Margaret Trask

Margaret Trask AM BA MLib FLA

Margaret Trask is a graduate of the University of New England and holds the Diploma of Librarianship of the University of New South Wales. She has been a professional member of the Library Association of Australia since 1956.

The Board of Examiners is pleased to report to Council that, in the Board's view, Mrs Trask could very properly be invited to accept the distinction of Fellow of the Library Association of Australia.

Council will not need reminding of the very significant recent decision by the Commonwealth Government to subsidise heavily the development of libraries in secondary schools. Nor will Council have failed to feel gratified that the Association played some part in achieving this result.

The Board knows well that Mrs Trask will be the first to insist that many people, including other members of the Association, were involved in the very effective campaign which clearly influenced the government in this matter. The Board has little doubt, however, that it is the name of Margaret Trask that Australian librarians will associate permanently with this important development.

As president of the Children's Libraries section of the Association in 1966, Mrs Trask secured Association endorsement of a two year plan aimed at the promotion of improvement of school libraries and school library services.

The pages of the Association's Standing Committee and Council agenda papers for the next two years record the energy with which the section set about its task. What they do not adequately convey is the effectiveness with which a climate of public opinion was created, or the extent to which Mrs Trask's own travelling, speaking and writing contributed to this.

In September 1976, Mrs Trask joined Dr Andrew Fabinyi in ably presenting the Association's views on the needs of school libraries to the then Minister for Education and Science, Senator Gorton, in a personal interview.

What followed in history?

Mrs Trask's appointment to the Commonwealth Secondary Schools Libraries committee is regarded by the Board as a proper recognition both of her part in persuading the Commonwealth Government to act and of her considerable expertise in the area of school librarianship.

The Board has some knowledge of the degree to which to committee has relied on Mrs Trask's experience and professional capacity. As but the most recent example of this reliance, in July 1969 the committee requested the Association to conduct a two-day seminar for architects involved in planning school libraries. This seminar, designed and directed by Mrs Trask, from the Board's observations reflected nothing but credit on our Association and our profession.

Apart from her unique contribution in the area of Commonwealth aid to libraries, Mrs Trask is distinguished also by a number of publications of quality.

Importantly for our profession her writing has not been restricted to library periodicals but has appeared also in book reviewing and education journals.

Given Mrs Trask's obvious capacity for hard work it comes as no surprise to find that she has been a member of Council since 1966 and general treasurer of the Association since 1968. In 1967 she was elected to the Board of Examiners, where both her general professional knowledge and her particular expertise in the area of school and children's libraries have been of considerable value to the Association.

The Board commends Margaret Trask, Bachelor of Arts, Diplomate in Librarianship, Associate of the Library Association of Australia, to Council as a librarians whose activities have been responsible for making possible considerable improvement in an important area of library services in this country and whose efforts in this and in other fields within our profession clearly constitute a distinguished contribution to the practice of librarianship.

The Board unanimously recommends that she be awarded the distinction of Fellow of the Library Association of Australia.

H C L Anderson Award   1989  Margaret Trask.  From  inCite vol. 11, no. 4, 9 April 1990, p.1.

In a happy ceremony following the NSW Branch Annual General Meeting on 23 February 1990, Margaret Trask was presented with the H C L Anderson Award for 1989. Family, and colleagues from every phase of Margaret’s career, from Wilma Radford to recent AIMA participants, attended to pay tribute to Margaret's contribution to the profession.

Averill Edwards, immediate Past President, presented the award. Warren Horton read the citation. Excerpts of the citation follow:

Margaret Trask 's first major contribution to the profession was in the conduct of the campaign which led to the decision of the Commonwealth Government in 1968 to subsidise heavily the development of libraries in secondary schools, a program lasting until 1985 and one of  the most significant political victories for the Association since World War II.  As President of the Children's Library Section of the Association in 1966, she secured Association endorsement of a 2-yearplan aimed at the promotion and improvement of school libraries and school library services.

In 1974 Margaret Trask became the foundation head of the School of Library and Information Studies at Kuring-gai College of Advanced Education, a position which she occupied until 1985. At KCAE she implemented an innovative curriculum providing undergraduate and postgraduate education for librarians and teacher librarians, based on the centrality of the user of information and libraries to the design and delivery of information services. In the early 1980s she also began to develop an understanding which has significantly contributed to the re-definition of the field of information practice and the place of the librarian in that field.

Margaret Trask's interest in education for the entire professional life cycle led her by the mid 1980s to identify library management theory and practice as the greatest deficiency in both librarianship and library education in Australia, and it was to this issue she next turned.  She became Executive Director of the Australian Information Management Association in 1985. Through AIMA, she has been the driving force and increasingly major progenitor of a whole gammit of courses, workshops, consultancy services and publications which have revolutionised education for library management m this country.

Obituary Margaret Trask, AM 1928-2002.  InCite January-February 2003, p. 6

Margaret Trask, one of the pioneers of the development of the library and information profession in Australia, died at her Sydney home in November 2002. Margaret was an inspiration and role model for countless students and practitioners and left her mark on many organisations including ALIA, AIMA, and the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS).

Margaret's early career was based in the State Library of New South Wales, AMP Society, Penrith City Council and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Library.  In 1968 she moved into the teaching of librarianship at the then School of Librarianship at UNSW and developed a special interest in children's literature and school libraries. Her 'Report to the Nation' on the deplorable situation of school libraries was highly influential and formed a basis for the very successful federal government program of investment in school library buildings.

In 1974 Margaret moved to Kuring-gai College of Advanced Education and set up the School of Library and Information Studies.  At Kuring-gai Margaret established her formidable reputation as an innovative educator who found new ways to conceptualise information work and the body of knowledge to support effective practice. Thousands of graduates can attest to the influence on their own capacities of the ways of thinking and problem solving they were introduced to - some­ times painfully - by Margaret.  During that period Margaret also served on the Association's Board of Education and was president of the Association in 1977.

One of Margaret's greatest achievements was the establishment in 1985 of the Australian Information Management Association (AIMA) which provided leadership development for mid-ranking professionals as well as consultancy services for larger organisations. The huge impact of these activities can be seen today across Australian, New Zealand and South Pacific libraries.

Margaret 'retired' for a second time in 1994 but soon became involved as a council member at the University of Technology, Sydney.  She was deputy chancellor from 1998 until a few weeks before her death.  Her contribution to UTS was substantial as might be expected given Margaret's talent and commitment to any venture she undertook. She served on the key committees and presided over graduations with warmth and dignity.

Looking back over the history of the profession and libraries in Australia it is evident that Margaret played a very important role over many decades.  Apart from the positions she held in libraries and other organisations, Margaret was invariably selected as a member of committees or working groups charged with tasks of charting directions such as the Public Libraries Enquiry (Horton) 1975-76; Australian Commission for UNESCO 1977-85; Australian Libraries and Information Council 1982-85; Australian Libraries Summit 1988; Working Party on Library Provision in Higher Education (Ross) 1990.  In short any activity of significance to the development of libraries and the profession invariably involved Margaret in some capacity and benefited from her involvement.

Margaret's contributions were recognised by many honours - Member of General Division of the Order of Australia; HCL Anderson Award; Fellowship of LAA; Fellow of UTS; and an award, which will be conferred posthumously, Doctor of the University of Technology.  A University Medal for the outstanding UTS Information Studies graduate carries Margaret's name.

A glance at Margaret's achievements and the honours awarded might suggest that she was an intimidating figure. She was certainly awe-inspiring but never intimidating.  Anyone who had the good fortune to rub shoulders with her, or simply hear her speak on matters dear to her heart, will attest to Margaret's friendliness and generosity. Consequently, wherever she went Margaret built up a network of strong friendships.  She kept these friends over many years and was loyal and supportive helping many in their own professional aspirations. The messages received by Margaret's family following her death are tangible evidence of the tremendous impact she had on several generations. We are privileged to have known such a fine woman and to have benefited from her wisdom.

A special issue of the Australian Library Journal in late 2003 will commemorate and explore in more depth the significance of Margaret's achievements.  Meanwhile, UTS is hosting a celebration of Margaret's life on Friday 28 February at 4:30pm.

Mairead Browne