Nature of the Award
VALA’s most prestigious award is the Robert D. Williamson Award, established in memory of one of the early pioneers of our industry, Bob Williamson.
In keeping with Bob’s legacy, this biennial award honours those who demonstrate leadership, curiosity, excellence and innovation and, in the view of their peers, are outstanding contributors to the development of information technology usage in Australian libraries and information services.
The Williamson Award is open to both individuals and organisations in the Library and Information Science profession within Australia.
The Award consists of a framed certificate, medallion and cash to the value of AUD $2,000.
Celebrating over 40 years of the Williamson Award
Robert (Bob) D Williamson was a leader, with an innovative mind and endless generosity. A pioneer of information technology in libraries, Bob took a leap of faith to invest in computer databases and software. He was an integral part of various committees dedicated to libraries and information technology and was valued greatly by his peers before his untimely death in 1980.
Bob Williamson’s legacy is one of leadership, curiosity, innovation, and bravery. Bob made outstanding contributions to the development of information technology in Australian libraries and information services. The prestigious Award made in his name was first received by Jim Gilmore of the CSIRO in 1981, and most recently by Anne Stevenson from the CSIRO in 2022.
For many years, the Williamson Award was presented to the recipient by Enid Williamson, Bob’s wife, who passed not long before the VALA2022 conference, at the outstanding age of 101 years. Robert and Enid’s son Bruce will continue the connection with VALA into the future. The continuum of dedication and excellence represented by the Williamson Award is personified by family’s long and keen association; we are buoyed and encouraged by their presence.
For over the past 40 years, the names of the true pioneers in the library industry have been added to the list of Williamson Award recipients. They are dedicated and influential contributors to the development of technology in the library industry across Australia and New Zealand, who have exhibited remarkable achievements, leadership and innovation.
The Williamson Award is as an opportunity for our industry to acknowledge and celebrate the remarkable strength, courage, growth and perseverance of the library fraternity and the contribution that libraries and the technologies which enable them have made to the global community through this challenging and unprecedented time in our history.
Nominations will open soon for the Williamson Award 2024.
Previous Williamson Award Recipients
Click HERE for reflections on the history of the award from Enid Williamson.
Recipients of the Williamson Award are in auspicious company, with previous winners including:-
1997 – Geoff Payne
1995 – Informit
1994 – Peter Stansfield
1993 – Geoff Huston
1992 – Kim Jelbart
1991 – Warwick Cathro
1989 – Jeff Leeuwenburg
1988 – Elizabeth Swan
1987 – Sherrey Quinn
1986 – Susan Wannan
1985 – Hans Zwillenberg from ADSATIS (Australian Defence Scientific and Technical Information Services)
1984 – Des Tellis from Australian Mineral Foundation
1983 – Ian McCallum from ACI Computer Services
1982 – Neil Speirs from Australian Business Index
1981 – Jim Gilmore from Systems and Development Group, CSIRO
The VALA web site provides details about some of the Robert D. Williamson Award recipients.
About Robert D. Williamson
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.