A lover of libraries: Meet Spencer Routh

Meet the man who is possibly our longest regular State Library visitor. Dr Spencer Routh OAM has been visiting SLQ and using our collections for 67 years.

Spencer began using SLQ’s collections as a teenager in 1948 and even as he enters his ninth decade, he continues to visit regularly to research the history of prominent Queensland pastoralists.

A self-proclaimed “lover of libraries”, Spencer was appointed the first Reference Librarian at the University of Queensland in 1959 and spent 42 years dedicating himself to “becoming a true partner in the transaction to find information”.  He was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for his services to libraries in Queensland.

“My reward was getting to know the hard working and interesting people who come to you for information, and building a long term relationship with them as readers.

If I were a rich man, I would have paid to have the jobs I had in libraries. It just was the perfect occupation for me.”

Since 1975, Spencer Routh has been a Queensland contributor to the Australian Dictionary of Biography and has used SLQ’s collections to write many entries with a focus on those who were pastoralists and also horse and cattle breeders.  He has relied upon family history resources, Queensland country newspapers and the John Oxley Library collections to help him document the lives of influential Queenslanders.

Senior Librarian Christina Ealing-Godbold recently interviewed Dr Spencer Routh for our Queensland Stories collection. The audio recording and a transcript will be made and added to SLQ’s John Oxley Library soon.

Christina Ealing-Godbold

Dr Spencer James Routh OAM

Dr Spencer James Routh OAM Photograph supplied by SLQ staff