). He was the first member from the Pacific Region, a somewhat unknown entity in a largely Euro-American organisation, and it is fair to say that he put the libraries of the region firmly on the international map. He received IFLA's Gold Medal in 1997 and its Honorary Fellowship in 1999. Only his developing illness prevented him from becoming its president.

He was intensely active on the Australian, New Zealand and South-east Asian fronts. The Australian Library and Information Association, of which he was president in 1984, awarded him its Fellowship in 1985, and in 1988 he received its HCL Anderson Award, which is the highest professional honour open to an Australian librarian. He was instrumental in the broader interface between government and libraries: indeed the performance of the director-general of the National Library is one of the barometers by which governments gain a perspective of libraries across the nation as a whole.

During his directorship the National Library encountered fiscal and electronic turbulence, and his ride turned out to be if not rougher, then rough in a different way from that of his predecessors. His tenure saw major 'restructuring', a relative downsizing of the National Library workforce, a contraction of national horizons, a movement from social to economic pre-occupations as the driving force of Australian polity, and a major shift in the status of the public service and its relations with the body politic. At the same time, he was strengthening the essential links between the National Library and the broader profession, and restored the Library to a pivotal place in the formal and informal networks of Australian and regional libraries through which service devolves to citizens in a wide range of contexts.

He was a guide and mentor to many librarians in the region. He educated and inspired a generation of Australian librarians to engage with the political process, and his presence in the national capital when the Association's head office was established there was a fortunate coincidence indeed.

His personal life was marked with tragedy: his marriage to the historian Patsy Hardy in 1985 changed his life and brought to it a richness of affection and conviviality. Her death in 1994 was a terrible blow to him and to all their friends, and he chose to commemorate her life with a magnificent set of tapestry panels which grace the walls of the National Library. After her death he was 'adopted' by the Woods diplomatic household, which offered him a family life which did much to heal, or at least ameliorate, the wound in his soul.

He will not be forgotten: his work on the national and international stages, as a mentor to younger professionals, and as the mainspring of the Aurora Foundation whose role is the development of leadership in the younger cadres of the profession will ensure this. Those who received the gift of his friendship will die with it still warm in their hearts.

In his life he ventured much. As such men do, he attracted his share of envy and dislike: when faced with difficulties he preferred to resolve them amicably, but if this could not be achieved he had no hesitation in moving resolutely. Where others havered, he would act. For this he attracted criticism, and occasionally, outright malice. Large libraries and big men are easy targets, but he was never deterred from following a right course of action simply because it would attract hostility.

John Levett, Editor of the Australian Library Journal