Opening of the John Murtagh Library
1 Decemebr 2005
Mr David Wright RACGP CEO
Ladies and Gentleman
Welcome to Royal Australian College of General Practitioners today, and welcome to this very this important occasion in the College‟s history.
I‟m David Wright, the Chief Executive Officer of the RACGP and I will be introducing our important guests today.
We have many important figures in the College, both past and present here today.
Before I introduce our President to speak about our esteemed guest that our library is to be named in honour of, I would like to talk a little about the history of our library, one of our most valuable and prized assets as an institution of care, teaching and research. Many of you will know about these years far better than I.
The history of the RACGP reflects the coming of the electronic age in our society in the move from paper based records to electronic resources.
The RACGP library was established in early 1974, when Prof Wes Fabb, who
is here today, welcome Wes, At that time, Wes the then Director of Education
in the Family Medicine Programme began setting up a library and studio that were to form the core of what became known as the Resource Centre. As many of you here will recall, the Family Medicine Programme, or FMP as it was known then, was established in 1973-74 with the first intake of trainees in Feb 1974, with 238 enlisted by June 1974.
A librarian was appointed in May 1974. RACGP Honorary Member Ann Dooley, formerly Ann McGalliard, was with the college until 1999 ((And Ann is here today A big round of applause for Ann)) Ann‟s hard work and commitment was largely responsible for laying the foundation of our library as you see it today.
By 1975 there was a stock of 650 books in the National Library and 600 distributed throughout the satellite collections in State offices; with 375 items of a/v material.
In the late 1970‟s, Tables of Contents service started and dial up access to remote databases such as Grateful Med and AMI, the Australasian Medical Index from mid-1980‟s onwards
The first networked pc-based library system was introduced in 1989 and in the early 1990s, a state of the art CDROM tower was installed for searching Medline and Cochrane Library.
As the College moved rapidly into the electronic age, the „Library without
Walls‟ project was set up 1997 giving access to online catalogue, journals listings, online forms and databases (such as Cochrane Library) via Internet (aka „Virtual Resource Centre‟
In 2000, an emailed version of the Tables of Contents service (eTOCs) was introduced
In 2002-3 web based access for members to ProQuest Nursing Journals and ProQuest Health and Medical Complete
Also in 2003, a link out was set up between a customised version of PubMed and the full text articles available through ProQuest.
In 2004 ProQuest Psychology Journals added with 2 additional eTOCs launched using journal titles available through ProQuest.
In 2004 collection of electronic books “The Walter Monz Collection” was launched.
In 30 years, the College Resource Centre, and now the Library, has grown immeassurably. We can only begin to imagine what the next 30 years will bring as it does what it does so well: support the high quality standards of clinical care, teaching and education of Australian general practice.
Learning from history helps build our futures, and it is for this reason we are here today.
I would now like to introduce RACGP President, Professor Michael Kidd to talk about the opening ceremony today.
Professor Michael Kidd RACGP Presdient
Professor Murtagh, RACGP, Life Members Wes Fabb and John North, esteemed guests, RACGP Council Members, Vice President Dr Vasnatha Preetham, Di O‟Halloran, Beth Jane, Leanne Rowe and Jane Smith, RACGP Council Members, Faculty Chairs, RACGP National Standing Committee Members, RACGP Members and guests. Thankyou for attending.
When visitors come into our National Office, the first things they see is our library, a highly visibel demonstration of our College‟s commitment to academic excellence.
I know you are here to celebrate this important occasion in our College‟s history, as most of you here have worked with John, have been taught by him, or have been influenced by his work. But if I look around the room again, I think we can see a bit of a who‟s who of Australian General Practice, and that is because, John‟s academic, professional and personal influence on the key decision makes of our profession as a profession, has been profound.
For those of you who don‟t know, PROFESSOR JOHN MURTAGH AM, is an
Adjunct Professor of General Practice, Monash University, Melbourne and Professorial Fellow in the Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne. He is also Adjunct Clinical Professor, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Notre Dame, Western Australia. He is Senior Examiner for the Australian Medical Council, consultant to Global Family Doctor and Locumotion (of Ireland), and a member of Medical Panels, Victoria.
He started out as a Science Teacher and subsequently studied medicine where he graduated from Monash University in 1974. John worked for 10 years as a rural general practitioner in Neerim South, Victoria and was appointed Senior Lecturer at Monash University while in Rural Practice and subsequently Professor of General Practice in 1993 until retirement from that position in 2000.
He practices part-time at the East Bentleigh Murrumbeena Medical Group and currently has teaching responsibilities at two Melbourne based universities in addition to conducting national workshops for registrars in the General Practice Training Program. He is patron of the GPRA.
He is the author of several internationally adopted text books including General Practice, Practice Tips, Back Pain and spinal manipulation, Patient Education and Cautionary Tales. In 1995 he was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia for services to medical education, research and publishing.
Most of us know about John‟s achievements, but the College would like to focus upon how and why we are here today, and why we feel this honour can at least go some way to recognising his contribution.
The idea to name the RACGP Library in honour of John came from a Council meeting in February 2005. The RACGP library, as you have heard, is a jewel in the crown of our College, and an invaluable resource for our profession. At this meeting, the idea was unanimously accepted, a measure of the high regard and esteem that John is held in.
In a profession built on commitment to standards and excellence, the library is the first port of call for our profession‟s knowledge; our evidence base, and therefore, a cornerstone of our work. The Roman writer Cicero put it more elegantly saying that “To add a library to a house is to give that house a soul.”
So, the decision to rename the RACGP‟s Library was not a light one. The
library needed to be named after someone deserving of that honour, and there was no doubt in our minds, that John was the perfect choice.
As you have heard, from even before he entered Medicine, John was that most important of all people in our society: a teacher.
You could make a strong case that the single quality that sets humans apart from the animal kingdom is our culture: our knowledge, learning, families, organisations, institutions, lifestyles and social structures.
Culture is not genetic: it is learned. As we learn from our teachers, then the quality and commitment of our teachers is directly linked to our humanity.
John has always understood this. Central to his humanity has been his choice to teach, and to teach about the care of other people.
From the beginning of his general practice career, he has distilled general practice research and experience into a form that has ensured wide dissemination of our profession‟s learning and wisdom for the health of all.
As a teacher, John has understood that the most powerful way of educating general practitioners is for general practitioners to educate themselves. For this reason, his immensely popular writings, written by a general practitioner, with our unique world view, for general practitioners has influenced so many. A non general practitioner medical specialist would not know what works in our daily clinical world.
As a measure of his commitment, I‟ll just talk a little about his involvement with education and training in the College. John has been an examiner at the College since 1974- present. He was a Member of the Education Committee, Victoria Faculty 1974-1980; and a member of the Censors Committee, Victoria Faculty 1979-1985. Member, Review Panel CHECK program 1982-present. He has been an Author of 15 units for the CHECK program from 1975 until the present; was Provost of the RACGP Victoria Faculty 1998-9; and Director of Education RACGP & GP Training Program 2000-2001.
Many Australian general practitioners will know John from his work on the RACGP journal Australian Family Physician, of which he was a member, Editorial Advisory Board, Australian Family Physician (AFP) 1979-1985; and Associate Medical Editor 1980-1985; and was Medical Editor, 1986-1995. Over this time, his contribution to the journal, to our profession and ultimately the health of Australians is immeasurable.
John‟s contribution to our profession of course goes far beyond his incredible contribution to the RACGP.
We all have our obligatory copies of John‟s international textbook General
Practice which has become an international best seller, which demonstrates, in a very practical way, the value and utility of John‟s approach to teaching.
His experience of our profession is vast, his commitment to sharing that knowledge is great and as a profession, we can think of no one who deserves this honour more.