Farewell Margaret Allen

Margaret Allen

At last week’s Board meeting we bid a very fond farewell to Margaret Allen, who is retiring after more than 17 years as the State Library of Western Australia’s (SLWA) CEO and State Librarian.

Margaret has been an energetic and involved NSLA member since joining SLWA in late 2004, serving as Chair in 2013-2014 and as deputy in the preceding period. As well as a raft of professional commitments to the library sector, she represented NSLA on the Australian Digital Alliance and Australian Libraries and Archives Copyright Committee, INELI Oceania, eSmart Libraries, and the elending ARC project management group. She sponsored a number of projects led by SLWA staff in NSLA’s Re-imagining Libraries program, including Copyright, Description and Cataloguing, Archival Collections and Literacy and Learning, as well as participating in NSLA CEO working groups on workforce planning and digital infrastructure.

Meeting with NSLA board members last week, current Chair Vicki McDonald said, “I would like to acknowledge Margaret’s extraordinary contribution to NSLA and to the library profession over many years, and especially her tireless efforts toward copyright reform. We have all benefitted from her wisdom, expertise and commitment.”

Margaret’s professional appointments over her 40-year career in libraries include Chair of the Australian Libraries Copyright Committee, member of the Public Lending Right Committee, member of the ALIA Book Industry and eLending Advisory Group, Secretary of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Public Libraries Section, member of the Australian Digital Alliance board and Untapped Australian Literary Heritage Project steering group, Chair of the IFLA eLending Working Group, President of the Australian Library and Information Association (2011) and elected member of the IFLA Governing Board (2015–2017).

In 2014, Margaret was awarded a Fellow of the Australian Library and Information Association for services to the profession, followed by an Australian Public Service Medal in 2018 for outstanding public services to the library sector in Western Australia.

Speaking in an interview during her term as NSLA’s Chair, Margaret described the future of libraries as “very bright and strong”, saying: “Libraries have always evolved in response to the communities in which they operate… in five years we will have made more gains in engaging with the digital world, changing the view of us as a place of books to a place of information and knowledge. We’ve always had that role but it’s been so inextricably linked with books and print; in five years it will be around a whole lot of things, helping the community engage with knowledge, information and stories.”

Margaret retires on 31 March, passing the SLWA reins to Catherine Clark, who is currently Curtin University’s Librarian and Director, John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library.

Addendum, 31 March 2022: Shortly after this article was published we learned that Margaret was awarded ALIA’s highest honour, the HCL Anderson Award.

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