John Metcalfe was the most important Australian librarian of his generation. He helped create what is now the Australian Library and Information Association; was the founding editor of its journal; introduced formal programs of library education into Australia; directed two of the major libraries of the nation-the Public Library of New South Wales (now the State Library of NSW) and the Library of the University of NSW; and spearheaded the movement that led to the creation of free public libraries. A keen observer, constantly making comparisons, Metcalfe went everywhere, and met everyone on a number of extended trips to the U.S. and U.K. His unpublished reports and diaries make vivid reading. These and several additional unpublished documents combine to create a "proto-biography" of Metcalfe.
W. Boyd Rayward is Professor of Librarianship and former Head of the School of Information, Library, and Archive Studies at the University of New South Wales. He is also Dean of the University's Faculty of Professional Studies.