William Linklater

William Linklater BA DipLib DipEdTech FALIA

Fellowship conferred 1998

Bill Linklater's career in the library and information profession began in 1961 when he was employed at the University of New South Wales Library. In 1969 after completing the University's Diploma in Librarianship Bill accepted an appointment as second-in-charge of the library at the Wollongong University College of the University of New South Wales. The following year he moved to Papua New Guinea where he was employed as technical services librarian at the Institute of Technology. During Bill's two-year tenure, the library was transformed: staffing numbers increased, technical services procedures were established and the monograph and serial collections developed. At the same time Bill played an important role in encouraging the professional development of all members of staff, a commitment which he has maintained throughout his career.

In 1972 Bill was appointed deputy librarian at the Swinburne Institute Library, becoming librarian in 1980. During his time at Swinburne he established a strong foundation collection of audiovisual materials and equipment. This, together with the innovative staffing structure he implemented, was to form a national model for the development of such collections.

Bill accepted appointment to his current position as university librarian at the University of Newcastle in January 1989. Shortly after his appointment the university amalgamated with the nearby College of Advanced Education and Bill's leadership and management capabilities were crucial in the creation of a unified service culture for the new university. He played a major role in positioning the university in the promotion and utilisation of new technologies and by 1994 it had established a major role and presence in the use of multimedia in teaching and learning, and a national and international reputation as a pioneer in subject-based network (AARNet/Internet) training.

Throughout his career, Bill has promoted co-operation between libraries. As librarian at Swinburne Institute he was an active and enthusiastic director of CAVAL. Upon relocating to the University of Newcastle, Bill transferred his energies to UNISON and continued his advocacy for collaborative activities between university libraries. In the Hunter region he provided much of the support necessary to enable public libraries to take advantage of AARNet long before similar activity occurred elsewhere in Australia.

Since his term of appointment at the Papua New Guinea Institute of Technology, Bill has made a sustained contribution to international librarianship in the Asia-Pacific region. Bill was, from 1983 to 1996, the Asia-Pacific regional consultant for university libraries in Thailand for the International Development Program of Australian Universities and Colleges (IDP). During this period, Bill developed a strategic partnership with the director of the Chiang Mai University Library which resulted in the creation of a consortium of regional universities in Thailand. Each of the libraries in the group acquired the same automated system, thus enabling them to negotiate effectively with suppliers and to share expertise. This led to the formation of a communications network between the institutions which was a precursor of the internet in Thailand. Between 1989 and 1994 Bill undertook a similar role for IDP as regional consultant for libraries in Indonesia.

Library professionals in the Asia-Pacific region have benefited from Bill's work through direct training and the creation of a leadership cadre, particularly in Thailand, which is now well-positioned to embrace the benefits of global technological and telecommunications developments. As part of a staff development program, Bill arranged for library staff from countries in the region to visit, train and work in Australian university libraries in order to broaden their understanding of academic librarianship. Bill also organised for Australian librarians to visit the region, and such placements involved the provision of training in a broad range of skills, particularly in cataloguing. As both Thailand and Indonesia were eager to introduce automated library systems, Bill organised for technical as well as operational advice to be provided.

Through consultancies to governments in the Asia-Pacific region Bill has assisted the development of higher education library services. Amongst his consultancies can be included the assessment of higher education library development in Nepal and the establishment of a university library for the Government of Brunei. Bill's leadership has earned him wide respect in the Asia-Pacific region and has contributed to the esteem in which the Australian library and information profession is held in the area.

Bill is active in his profession and in the Australian Library and Information Association. His commitment to the Association has seen him serve as a member of the Papua New Guinea Branch Council of the Library Association of Australia [1971-1972] and later - during the 1980s - as Victorian Branch president and Victorian general councillor.

In 1994 Bill served as president of the Association. In that period Bill fostered a spirit of greater involvement in ALIA by the membership while at the same time working to broaden the Association's work in international relations. Under his leadership since 1994, Bill's continuing interest in international librarianship has seen the revitalisation of the ALIA International Relations Committee.

The effectiveness and significance of Bill Linklater's contribution to the library and information profession is testified by the development of the university libraries with which he has worked, both in Australia and in the Asia-Pacific region. His open and friendly approach is accompanied by deeply-held views about the role of the profession, a championing of staff development and a profound knowledge of librarianship. William (Bill) Linklater is a worthy recipient of the distinction of Fellow of the Australian Library and Information Association.