W G Duncan

Walter George Keith Duncan (1903-1987)  from Bryan, Harrison (Ed). (1988). Australia’s library, information and archives services – an encyclopaedia of practice and practitioners, vol. 1, p. 204.

Academic, adult educator and library activist, Duncan was born and educated in Sydney, graduating MA from the University of Sydney in 1926, before spending four years at the University of London, where he secured his PhD in 1930, and two years at American universities, working mainly on population problems and immigration. In 1932 he became Assistant Director of Tutorial Classes in the University of Sydney, in 1934 Acting Director and Lecturer in Economic History, and Director 1935. In 1950 he secured the Chair of History and Political Science at the University of Adelaide, retiring in 1968. From 1958 to 1968 he was the chairman of the University 's Board of Adult Education and he remained a member of the Board after his retirement.

An eminently readable scholar, Duncan published widely on economics, education, foreign policy and immigration but, ironically enough, may well be remembered best for his 1944 landmark report on Adult Education in Australia, the far-sighted recommendations of which were not taken up by the Commonwealth Government which had commissioned it.

Firmly committed to libraries for the people, Duncan was a very active lay president of the South Australian Branch of the Library Association of Australia (LAA (q.v.), in which capacity he scathingly criticized, publicly, the lack of provision of public library service in South Australia. His term as President of the LAA in 1960 was highlighted by his passionate defence of freedom to read in the form of a presidential address entitled 'A Librarian's First Loyalty’.


Also see entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.