Kathleen Marcelle Muir
Redmond Barry Award citation 1988
When Marcie Muir began work on her Bibliography of Australian Children's Books in the late 1950s, the large libraries, in common with those overseas, had been collecting children's books in a haphazard way for several generations. In most cases, however, these books had not been identified as children's literature. Therefore before any serious research could be carried out it was necessary to produce a bibliography of the nation's output.
With the publication of Volume I of the Bibliography in 1970 and of Volume II in 1976, Mrs. Muir identified and listed some 6,000 Australian children's books, many in variant editions. This work was achieved by searching the catalogues of the major libraries and by examining the books individually. In addition, Mrs. Muir studied antiquarian catalogues produced in Australia and overseas and also visited the homes of private collectors. Over the past 12 years she has identified a further 2,000 items.
Mrs. Muir's bibliography has become an essential reference and research tool for both Australian and overseas libraries. It has led to informed collecting of Australian children's books by large libraries and by private collectors. It has encouraged the preservation of the books, many of which might have been lost to posterity. It has, furthermore, widened the scope of research required for the study of Australian children's literature. Research workers and students now have a wide, rich field to study and no longer need to base their findings on a few books which they happened upon. Australian children's literature today is regarded as a legitimate subject for postgraduate study.
The importance of Mrs. Muir's pioneering work in Australian bibliography has been recognised by her being awarded a research grant from AACOBS to compile a further volume of the Bibliography. She is currently working on this.
Mrs. Muir has been a tireless leader in promoting international awareness of and interest in Australian children's books. This has been assisted through her years of bookselling experience with her husband, Harry, at the Beck Book Company in Adelaide. Her personal acquaintance with many overseas publishers and booksellers has helped to ensure the publication and recognition of her work internationally.
More recently, her contributions on Australian children's literature to such works as The Oxford Literary Guide to Australia and Australians: A Guide to Sources have confirmed her reputation. It is now possible to find illustrations from previously little-known Australian books appearing in histories on other subjects. Mrs. Muir's original research on individual children's authors and illustrators has added a new dimension to the field.
The painstaking, thorough work of this bibliographer and author has provided an incomparable foundation for the study and appreciation of Australian children's books both now and in the future.
Marcie Muir's contribution to bibliography and to children's literature is outstanding. The General Council of the Library Association of Australia considers her a most worthy recipient of the Redmond Barry Award.