The 2018 Robert D. Williamson Award goes to Rose Holley from University of New South Wales, Canberra.
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.