About the Williamson Award

Williamson Medallion

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 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 Anna Raunik from the State Library of Queensland in 2020.

For many years, the Williamson Award has been presented to the recipient by Enid Williamson, Bob’s wife, who recently celebrated her 101st birthday. The continuum of dedication and excellence represented by the Williamson Award is personified by Enid’s long and keen association; we are buoyed and encouraged by her presence.

For 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 next Williamson Award is significant not only as a celebration of the 40 years of the award, but also 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 for the 2022 Williamson Award are CLOSED.

For 40 years, the Robert D. Williamson Award has shared and celebrated the stories of our true pioneers, those dedicated and influential contributors to the Australian and New Zealand library industry, especially in the area of library technology and innovation. From across all library sectors, recipients have been recognised for their remarkable achievements, leadership and support of the development of information services, and to the profession.

If this sounds like someone you know, nominate them today for the recognition they deserve.

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.

Application/Nomination Process

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

Nominations can be made online 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.


Announcement of the Robert D. Williamson Award will be made at VALA2022 on Tuesday 8 February 2022, when the recipient will be invited to accept their Award and, if the VALA Committee deems it appropriate, the recipient/s may be invited to present as a guest speaker.

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

Nominations close Monday 29 November 2021.

VALA is pleased to announce that the recipient of the 2022 Williamson Award is Anne Stevenson from CSIRO. Please click HERE to view the citation.

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:-

2020 – Anna Raunik, State Library of Queensland

2018 – Rose Holley, University of New South Wales, Canberra

2016 – Mal Booth, University of Technology, Sydney

2014 – Alyson Kosina, former VALA Executive Officer

2012 – Christine Mackenzie from the Yarra Plenty Regional Library Service

2010 – Anne Beaumont from the State Library of Victoria

2008 – Elizabeth Drynan and Pamela Johnstone, from Enterprise Information Management Pty Ltd

2006 – Lloyd Sokvitne from the State Library of Tasmania

2004 – Gary Hardy and Stewart Hall from VICNET at the State Library of Victoria

2002 – Hans Groenewegen from Monash University

2000 – Derek Whitehead from Swinburne University

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

Robert D WilliamsonAlthough 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.