VALA's most prestigious award is the Robert D. Williamson Award. It is in the memory of one of the early pioneers of our industry, Bob Williamson. This biennial award is presented to an individual or organisation who or which, in the opinion of the judging panel, has made and is currently making an outstanding contribution to the development of information technology usage in Australian libraries and is positively and significantly influencing development in information technology usage within libraries.
The Award consists of a framed certificate, a medallion and a gift (or gifts) to the value of $2,000 (two thousand dollars). The Robert D. Williamson Award is announced and presented at the VALA Conference Dinner.
The VALA web site provides details about the Robert D. Williamson Award recipients.
Although originally a chemical engineer, as manager of APM’s (now AMCOR’s) research library, Robert (Bob) Williamson was an early devotee of information technology in libraries. By the early 1970’s he had persuaded management to invest significantly in relevant US computer databases and software to support the company’s business objectives. This predated all of the publicly available services.
Professionally Bob was a leader. He was a quiet man, both curious and innovative, a generous advisor to colleagues, and an eager participant in the professional debates at the time. Bob also developed “recipe books” to help new online searchers navigate the different commands needed to access the new online services.
Bob was the industry representative on the STISEC committee convened by the National Library of Australia to quantify scientific and technical publication in Australia. When Peter Judge of CSIRO formed ALIA’s national Information Science Section, Bob was an obvious choice to convene that Section in Victoria just a few years before his sudden and untimely death in 1980.
It is therefore fitting that VALA's most prestigious award is named after Robert D. Williamson.
The 2008 Robert D. Williamson Award went to Elizabeth Drynan and Pamela Johnstone, from Enterprise Information Management Pty Ltd, for their outstanding contribution to librarianship as editors of Online Currents.
The 2006 Robert D. Williamson Award went to Lloyd Sokvitne from the State Library of Tasmania for his outstanding contribution to librarianship especially in the area of metadata and online information discovery.
The 2002 Robert D. Williamson Award went to Hans Groenewegen from Monash University for his outstanding contribution to librarianship especially in the area cooperative automated cataloguing systems.
The 2000 Robert D. Willia mson Award went to Derek Whitehead from Swinbourne University for his outstanding contribution to librarianship.