Librarian as Change Agent
24 Jan 1956 to 29 October 2019 RIP
“To be a librarian is not to be neutral, or passive, or waiting for a question. It is to be a radical positive change agent within your community.”
That was Theresa, a positive change agent with a passion for libraries.
She was the second child of seven, born to Carmen and Jack Powles and grew up in Meredith in regional Victoria. Her primary schooling was at Saint Josephs Primary School Meredith, then Geelong for her secondary education attending Sacred Heart College.
She married young and had two sons Tremayne and Travis by the time she was 21.
As a single parent she looked for a career path and decided to follow her passion for people and reading. Theresa attended Ballarat College of Advanced Education where she completed a Bachelor of Arts Librarianship. It was a busy time working, studying and being a mum.
With her Library qualification Theresa and her son’s lives were to change when she headed to the Northern Territory to take up job as adult services librarian in the Darwin Library. It was here that her eyes were open to the true history of indigenous Australia, it's people, the land culture and a deep spirituality on country..
After years in the Territory she decided it was time to return home to become Librarian at Saint John of God’s Hospital, Ballarat. She remained there for several years but realised public libraries were her passion so on to Bendigo Library where she honed her skills in management and program design.
Theresa realised she missed the heat and headed to Logan libraries in Queensland. It was here that Theresa meet many refugee and immigrant families and went out of her way to be supportive. To celebrate diversity she designed many library programs, such asAround the world in flags. She was a great supporter of the underdog throughout her career and also wrote about and supported the Libraries for Timor Leste Project.
Her next challenge, back in the Territory was working with SERCO, immigration detention centre. Theresa had great empathy for all her clients and supported them in many ways. Hussein one of her favourites, remembers when he headed to Melbourne to look for work, she gave him five hundred dollars to help him get started. He was tearful when he heard of Theresa’s sudden death.
With the closure of SERCO, she was looking for her next job when her brother Peter told her about the Branch Librarians job in Condobolin. She thrived in the position and was integral in securing an extension to the library building. She made many friends, looked out for the youth of the town and instigated the Last Friday Picture Show and the Bridge club’s annual trip away. She was also involved in the Library Book Club, the Picnic Race Club and Women’s wellness expo.
Coonarbarabran Library had heard of her skills and she was head hunted for the Chief Librarian’s job and had only recently moved there.
She was a great lover of poetry, literature and films. Coincidentally her favourite movie was on TV the night before her funeral service. ‘My Brilliant Career’ reminds us of her love for libraries and her role as community change agent.
A true friend that will be missed by many.
Theresa is survived by sons Tremayne, Travis and partner Jade and granddaughter Alani.