Williamson Award 2022

The 2022 Robert D. Williamson Award goes to Anne Stevenson from CSIRO.

View the video of Anne’s presentation on the VALA View channel here:


VALA President Melissa Parent presenting the 2022 Williamson Award medallion to Anne Stevenson

Anne commenced work at CSIRO in 1979 and throughout her 43 year career as a Librarian she has made an outstanding, unique contribution to information management across CSIRO and the profession. Anne’s work is key to the realisation of the highest possible value for CSIRO’s data assets, enabling their reuse and proliferation amongst a cohort of international researchers, thus achieving maximum impact for Australian science. Anne’s work is centred around the development of bespoke software that supports world-class information management at CSIRO and the provision of training and support for this software to increase its utility. In her current role, she leads a team of Data Librarians whose work fostering a strong data culture and research data management skills are at the forefront of industry standard.

Research Data Management is a relatively new specialisation within the library profession. Anne has an innate understanding of her role as a librarian, industry trends and information management tools which she has leveraged to forge a path for herself and her peers in this domain.

Anne is a respected go-to for advice within CSIRO. She is the acknowledged “guru” and all round sounding board for all of the innovative ideas and new initiatives within the Library service. We all depend on her and turn to her to support the innovative, the creative and the leading edge services that we want to promote and provide. Her advice and enthusiasm has been an inspiration and a great impetus for getting new projects not only off the ground, but well on their way to being supported and completed. Anne has exceptional domain specific knowledge and is consulted for large-scale, multidisciplinary projects within CSIRO.

Key examples of her contribution to project work include:
• Research Data Planner: Phase 3 : The Research Data Planner is a tool for gathering requirements and documenting decisions on how research data is managed throughout a project. Anne was involved in the third phase of development of this online tool, participating in feature request prioritisation, help text reviews, question syntax reviews creating design mock-ups for changes to functionality, and user acceptance testing.
• CMS: Specify Implementation : National Research Collections Australia (NRCA) encompasses 15+ million specimens documenting Australia’s rich biodiversity housed across multiple collections, all with their own data management system and metadata standards. NRCA is investigating how we can manage these collections centrally and Anne has provided key advice on required metadata to support this implementation. She has been involved extensively with this project, developing cross-walks between systems to establish a common set of descriptors.
• ePublish Anne has always been active in the publications space at CSIRO, looking at opportunities and assisting with developing solutions. Her involvement led to her being invited to be part of the project team that designed a publications approval system and the creation of a single enterprise repository which the approvals system was to feed. Her involvement in the ePublish project is addressed in greater detail in the ‘Innovation’ section.

Excellence is also evident in Anne’s operational work, examples of which include:
• Anne and her team deliver workshops and training at CSIRO for the organisation’s bespoke information management platforms, the Data Access Portal and the Research Data Planner. Anne’s passion for providing quality support to researchers is unparalleled, which is reflected in the quality of service that she and her team deliver.
• Anne raises awareness for Research Data Management and promotes this practice across the organisation hosting webinars, leading awareness activities and supporting the development of company on-demand training modules for Research Data Management. She is well-known as a metadata and citation expert and she provides advice to colleagues on best practice standards for these concepts.

Anne’s excellence and pride in her work is evident in all that she does. Anne has documented her extensive experience and knowledge for the benefit of the profession and has contributed to 13 publications, which include peer-reviewed conference papers and journal articles. For the full list of Anne’s publications, please see Anne’s ORCiD profile https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8543-2133

Anne is active in the national and international information and data communities and plays a strong leadership role within CSIRO supporting researchers, research leaders and publications officers; as well as acting as a subject matter expert for system and process development in the organisation.

Professional memberships include:
•Member 2012 – ongoing: Standards Australia IT-019: Information and Communications Technology Services – Learning, Education, Training and Research
•Member 2011 – ongoing: RIF-CS Advisory Board https://www.ands.org.au/partners-and-communities/ands-communities/rif-cs-advisory-board .
•Member & Peer-review: eResearch Australasia Conference Committee, 2019 edition https://conference.eresearch.edu.au/eresearch-australasia-conference-2019-home/.

Anne promotes best standards of practice for Research Data Management and Open Access Publishing. Examples of her engagement include:
• Strong support for Information Awareness Week, a CSIRO internal program and encourages her team to do the same. In 2021, Anne delivered a series of Data Clinics on the Research Data Planner with a colleague.
• The contribution of conference presentations and papers, including: Stevenson, Anne; Cronje, Carmi. Answering the call: researcher-driven training in data management. In: Open Repositories 2019; June 10-13, 2019; Hamburg, Germany. The 14th Annual Conference on Open Repositories; 2019. 11 p.. http://hdl.handle.net/102.100.100/179726?index=1
• CSIRO has regularly been a national sponsor for GovHack https://govhack.org/. Anne was part of the team that coordinated CSIROs involvement in the 2019 and 2020 editions of the event, posing several challenges to the nation.
• Thrive or survive – how can we adapt for the future; Australia@Sea – what is our future relationship with the ocean environment. The event was a huge success with over 60+ entries received. https://blog.csiro.au/one-hack-of-a-weekend/
• Data-driven decisions for improved disaster planning, management or recovery; Track and trace – help end plastic waste. More than 1000 people attended a digital version of GovHack, with 691 keen hackers in their midst. https://blog.csiro.au/govhack-2020/

Anne invests personally in the professional development of her team, her peers and herself. She leads by example through her engagement with new tools and concepts, transforming this knowledge into opportunities for her team, CSIRO and the profession. Anne is very generous with her time and shares her knowledge freely. She is an emotionally intelligent leader; throughout her career, she has drawn on her empathy, calm attitude and kindness to get results and to arrive at mutually beneficial compromise for all stakeholders.

Williamson Award 2020

The 2020 Robert D. Williamson Award goes to Anna Raunik from the State Library of Queensland.

View the video of Anna’s presentation on the VALAView channel here:

Anna Raunik’s library career commenced at the Mount Isa Mines in 1983. Soon thereafter, her long relationship with the State Library of Queensland began with her appointment as its first Ethnic Services Librarian.

Over her now 35-year commitment to SLQ, Anna has moved through many career stages, initially as a Librarian, and increasingly in positions with a technology and discovery focus. In these roles, she has provided great leadership and been pivotal in positioning the State Library as an innovator, nationally and internationally.

Playing a key leadership role in the development of National edeposit (NED), a major National and State Libraries of Australia (NSLA) initiative, Anna’s commitment to access, shared and collaborative solutions, and improving the user experience contributed significant value to the project and the excellence of the end product.

Always innovative in her professional work, Anna has a future-focussed mindset when evaluating and recommending systems, to enable flexibility, new ways of undertaking workflows and processes, and requiring from vendors functionality they may not have previously considered. Three key examples of this are:

  • State Library’s recognition as an innovative user of the Alma library management system, with staff participating in the Alma User Experience Working Group and early adopters programs for new functionalities.
  • Implementation of “Unstacked”, an online client-curated view of the library’s collections, showing client search in real time, in a visually compelling interface. SLQ’s implementation includes additional features not part of the original software, suggested by our recipient.
  • In-house solution for description of manuscript collections at the library, leveraging development work for the new website, and now providing a much improved user experience and seamless integration of client search and discovery.

Anna is a champion of open data and increasing access to collections for use and re-use. In 2010, she led the work for SLQ to donate its out of copyright digitised photographic collections to Wikimedia Commons; in 2011 Anna led the NSLA Libraryhack project to make collections available for all; and in 2014 worked on the Queensland Government Open Data Policy and Strategy, in recognition of her knowledge and expertise in this area.

The 2020 Williamson Award winner exemplifies excellence. Anna is deeply committed to constant improvement of the user experience, both at the library and online through the library website and catalogue and contributes creative solutions to sometimes seemingly intractable problems.

Anna ensures that digital excellence and a focus on an optimum client experience is always a consideration in the development and delivery of programs and services at the library.

In her current role as Executive Director Content and Client Services, Anna is responsible for delivering a world class content development service that promotes, creates, establishes and maintains the State Library’s physical, digital and virtual collections and catalogues.

Williamson Award 2018

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.


Williamson Award 2016

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

The 2016 Williamson Award recipient does not have a traditional library career, but has invested the past 20 years making a significant difference in a number of library and cultural settings.

He first worked in the sector in 1996 as the Head of the People Management and Development Team in one of Australia’s major cultural institutions. He became Head of the Institution’s Research Centre in 2001 with a focus on digitising fragile and high-use records in one of Australia’s largest and most culturally significant specialist collections.


In 2006 he curated an exhibition which featured the innovative use of archival and library collections and forged strong relationships with overseas institutions for loans and promotion of the material. This exhibition attracted 250,000 visitors and remains one of the most successful temporary exhibitions of its kind.

He is a pioneer in the adoption and use of social media and new technologies, and instrumental in setting up the Institution’s blog, enabling staff to discuss their interests and stories and strengthening relationships with the public.

He is a trailblazer in the development of podcasts in Australian cultural institutions, where he was instrumental in the implementation and effective use of Twitter, Facebook and Flickr. This enabled access to the Institution and its collections through social media, and encouraged more visitations to exhibitions, public programs and the website.

Arguably, his greatest legacy at this institution is his work in digitising collections and making them available online. Digital preservation and access online continues today on the foundations of the work he established.

He has been recognized by his peers as an idea’s person and someone who has challenged many library sacred cows. As early as 2010 he started introducing Design Thinking methodologies at his University Library to co-create library services and empower staff at all levels in planning for the future.

Over the last few years his work has focused on being an advocate for openness and new models of scholarly publishing, and on pushing boundaries in Library design – moving beyond spaces and technology, and seeing the library as connecting people, culture and knowledge.

He is well known for generously sharing his thoughts about the role of libraries in society, and about the challenges we face, acknowledging that we have power as a profession to change things for the better. His blog is always thought-provoking and he is a highly sought-after speaker at international conferences.

He is an inspiration to many in the profession and well-respected even if he only occasionally wears a tie.

It is with great pleasure that the VALA Committee has unanimously endorsed Mal Booth as the 2016 Robert D. Williamson Award recipient.


Williamson Award 2014

    Alyson Kosina receives Williamson Award from      
Mrs Enid Williamson and VALA President Tom Edwards  

Alyson Kosina

The 2014 Robert D. Williamson Award went to Alyson Kosina, former VALA Executive Officer.

For more than thirty years the 2014 Williamson Award recipient has made an extraordinary and profound contribution to librarianship, especially in the area of library technology and innovation. This contribution has been felt across Australia and New Zealand, as well as across all library sectors. Indeed, the level of debate regarding library IT and innovation would be significantly less were it not for the tireless efforts of this year’s Williamson recipient. It is also worth noting that much of this work has been done with quiet efficiency and away from the spotlight. This year’s recipient also knew Robert Williamson and Bob would be delighted with the Committee’s choice.


The 2014 Williamson Award recipient has worked in a number of roles including as a systems librarian and as a library manager. The recipient has also worked across many library sectors. This broad and practical experience is the key to their successful contribution to the profession over many years. Starting in the State Library of Western Australia, the recipient moved across to Flinders University before heading up a number of government libraries in South Australia and then Victoria. The recipient then moved across to public libraries as a systems librarian. After the restructure of the Camberwell/Waverley Regional Library service the recipient moved into the school library sector before moving back to public libraries.

The recipient was active in the formation of VALA in the 1970s and has worked tirelessly to make VALA the important library IT forum it is today. VALA’s success is driven in part by the peer review process and a collegial engagement between both the library and the vendor community. That VALA can only accept 34% of the abstracts submitted, that the exhibition is now one of the largest of its kind in this region with vendors returning time and time again, is a credit to the dedication and professionalism of this year’s recipient.

Many people in this room, and countless people across Australia and New Zealand, have benefited from the time and effort this year’s recipient has dedicated to their VALA papers. Many of us now have a better understanding of how to structure a paper, cite a source, and when to use and not use a comma!

Many librarians who have volunteered on the VALA Committee and Programme Committees have benefited from the breadth and depth of this year’s recipient’s knowledge and memory. As VALA has prospered it has become bigger and more complex and adapted and changed to meet the changing needs of our library communities. Yet this year’s recipient has kept all the balls in the air and made it look effortless. We are here at this successful conference because of the many, many years of hard work and dedication that are the hallmarks of this year’s recipient.

It is with great pleasure that the VALA Committee has unanimously endorsed Alyson Kosina as the 2014 Robert D. Williamson Award recipient.


Williamson Award 2012


Christine MackenzieThe 2012 Robert D. Williamson Award went to Christine Mackenzie from the Yarra Plenty Regional Library Service.


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.



Our recipient tonight has been a major contributor and innovator within the Australian library profession. Whilst never a “geek”, the recipient has a well-honed ability to identify and apply emerging technologies within library contexts.

This ability has resulted in the introduction of many firsts into Australian library management and service delivery. Some examples include:

  • Introducing the first 24×7 “follow-the-sun” online reference service, in collaboration with UK & U.S. library services
  • Introducing the first eBook reading devices into Australia (which were loaded by the shelf-ready supplier and loaned within a public library branch)
  • Trialling and introducing the first RFID installation in Australia (and in the process produced the findings that customer self-service is as much about check-in as check-out)
  • In collaboration with VICNET, implementing the first public-access internet terminals in Victorian libraries (which included the first social networking services in Australia)
  • Pioneering the application of third-party discovery layers over back-end library systems
  • Introducing the “Learning 23 Things” program into Australia – imbuing library staff with the new principles and practices of ‘social networking”, “web 2.0” and “Library 2.0”
  • The first implementation of full shelf-ready services, combined with supplier-aided selection (producing industry best KPI’s and now known as the Brisbane Model)
  • Being currently engaged with the NBN roll-out to leverage any Public Library benefit

The recipient has represented the Australian library profession on many international bodies, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Bertlesman Foundation and IFLA. The recipient has also made many contributions to the profession in National and Local contexts, including the Australian Library and Information Association, Public Libraries Victoria Network and VICLINK.

The recipient is highly respected, with a reputation as one who will engage, share and collaborate to forward the profession. This award publicly acknowledges multiple outstanding contributions to, and significant influences on, Australian libraries and their delivery platforms.

It is with great pleasure that I announce the winner of the Robert D. Williamson Award for 2012 is –

Christine Mackenzie.

Williamson Award 2010


Anne BeaumontThe 2010 Robert D. Williamson Award went to Anne Beaumont from the State Library of Victoria.

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

The 2010 Robert D. Williamson Award Citation for Anne Beaumont reads as follows.

Over the more than thirty years of its existence, VALA has been fortunate in having a large number of highly dedicated people involved with its various committees, and it is therefore not surprising that this award has gone to a few of those people in the past. This is also the case for this year’s award.

Our recipient tonight did not start her career in Information Technology; she did not even study librarianship as her first degree. After changing to librarianship, she came via government department libraries to her present employer. She has made an invaluable contribution, both in her initial role in reference and then when she moved to information technology. She has become one of those rare professionals who have managed to combine the skills and knowledge of librarianship and information technology.

She was involved in the planning and implementation of the conversion of the card catalogue of her major institution to machine readable form, and for the bar-coding of the collections. This made the organisation one of the major automated libraries in the country.

She has continued to be at the forefront of major IT applications introduced over a considerable time, including the introduction of the first OPAC, Dynix (which involved the development and evaluation of tenders, implementation and all associated upgrades) and its replacement Voyager; development of the Library’s digitisation program beginning with Pictoria. She identified and has continued to impress on her colleagues the importance of data (including metadata) to justify decisions and actions. She was involved in developing a model for an IT strategic plan for the State Library of Victoria.

Her practical approach to getting things done, her personality and her role as a mentor have encouraged and inspired many of her colleagues throughout the profession. She has been an active participant on many professional bodies and organisations. Apart from VALA these include Voyager User Group, PictureAustralia, and the NSLA Reimagining Libraries Working Groups, and she has presented at numerous conferences and workshops.

This award publicly acknowledges the outstanding contribution she has made and is continuing to make to the development of information technology usage in Australian libraries, to her significant influence on the development of information services, and her services to the profession.

It is with great pleasure that I announce the winner of the Robert D. Williamson Award for 2010 is:…. Anne Beaumont.

Williamson Award 2008

Pam JohnstoneElizabeth Drynan 

The 2008 Robert D. Williamson Award went to Elizabeth Drynan and Pamela Johnstone, from Enterprise Information Management Pty Ltd, for their outstanding contribution to librarianship as editors of Online Currents.

Online Currents has been a dedicated independent published source of information about the online library industry in Australia since the 1980s. Online Currents has reported on every new development in our industry, every database, new online services, CD-ROMS, and in more recent years, search engines and websites. In providing clear, unbiased, and quality information to the library profession over many years, Elizabeth Drynan and Pamela Johnstone are very worthy recipients of the 2008 Robert D. Williamson Award.


The 2008 Robert D. Williamson Award Citation for Elizabeth Drynan and Pamela Johnstone reads as follows.

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

Although originally a chemical engineer, as manager of APM’s (now AMCOR’s) research library, Bob 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 adviser to colleagues, and an eager participant in the professional debates at the time. He 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.

There was a seismic change in our industry in the 1970s, when George Maltby and Brian Callaghan steered the Overseas Telecommunications Commission’s launch of its packet switching service MIDAS thus making online access to Dialog and Orbit financially more accessible. ACI Computer Services with assistance from the National Library of Australia launched AUSINET, the first training for Dialog and Orbit was initiated by the NSW Information Science Section and subsequently continued by Insearch/Dialog set up by Dorothy Peake at the Institute of Technology (now UTS). It was heady time learning about modems, qualifiers, string searching, proximity operators, ever increasing baud speeds and how to obtain a secure connection in a TI terminal built for American telephone handsets. In fact, Bob developed “recipe books” to help new online searchers navigate the different commands needed to access the new online services. There were lively debates about the benefits of controlled versus uncontrolled indexing and the need for high quality thesauri and of course the need for standards!
About this time, the first information businesses were also established – some more successful than others. The inimitable Grisha Sklovsky, after being Chief Information Officer at ICI for 30 years, had become joint managing director of Trans Knowledge Associates in Melbourne in 1977. His fellow joint managing directors were Frank Nicholls (ex CSIRO) and, after 38 years at APM, Bob Williamson. Diana Killen and June Anderson were running Infoquest – an information business within the Melbourne retailing icon Myer. One of the most successful was the transformation of Phil Ruthven’s IBIS research services – a market research business founded in 1971 – into IBISworld in 1987.

One can’t help but ponder on how much Bob would have revelled in the tumultuous developments since 1980. Today there are so many amazing products available in our online world both in the free web space and in the value added services, but there were many developments along the way. The National Library’s Ozline service in the 1980s and 1990s, CSIRO’s AUSTRALIS and News Ltd’s Presscom, Computer Power’s ill-fated legal service called CLIRS, and eventually RMIT’s launch of Informit as an online service in 1998. Meanwhile many overseas services slowly became available – STN, Finsbury (taken over by Reuters), Dow Jones, Reuters, ProQuest, Lexis Nexis, Factiva, Ovid, Fairfax.com – to name just a few. What would Bob have thought of some of the powerful and innovative products now on our desktops, such as mash-ups?

Meanwhile, as a means of helping us all to keep abreast of all these new exciting developments, VALA started its conference in Melbourne in 1981 and the NSW branch of the ALIA Information Science Section started its Information Online conferences in January 1986. Both conferences have been enormously successful over the past 27 years.

Parallel to all these developments, in 1985 another small company was established in Sydney by a group of dedicated librarians excited about the new online world, as well as the opportunities for libraries, to benefit from the new microcomputer-based technologies. They offered a range of services, such as information management consulting, advice on setting up libraries, automating catalogues, and creating online databases. Over the years, they have trained hundreds of librarians to use various online services such as Presscom and STN, and in more recent years, the Internet. They have set up libraries for organisations, coached librarians on how to use products such as Inmagic and DB/TextWorks, and coached business people on how to find business information online. They have a fantastic reputation as indexers, editors and thesaurus developers. They also created an important database for many years. But most of all they are admired and respected for the years spent publishing Online Currents – the only independent published source of information about the online industry in Australia since the 1980’s. Online Currents has reported on every new development in our industry, every database, new online services, CD-ROMS, and in more recent years search engines and websites. Anyone wanting to trace the history of online products in Australia from financial analytics to AOL’s children’s online timer would be wise to start with the indexes of Online Currents.

VALA’s biennial Robert D. Williamson award is presented, in memory of Bob Williamson, 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 information services and is positively and significantly influencing development in information technology usage within libraries.

Bob Williamson would have admired the 2008 award winners, because they also are enthusiastic, highly professional, persistent, knowledgeable and continually willing to share information with their colleagues. He would have admired the outstanding contribution they have made over the past 20 years or so to the online information industry in Australia – their diligence and impartial and ethical commitment to all stakeholders in the industry – practitioners, authors, businesses and educators.

It is with great pleasure that I announce the winners of the Robert D. Williamson Award for 2008. For the substantial contribution they have made to our industry, the winners are – Elizabeth Drynan and Pamela Johnstone, from Enterprise Information Management.

Williamson Award 2006


Williamson Award 2006 Lloyd SokvitneThe 2006 Robert D. Williamson Award went to Lloyd Sokvitne from the State Library of Tasmania for his outstanding contribution to librarianship especially in the area of metadata and online information discovery.

The 2006 Robert D. Williamson Award Citation for Lloyd Sokvitne reads as follows.

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

So far as we are aware, unlike at least three previous recipients, the recipient of the Robert D. Williamson Award for 2006 has never been a member of the VALA Committee, although he has been a speaker at VALA conferences.

His earlier years in libraries were spent on what some might regard as an apprenticeship in cataloguing and collection development. (Other people, of course, might regard this as essential!)

In the early 1980s, this person, to whom the adjectives thoughtful, intelligent, collaborative and courteous have been applied, moved into Systems Support and Development in the State Library of his state. Here he embarked on a course of action that led to him becoming a leading force in the development of web indexing services and web portal delivery, not only in his own state, but nationally.

As Manager and then Senior Manager, he has overseen the development of his state’s government web portal and a comprehensive web indexing service, as well as a unified cross-jurisdictional government services portal. Along the way he has developed considerable expertise in metadata – in fact, one of his colleagues has described him as a “prophet with a deep concern for the quality of metadata” – and his professional interests also include information discovery on the web and web content preservation. This last interest resulted in the development and implementation of an open repository service for electronic documents in his state.

His work has already garnered him and his institution a number of awards, including the VALA Award for 2000, which was awarded to his institution, the State Library of Tasmania, for Service Tasmania Online.

This award publicly acknowledges the outstanding contribution he has made and is continuing to make to the development of information technology usage in Australian libraries, to his significant influence on the development of information services and his services to the profession. The fact that he was also willing and able, at very short notice, to fill the gap left by the unavoidable withdrawal from this Conference of Carl Lagoze is testament to his dedication and professionalism.

It is with great pleasure that VALA announces the winner of the Robert D. Williamson Award for 2006 – Lloyd Sokvitne.


Williamson Award 2004


The 2004 Robert D. Williamson Award went to Gary Hardy and Stewart Hall from VICNET at the State Library of Victoria.

The 2004 Robert D. Williamson Award Citation for Gary Hardy and Stewart Hall reads as follows.

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

We’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge that 2004 is the tenth anniversary of VICNET.

The State Library of Victoria was the first free public library in Australia when it was established in 1854 and has a proud tradition of initiatives to develop Victoria’s cultural infrastructure.. Its early commitment to the collection and display of art and artefacts led to the development of the National Gallery of Victoria and Museum Victoria. In 1993, knowing that the newly elected state government was encouraging, and funding, Information Techology innovation, Helen Tait – then State Librarian – and Don Schauder – then University Librarian at RMIT, agreed to develop a proposal to take advantage of this.

It was at this stage that Don approached Gary Hardy, then working at RMIT, for input and ideas about what might be done. Gary seemed an appropriate choice as he had early on recognised that playing with the Internet could be a lot of fun. He was also running one of the earliest Australian gopher services, and was positively evangelical about the possibilities.

Gary’s proposal was to develop a World Wide Web based publishing service for community organisations, and after some discussion a proposal was put forward, resulting in a $360,000 grant from the state’s Community Service Fund.

Within the State Library, Derek Whitehead was delegated the task of establishing the project with Don. Their first moves were to appoint Gary as VICNET Editor and Stuart Hall as Technical Manager.

Amongst other things, Stuart had a long history of involvement in automation in the State Library, undertaking such important tasks as rescuing staff members who had cleared their PCs by entering “del *.*” (including for a current VALA Programme Committee member).

VICNET was born.

From a humble start running on Garys’ Mac, VICNET now runs three independent businesses. The main VICNET website was its first major achievement. Acting as both a Victorian community portal and a community publishing site, it attracted twenty million sessions in 2002/2003. It acts as an ISP, primarily serving the library and information community, and provides free training in the use of the Internet and HTML. Its Skills.net programme alone has trained over 100,000 people.

VICNET has been instrumental in expanding the horizons of library services in Victoria – and in raising the expectations of users in those services. That would not have been possible without the pioneering work and perserverance of its two operational managers. It is in recognition of this achievement that, on VICNET’s tenth anniversary, this year’s Robert D. Williamson Award goes jointly to Gary Hardy and Stuart Hall.