The 2013 Dame Annabelle Rankin Award Recipient is Judith Louise Russell
Judith Russell is a passionate and effective advocate of literature for young people in both her professional role as a teacher-librarian since 1977 and as an active member of the School Library Association of Queensland, the Children’s Book Council of Australia and the May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust. She is especially interested in programs featuring authors and illustrators in school and public libraries; supporting emerging authors and promoting new publications.
The positions she holds or has held at the regional and state levels of Education Queensland indicate how highly colleagues value her wide knowledge, discerning judgment and arts administration skills. She is the Coordinator of the annual Readers’ Cup competition (years 8 and 9) for Brisbane South Region. Judith always arranges for an author or illustrator to speak to the assembled students, teachers and parents at the regional finals. As reviewer for the Arts Council she attends and reports on auditions held to accredit storytellers, authors and illustrators for engagements in Queensland State Schools. Since 2010 she has been a member of the Future Libraries Reference Group and is currently responsible for organising the literature component of their annual conference.
Judith has been a member of the CBCA (Q’ld Branch) Inc. since 1993 and served on the committee as Treasurer, Vice-president, and President. She is currently the Branch Archivist. She was co-author of the History of the CBC in Queensland (2004) published for the 50th anniversary.
Judith has also promoted and contributed to the development of the Lu Rees Archives, a special collection of Australian children’s books, related papers and art works held at the University of Canberra. This is a rich resource for national and international scholars and for exhibitions throughout Australia. These Archives have been used by Queensland academics and students. Judith strongly believes in the value of research resources about Australian creators of books for young people and the wonderful insights the records offer into the processes involved from drafts to publication and sometimes translation.
Children’s literature and reading are important in the activities of the School Library Association of Queensland, and Judith has continued to provide distinguished services to children’s literature through her role in this organisation. For the combined SLAQ and IASL conference (Brisbane, 2010), Judith coordinated the Literature strand thus giving Queensland and interstate Australian authors an international audience and opportunities to discover their books.
Another organisation through which Judith’s work supports creators of children’s books is the May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust. Judith excels at bringing people together for the benefit of children’s books and reading. She has also negotiated successful partnerships with other organisations to extend the opportunities for Queensland children and interested adults to attend talks and workshops led by interstate authors including the Creative Writing and Cultural Studies Department at the Queensland University of Technology, the Queensland Outback Tourism Authority and the management committee for the Curtis Coast Literary Carnivale. A fruitful partnership with the State Library of Queensland is ongoing.
Evidence of Judith Russell’s distinguished services to children’s literature in and beyond Queensland abounds. Two special attributes make her particularly deserving of The Dame Annabel Rankin Award. Firstly, she delights in sharing her knowledge and expertise both formally and through social networking. Secondly, she is happy to contribute to worthwhile projects from the highest administrative levels to the most mundane but necessary tasks associated with making things run smoothly.
Her contagious enthusiasm for good books continues to grow with her knowledge and experience. She has inspired young people to read, teachers to broaden their selection of books in the curriculum and fellow teacher-librarians to participate in literature-related professional development activities. Her activities have introduced many young people and interested adults to authors, illustrators and their books.
Judith delivered a rousing speech at the Book Week dinner on August 16 2013, and has graciously provided us with a copy of that speech. All rights are retained by the creator.