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Geoffrey Alley, Librarian: His Life & Work

Chapter 16 — Canadian Interlude

page 402

Chapter 16
Canadian Interlude

Retirement is not easy for one who is leaving in other people's hands a structure that he has virtually created and with which he is identified in the minds of his colleagues and the wider public. Alley knew this, and he knew, intellectually, that it was necessary for him to distance himself from the National Library and the library structure which was still needed to ensure that the National Library became embedded in the life of the country. But he was not one to be easily philosophical about changes and developments which he might have wanted to oppose if he had still been in charge, or to accept that those who wished to move off in directions of which he would not have approved might, in fact, have good reason to pursue their own objectives. The statesman in him said he should lay off; the Alley in him could find it hard to let go.

Of the three elements of the National Library Service which formed the main part of Alley's achievement, the Country Library Service and the Library School were very dear to his heart. Both of them, when the National Library was formed, were at an intermediate stage and would need to change in the future – the CLS because its structure was confined by the inadequacies of local government, and the Library School because the question of university-based professional education had not been resolved – but in both cases it was Alley's belief in and respect for the intellectual strength of New Zealand society that had informed the way in which he had developed them, and his attitude towards changes would be affected by whether he thought that belief and that respect were being maintained. The third element, the National Library Centre, which he had entrusted to Graham Bagnall, and, together with the Alexander Turnbull Library, was to become the core of what is conventionally understood to be a National Library, was equally important to him because it, too, enabled the people, at whatever level they were working, to gain access to the records they needed.

Writing to Keyes Metcalf, Alley said: 'I am handing over to my successor here. He is Hector Macaskill, a good administrator, who works well with page 403people. Graham Bagnall, who is doing fine work at the Turnbull, did not seek the appointment, but I hope he will have a chance to fill the post in a few years. I have not finally made a choice about what I will be up to in the next phase. I want to help the National Library project along, but this is a small country, and I feel I should let my former colleagues work out their own plans and methods.'1 This, of course, was copy-book correctness, and it was certainly sincerely meant, but time would tell whether Alley's successors could avoid treating his National Library in ways which he could not be happy with. In the meantime, although he could not work on his Upper Hutt estate at his earlier level of physical effort, he now had time to enjoy the fruits of his labours. The fruit trees, the productive ground, the roses and the camellias throve, and there was no reason why he should not thrive too.

By the beginning of 1968, all of the younger generation had left Ebdentown Road. Judith, who was 36, had married Malcolm Tait when they were both in England. Malcolm's career as a teacher of music had taken them to the United States, where he initially had a Harkness Fellowship of the Commonwealth Fund, and then, in 1963, to Hamilton as a music lecturer at the teachers' college; and Judith taught singing as well as producing two grandsons for Geoff and Euphan.

Ruth (32 at this time) had gone to Britain in 1955 after two years as a founding actor with the New Zealand Players. She married Mike Craft, a London dentist, in 1961, and they had two children and adopted another. While working for the BBC (on Playschool) she began to write a long series of stories for children and books on early childhood education which were clearly influenced by her earlier experiences with her aunt, Gwen Somerset.

Roderic (30), who had graduated from Victoria University, had then studied international relations at the London School of Economics from 1962 to 1965. In 1968 he was back at Victoria, tutoring in political science while he worked towards a PhD. He became well known during the 1960s and beyond as a radio commentator in his field.

Patrick (26) spent 1968 in the Wellington, Hutt, and Silverstream hospitals as a first-year house surgeon, and in April was one of those who dealt with victims of the wreck of the Wahine. 'I remember,' he has written, 'how distraught Euphan was when I rang Upper Hutt to say we are busy but we are OK. She had the old Shetland love of ships and was sad to see the Wahine end like that. Geoff was dismissive of her. "Only 8000 tons of steel – not a living thing." "But she was a living thing," was Euphan's response. No answer from Geoff. He didn't feel like that at all.'2

Whenever he could Pat spent weekends at Ebdentown Road to recover from house-surgeon fatigue. 'Things were a good deal more relaxed than in page 404the earlier years at Upper Hutt,' he remembered. 'Geoff 's … retirement, the secure knowledge that the family were launched and living their own lives, and more disposable income made for that. An example of this relaxation was the inevitable pre-dinner drink. Geoff and Euphan were never teetotal but neither was daily alcohol a part of their lives. Another was the eating of the evening meal on one's lap in front of the fire. It was very pleasant but something that had not been done much if at all before.'3

All the same, life at Ebdentown Road was not as relaxed as Pat perceived it as an exhausted young house surgeon. Geoff was not a Happy Family man. He was proud of his family, but he was never able to enter into their lives in the easy way that more self-confident parents can do. The Ebdentown Road estate was important to him for reasons which many other men would share – the satisfaction of creating a paradise out of a wilderness and of exercising physical skills – but the satisfaction was, for him more than for other members of the family, a solitary one. And his management of house and home, always dictatorial, as we have seen in chapter 11, became more oppressive when he had more time to exercise it. Euphan, for whom the benefits of having a retired husband were overshadowed by further loss of control over things like the bottling of fruit from Geoff 's trees or the determination of family routines, must sometimes have hankered for his working days. One member of the wider family has said that Geoff 'extinguished' Euphan, but that did not necessarily imply a deliberate hostility, which certainly did not exist. One could truly say that Geoff meant well, and in many ways did well, but life for Euphan was not easy. And she was aware of, and resented, his tendency to form relationships with other women.4

In May 1968 Geoff 's brother-in-law Crawford Somerset died of a cerebral tumour. With his teaching ability at all levels, his humour, and his fortitude in the face of his crippling arthritis, he and Gwen had made their home in Kelburn Parade in Wellington a centre of intelligent and calm goodness which was an important and supplementary focus for all the younger members of the Upper Hutt family, and which compensated for some of the difficulties of their own home. Crawford had been a favourite uncle of them all.

In June 1968 Alley went to the University of Waikato for what he told Metcalf 'will probably be my last piece of library work in this country',5 namely the return visit of the University Grants Committee's sub-committee on the university's library needs (described in chapter 15). In the same letter he told Metcalf that he was 'looking forward tremendously' to going to London, Ontario, to take up a two-or three-year appointment as professor in the School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) which Andrew Osborn had established in 1966 at the University of Western Ontario.

page 405

If this plan was news to Metcalf in June 1968, it is astonishing that it seems to have been news to Euphan at the same time. Geoff 's admiration for Metcalf and Osborn, and his fond memories of his visit to the United States in 1961, were obvious reasons why he was keen to accept this new challenge, but Euphan, too, had fond memories, especially of New England and New York, where she had made good friendships. Geoff 's negotiations with Osborn must have begun in 1967, but Euphan seems to have known nothing about them until mid-1968, when he made it clear that he did not expect her to accompany him. Pat, who was present when Geoff announced his plans, remembered Euphan trying to reason with him, 'but he was politely unyielding … I was pretty stunned myself and I muttered about how she might be able to join him after he had settled. This never happened of course.'6 In the end it was decided that Euphan would go separately to stay with Ruth in England, and she maintained appearances by saying publicly that she could never have stood the North American winter.

Euphan went first, travelling via the Mediterranean in a leisurely and enjoyable way which was marred a little by a bad dislocation of the elbow in Piraeus. The captain of her ship saw to it that she did not have to pay large hospital bills: 'Well, Mrs Alley, sometimes we have to get things fixed on the ship in a variety of places around the world so the owners are not going to ask too many questions about a hundred and fifty quid's worth of work done at Piraeus.' Every Christmas for years after Euphan sent the captain a card 'In Gratitude for Work Done at Piraeus.'

Some time after Euphan reached London, Ruth became dangerously ill with a staphylococcal meningitis, so that Euphan became concerned with managing the Craft household of husband Michael and four boys. Euphan also suffered an illness, a bronchial infection which she never really shook off, but before she left England towards the end of 1969 she was able to make a trip to Florence, and another, with her sister Marion Tetley, to the Shetlands.

Geoff 's journey to London, Ontario, began in August 1968, when Judith and Malcolm took him from Hamilton to Auckland to board the Empire Star. He had sadly left his cat Dywbie behind in Upper Hutt and entrusted his beloved Peugeot to the Taits, who passed it on to Roderic when they, in their turn, left for the University of Hawaii, where Malcolm had been offered a position working as a writer for a state-wide music curriculum. Before he boarded Geoff said, typically, 'Well, I guess there's no turning back now.' His tenure as professor of library science at SLIS, working with his friend from the days of the Canberra seminar, Andrew Osborn, began in September 1968.7

Immediately after he had attended the Canberra seminar, which was page 406conducted by his old mentor, Keyes Metcalf, in December 1958, Osborn had taken up his appointment as Fisher Librarian at the University of Sydney. He had stayed in that position for only four years, but, in the words of his successor, Harrison Bryan, the results of his short reign had been quite striking: 'New services were introduced, the book collection expanded exponentially, and, in short, the Library rapidly reassumed its traditional leading position in the group of Australian University Libraries.'8 Osborn had 'dragged Australian academic libraries into this [the 20th] century'.9 However, these achievements had not been made without a personal cost. As Neil Radford (a later Fisher Librarian) and Jean Whyte wrote in The Australian after Osborn's death in 1997, 'Osborn would allow nothing to stand in the way of pursuing his vision of creating a great library. He was impatient with what he saw as bureaucratic obstruction in his path and trod on too many powerful toes. Sadly, he gradually lost the sympathy and support of the Vice-Chancellor and senior academic staff. He resigned in 1962 and returned to North America to pursue a new career in educating librarians.'

After teaching for four years in the Pittsburgh Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Osborn had proceeded with his usual vigour to establish the new school at Western Ontario on lines which were innovative and challenging. With the advantage of 'the largest library school budget anywhere in the world',10 he quickly built up a 'demonstration' library of some 40,000 volumes, which included not only the 'best' or accepted books in various fields but others which were not of the same standard, together with examples of poor printing, successive imprints to illustrate developments in production, and so on. He substituted a seminar method of teaching and learning in place of lectures and professional courses as such. In order to assemble a faculty of international stature and experience who could give substance to the seminar method, he approached people known to him in the library field, or in fields related to it, who were close to retirement, and he attracted people from Australia and New Zealand, from France, Great Britain, and the United States.11

Gloria Strathern, a New Zealand librarian who had settled in Canada at this time and was in 1967 being considered for a teaching position at SLIS, was a bit cautious about Osborn's plans. 'The only uneasiness I have about this proposal,' she wrote, 'is that A.O. is being extremely ambitious about the program of the school which is to bristle with computer programmes, visual aids, close circuit t.v. and God knows what all. He is now an elderly man, and at present not very well, and his staff are quite inexperienced both machinery-wise and as teachers, and the methods of teaching are also to be Socratic and seminarish and the old-fashioned lecture is regarded with contempt. I foresee severe teething troubles and the whole thing has page 407been rushed through so that none of the apparatus is yet anything but a blueprint and the first students roll in in September'.12

Strathern did join the staff later, in 1970. Another New Zealander, W.J. (Bill) Cameron, whom Alley had known in Wellington as a lecturer at Victoria University, was by 1968 already associate dean at SLIS. Jean Whyte, from Sydney, who had taken part in the 1958 Canberra seminar and had been recruited by Osborn to help with the transformation of the Fisher Library, arrived at SLIS at about the same time as Alley did, and, although she remained for only one semester, renewed her friendship with Alley and became a regular correspondent with him for the rest of his life. Another, already at the school, who also became a very good friend and a visitor to the Alleys in Upper Hutt, was Jean S. Adelman from the United States, who had been well known to Osborn and had been one of the first to join him at SLIS. There were all the ingredients for a community into which Alley could quickly merge, and in addition the relative proximity of London, Ontario, to Cambridge, Massachusetts, meant that he could have regular contact with Keyes Metcalf.

Jean Whyte has written that Alley 'was full of enthusiasm and very pleased to be working in ADO's school. He came with a very high opinion of ADO and I said nothing to disillusion him … But I also knew that life with Andrew was not easy and that he was a very contrary person who certainly did not practise what he preached. Despite his apparent admiration for the Harvard Business School, he was no administrator and his judgements of others were sometimes erratic.'13 It was not long before Alley began to see some of the problems that Whyte understood. In October he wrote to Graham Bagnall: 'Andrew, whom we both admire and like, is going the same way as he did in Sydney. The large vans back up with parcels of books from all over … W.J. Cameron and his ally Bryan [Brian] McMullin are likewise busy. The shelves groan, the corridors pile up, the rooms fill, the students go short of numbers of Library Trends or standard texts … There were I think half a million dollars originally in the kitty for starting the school. Should think the largest part of it has gone in the buying splurge.'14

In the same letter to Bagnall, Alley added: 'It is stimulating to have these students, many of whom are in the top bracket of intelligence and potential, to work with. I work on all 7 days, not all of Sat. or Sun., though the seminar method, being tried seriously for the 1st time this year, makes for a good deal more work in preparation. Univ. library mediocre & spiritless. Keyes advised on site & his advice was rejected'. Jean Whyte recalled that Alley was 'very conscientious about preparing for classes, grades, and marks, and he seemed to know and like most of his students very quickly. He also got on with the young tutors better than anyone page 408else did.' He disapproved of the unvaried use of the seminar method of teaching, considering that for some topics formal lectures could be more efficient, but for his own areas, which included library management and the philosophy of librarianship, the seminar method suited him ideally. His teaching of library management, Whyte said, 'was based on its literature and he emphasized the theoretical basis of the subject. (We both thought that practice should be based in theory and that, while both were important, the anecdotal method was no substitute for an understanding of theory. He was not an "I remember when" teacher.'15

One of Alley's students, Aileen DeSomogyi, remembered him as 'a most helpful and conscientious teacher whose constant endeavour was to ensure that every student reached a thorough understanding of the areas covered by each course'. 'In 1969,' she wrote, 'I was in his class for Administrative Theory, Library Architecture, and Library Theory and Practice, subjects which might be expected to bear rather heavily on students. But with Professor Alley steering it, discussion became lively and entertaining and even esoteric information was absorbed painlessly. He followed his students' analyses with keen interest and would often say how much he had enjoyed a particular session. Outside the classroom he was always available for consultation and his friendly words of advice were spiced with encouragement for those whom the uphill hard grind of the MLS course made despondent.'16

In 1969 the students in one of Alley's classes compiled a list of 'Collected Utterances of G.T. Alley'.17 The 86 items in the list are too many to quote in full, but the following is a representative sample:

The whole thing is like an unpruned apple tree, a tangled mass bearing little fruit (one of Alley's favourite quotations).
It's easier to wring the neck of a special account.
The governor general. It doesn't matter. He hasn't got any clothes on.
It sounds a bit like taking up a cross and being determined to bear it.
Keep the future viable, keep the ship moving.
A blunt instrument is possibly better than none.
Mind your own store, tend your own back yard.
The distant pastures may be green but, by Jove, it's hard to get there.
Auditing is not just something which comes after the horse has bolted.
Tuesday morning will occur irrevocably.
In any case a pint pot is a pint pot and you can put only so much into it.
The three terrors of open access – theft, mutilation, and misplacement.

The simple act of compiling a list of this kind is strong evidence of the respect, indeed the affection, with which the students regarded Alley. page 409In his relations with Andrew Osborn, the dean, however, there was a rapid deterioration, and there is some evidence that tensions to which he began to react quite strongly also affected other members of the faculty. The differences which developed between them resulted from what Alley perceived as Osborn's rigid management style, his unwillingness to accept disagreement on such matters as methods of teaching, in which Alley thought individual teachers should be able to establish their own styles, and his extravagant use of public money, which Alley saw as immoral behaviour. Within a very short time he had taken against Osborn and all that he stood for – and when Alley took against someone, as he did in some cases in New Zealand, he did so in a big way. As Jean Whyte has observed, 'GTA arrived on a high. He was a believer and the discovery that ADO had clay feet made him angry.'18

Alley very soon gave his revised view of Osborn to Metcalf, who wrote in January 1969, 'I am sure you realize that Andrew is a genius in many ways. He thinks that he is democratic and never quite understands what it is that he does. I am being very frank, but I had a very difficult time keeping him under control in the years that he worked for me and didn't always succeed, but he did do a lot of fine work and inspired a good many young people who were starting in library work.'19 That Alley's concerns about Osborn's administration of SLIS were not without foundation is supported by the fact that the university declined to continue his appointment as dean after his term expired in June 1970, and that when this decision was made Osborn caused difficulties for many of his staff by dropping all his own classes.20 When Osborn left, Bill Cameron was appointed dean, a position he held until 1984, and Alley was made associate dean until the end of 1970.

Before Osborn left, an incident involving both Alley and Metcalf occurred which threw an interesting light on these two men who had so much in common in their backgrounds and interests, even in their personalities, but who handled some problems with other people quite differently, the one prickly and defensive, the other calm and self-confident. Metcalf was asked to write a letter to be presented to Osborn with other letters at the time of his retirement. He had some difficulty with the assignment and sent a draft to Alley, asking him to comment on it. In his reply, Alley made two general comments: 'First, Andrew has been publicly and unforgiveably vindictive about you. He has denied your professional competence as a building consultant. This happened at a largeish luncheon – about 15 people present – in March of this year. He has repeated these silly statements in other situations. I had the greatest difficulty getting a few copies of your great work, Academic and research library buildings, for the library school's library. Only a fortunate absence of A.D.O. made it page 410possible. Second, Andrew intends to go on in library work, and I think he will use letters like your generous one in ways they were not intended for. I think he is a very gifted, very dangerous person. He should be a bookhunter – for a millionaire. Sorry to write so brutally.' Replying to this letter, Metcalf wrote, 'I have known that Andrew talked this way about me and has done so for years. In some way I feel responsible for not having done a better job in bringing him up, as I worked more closely with him from January, 1928, than any one individual. It is a shame that he is such a damaged person psychologically because he has great ability, and when he keeps on even keel does very good work, but as soon as he is crossed he has a mental block'.21 Metcalf 's letter, substantially unchanged from his draft, was included with the others when they were presented to Osborn.

In the second half of 1970 Cameron and Alley, despite differences of attitude which derived from their different backgrounds, worked together to restore the management of SLIS to a more even level. Years later Osborn said, 'Somehow or another things didn't work out between Geoff and me',22 but in the ensuing years his seminar method of teaching maintained a remarkable, if modified, hold on life. In a 1988 paper a later dean, Jean Tague, described many changes made to it since Osborn's time, but said, 'It would be premature, however, to proclaim the death of the seminar method … The seminar method haunts the corridors'.23 In sending a copy of her paper, she also said, 'I would say the library and laboratory have even more importance now than they did in the early days of the School. An indication of this is the large number of professional staff employed there – eight in all.'24 It does seem that, as in Sydney, the good that Osborn did was not interred with his bones, and in fact Cameron's career as dean25 was based firmly on principles which Osborn had not been able to develop fully.

Alley probably rather enjoyed his differences with Osborn, in a somewhat uncompromising way. Jean Whyte thought that he was basically a happy man, in contrast to Osborn, who was given to unhappiness. He got on well with the students, and his outside interests were much wider than Osborn's. He settled himself in an apartment in the middle of the town, and furnished it with a large red carpet, comfortable chairs, and a good record player/radio. He had even brought some beautiful wine glasses from New Zealand. 'He liked flowers and books and going to art galleries and walking. He wanted to see Canada and look at other libraries. When Neil Radford drove up from Chicago to see me Geoff jumped at the chance to go with us to Niagara and through to the USA.'26

During his time in Canada, in fact, Alley managed to do quite a lot of things which enabled him to get away from the daily grind of a teaching job. On a visit to New York in December 1968 he visited the page 411Metropolitan Museum, the Whitney Museum and the Guggenheim, and saw three films: Chekov's The Seagull ('very good'), Shame, directed by Ingmar Bergman ('a masterpiece'), and The Lion in Winter ('emotional and historical slapstick and not worth anybody's $2.50').27 In 1969 the Library Association (London) elected Alley, and also B. Hjelmqvist, head of the public libraries section of the Swedish National Board of Education, as honorary vice-presidents. 'I am to get a piece of parchment and they will arrange a small ceremony at the IFLA [International Federation of Library Associations]28 meeting in Copenhagen August 26–30 approx. I will be representing New Zealand – pro forma or whatever – but at my own expense naturally.'29 The certificates of honorary vice-presidency were duly presented at the small ceremony, when Alley was introduced by Peter Havard-Williams, who had a New Zealand past.30

On his way to Copenhagen Geoff collected Euphan in London, and after the IFLA meeting they went on a 'hell of a long tour' of Norway and Sweden, right up to Narvik and down the Swedish side; 'Swedish public libs, fine – univ. libs?? They seem to be very conservative.' He then spent three or four weeks in London, before returning to Ontario to meet a new intake of 213 students,31 and, shortly afterwards, to make a brief trip to Montreal to see Euphan off to Honolulu, where she planned to stay with Judith and Malcolm before returning to New Zealand. In April and May 1970 he made another European trip, to Italy, Austria, and France, seeing 'few libraries but much of the countryside and some wonderful galleries and museums'.32 And in June 1970, when the annual conference of the American Library Association was held in Detroit, he took part in a pre-conference institute, sponsored by the association's library education division's equivalence and reciprocity committee in association with the Pratt Institute and Wayne State University, on 'International Library Manpower: Education and Placement in North America'.33 Following this, he was made chairman of a country resource panel to deal with New Zealand questions, with Laura Colvin of SLIS and Brian O'Neill as members. Later (1983), the membership of the panel consisted of Bill Cameron, Alan Richardson, and Gloria Strathern,34 so it had a continuing life, but it does not seem to have had to act very often.

A major assignment which occupied Alley's attention in 1969 and 1970 was the writing of a paper for Library Trends on the subject of intellectual freedom in New Zealand. As a contribution to an issue of the journal devoted to intellectual freedom in a number of countries, the issue editor, Everitt T. Moore (assistant university librarian of the University of California, Los Angeles), asked Jean Whyte and Alley to write a joint paper covering Australia and New Zealand. They worked together on it for quite a while, but in the end they found it too difficult to merge their efforts, since each page 412had a very individual approach which did not fit with the other. Whyte's was impressionistic and fairly gloomy in a way that is represented by this sentence: 'To try to state whether intellectual freedom exists in Australia today, and if so to what extent, is a task which increases in difficulty as the evidence is gathered.' Alley's was based on more careful research and on a close examination of historical and legislative factors, and was in fact a more substantial contribution to knowledge. Moore agreed to take their work as separate papers, and they were published in the July 1970 issue of the journal.35

Writing to Bagnall about the Library Trends paper, Alley said, 'I want to avoid the normal American habit of confusing or identifying intellectual freedom with absence of censorship – something more positive seems in order and the academics who scream loudest haven't got a clean bill of health.'36 Bagnall sent him copies of documents on a number of relevant events, including the case of George von Zedlitz, professor of modern languages at Victoria University College, who had the unique honour of being dismissed from his post by a special act of Parliament after his colleagues and the college council had declined to buckle to public hysteria during the First World War.37 Alley also spent some time checking points of detail in the library of the New Zealand High Commission in London after the IFLA conference, when he was able to get a first draft completed, and typed by Euphan. 'I really worked long and hard in my fashion,' he told Jean Whyte,38 and, in addition to collecting historical facts, he had given careful thought to laying down some general principles with which he started his paper. 'Although we may think we know whether a society is free or not,' he wrote,

the amount of intellectual freedom present is not subject to measurement. Three guidelines which should be remembered in any general discussion of intellectual freedom can be postulated. First, just as no person is completely free in the material and physical senses, so is his intellectual freedom a relative one, although the society he lives in gets immunity from the commoner forms of inhibition of freedom such as censorship, restrictions on speech or action …

Second, it is only by individual variation, individual freedom and individual growth that a society achieves growth and freedom. We are inclined to overlook this because the measures we insist upon for freedom take the form of actions agreed upon by the society as a whole. But society should provide for the widest possible range of individual differences in growth patterns, so as to enable the individual to develop and thus enrich society itself. The encouragement of a wide-ranging growth has two aspects, one of removing hindrance, the other of providing generously the page 413various kinds of intellectual food, through schooling, through libraries, and through opportunities for further education after formal schooling has ended.

Third, attempts to cut back or prune individual freedom of thought or expression have in an impressive number of cases resulted sooner or later in a gain in intellectual freedom, sometimes of a spectacular kind. John Stuart Mill has challenged the universality of this and has cited depressing examples of apparently permanent suppression of liberty in the wake of persecution. Enough examples of restrictions and suppressions being followed by a greater resurgence of freedom exist, however, to warrant holding this as an important element in the discussion.

After giving examples of various assaults on intellectual freedom in New Zealand, including the von Zedlitz case and the imprisonment of Peter Fraser in 1916 for criticising regulations which forbade discussion of a recent conscription act, instances of intolerance arising from stresses of Depression and war, Alley dealt at some length with the stultifying effects of the de facto role of censor adopted by the Customs Department over many years. This situation developed because there was no formal structure for dealing with the question of 'undesirable' publications, and it was a particular problem in a small country because most books handled by booksellers were imported from outside. Because Customs officials were by and large not able to handle the complicated issues involved, it led to a number of unfortunate decisions which mobilised several groups to support a movement which led to the passing of the Indecent Publications Act of 1963. This act established a tribunal which was able to consider much more than strictly 'indecent' works in an intelligent and measured way. 'The efforts of liberal-minded persons in the Council for Civil Liberties, the Library Association, the Department of Justice, and members of the legislature, have had some result,' he wrote optimistically, ending his paper.

Roderic married Elizabeth Gilbertson, another well-known radio broadcaster, in August 1969, when both Euphan and Geoff were overseas, but Euphan's return, after she had spent some time with the Taits in Honolulu, was in time for her to assist at the wedding of Pat and Valerie Barnes in March 1970. Back at home she wrote to Joy, 'Have been quite busy within and without, and hadn't realized I had so many good friends in Upper Hutt. It is good to see them again.' She also wrote that she wanted Geoff, who was 'fed-up with the general cynicism apparent in some sections of the university set-up', to stop off in Honolulu and enjoy the sun on his way home.39

Alley left Ontario early in January 1971, with rather mixed feelings. page 414In its obligatory farewell minute the SLIS teaching faculty recorded its 'appreciation of his distinctive contributions to SLIS through tireless devotion to teaching, counselling, and planning for which the faculty, staff and students hold him in high regard',40 but he knew that, after their joint effort of restoring order after Osborn's departure, it was probably best for him and Cameron to part company, although he was sad to leave the students. Returning home, though, caused him some trepidation. His personal relationships, by the end of 1970, were in a state of confusion, and the prospect of resuming an ordered existence which he had not always managed very well was not altogether alluring. As it turned out, his decision to delay his return by staying with Judith and Malcolm in Honolulu for a month gave him time for reflection and adjustment. Judith has spoken of a discussion she had with him, when 'He sat in our living room in Honolulu, near to tears, and made amends to me "for having been a mean father to us". I have always felt that this was a turning point in our relationship. I think that time and space away from New Zealand gave him many opportunities to think about the past. I recall saying to him that he did, at that time, all that was possible for us – and of course we all know that in those 1940s years the priority was not really for the support and nurturing of his children, but for the Library.'41

While Alley was in Honolulu, Keyes Metcalf was also there – 'passing through', according to Judith. It was the last time they met face to face. Judith had a happy memory of taking them to a restaurant set in a lush tropical jungle in the Koolau mountains on the windward side of Oahu, seeing them walking together on the beach, and then letting them loose in the stately old State Library in downtown Honolulu. 'It was clearly a very sad parting for them both.'