"How golden is your retriever?" Maurice Line RIP

Lorcan 2 min read

My former UKOLN colleague Ruth Burt sent me a note last week noting that Maurice Line had died. Ann Chapman writes about his work at the University of Bath, where he was the first University Librarian, as follows …

While at Bath, Line initiated a number of research projects. INFROSS, a study of social scientists’ information requirements (at the University of Bath and Newcastle University), was followed by DISISS, a study on the designs of information systems (in collaboration with the Polytechnic of North London). Taking place in parallel with both these projects was a three-year (1969-1971) Experimental Information Service in the Social Sciences, working with researchers and teachers at the Universities of Bath and Bristol.

Line also initiated work on the development of library catalogues, encouraging technical services librarian Philip Bryant to start researching in this area. The initial Bath Mini-Catalogue Project in 1971 led to other projects looking at catalogues and bibliographic data, including the Bath University Programme of Catalogue Research, which evolved into the Centre for Catalogue Research in 1977, subsequently changing its name to the Centre for Bibliographic Research and later to UKOLN. [Dr Maurice Line]

Of course he went on to a senior position in the British Library (by way of one of its antecedent organizations), making multiple contributions to the development of libraries and librarianship in the UK and around the world.
The above extract shows two of his attributes: his interest in research and data, and his energy. He never forgot that libraries existed in service of others, not to perpetuate their own structures and practices.
I moved to England in the late 80s to join what had just become The Centre for Bibliographic Management at the University of Bath. Line was long gone, but some of the library staff still remembered him. I remember one telling me how he would climb the stairs two or three at a time, determined to get to the top before whoever was with him.
The phrase in the title of this post is the title of one of his articles. He made a large contribution to the library literature, professional and more formal. These lines quoted by Andrew Pace a while ago are characteristic:

Trying to hold on to unused publications that libraries no longer have room to house, having theological arguments about the contents of catalogue records, and indulging in the numerous other irrelevant, inappropriate or trivial activities of which librarians are so fond, with their unerring eye for the inessential. [Hectic Pace]

I last met Maurice Line at the 30th anniversary celebration of the founding of UKOLN, an organization he was pleased to have been involved in starting. He also participated by video in the memorial celebration of Fred Kilgour’s life, which was apt as each had contributed rather more than most to the evolution of library services.

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