Monash University Publishing | Contacts Page
Monash University Publishing: Advancing knowledge

Jean Primrose Whyte




Dear Professor Smith

I understand that you have recently become involved in the long-standing proposal to establish a post-graduate school of librarianship at a Victorian university. Since I originated this proposal in 1958, I take the liberty of communicating to you the facts of my own involvement in the matter.

In 1958 the Murray Report appeared to herald a new era in Australian university development and the time seemed opportune to meet a long-felt need by proposing a scheme for the training of professional librarians at a level comparable with that provided for teachers in the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Education. My proposal for such a scheme was approved in principle by the Professorial Board of the University and a chair in librarianship was included in a list of deferred chairs. Since lack of finance was stated to be the obstacle in the way of implementing the scheme, I made certain approaches which resulted in an offer of finance from the Myer Foundation.

In 1961, the Library Association of Australia, having set up a committee to promote the establishment of schools of librarianship at universities, supported my proposal by appointing a deputation to the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne. As a result of this move the request that a detailed scheme for a school should be drawn up. The preparation of this scheme devolved on me and was carried out in practically every detail including estimates of staffing and accommodation, regulations, syllabus and reading lists. The scheme was supported in all essentials by the Library committee and the Faculty of Education, which agreed to the suggestion that it might take the school under its wing, and was recommended by the Professorial Board. However, it was foreseen in the light of past experience that the University would be committed at least partially to the cost of the scheme in spite of the offer of private financial assistance and it was decided that the University could not undertake this commitment in the triennium 1964–66.

Accordingly, the University in its submission to the Australian Universities Commission for the triennium 1967–69 highlighted the scheme for a post-graduate school of librarianship as an academic development together with the expansion of the Faculty of Medicine. The A.U.C. endorsed the scheme in its Third Report. However, the failure of the Commonwealth and State governments to implement the A.U.C.’s financial recommendations in full was caused by the deferment of the scheme by the University in favour of the expansion of the Faculty of Medicine.

Presumably, the A.U.C.’s endorsement of the scheme as an academic development in the University of Melbourne still stands and must again be considered in the light of the University finance in the triennium 1970–72. It is still my opinion that the University of Melbourne, in view of its central situation in the metropolitan area and the extent and variety of its Library collection, which includes the strongest Victorian holdings in the field of library science, remains the proper location for a post-graduate school of librarianship.

K.A. Lodewycks1


1  K.A. Lodewycks to R. Selby Smith, June 15th, 1967. MON 1059: 2000/68.93.

Jean Primrose Whyte

   by Coralie Elsenore Janis Jenkin