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 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.


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:-

2024 – Jane Miller, Victoria University

2022 – Anne Stevenson, CSIRO

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.