Mairéad Browne

Professor Mairéad Browne BA DipPsych MLib PhD FALIA

Fellowship conferred 1993

Professor Mairéad Browne has made a major contribution to the development of library and information services in Australia over the last two decades. She entered librarianship by completing the Diploma in Librarianship at the National University of Ireland in 1965. After working at University College, Dublin, she came to Australia in 1974 as Power Research Librarian of Contemporary Art in the Power Institute of Fine Arts at Sydney University. In 1975, she commenced her service in what is now the School of Information Studies at the Kuring-gai College of Advanced Education, since amalgamated into the University of Technology, Sydney. Mairéad Browne was appointed Head of School in 1986 and Professor of Information Studies in 1990. Since 1991, she has been the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences in the University.

Professor Browne led the development of courses at the Kuring-gai College during a period when there was a major change in focus from education for library practice to education for information practice. This change in focus led to the development of a discipline that placed information science in the social sciences and maintained the central position of information users in information provision. Another significant change was the introduction of an alternative approach to practicum based on career development and reflective practice. These innovative developments equipped graduates to move into a variety of occupational areas in industry as well as 'traditional' library employment.

Professor Browne's extensive research record demonstrates both originality and intellectual rigour. She is keen to explore empirically the bases for practice and completed her Master's thesis on the personal characteristics of librarians in university libraries in New South Wales with particular reference to executive success. Her Doctoral thesis on organisation decision making is an outstanding piece of work. Professor Browne's record in consultancy is also notable for its breadth and impact, with major achievements including the Disabilities and Library Services kit developed in 1984, when the professional needs of librarians beyond the major cities had not been widely acknowledged, and the 1990 consultancy for the Commonwealth Government on the extent to which major collecting institutions reflect Australia's cultural diversity in their collections and activities. Her extensive publication record covers a wide variety of topics including community information, external studies in librarianship, education for library and information services and public library services.

Mairéad Browne has a sustained record of work for the Australian Library and Information Association. In her two terms on the Board of Education from 1984-89, including service as deputy chair in 1988-89, she worked prodigiously hard and made major thoughtful contributions to the Association's education policies. Her other contributions include service as New South Wales Branch president in 1988.

The Association and the profession benefit greatly when senior practitioners contribute strongly in the wider affairs of their institutions and the community. Professor Browne has been active in innumerable ways within her own institution, including service as a member of the Academic Board between 1975-1989. She was also a key player in the amalgamation negotiations in the late 1980's, serving as a member of the KCAE Working Party on amalgamation matters and as convenor of the KCAE/UTS Integration Taskforce. Her community activities include membership of the panel of Accreditation Committee Chairpersons of the New South Wales Higher Education Board since 1984 and of the Board's Higher Education and Technology Committee from 1985-88.

The Australian Council of Libraries and Information Services (ACLIS) and its predecessor the Australian Advisory Council on Bibliographical Services (AACOBS) have also benefited from Professor Browne's contribution. She was a member of the AACOBS National Council from 1986-88, of the ACLIS NSW Committee from 1988-90, and gave distinguished service as a member of the AACOBS Working Party on User Needs from 1975-1981.

The national significance of Professor Browne's contribution to our profession was demonstrated in her close involvement in the work of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Long Term Strategies Inquiry into 'Australia as an Information Society' during 1990-91, where she prepared major submissions to the Committee on National Information Policy matters and appeared before it as a witness. She was subsequently invited to participate in the Committee's review meeting prior to the publication of the report Grasping new paradigms. A further demonstration of the professional respect in which she is held was her appointment by the Commonwealth Government as a member of the Council of the National Library of Australia in August 1992.

The General Council may confer a Fellowship on a professional member of the Association who has made a distinguished contribution to the theory or practice of library and information science. Professor Mairéad Browne's contribution as an outstanding academic and her participation in professional activity has not only added to our body of theoretical knowledge but enhanced library and information services for the nation. She is a most worthy recipient of the distinction of Fellow of the Australian Library and Information Association.