The 2018 Robert D. Williamson Award goes to Rose Holley from University of New South Wales, Canberra.

Rose Holley

VALA acknowledges the enormous contribution of Warwick Cathro, who graciously supplied extensive information about Rose’s time at the National Library of Australia. Warwick and Rose together championed the project that Australian libraries now know as Trove.

The 2018 Williamson Award winner’s career typifies her love of working with change and challenge. Her early career included roles as a school librarian, reference librarian, academic librarian, and acquisitions and cataloguing team leader at a large, centralised public library service in Berkshire, England.

An unexpected career change then saw her taking on a demanding IT and training role before moving to New Zealand. In New Zealand our award winner created a digital services role at the University of Auckland, where she endeavoured to upskill librarians at home and abroad, and collaborated with colleagues to found what is now the National Digital Forum. From New Zealand she moved to Canberra to take a role at the National Library of Australia, and here is when the narrative of her contributions may be familiar to Australian library and information professionals today.

During her time at the National Library of Australia between 2007 and 2011, this year's Williamson award winner delivered achievements which attracted national and international attention. She led the first delivery phase of the Newspaper Digitisation Project. In concert with other Library staff, she developed facilities for the public to search and engage with digitised newspaper content, including the correction of computer-generated text. In a broader context, she was a strong advocate for facilitating public engagement with all digital collection content.

After successfully kick-starting the newspaper digitisation service, she was given the opportunity to develop and market the National Library’s premier national collection discovery service, Trove.

Our award winner worked tirelessly to promote and extend Trove during 2010 and 2011. Her contribution and leadership were critical in Trove being recognised in June 2011 with the prestigious “Excellence in eGovernment” Award, being the overall winner across all categories.

Her considerable achievements generated many invitations to speak at national and international forums, including conferences in the Netherlands, New Zealand and Spain, as well as more than 20 major conferences in Australia. She wrote several journal articles on newspaper digitisation, Trove and crowd-sourcing, and received frequent requests from publishers to contribute articles and book chapters to forthcoming publications.

Between 2009 and 2011 she was an active and productive member of an international working group on public engagement with collection content (the Social Metadata Working Group) which shared ideas on innovations in this important area. The development of public engagement with digital collection content attracted wide and enthusiastic interest internationally.

Our award winner was described by colleagues as hardworking, energetic, well organised and results oriented. She was seen to set high standards for herself, her staff, her partners and supplier whilst remaining a strong and respected mentor to her staff.

Now at the University of New South Wales in Canberra, our award winner brings these same characteristics to a still-evolving role as Special Collections Curator for a collection that includes significant digital objects.


The VALA2018 Diversity Scholarships, sponsored by EBSCO, go to following three deserving recipients.....

Many high-quality submissions were received, and after careful consideration, the following three applicants were selected.

Lisa HarthLisa Harth - Library Services Coordinator for nine branches of the Western Downs Regional Council – Dalby, QLD

“I am new to leadership of a Library service and find that my skills and contacts in technology are just enough to "keep the ship afloat" but I believe that with exposure to a forum such as VALA I would gain insight into possibilities which could propel our Library service into one of the leading regional services in our State.

I believe Libraries are well-positioned to offer opportunities for learning, experimentation, co-creation and business incubation in an area with little access to any of these.”


Donna KellionDonna Kellion - Mackay Regional Council Libraries

“The beautiful Mackay region is a member of the GW3, or the Greater Whitsunday Alliance, so we work very closely with our neighbours to the north in the Whitsunday region and the Isaac region to the west, so anything that I bring back from VALA will also be of benefit to those regions and further and beyond.

I have also just completed a Post Graduate Certificate in Audio Visual Archiving with Charles Sturt University which was fabulous and I’m very keen to get my hands down and dirty into some severe digitisation and would appreciate some direction on how to begin some of those programs.”


Joyce WilliamsJoyce Williams - City of Karratha - Karratha, WA

“As a lone librarian working in a remote region of WA, I spend considerable time connecting with peers and professionals online via user networks… trading valuable information in regard to the latest cutting edge library technology and ideas but rarely have the opportunity to share ideas and pick brains of tech-savvy professionals in person.

Our Pilbara world features some of the most innovative technology in the mining and gas industries and we believe our library is a space where young people of diverse origins can (and should) experience the exciting world of open technology. Providing such a space will seek to put us on par with other major centres.”


VALA recognises that regional, rural and indigenous members of the Library community face additional barriers to participation in both library and technical events. The Diversity Scholarship is offered to individuals who in normal circumstances would not generally attend a VALA event or would struggle to attend due to financial or other hardship.

The VALA2018 Diversity Scholarships would not be possible without the support of EBSCO. Please thank them by dropping in to Stands 75-76 at VALA2018.

EBSCO is “committed to providing professional development and networking opportunities for librarians looking to advance their careers. The 2018 VALA Diversity Scholarship presents an opportunity for librarians to share ideas, challenges and best practices with their peers. We look forward to attending VALA2018 and meeting our partners in the Australian library community."

By supporting these three recipients with a diversity scholarship and a trip to Melbourne for VALA2018, we hope to not only support their career and academic pursuits but also empower them to encourage, inspire and impart knowledge to those in their own community.

VALA would like to extend a massive congratulations to all three deserving recipients, we cannot wait to see what you do with this opportunity.




The 1983 Robert D. Williamson Award went to Mr Ian McCallum from ACI Computer Services.   

Nathan Sentance
Nathan Sentance at Tech Camp with
Kathy Reid from Linux Australia

The VALA Tech Camp 2017 Linux Australia Diversity Scholarship goes to Nathan Sentance.

Linux Australia sponsored the Diversity Scholarship for this event, which after a rigorous selection process was awarded to Nathan Sentance, a proud Wiradjuri man who works for the Australian Museum. Nathan will be able to share learnings from the event with his community. 

Nathan is currently working as the Project Officer for Cultural Programs | Programs, Exhibitions & Cultural Collections at the Australian Museum.


Congratulations, Nathan!


Read Nathan's report below:

Winning the VALA/Linux Diversity Scholarship and attending VALA Tech Camp was an invaluable experience for my career. I have long had an interest in being part of something like the VALA Tech Camp as I believe information technology presents exciting opportunities for Aboriginal communities to access, revitalise and disseminate our culture and knowledge. Just have a look at the many language apps coming out.

Libraries and similar memory institutions have long been considered gatekeepers in regards to records relating to Aboriginal culture and history, but in the digital space that control can be handed back to community and potential access barriers may be minimised.

Because of this, VALA Tech Camp sessions such as the introduction to Python were handy to my personal and professional development as it can help increase of understanding in regards to computer science which in turn I will use to help increase access to cultural heritage information for community as well as preserve it digitally. Additionally, the more I increase my digital literacy skills the more I will attempt to share those skills with my community and in this digital age those are not just useful, they are necessary.

There were many other great sessions too, especially the session that related data visualisation, which is important to make data visible, accessible and discoverable. This is important, not just for libraries, but many information services, as we need to aid people to understand the statistics, particular those statistics that relate to disadvantage or inequality. The more public awareness and understanding the more the underlining issues can be examined.

The podcasting session was also interesting and fun. It demonstrated the different ways libraries can engage the public. Moreover, the cryptoparties session was inspiration at the types of literacy workshops libraries can host and be involved in.

Lastly, one of the most valuable experiences I can take away from VALA Tech Camp was the people I meet during it. They were all willing to share their passion and knowledge. They gave me potential resources I can use to achieve my objectives as well as motivation to ensure I that I will.

Mandaang guwu (thank you) to VALA and Linux for the opportunity.


VALA recognises that regional, rural and indigenous members of the Library community face additional barriers to participation in both library and technical events. The Diversity Scholarship is offered to individuals who in normal circumstances would not generally attend a VALA event or would struggle to attend due to financial or other hardship.

One Scholarship is offered for VALA Tech Camp 2017 and three individual scholarships for the VALA2018 Conference.

Applications are now closed for the VALA2018 Diversity Scholarships, sponsored by EBSCO.

EBSCO sponsor banner

EBSCO is committed to providing professional development and networking opportunities for librarians looking to advance their careers. The VALA2018 Diversity Scholarship presents an opportunity for librarians to share ideas, challenges and best practices with their peers. 


VALA2018 Diversity Scholarship


The VALA2018 Diversity Scholarship, sponsored by EBSCO, is open to individuals who meet BOTH of the following eligibility criteria:

  • Any person who is currently working in a library, or is seeking entry to the library and information services industry;
  • Hasn’t previously attended a VALA Conference as a delegate;

In addition individuals MUST ALSO meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Any Australian person of Indigenous heritage.
  • Any Australian person who resides in a regional, rural or remote location, including Darwin.
  • Any person who resides in the Oceania region or Timor Leste (where Oceania is as defined by the United Nations Standard Country or Area Codes for Statistical Use
Selection Criteria

Award of the Scholarship will be made on the following criteria:

  • The ability of the Applicant to share the knowledge they gain at the VALA2018 Conference with their local library and/or technical community via an online communication channel, such as blog, podcast, social media etc, as demonstrated through previous work, volunteer or student experience
  • The impact the Scholarship will have on the Applicant's future career in the library and/or technology sector.
Application/Nomination Process

The application process is as follows:

  • Complete the online application form 
    • Write a 200 word statement in the ppplication form stating why you want to come, what you want to learn, how the community/organisation you serve will benefit from you attending
    • Produce a 3 minute video explaining the above
Scholarship Offer
  • Up to $2,000 for flights and accommodation (two offered - within Australia) OR Up to $3,000 for flights, accommodation and visas (one offered - Oceania)
  • Complimentary conference registration to VALA2018 (value $1,575)
  • VALA Committee/Conference Committee buddy at conference
  • Invitation to VIP pre-conference speakers dinner (Monday 12 February 2018)



Williamson AwardThe 2018 Robert D. Williamson Award goes to Rose Holley from University of New South Wales, Canberra.


VALA's most prestigious award is the Robert D. Williamson Award. This award is in memory of one of the early pioneers of our industry, Bob Williamson. This biennial award is also 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.




VALA Travel ScholarshipsNew one Every two years VALA offers up to two Travel Scholarships to enable suitable persons to travel overseas to examine aspects of library automation. Candidates proposing to study newer technologies of potential application in Australia but not yet seen here are most likely to be successful. No formal qualifications are required. Although candidates should be working in library or information related areas, they need not be employed in traditional library environments.

This section provides a general overview of VALA's Awards. The Awards button on the main menu lands on this page.

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