ER Pitt

Obituary Ernest Roland Pitt, 1877-1957 

The Australian Library Journal, July 1957, p. 116.

The recent death of Mr ER Pitt has removed from the Australian library scene one who had played a long and notable part in the development of library services in this country.

Mr  Pitt was a son of Mr Mark A Pitt, of Wexford, Ireland.  He was born at Strathlodden, near Guildford, Victoria, on 16th October, 1877, and educated at St. Patrick's College. Melbourne. He graduated in Arts at Melbourne University.  He joined the staff of the Public Library of Victoria on 4th April, 1900, before the days of accession registers, when Dewey was just being 'discovered', and when internal telephones were a novelty. After serving in the Reference Library in various posts, he was appointed in charge of the Lending Library in 1922, became Assistant Librarian in 1926, and Chief Librarian on the retirement of Mr RD Boys in 1931. He retired from the library staff on 16th December, 1943.

Mr Pitt's interests and activities were widespread. In the library field he was at various times President of the Library Associations of Victoria and of Australia, Chairman of the Library Service Board, 1940-44, President of the Australian Public Service Federation and of the Retired State Employees' Association of Victoria. He was also Chairman of the Joint Superannuation Board and later a member of the State Superannuation Board. His two main contributions to  librarianship, however, may be reckoned as his part in the Munn-Pitt Survey of 1934 and as editor of the CSIRO's Catalogue of Scientific and Technical Periodicals. These alone will ensure the remembrance of his name and his achievements for years to come.

Mr  Pitt was in all things methodical. He brought deliberation, clear thinking, and balanced judgement to every task and every occupation. He was a skilled and steady tennis player, an enthusiast for bridge, a devotee of Henry George, an imperturbable chairman, a logical debater. Privately he was whimsical and quietly genial, fond of young people, and respected by all.

After a serious illness during the early part of this year he made a remarkable recovery, but his health began to fail again and he died on 28th June at the age of seventy-nine years.

Mr Pitt was a link with the librarians of other times. He moved in the circle of Armstrong, Boys, Brazier and Morris Miller, Ifould and Purnell, Battye and Collier. If these were giants in their day­ as they seemed to the younger amongst us ­Pitt was of no less stature.  His contribution to twentieth century librarianship in this country was indeed a worthy one.


There is a more extensive piece in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, by Margaret C Ramsay, from 1988.