Laurence Brown

Laurence Brown ALA FLAA

Fellowship conferred 1970

Wilby Laurence Brown was educated in England. He served in the Royal Navy during World War II and, after demobilisation, was elected to the Register of the Library Association as a chartered librarian, prior to emigrating to Australian and joining the staff of the then Public Library of New South Wales.

Mr Brown has since filled with distinction a number of senior posts as a public librarian, as well as securing valuable experience in bookselling and publishing.

In 1953, he was appointed chief librarian of the Sutherland Shire Public Library. He became city librarian of Lithgow in 1954 and was chief librarian of Fairfield Municipal Library from 1959 to 1964. From 1964 to 1966 he was associated with a leading Australian library supplier. In 1966, he became city librarian of Essendon and he is currently chief librarian of the Essendon-Broadmeadows Regional Library Service.

In considering Mr Brown's record of achievement, the Board of Examiners has distinguished three main grounds for recommending him for the award of the Fellowship: first, leadership in the development of public librarianship; second, service to the Association and to the promotion of its aims; and third, writing and publishing in the area of our profession.

In his public librarianship Mr Brown has always been both forthright and forward thinking, a combination which, the Board suggests, is all too rare. To take but the most obvious example of the operation of this forward-thinking, in recent years he has been conspicuously successful in directing the application of computer technology to public library processes. The Essendon-Broadmeadows library service presents what, as far as the Board can judge, is certainly the most automated public library in Australia.

Mr Brown's talents for organisation, his clarity of thought and his force of argument have been recognised both by the Association itself and by outside organisations. Within the Association he has held office for several years as general councilor representing, on separate occasions, the Victorian Branch and the Public Libraries section. In addition he has served as a member of the Standing Committee, as well as president of the New South Wales Branch, as treasurer of the Public Libraries section and as convener of the Association's Committee on Book Prices.

In 1970, he was appointed editor-elect of the Australian Library Journal.

In recent years Mr Brown has played a leading part, as Victorian Branch representative on the Library council of Victoria, in assisting in planning library development for the State Library of Victoria, at a particularly crucial stage in its history. He has also served on the advisory committee for the courses in librarianship within the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

Mr Brown has been a steady contributor to the professional literature, writing on matters as diverse as the functions of the Library Board of New South Wales and trining for sub-professional library staff. His feature articles in the Australian Library Journal on the public library scene have been both informative and critical. The measure of their penetration is the correspondence they have stimulated.

While on the staff of James Bennett, bookseller and publisher, Mr Brown initiated, and has continued to edit, a series of Australian Library Pamphlets which has helped substantially to fill a notable gap in the detailed documentation of Australian libraries and library practice.

The Board of Examiners has carefully reviewed Mr Brown's publications and his work as a librarian and for librarians. It is unanimously of the view that he has made a distinguished contribution to both the theory and the practice of Australian librarianship, through his own publications and those he has been instrumental in having produced, through his work for library development, through his leadership in our profession and through his record and his example as an outstanding public librarian.

The Board commends Wilby Laurence Brown, Associate of the Library Association, Associate of the Library Association of Australia, to Council as being well qualified to be invited to the distinction of Fellow of the Library Association of Australia.


HCL Anderson Award citation 1986

Citation Wilby Laurence Brown, ALA, FLAA.  HCL Anderson Award

inCite vol. 7 no. 12, 18 July 1986, p.7

Wilby Laurence Brown has rendered outstanding service to librarianship, and to the library profession in Australia, to the Library Association of Australia, and to the theory and practice of librarianship.

Mr Brown had a distinguished career as a public librarian, prior to his appointment as State Librarian of Tasmania in 1973. He was successively Chief Librarian of the Sutherland Shire Library (1953-54) the Lithgow Municipal Library (1954-58), the Fairfield Library (1959-64) and the Essendon/Broadmeadows Regional Library (1966-73). In his public librarianship he was always forthright and forward thinking, and was conspicuously successful in directing the application of computer technologies to public library processes while at the Essendon/Broadmeadows Library Service. This was beyond doubt the most automated public library service an Australia at the time.

In the last thirteen years the State Library of Tasmania and Tasmanian public library services have been marked by unprecedented growth under his leadership. This is demonstrated in the dynamic progress in development of the regional library program and the Cartland Report on Archives which he instigated and which lead to the Archives Act of 1979. His strong interest in formal planning and his ability to see long range developments culminated in the landmark 1984 Libraries Act, which was a total rewriting of legislation for libraries in Tasmania and for which credit is almost solely due to him.

Mr Brown has made a distinguished contribution to the work of the Library Association of Australia. He was President in 1975-76, President of the New South Wales Branch in 1964, General Councillor tor the Public Libraries Section in 1968-69 and for Victoria from 1970-72. He edited the Australian Library Journal from 1971-74, was an associate examiner for the Registration Examination from 1963-69, and his continued interest in the Association is exemplified in his recent membership of the Public Libraries Standards Review Committee.

Mr Brown has an outstanding record of active participation in wider professional activities. He was the nominee for the Victorian Branch Council on the Library Council or Victoria from 1969-73, served on the AACOBS Council from 1972-82 and was an elected member of its standing committee from 1974-82. He was a member of the 1975 Commonwealth Committee of Enquiry into Public Libraries (the Horton Report) and has served as Chairman of the State Librarians' Council for the last six years.  He has been a member of the Australian Libraries and Information Council since its inception in 1982, and its Chairman from May 1984 to June 1986. To all these appointments Mr Brown has brought his usual vigour, forthrightness and intellectual clarity. He has been particularly active in the deliberations of ALIC, and the recently released ALIC Plan for library and related information services is in large part his work.

Mr Brown has been a steady contributor to the professional literature throughout his working life. This has included many feature articles in the Australian Library Journal, the series of Australian Library Pamphlets which he initiated and edited in 1965-67 and which filled a notable gap in detailed documentation of Australian libraries and libraries practice, and his pungent book reviews. He was a particularly vigorous editor of the Australian Library Journal during his term of office, and did much to build the present high reputation of that publication.

Mr Brown’s career has been characterised by a record of outstanding service to the profession, and adherence to the highest principles of librarianship. He is a most worthy recipient of the HCL Anderson Award.