John Levett

Professor John Levett BA MLib FLAA

Fellowship conferred 1987

John Levett has had a distinguished career in public and academic libraries as well as in education for librarianship. He began his career at Lake Macquarie Shire Library, as Children's Librarian and later as Chief Librarian. He went to Tasmania as Deputy State Librarian in 1968. In 1970 he was appointed Foundation Librarian at the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education, eventually becoming Head of the Division of Education Services.

In 1977 he became Head of the School of Librarianship at the Tasmanian CAE. The School was transferred to the University of Tasmania in 1981 and he has remained Head of the School since this time. Mr Levett's leadership has been instrumental in this successful transition and in the continuing role of the School within the University. Mr Levett is regarded as an inspiring teacher who challenges students to think critically about professional issues.

John Levett has been an active contributor to the work of the Library Association of Australia. He has held executive offices in the Hunter Regional Group and the Tasmanian Branch, including Tasmanian Branch President, General Councillor for Tasmania and General Councillor-at-large. He has also served as an examiner for the Registration Examinations and on the Publications Board and the ALJ Editorial Board of the LAA. He has been Editor of the Australian Library Journal since 1981. Through his editorials he has reached virtually all the LAA membership, encouraging members to think about issues of importance to the profession and the Association.

Mr Levett has produced a number of publications. He has maintained an active involvement in public library issues and is currently working on research projects on the role of laypeople in library services.

[Extract from 'Three Fellowships Awarded', Louise Lansley, originally published in INCITE, 6 November 1987, p.12.]


Recipient of the HCL Anderson Award 1999

Educator, author, editor, administrator, association activist, librarian, John Levett has made an exemplary and far reaching contribution to the library and information profession in Australia and to the theory and practice of librarianship. He began work as a library cadet at the Newcastle Public Library and joined the Association in 1954. From 1961 to 1968 he was chief librarian of the Lake Macquarie Shire Library (NSW), serving a socially disparate and geographically scattered population. He was deputy State Librarian of Tasmania from 1968 to 1970, when he became director of the Resource Materials Centre at the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education. He was appointed director of the Department of Librarianship, Archives and Records in the College and subsequently transferred in 1981 with the department to the University of Tasmania. From 1992-94 he was professorial chair of the Department of Librarianship, Archives and Records at Monash University, Melbourne.

John has taught and written about a variety of subjects, including the sociology of libraries; administration; the role, function and values of contemporary public library service; children's literature; the selection and evaluation of library materials and research methods in librarianship. Much of his teaching has been at postgraduate and Master's level. His personal dedication to professional educational standards and values enabled him to attract and lead quality staff and produce high calibre graduates.

President of the Association in 1991, John has served on a variety of Association committees covering censorship, public libraries, social issues, audio-visual services, financial support for state and public libraries, publications and international relations. He was for five years a member of the ALIA Board of Education and a general councillor for four periods in 1969, 1978, 1983-84 and 1990-92. He became a fellow of the Library Association of Australia in 1988.

Students and colleagues involved with him in academic and professional activities attest to his role as a constructive critic and to his ability to stimulate thought and action on values, professional and community responsibilities and qualitative responses to change. He has inculcated in those around him a lasting intellectual and professional commitment to librarianship.

An outstanding achievement has been his editorship of the Australian Library Journal. He has produced the Association's flagship publication, with one break, since 1981, ensuring quality and substance in its articles, encouraging new authors and leading debate on sometimes controversial issues in its editorials. He is often called the conscience of Australian librarianship because of his fierce defence of its fundamental values.

John Levett has enriched librarianship, provided intellectual leadership and benefited Australian society at many levels over three decades. It is fitting that he should receive the Association's highest award, which commemorates HCL Anderson, principal librarian of the Free Public Library of New South Wales from 1893 to 1906 and one of the great early Australian librarians.