Frederick Friend, 1941-2014

A leading figure in the open access movement has died

May 29, 2014

Fred Friend was born on 7 April 1941 and educated at Dover Grammar School for Boys before studying history at King’s College London (1963). He went on to qualify in library and information studies at University College London in 1965.

Starting his career as assistant librarian at the University of Manchester (1965-71), Mr Friend became sub-librarian at the University of Leeds (1971-76), deputy librarian at the University of Nottingham (1976-78) and librarian at the University of Essex (1978-82). He returned to UCL as librarian in 1982, becoming honorary director of scholarly communication from 1997. In addition to his library work, he was also an Anglican cleric, was made a deacon in 1982 and a priest in 1983, and officiated most recently at Hughenden in the diocese of Oxford.

Deeply committed to innovation in academic libraries, Mr Friend developed UCL’s digital offering into one of the best in the UK. He was also passionate in his commitment to the open access of research publications as a tool for the democratisation of knowledge and became a very public advocate of the cause. As well as setting up an important website, and writing and lecturing on the topic, he was one of the authors of the 2001 Budapest Open Access Initiative, which established the now generally accepted definition of open access.

Mr Friend served as secretary of the Society of College, National and University Libraries (2000-04), was scholarly communications consultant to Jisc, the UK’s higher education IT consortium (2003-11), and an independent expert for the European Commission from 2006.

Paul Ayris, director of UCL Library Services, recalled Mr Friend as “a very private individual, committed to his own ideas and priorities, but who was full of compassion for those with whom he came into contact”.

Along with a shared scholarly interest in “episcopal Registers of the medieval and early modern church” and wider issues of ecclesiastical history, Dr Ayris was most struck by “the tenacity with which [Mr Friend] held opinions on open access, views which he defended resolutely in front of commercial publishers”.

He added: “Often, he was the first person in the room to voice his opinions, knowing full well that they would attract criticism in some quarters, but wisely understanding too that in order to make an omelette, one has to crack a few eggs.”

Mr Friend died after an operation on 23 April and is survived by his wife Margaret, a son and a daughter.

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