ALIA publishes the Who’s Who of library greats 

Canberra, 29 September 2021: The ALIA Honours Board is now available to download from the ALIA website. It tells the stories of 233 outstanding individuals who have helped shaped the profession and the Association over its 84 years. There are entries dating back to the 1930s right through to present day.

ALIA President Vicki Edmunds said, ‘It’s important to honour the people who have gone before us and we can still learn so much from their experiences. These are people who lived adventurous lives, persuaded governments to invest in libraries where there were none and demonstrated intense personal commitment to literacy and access to information for all Australians. I would recommend ALIA Members take a look at the Honours Board and read about some of the extraordinary leaders in whose steps we are following. Their stories are truly inspiring.’

One exceptional example is Ena Noel OAM (1910-2003):

Inspired by the first Bodenwieser Ballet performed in Sydney in 1939, she trained in ballet under Gertrud Bodenwieser, winning the modern creative dance, solo and duo section in the eisteddfod. After dancing with the Bodenwieser Group for some years, Ena conducted a dance studio at Rose Bay for some twenty years. In 1952-53 she toured Britain and Europe with a solo lecture-dance program entitled The life cycle of an Australian Aboriginal woman, dancing to John Antill's music for Corroboree. She performed, representing Australia, in the festivities for the Royal coronation in 1953. Her interest in flamenco dancing led her to study that form in Barcelona, Spain …

There would be few individuals to have done more to promote internationally the quality and riches of Australian children's literature than Ena Noel. It has been said of her that, 'It is given to very few to become a legend in their own time. Ena Noel is one of the few.' A diminutive but commanding figure, Ena on several occasions swept onto the dais of the University of Sydney's Great Hall in step with the then Chancellor, Sir Hermann Black. Her carefully selected gown and copious flowing cloak complemented the Chancellor's equally resplendent academic attire. As she stepped forward to the microphone Ena captured the fixed attention of the vast audience packed into that seat of learning … 

Her interests were vast; but her major passions in life were first to her family… then to dance and, as a teacher and librarian, to the promotion of literacy and the love of reading among the youth of the world, believing as she did that true literature is a potent force in promoting international understanding and good will. Michael says of her, 'She was never still, either physically or mentally. She tried almost any physical activity. In recent years she tried sail-boarding, drove an open four wheel drive jeep, and continued to drive a car through the centre of Sydney — one of the few people over ninety years of age still holding a full drivers licence'.

The ALIA Honours Board includes award recipients, past Presidents, Honorary Members and Fellows and provides inspirational examples of leadership over nine decades. It has been compiled from ALIA records and with the assistance of ALIA Retirees, with special thanks to Dr Kerry Smith AM, who was ALIA President in 1997, awarded a fellowship in 2001 and received the highest honour of the Association, the HCL Anderson Award in 2017.


If you would like to update or amend individual entries or propose additions, please contact [email protected] The criteria for inclusion are that people must be or have been members of the Association, have received formal recognition of their contribution from ALIA or the Governor General, or have had an ALIA award created in their name.

If you would like to see someone receive an honour, details are on the ALIA website or email [email protected] for advice about which award might be most appropriate.

The next opportunity to submit nominations for the ALIA HCL Anderson, Redmond Barry and Metcalfe Awards is early next year, with a closing date of 25 February 2022.

ENDS