The idea for an association was born in 1979 when a group, consisting of about six Queensland public librarians, met in a hotel room in cold and wet Canberra while they were attending the Library Association national conference.
The idea was to form an organisation similar to that operating in the university and college libraries sector. To be comprised of librarians in charge of public libraries in Queensland it was intended that the association would provide a forum for the exchange of ideas, discussion of common problems, and consultation with State Library and other bodies. There would be an annual meeting, with the exchange of information between meetings to be via correspondence.
After a survey of public libraries in the state supported the idea, Stephanie Pidgeon and Cheryl Haughton were asked to convene the first meeting, and it took place in Rockhampton on 20 and 21 November 1981. Chief librarians from 24 public libraries across the state attended, along with Lawrie Ryan and Desi Lyons from the State Library. One of the first topics discussed was the education and training of librarians, with the phasing out of the LAA Registration exams.
Meetings were then held annually and over time morphed more into the conferences we know today, with an annual meeting of the association included. Venues were spread across the state, even including Longreach, with that conference organised remotely from Rockhampton.
The Chief Librarian from the conference venue assumed the role of president for the year of the conference, and this practice continued until changes to the structure and constitution were adopted at the AGM in 1999, following incorporation in January 1995. From 2000 the name changed to the Queensland Public Libraries Association, with the new structure allowing for positions of President, President elect, Secretary, Treasurer and 4 regional representatives to form a Board of Management.
The first conference held under the banner of QPLA was at Novotel Twin Waters from 5 – 9 March 2000, with the fitting theme of Libraries in the 21st Century.
Note from Cheryl:
from memory the people who met in Canberra were Stephanie Pidgeon, Jocelyn Brent, Marie Reid, Sandra Maynes, Martha Sirovs (possibly) and myself, along with I think possibly Des Stephens and Desi Lyons from State Library.