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 Photograph supplied by SLQ staff

Dr Spencer James Routh OAM Photograph supplied by SLQ staff


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I worked with Spencer for many years. He is a walking encyclopedia! Lovely man, great librarian!

I wholeheartedly second Judith's comments. It was a privilege working with Spencer.

i loved working with and learning from Spencer over the years. He is treasure.

Not only a great librarian, but a true gentleman and a wonderful friend to so many librarians.

Wonderful man. Well done SLQ for making this recording.

I worked with Spencer in the University Library and found him a most considerate and informative person and a pleasure to have as a guide in all reference matters.

Lovely news. Well done SLQ for recognising Spencer's exemplary contribution.

I was so privileged to work with Spencer in the 1980s in Main Library at the University of Queensland. He is truly "the Librarian's Librarian".

Incredible knowledgeable reference man who mentored many and provided the benchmark for the rest of us to aim for. He gave everyone time without hesitating, and supported the profession over many years in various roles - read the bio. A man without malice who sought only to help others reach their potential. Proud to have worked with him. .