Tom Graham, 1945-2008

January 15, 2009

Tom Graham, university librarian at Newcastle University, has died.

He was brought up in Glasgow, graduated in history from the University of Glasgow and then decided to train as a librarian by studying for a diploma at the University of Strathclyde. Before embarking on his main career, he was encouraged by Glasgow's School of Historical Studies to undertake research on the relationship between the papacy and Scotland in the 16th century. This required a year delving in the Vatican Library, followed by several years of part-time research, which eventually yielded a PhD.

Dr Graham worked as a librarian at Glasgow and Aberdeen universities before moving to England to become deputy to Philip Larkin at the University of Hull library. He was appointed university librarian at the University of York in 1984 and moved to Newcastle in 1997, where his official title was "university librarian and keeper of the Pybus Collection", which holds materials relating to the history of medicine. He soon proved his talent for innovation by developing electronic information services. His efforts were recognised in 2007 when Newcastle became the first university library to be awarded the Charter Mark for excellence in customer services on five separate occasions.

Dr Graham was also a major player in the broader development of British university libraries. He was a council member of the Society of College, National and University Libraries from 1987 to 1995 and served as its chair from 1992 to 1994. He was also treasurer and chair of what was then known as the Consortium of University Research Libraries. As chair of the Joint Information Systems Committee's Journals Working Group from 2001, he proved influential in facilitating scholarly research through the development of subscription models for electronic journal publishing.

Alongside his professional activities, Dr Graham had longstanding links with the Iona Community, a Christian association based in his native Glasgow and the islands of Iona and Mull, and a lifelong passion for music. He once led the Glasgow Schools' Orchestra and later sang in the choruses of the Edinburgh Festival, the Scottish Opera and the Hexham Abbey Festival.

"His many friends in the university will miss him greatly," said Wayne Connolly, deputy librarian at Newcastle, "particularly for his warmth and humour. He had an anecdote or a story to tell about any subject you could mention, and he recounted them with a great sense of fun. One compliment that has been paid to the library, which I think Tom took most personally, is that it is a place that is often full of laughter."

Dr Graham died of stomach cancer on 30 November. He is survived by his wife, Moira, and sons Alasdair and Euan.

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