By Jade Lawton
Ms Darling was appointed librarian at the High Street library in 1962.
She has retired due to illness, making way for new librarian Lyn Wyatt.
At the institute’s annual general meeting, held at the Berwick RSL last week, secretary Dr Edward Vaughan paid tribute to Ms Darling’s service and dedication.
“Although the Australia of 1962 might not yet be so far in the past that we think of it as a foreign country, it was certainly very different from the one we live in now,” he said.
“There are nevertheless some things about the Australia of 1962 that stand out as memorable.”
Dr Vaughan said Robert Menzies was Prime Minister of Australia in that year and the White Australia Policy still described government thinking on immigration.
“Australians counted their money in pounds, shillings, and pence. In Victoria, Henry Bolte was premier and men crowded at bars to order their last drinks before the six o’clock pub closing.
“In the same year, in Berwick, Pam Darling was appointed as the Berwick Mechanics Institute librarian, and she remained in that position until just a few months ago.”
Dr Vaughan said Ms Darling, during her term as librarian, had outlasted 11 prime ministers, 10 US presidents, nine British prime ministers and five popes.
“The only person who comes immediately to mind as having bettered Pam Darling’s 47 years in office is the Queen,” he said.
“Even if there were no other reason to honour Pam Darling’s service to the BMI, then her 47 years as its librarian would be reason enough.
“She has set a record that will probably never be equalled. This is not the only reason we honour her, however, for she brought to the position a number of personal qualities that were precisely the qualities that the library needed.”
Ms Darling then gave a brief speech, thanking the committee and the ‘army’ of volunteers who put in time at the library.
She thanked Dr Vaughan for the glowing tribute.
“These years have been so rewarding and enriching and I trust (Lyn Wyatt) will enjoy her years at the library, as I have mine,” she said.
Ms Darling received three bouquets of flowers – one from the committee, one from the Casey-Cardinia Library Corporation and one from the Mechanics Institute of Victoria.
The committee also presented a 20-year service badge to Mrs Linda Burridge. Joyce Hayes, president for the past decade, stepped down from the role, but will continue to serve as a public officer.
The new executive committee of the Berwick Mechanics Institute and Library is Mrs Chris Prichard, president; Mr Graham Hughes, treasurer and Dr Edward Vaughan, secretary.
Mrs Corrine Brewis, Mrs Valda Miller, Mrs Marie Livera and Mrs Susan Griffiths are also committee members.
By Jade Lawton