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


Individuals, libraries and information services in Australia are eligible for nomination for the Award. Prior winners and current members of the VALA Committee are not eligible for nomination.

Selection Criteria

Assessment of the Williamson Award will be based on the following criteria:

  • Demonstrated leadership, curiosity, excellence and innovation;
  • Outstanding contribution to the development of information technology usage in Australian libraries and information services.


Nominations may be made by staff or customers of libraries or information services, or by other interested persons.

Nominations can be made using the ONLINE FORM  and must include:

  1. Name and contact details of the person or organisation being nominated.
  2. Name and contact details of the person making the nomination.
  3. The name of at least two people, knowledgeable in this area, to whom the nomination may be referred for independent assessment.
  4. Reasons for the nomination – how has the nominee contributed to the development of information technology usage in Australian libraries and information services.

It is essential that nominees are NOT aware of their nomination. Disclosure of a nomination may prejudice that nomination. Details of a nomination are only made public when a nomination is successful, and then only upon presentation of the Award.


The VALA Committee will appoint a 3-person judging panel, which will be chaired by the VALA President (or nominee). At least one member of the judging panel may be a former recipient of the Williamson Award. Where a member of the judging panel is a close colleague of an individual being nominated for the Award, or employed by a library or information service being nominated for the Award, they will stand down from the judging panel.

The VALA Committee may decide not to make an Award in the event of there being no nominations deemed suitable by the judging panel.


The recipient will be announced at an appropriate time during the VALA Biennial Conference. Recipients of a VALA Williamson Award may be invited to accept their Award at either the VALA Conference or a VALA Event soon thereafter; if the VALA Committee deems it appropriate, the recipient/s may be invited to present as a guest speaker at these events.

Reasonable travel and attendance expenses that may be incurred to attend the presentation may be funded by VALA at its discretion.

Closing Date

The closing date for nominations for the 2018 Robert D. Williamson Award is Friday 1 December 2017.


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)


The joint winners of the 2016 VALA Award are:

  • National Library of Australia – edeposit serviceVALA Award NLA 250
    A one-stop-shop for publishers, the edeposit service is the public interface of an end-to-end digital collection management system, fully integrated with other NLA systems, enabling Australian publishers to deposit Australian digital publications in accordance with the new legal deposit provisions of the Copyright Act.

    Alison Dellit, Director, Australian Collection Management, and her colleagues Meredith Batten, Julie Watson, Kate Ross & Brendan McKinley were present to receive the award.
Access the recording:
  • University of Melbourne – data forensics labVALA Award Uni Melb 250
    The development of this service and lab is a first nationally for an academic library and a response to a growing demand to access and extract valuable research data and files from now obsolete systems and media. The Data service and forensics lab offers a range of services for examining, analyzing, recovering, re-using and preserving data stored in digital media in a forensically sound manner. The Data Forensics Lab can process a variety of modern and legacy computer storage media using state of the art purpose built hardware and software.

    Peter Neish, Research Data Curator, Digital Scholarship and Donna McRostie, Associate Director, Research Information Management University Library were present to receive the award.
Access the recording and slides:

Other nominations

We wish to acknowledge other institutions who submitted entries:

  • Deakin University Library for "Communication in Context"

    Communication in Context is an innovative project that involved the custom design and development of a software platform to support an assessment task, employing a multidisciplinary team of leading students recruited from the Schools of Information Technology and Education at Deakin University. The platform will be useful for any online roleplaying activities, in addition to the assessment task it was designed to support.

  • La Trobe University Borchardt Library for "Escape Room at the Library"

    Escape Room at the Library is an engaging and interactive game. It is La Trobe University Library’s new and innovative approach to orientation for university students which brings together the digital and physical environments and capitalises on the internationally popular game, Escape Rooms.

  • La Trobe University Research Commons

    The Research Commons is a highly specialised, dedicated research collaboration space which includes a massive Visualization wall, a specialised Creative Studio, a number of break out rooms and shared, flexible, collaboration spaces. This space serves as a central, accessible and expert meeting, work and consultation space for La Trobe scholars and higher degree research students and as a key facility to attract research funding and industry partnerships. It provides a discipline-neutral space where there is expertise available to help researchers to get the best out of the technology.

  • Newcastle LibraryCivic Digest for the Library Culture Cafe and Bar

    Civic Digest was created to bridge culture and digital consumption. Civic Digest embraces that opportunity that exists for Libraries to innovate and become the great explainers! It is a partnership between Newcastle Region Library and major performing arts venue in the region, Civic Theatre, also owned and managed by Council. The Café is in the heart of Newcastle's civic precinct located within the corner space of the Civic Theatre building. It brings leading edge library services into the spaces where people connect over coffee or pre/post theatre performances.

  • University of South Australia for Technology enabled enquiry services delivery

    This innovation consists of flexible, customisable library services where customers can engage seamlessly with the Library on demand, regardless of their location and device. At the centre of this are novel mobile and wireless technologies which make library services more visible and accessible in the physical and digital environments. Service desks have been replaced with diverse modes of accessing advice and assistance, such as proactive chat, video conference, screen share capabilities, email, telephone and the UniSA Student app. During peak times staffed library “pop ups” are set up in locations most occupied by students and service delivered via mobile devices. 



Williamson AwardThe 2016 Robert D. Williamson Award went to Mal Booth, from University of Technology, Sydney.


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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