Lumen - The University of Adelaide Magazine The University of Adelaide Australia
Lumen Summer 2016 Issue
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A life of books, music and travel

Kerstin Lillemor Andersen

Kerstin Lillemor Andersen
The late Kerstin Lillemor Andersen had a long affiliation with the University of Adelaide – first as a graduate earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1934, then as an employee of Barr Smith Library for over 40 years.

Known as Miss Andersen in the library and Lillemor to her friends, she was remembered by some as a stern staff member but by others as a lifelong, faithful and adventurous friend.

She was also extremely generous, leaving half of her estate to the Barr Smith Library and the Elder Conservatorium – ensuring others would continue to enjoy the things she was most passionate about in her life. Her bequest helped the library acquire numerous titles, including reference works in art and architecture, while the Elder Conservatorium has used the funds to support orchestral concerts.

Lillemor came to Australia with her parents from Sweden when she was seven and the temporary stay became permanent. After graduating Lillemor joined the Barr Smith Library in 1938 where she worked for the next 42 years before retiring in 1978.

It was during a sabbatical that she returned to her native Sweden for the first time in more than 30 years and stayed for nearly a year working at a university library in Stockholm.

Lillemor was known to say “reading is my drug” and she was an avid reader in English, Swedish, French, German, Italian and Spanish, devouring biographies, poetry, novels and journals. The hall of her small city cottage was lined with books and she was a regular visitor at the Central Market Book Exchange and Adelaide and Burnside libraries.

She had a wide circle of friends with shared interests in theatre, music, literature and film, and enjoyed walking in the Adelaide hills and at the beach where she could follow her interest in wild flowers, bird watching and geology. Every summer, Lillemor and friends, Elfriede Muetzelfeldt and Barbara Stodart, went on walking holidays in the Australian Alps and the Flinders Ranges.

“As a travelling companion you felt you were travelling with a library – she had such a zest for knowledge and information, a wonderful memory and grasp of languages,” says Barbara.

After retiring, she continued to volunteer at the Art Gallery and the Adelaide High School library until well into her seventies. Lillemor remained active despite being plagued by an inherited vascular problem which resulted in four leg by-passes and eventually a below-knee amputation. She continued travelling and concert-going until almost her 90th year before frail health forced her to retire from public life.

After her death in 2006 at the age of 92, friends remembered Lillemor in the most appropriate way possible – music, refreshment and conversation in the Barr Smith Library.

For further information about bequests or to arrange a confidential discussion please visit or contact Sue Fox on +61 8 8313 3234 or email 

Story by Genevieve Sanchez


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