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Maurice B. Line 1928 - 2010

It is with deep sadness that we have to announce that Dr Maurice B. Line FCLIP passed away on 21 September 2010. Maurice had been ill for some time.

Maurice Line was a towering figure in the library and information profession, nationally and internationally, in the second half of the 20th century.

Maurice had a long and important association with the British Library and he made a major contribution to its development as a leading international research library during its formative years. As Librarian at the University of Bath he had directed a study into the scope for automated data processing in the new British Library. He was Librarian of the National Central Library (NCL) from 1971 to 1973 and a member of the British Library Organising Committee that undertook a range of other preparatory and planning work for the UK’s new national library which was to start operating in July 1973. He joined the British Library in 1973, when the NCL was incorporated into the British Library, as Deputy Director-General of the Lending Division. He became Director General of the Lending Division in 1974, a post he held until 1985. From 1985 until his retirement in 1988, he was Director General, Science Technology and Industry.

For the next 12 years Maurice worked as a consultant specializing in the management of change, and advising organisations in many parts of the world. He carried out over 50 consultancies in 16 countries and visited more than 40 countries in a professional context. He was Professor Associate at Sheffield University's Department of Information Science, and External Professor at Loughborough University's Department of Information and Library Studies. The Library Association honoured him with its Presidency in 1990. He was awarded the International Federation of Library Associations Medal in 1989.

Maurice had a broad range of professional interests and his publications literally ran into the hundreds. Some of his titles – for example On the construction and care of white elephants (on catalogues), How golden is your retriever?, Ignoring the user: how, when and why, The bonfire of the author’s vanity – underline both his humour, and also his predisposition to challenge professional orthodoxy. He was editor of Interlending and Document Supply and Alexandria, the journal concerned with national libraries, their roles and functions and international issue, and it is perhaps in this domain that Maurice had the most profound influence and exerted such thought and professional leadership.

Maurice will be sadly missed by the profession.

The British Library plans to arrange a celebration of Maurice Line’s life and extraordinary professional contribution. Details will be announced in due course.

The British Library, 24 September 2010


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