Australian Dictionary of Biography

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William Herbert Ifould (1877–1969)

by Jean F. Arnot

This article was published:

William Herbert Ifould (1877-1969), by unknown photographer, c1909

William Herbert Ifould (1877-1969), by unknown photographer, c1909

State Library of South Australia, SLSA: B 15058

William Herbert Ifould (1877-1969), librarian and floriculturist, was born on 28 August 1877 at One Tree Hill near Gawler, South Australia, son of Edward Lomer Ifould, farmer, and his wife Marion Burn, née Cameron. Educated at Adelaide Collegiate School, he studied arts subjects at the University of Adelaide in 1902-07. He had entered the Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery of South Australia as a cadet in 1892 and in 1905 was appointed principal librarian. At St John's Church, Halifax Street, he married Carrie Eugenie Foale (d.1955) on 5 March 1907.

Appointed principal librarian and secretary of the Public Library of New South Wales in July 1912, over the next thirty years Ifould built up its staff and resources, making it the foremost library in Australia. He developed the country reference section and the country circulation department and provided a valuable service to industry by expanding the research department. He established staff-training, with a series of grade examinations, reputedly the first of their kind in Australia, and in 1939 the first library school. He persistently advocated the completion of the main part of the library building and exerted great influence on its interior design and decoration; he was made an honorary member of the Institute of Architects of New South Wales in 1921. While overseas in 1929 he bought at Sotheby's a collection of letters of Sir Joseph Banks for £8600.

Appointed O.B.E. in 1928, Ifould received a Carnegie travel grant in 1936. Next year he was foundation president of the Australian Institute of Librarians and in 1939 was elected a fellow of the Library Association of the United Kingdom. As chairman of the Libraries Advisory Committee from June 1937, he helped to draft the Library Act of 1939; next year he became chairman of the Library Board. He retired as principal librarian on 1 March 1942 and served as deputy-director of the Department of War Organisation of Industry in New South Wales until 1945. A trustee of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales from 1921, he was vice-president in 1929-58, president in 1958-60 and several times was acting director.

An ardent floriculturist, Ifould had been twice president of the National Rose Society in Adelaide. In 1912 he founded the National Rose Society of New South Wales and was president until 1923. An orange orchard at Waikerie, South Australia, planned and developed by him at week-ends before leaving Adelaide, became a profitable enterprise, which he managed throughout his life. He contributed a weekly garden column to the Sunday News in 1919-29 and published numerous articles, speeches and lectures on librarianship, art, gardening and other subjects that interested him. He was a keen sportsman: in his earlier days a licensed amateur steeplechase rider and a good tennis player; later he took up golf and trout fishing in the Snowy streams. He was a member of the Australian and Elanora Country clubs and in 1927-28 president of the Rotary Club of Sydney. From about 1914 he lived at Ahwao, Turramurra.

Ifould died at his home on 6 April 1969 and was cremated with Anglican rites. He was survived by one of his three sons; his two younger sons were killed in action in World War II. A bronze bust by Arthur Fleischman is held by the State Library of New South Wales.

Select Bibliography

  • H. Fysh, Round the Bend in the Stream (Syd, 1968)
  • F. M. B. Cass, Libraries in New South Wales (Adel, 1972)
  • Public Library of New South Wales, Annual Report, Parliamentary Papers (Legislative Assembly, New South Wales), 1912-42
  • Australian Library Journal, 18 (May 1969), p 31
  • Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 21, 25 June 1912
  • Sun (Sydney), 7 Apr 1937
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 4 Feb 1942, 8 Apr 1969
  • private information.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Jean F. Arnot, 'Ifould, William Herbert (1877–1969)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 21 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (Melbourne University Press), 1983

View the front pages for Volume 9

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

William Herbert Ifould (1877-1969), by unknown photographer, c1909

William Herbert Ifould (1877-1969), by unknown photographer, c1909

State Library of South Australia, SLSA: B 15058

Life Summary [details]


28 August, 1877
Gawler, South Australia, Australia


6 April, 1969 (aged 91)
Turramurra, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.