Dagmar Schmidmaier

Dagmar Schmidmaier BA DipLib MLib Hon DLitt FALIA

Fellowship conferred 2000

Dagmar Schmidmaier has made an impressive contribution to Australian and overseas library and information science education and practice. Her long-term commitment to the application of information technology in libraries and her career background have given her a unique understanding of public and private sector library and information services, culminating in her appointment as state librarian and chief executive of the State Library of New South Wales.

She was an early exponent of library automation in the early 1970s, working as systems librarian for Australian Consolidated Industries and the University of Sydney library. She was involved in the Library Automated Systems Information Exchange from its inception and, from 1975 to 1980, edited its journal, LASIE. She was a founding board member of Clann Limited, the library network which promoted advanced information technology in NSW colleges of education. In 1975 Dagmar moved to Kuring-gai College of Advanced Education to work with Margaret Trask in the establishment of a new school of library and information studies. Here she was renowned for her ability to instil in students a positive view of technology, tempered with a view of its usefulness as a means of delivering needed services rather than an end in itself. Her knowledge of information technology, librarianship and the teacher-student relationship enabled her to transform NSW TAFE library services in the 1980s. She reconceptualised the delivery of library and information services to students throughout the state, with her capacity to harness technology to learning. She was appointed general manager and later director of the Open Training and Education Network.

As NSW state librarian she has developed services built on traditional strengths in the library's collections, revitalised public events and exhibitions, redefined the position of the Mitchell Library within the organisation and brought an enthusiasm for well-founded research into the library's operations so that its activities are soundly based on empirical data. Many of her initiatives have resulted in generous public donations towards conservation of historical collections and the purchase of new material. She is chair of the Council of Australian State Libraries. She has worked with the University of Technology, Sydney, to develop innovative work-based learning opportunities for librarians, based on sound partnerships with academics.

Her intellectual leadership goes beyond the profession. She was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in 1988-89. She is an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Technology, Sydney, a member of the New South Wales Board of Studies, which oversees the state's schools curriculum, and a member of the Miles Franklin literary award judges' committee. She has provided advice to the International Labour Organisation, the Australian and Pacific Skills Development program and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development through its CERI working group on distance post-secondary education.

In conferring this fellowship, the Association recognises Dagmar Schmidmaier's professional leadership, her support of Association goals, and her contribution to the cultural development of our community.