Our history

Our history

Macquarie University has always had one central library servicing the whole campus. The first Library (building C7A now known as 18 Wally's Walk) opened in 1967 and delivered best-practice traditional library services to the university for over 40 years. The existing Library at 16 Macquarie Walk opened in 2011 providing a sustainable 21st century learning and research environment that facilitates interactions between people and knowledge.

1967 - 2011: the original Library

Original Library

2011 - present: the current Library

Macquarie University Library

Former University Librarians

David Barry Scott, OBE

Barry Scott

Macquarie University Foundation Librarian 1965 - 1970

Barry Scott came to Macquarie from his alma mater, the University of Queensland, where he was Acting University Librarian.

Barry's tenure as University Librarian was cut short by his death from cancer on 9 January 1970 however his achievements were considerable and his legacy memorable:

  • Scott worked to ensure a comprehensive single library was established, and located centrally on campus,
  • he heavily influenced the design and layout of this first library building,
  • he fostered the integration of classes in information retrieval in student programs, a goal that the library pursues to this day
  • he had the foresight to choose the Library of Congress Classification System for the library's resources, something which was unusual for the time,
  • he was a member of the Academic Senate of the University, President of the Staff Association and served on the board of the union.

Outside the University he worked for the betterment of libraries and librarians with the Library Association of Australia, Library Promotion Councils and in schools with an interest in the development of their libraries. He also took a year of service with UNESCO in Ankara where he worked to extend and improve the under-developed library services of Turkey.

Mollie Thomson

Mollie Thomson

Acting University Librarian 1970
Deputy Librarian 1971-1980

Mollie Thomson graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Arts and Diploma of Education. She worked as a high school teacher before becoming a librarian at the State Library of New South Wales in 1951. She trained under Jean Arnot and worked in Canada and New York, completing a Master of Science in Librarianship at Columbia University.

Mollie Thomson became Head Cataloguer at the National Library of Australia in 1964. She moved to the newly established Macquarie University as Head Cataloguer in 1966. Following the death of Barry Scott in 1970, Mollie became Acting University Librarian. With the appointment of Eoin Wilkinson, she served as Deputy Librarian from 1971 until her death in October 1980 after a long illness. She was posthumously awarded the Fellowship of the Library Association of Australia in recognition of her outstanding contribution to librarianship.

Mollie Thomson is remembered with affection and admiration by all who knew her. A consummate cataloguer, she was the epitome of the complete librarian. Throughout her career she inspired library staff and administrators alike to believe that institutional, professional and national goals were achievable. Mollie was also instrumental in bringing works of art into Macquarie University Library on a scale not previously seen in any Australian academic library.

A stained-glass window was commissioned in memory of Mollie Thomson. Designed by South Australian artist Cedar Prest and featuring Australian wildflowers which Mollie loved, it was unveiled in 1984 and still sits near the entrance to the original library building.

Eoin Wilkinson

Eoin Wilkinson

University Librarian 1971 - 1987

Eoin Wilkinson came to Macquarie University from the University of Adelaide where he was Deputy Librarian. He previously worked at Hawkesbury Agricultural College, the Department of Agriculture, and the University of New South Wales.

Eoin was made Head Librarian in his final school year at Knox Grammar in Sydney and later lectured in Librarianship at the UNSW. He was involved in curriculum development for library courses at both UNSW and Ku-ring-gai College of Advanced Education (later UTS).

Eoin was a scholarship masters student at the University of Chicago, and was awarded a grant by the Carnegie Corporation of New York allowing him to study libraries across North America and Europe.

As University Librarian at Macquarie University, Eoin’s achievements included:

  • overseeing a significant enlargement of the Library, including the introduction of an After Hours Reading Annexe that proved very popular with students.
  • promoting co-operation between libraries such as his early commitment to the Australian Bibliographic Network (ABN) allowing library catalogues and other resources to be shared between libraries
  • implementing the introduction of machine-readable records
  • encouraging skill development and training for library staff

He served as a member of the Committee of Australian University Librarians (CAUL) and the Australian Advisory Council on Bibliographic Services (AACOBS) and before he retired Eoin established the Library Friends, a group for supporters of the library in which he remained active until his passing in 2004.

Barrie Mitcheson

Barrie Mitcheson (Librarian)

University Librarian 1988 - 1996

Barrie Mitcheson came to Macquarie University Library from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology where he was Institute Librarian. With a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Newcastle (1971) and a Diploma of Business Studies, Barrie qualified as a librarian in 1964.

In 1983 he was President of the Library Association of Australia (now Australian Library and Information Association).

Barrie's time at Macquarie University library coincided with a marked increase in the development of information technologies in libraries and he felt it crucial that academic librarians should be represented along with IT specialists in the implementation of information technology. He explored the possibility of converging Macquarie University's Office of Computing Services (OCS) with the library.

In 1995 Barrie was seconded to the position of Coordinator, University Information Technology Strategic Planning, a position established by the Vice Chancellor, Di Yerbury. His strategic plan for information technology in the Library contributed to the foundation of the Division of Information Services, bringing together the Library, the Office of Computing Services and the Centre for Flexible Learning, providing coordinated and  integrated information technology services. Barrie was appointed to head this new division as Executive Director.

In 1998 he was appointed Acting Executive Director, Division of Information Services and Systems at the Hawkesbury Campus of the University of Western Sydney.

Neil McLean

Neil McLean (Librarian)

University Librarian 1996 - 2001

Prior to returning to Australia in 1990, Neil McLean was Director of the Library and Information Technology Centre at the Polytechnic of Central London. Neil joined Macquarie University in 1990 and was appointed University Librarian in 1996.

Neil had a strong interest in the application of information technology to library services and contributed extensively to national and international discussion through publications, conference papers and representation on committees including the NSW Information Technology Advisory Council, Standards Australia, IT19 Committee - Computer Applications, and the Australian Bibliographic Network Committee.

During Neil's time as University Librarian, his enthusiasm for the 'big picture' was boundless and he was very keen to communicate these ideas using terms like 'interoperability', 'synergy' and 'metadata'. His explanations were often accompanied by intricate diagrams of intersecting shapes and shaded boxes, all of which made sense while the author was there to explain.

Under Neil's guidance the Library became involved in a number of national and international projects to incorporate technology into Library operations. Notable was the Local Interlending and Document Delivery Administration System (LIDDAS) project which revolutionised interlibrary loans. Macquarie was Australia's first university library to embrace a preference for electronic journals over print.

In 2002, Professor McLean was appointed as Macquarie University Pro Vice Chancellor (Academic) with responsibility for the newly formed eLearning and Information Services Division.

Penny Carnaby

Penny Carnaby (Librarian)

University Librarian 2002 - 2003

Penny Carnaby was the first female University Librarian at Macquarie University. Penny came to Macquarie in 2000 as Deputy University Librarian having previously been Director of the Education Resource Centre, Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology in New Zealand.

Originally a teacher librarian, Penny graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Diploma of Education from the University of New South Wales, and library qualifications from Leeds Polytechnic in the UK.

Before coming to Australia, Penny was President of the Library and Information Association of New Zealand (LIANZA) and was instrumental in developing a national information strategy for New Zealand.

Penny continued her interest in information literacy in Australia. While University Librarian at Macquarie, she was involved in the implementation of an embedded information skills program for students to give them the skills necessary to access evolving information technologies and to use identified resources critically and intelligently.

Another of her initiatives brought colour to the drab Library interior. Interesting feature walls, blue carpet, and coloured functional pieces made the library a much brighter place to work.

In 2003 Penny Carnaby resigned as Macquarie University Librarian to become National Librarian of New Zealand.

Maxine Brodie

Maxine Brodie

University Librarian 2003 - 2012

Maxine Brodie was appointed as University Librarian at Macquarie University in February 2003. She moved to Macquarie in 2002 as Deputy University Librarian after working for five years as Director of Information Technology at the State Library of New South Wales. Prior to this, Maxine spent 14 years as a senior manager at the University of Technology, Sydney, where she also played an active part in IT strategic planning for both the Library and the academic and administrative areas of the University.

Maxine qualified as a mathematics teacher in 1974 and as a librarian in 1976. She completed a Master of Business Administration at Macquarie University in 1996 and was awarded the Allen Knott Scholar's Medal for academic merit at graduation. She was always active in professional activities within ALIA and was Chair of the Standards Association of Australia Committee IT/19.

Maxine had a strong professional interest in the application of Information Technology to improve service provision and published several articles and conference papers on library/IT planning and service issues.

One of Maxine's most significant achievements was seeing a new library building constructed at Macquarie, completed in 2011. Her foresight to create the first library in Australia that houses much of its collection in an Automated Storage and Retrieval System effectively transformed the library into a user-centred space that caters for the changing demands of 21st century learning.

Maxine retired as University Librarian in December 2012.

JoAnne Sparks

JoAnne Sparks (Librarian)

University Librarian 2013 - 2018

JoAnne Sparks was appointed University Librarian at Macquarie University in January 2013. She brought her trademark energy, humour and vision to the many projects, both in the Library and University-wide, in which she was involved.

Some of her key achievements at Macquarie University Library include:

  • Radically re-conceptualising the Library’s strategic approach to emphatically position the Library at the nexus of research and learning/teaching both now and into the future
  • Engendering a culture of improved effectiveness and flexibility through a client service model, quality enhancement program and outcomes-oriented work processes that staff could readily engage with
  • Conceiving of and hosting the Sydney Conference, a symposium that attracted attendees from around the world to examine the future of scholarly publishing
  • Envisioning and implementing an expanded University Librarian portfolio that includes the Learning Skills Unit, the Art Gallery and Archives and Records Management
  • Accelerating the Library’s growth into digital, including a huge expansion in e-resources and open access material

JoAnne’s career as a librarian and technologist spanned over 30 years in academic, corporate and non-profit organisations in Australia, the United Kingdom and United States. She was previously Director, Information Services and University Librarian at Griffith University and prior to that held senior management roles at the University of Oxford, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Pharmaceutical Research Institute at Bristol-Myers Squibb.

For many years JoAnne has travelled regularly to Northern Thailand to work with the Karen Department of Health and Welfare and other  community-based groups from Eastern Burma as a volunteer teacher and advisor.

JoAnne retired as University Librarian in 2018.

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