Maurice Line, 1928-2010

October 21, 2010

A leading figure in the world of librarianship has died.

Maurice Line was born in Bedford on 21 June 1928 and educated at Bedford School before studying classics at Exeter College, Oxford.

He embarked on his career as a trainee at the University of Oxford's Bodleian Library in 1950 and began to steadily ascend the library ladder: as library assistant at the University of Glasgow (1951-53), sub-librarian at the University of Southampton (1954-65) and deputy librarian at Newcastle University (1965-68).

His appointment as librarian at the University of Bath led to Mr Line's close involvement with what became the British Library (the creation of which was recommended in a 1971 White Paper). He directed a study into the scope for automated data processing in 1971, served as librarian at the National Central Library from 1971 to 1973 and was a member of the organising committee planning the new national library.

When the National Central Library was incorporated into the British Library in 1973, Mr Line was appointed deputy director general of the lending division. He was quickly promoted to director general, a position he held from 1974 to 1985. He then became director general for science, technology and industry, his final role before he retired in 1988.

Although very much a practising librarian, Mr Line was also well known for his prolific and wide-ranging writings on the subject. Much of this work is notable for its humour and willingness to challenge professional orthodoxies, reflected in titles such as On the Construction and Care of White Elephants (about catalogues), Ignoring the User: How, When and Why and The Bonfire of the Author's Vanity.

In retirement, Mr Line was in great demand as a consultant specialising in the management of change and advised national libraries and other organisations in many parts of the world. He was also honoured with the presidency of the Library Association in 1990.

"As a rather junior member of staff from the mid-1970s into the mid-1980s," recalled Dame Lynne Brindley, chief executive of the British Library, "I was fortunate to watch and learn from this towering figure at work.

"Maurice stood for access for all. He championed the underdog. He sought to make us better leaders, to believe in and empower our staff. He believed in evidence-based policy and practice. He urged us to be flexible, to take risks, to innovate, to have fun and to live life with zest and humanity."

Mr Line died of Parkinson's disease on 21 September 2010 and is survived by his wife (and sometimes co-editor) Joyce, a son and a daughter.

matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

PhD Position in Archaeology and Cultural History

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

PhD position in Energy and Process Engineering

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

PhD position in Electric Power Engineering

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Research Assistant in Business

University Of Chichester
See all jobs

Most Commented

Doctoral study can seem like a 24-7 endeavour, but don't ignore these other opportunities, advise Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman

Matthew Brazier illustration (9 February 2017)

How do you defeat Nazis and liars? Focus on the people in earshot, says eminent Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt

Improvement, performance, rankings, success

Phil Baty sets out why the World University Rankings are here to stay – and why that's a good thing

Warwick vice-chancellor Stuart Croft on why his university reluctantly joined the ‘flawed’ teaching excellence framework

people dressed in game of thrones costume

Old Germanic languages are back in vogue, but what value are they to a modern-day graduate? Alice Durrans writes