Magazine article Times Higher Education

James Thompson, 1932-2015

Magazine article Times Higher Education

James Thompson, 1932-2015

Article excerpt

One of the foremost academic librarians of his generation has died.

James Thompson was born in Newcastle upon Tyne on 11 January 1932 and educated at St Cuthbert's Grammar School. He then went straight to work in the city's public libraries, passed his professional exams and decided to take a degree in English at what was then King's College, Newcastle. After graduating with a first, he returned briefly to the city libraries (1957-59) before shifting into academic librarianship at the University of Nottingham.

Although he was soon promoted to chief cataloguer, Mr Thompson moved on to a position as senior assistant librarian at the University of East Anglia (1963-65) and then rose rapidly up the ranks to deputy librarian at the University of Glasgow (1965-67) and, still only 35, to the post of librarian at the University of Reading (1967-87). Well before many other librarians, he thought deeply about the advantages and disadvantages of automation and set out his views in the provocatively titled book The End of Libraries (1982). He pushed through an extensive automation programme at Reading, while also expanding the library's staff, extending the premises and developing the special collections, notably in the fields of publishing and modern literary papers.

While still at Reading, Mr Thompson established himself as a leading figure in the profession through books such as An Introduction to University Library Administration, which went through four editions between 1970 and 1987. …

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