Enid Bishop (Gibson)

Life membership: Enid Bishop (Gibson)

Life membership awarded to Enid Bishop (Gibson)

The ASAA is pleased to appoint Enid Bishop (Gibson) as an honorary life member in recognition of her role in the founding of the ASAA and for her years of leadership and service in the field of Asian Studies librarianship in Australia.

In the 1950s, Enid obtained her degree with a focus on classical Chinese from what was then known as the School of Oriental Languages, Canberra University College (CUC), a part of the University of Melbourne.

In 1958, Enid was hired as the Assistant Librarian at CUC to oversee and develop the Asian collection. Later, when CUC became part of the Australian National University (ANU), Enid was appointed as head of the Asian Collections. Enid took leave from ANU to undertake a masters degree in librarianship at Columbia University.

George Miller notes that: “Enid had an inspiring vision of how Asian librarianship could contribute to the study of Asia and she saw an increased understanding and engagement with the region as important for Australia’s long-term prosperity.”

Enid contributed to a range of committees that undertook preparatory work to the establishment of the ASAA. For example, in 1971, Enid served on the organising committee of the International Congress of Orientalists, where the idea for a national association was originally discussed. In 1976, she also served on the Interim Working Group that established the Asian Studies Association of Australia.

During her career, Enid contributed to the growth of Asian studies in Australia. Among other achievements, she compiled the first reference work of theses on Asia undertaken in Australia. In 1970s, she also advanced the collection of Southeast Asian resources and facilitated collaboration between university librarians in Australia by organising a Symposium.

Enid’s contribution to Asian studies internationally is equally impressive. As early as 1967, she was a founding member of the International Association of Orientalist Librarians and later involved in facilitating conference panels for librarians from around the world to share knowledge. In the 1980s, Enid facilitated a major exchange program for librarians from China to visit the ANU, which continued for over a decade.

In 1984, when Enid retired from the ANU Library, the Asian Studies collection had grown under her leadership to over 220,000 volumes tended to by 28 staff.

George Miller notes that “Enid was widely liked, respected and admired by her library colleagues. For the many scholars at ANU and visitors from all around the world with whom she came into contact, she provided gracious encouragement and expert advice. Her vision of a great library was realised.”

You can read more about Enid’s contribution in a recent blog by George Miller for the series on Celebrating Women’s Contributions to ASAA here.

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