24 February 2016
On 27 January, John Brudenall passed away, aged 77. John was the Deputy Parliamentary Librarian, having served in the Parliamentary Library from 1966 to 1996. Margaret Reid described him as 'the father of the modern Parliamentary Library'—as having moved that library from a card index to the internet. He was, as Bob Halverson noted on John's retirement, 'a visionary in his enthusiasm for the library's being at the forefront of information technology'. John began his career serving the National Library of Australia, and continued working in library services after his time in the Parliamentary Library, serving the library of the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia. He and his wife, Sue, lived in Argyle Square, and his quiet work was of a piece with so many of the great parliamentary librarians who continue to serve us. In his eulogy for John Brudenall, Alan Wilson said, 'John was always fair, honest, kind, reasonable, trusting and understanding.' Frances Cushing said, 'He valued all of us in such a personal way that I think it made us want to be better than we were, and that is a wonderful quality in anyone.'
John played an important role, too, in the creation of a network of parliamentary libraries in the Asia-Pacific region, including in Cambodia, which he visited very soon after the cessation of hostilities there. John started work in Old Parliament House with a Parliamentary Library of just a few dozen and finished at a time when the Parliamentary Library was in this current building with a staff of over 200 and a budget of $16 million. He had poor eyesight, which meant that he had to work extra hard in order to serve the Parliamentary Library and the elected representatives, and he worked hard to try to defend the Parliamentary Library against what some have referred to as the 'vandals' who wanted to curtail its development.
John will be greatly missed by his wife, Sue, to whom he was married for 54 years. He leaves behind his children, David and Peter, and he had two other children, Helen and Andrew, who are now deceased. He was the father-in-law of Kirsti and Kylie; grandfather of Tom, Stephen, Jack, Otte, Harry and Mia; stepgrandfather to Emma, Sophie and Imogen; and dearest brother to his disabled sister, Kay. John Brudenall left us with a better Parliamentary Library and we are fortunate for his service.