Derek Whitehead

Derek Whitehead BA (Hons) BD (Hons) GDipL MLib

Derek Whitehead has made a major and sustained contribution to the profession of librarianship in Australia in the last two decades.

Derek has been employed in the State Library of Victoria since 1974, where he now occupies the position of director, collection management. He holds the degrees of Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from the University of Melbourne, Bachelor of Divinity (Honours) from the Melbourne College of Divinity, Master of Librarianship from Monash University and the Graduate Diploma of Librarianship from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. He has been a professional member of the Association since 1976.

The development of multicultural library services in Australia has been a key professional concern for Derek since 1975, when his interest was aroused through his involvement in the workshop on library services to migrants held at the State Library of Victoria. It is impossible in this citation to do justice to his achievements in this field, which have embraced professional leadership, national policy development and major publications of international importance.

Derek was one of the small group of Victorian librarians who established the Working group on multicultural library services (Victoria) in 1979, serving on its committee until 1993, as its chair from 1985 to 1989 and editing Multicultural libraries from 1981 to 1985. He was closely involved in the highly successful first and second national conferences on multiculturalism and libraries in 1980 and 1985, which set the agenda for development of these services in Australia.

He played a leading role in the development of standards for multicultural library services, chairing the working parties responsible for the acclaimed Standards for multicultural library services published by the Library Council of Victoria in 1982. Derek and Anne Holmes subsequently compiled the 1987 IFLA standards, Multicultural communities: guidelines for library service. These standards are of international importance and have been published in seven languages. Derek has published prolifically and in depth in the Australian literature, and delivered papers at numerous national and international professional conferences.

Derek Whitehead was at the centre of all professional activity in the 1980s seeking Commonwealth Government involvement in the provision of multicultural library services and funding for public library services. He was a member of the national co-coordinating committee established by ALIA and ACLIS in 1986 for the campaign for Commonwealth Assistance for Public Libraries (CAPL), and represented ALIA on the national language policy liaison group. Derek was the author of all important ALIA and ACLIS submissions of the period, and was the key and widely respected figure in the accompanying sustained lobbying campaigns.

Derek has been prolific in his other professional involvement and interest.

He has a particular interest in acquisitions policy and practice in the broadest sense, with a long term involvement in the ALIA Acquisitions Section of which he was national president from 1987 to 1991. He has served the profession assiduously in a range of other acquisitions activities, including as convenor of the resources subcommittee of ACLIS from 1986 to 1993. He had an important role in the Australian libraries summit of 1988 and the towards federation 2001meeting of 1992. Derek has been an active and energetic convenor of the collection management committee of the Council of Australian State Libraries, and in this capacity actively encouraged major co-operative efforts between all States.

Other significant professional activities include membership of the ABN network committee since 1992, chairing the Victorian state committee of ACLIS since 1993 and active involvement in planning for the ALIA biennial conference in 1996. In all this Derek has worked energetically to develop the widest possible interest, commitment and debate in the profession at large. He has encouraged colleagues to work together co-operatively, as evidenced, for example, by the excellent series of joint ALIA/ACLIS activities in Victoria under his leadership.

In building this record of significant achievement and leadership, Derek Whitehead has consistently demonstrated great vitality and professional vision. This can be seen in his recent central role in the development of VICNET, and his enthusiasm for achieving widespread internet access through public libraries and to public domain information. In this field, as with his earlier efforts in multiculturalism, his authorship of submissions, and leadership and lobbying efforts will greatly benefit future generations of librarians and library service users.

His involvement in the development of Victorian Government information and communications policies has advanced the image of librarians as innovators and leaders with new technologies. Balancing this is his strong commitment to professional principle, with issues of equity and access of great professional importance to him.

The General Council of the Australian Library and Information Association believes this continued record of professional commitment and achievement throughout his career well merits the distinction of Fellow being conferred on Derek Whitehead.