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Portrait of Marjorie Cotton
, 1969

by Jean Isherwood

oil on canvas (frame: 118.0 cm x 93.5 cm, support: 102.0 cm x 75.5 cm)

Marjorie Cotton (Isherwood) (1913-2003), children's librarian, became the first person in NSW to graduate from a children's librarianship course in 1949. At that time there were very few facilities designed for children in libraries. Having spent ten years as a teacher in South Australia, she worked at Ku-ring-gai Municipal Library, scouring second-hand bookshops to build the collection, introducing weekly story time, liaising with schools, and stocking titles for children in languages other than English, which were a precious resource for families who had escaped from Europe during the war. She set up a special Central Children's Library in Newcastle, and while based in Randwick from 1953 to 1960 she set up a 'Bookmobile' that operated from a grandstand at Kensington Oval and serviced the City of Sydney to Botany Bay. The Marjorie Cotton Award for Children's Librarianship was established in the late 1980s in recognition of her practical and administrative contributions to public librarianship.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of Marjorie Cotton Isherwood 2002
Accession number: 2002.56