Thowback Thursday – What the industry was talking about two decades ago

May 1994, Paul Keating was PM, Blue Heelers was in its fourth month, and Rodney Hall’s The Grisly Wife won the Miles Franklin literary award.

But what was on minds of librarians in 1994? Two decades ago the May 1994 edition of the Australian Library Journal considered the power of knowledge. Looking at the articles, it appears that not much has changed.


Focusing upon the book publishing industry, Jenny Burn and Mark Tredinnick considered how knowledge is power when it comes to pre-empting clients information needs.

In the technology space, Margaret Colmer in her article Information Technology addressed the rise of information as an economic commodity and the cost of information and information democracy.

Applying the Maori concept of mana, Jennifer Cram discussed the power of knowledge and empowerment of librarians in the face of huge problems be they research, information management based or professional development focused.

Whilst some of the terms have changed, I was struck by how much has remained the same. As an industry we continue to embrace and battle with the power of knowledge and the critical role libraries have to play in the distribution and democratisation of this power. I suspect in the next ten years this won’t change.

By Alex Cato
Research Librarian and ALLA NSW Social Media Co-ordinator


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