Obituary: Anthony Loveday

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
ANTHONY LOVEDAY made outstanding contributions to university librarianship in Britain and many Commonwealth countries, and was untiring in his services to the Standing Conference of National and University Libraries (Sconul) in Britain.

He was a stickler for doing things in the correct way. It was he who initiated moves to establish firmly and certainly Sconul's legal status by registering it as a charity and a company limited by guarantee. As long as he was present in his secretarial role, flagging committee members itching to get home at the end of a long day could not hope for remission by taking short cuts, or by deferring or fudging decisions. He could be sharp, especially with those he regarded as bores or time-wasters, but there was always present an underlying amiability and good humour which quickly overcame any brusqueness.

Loveday was born in Manchester, the youngest of three children, to Joseph Loveday, a bacteriologist. After leaving Ampleforth, he went up to Christ's College, Cambridge in 1943, but broke off his studies to take part in the war, entering the Royal Navy in 1944, and serving in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). At the end of the war he returned to Cambridge and graduated in English in 1948. Following a brief spell at the National Central Library, London (later incorporated into the British Library) he attended the postgraduate School of Librarianship and Archives at University College London in 1949- 50 where he obtained a Diploma in Librarianship.

It was Loveday's intention to go into special libraries - industrial or commercial libraries attached to large firms - and information bureaux but in 1950 he secured an assistant librarianship at University College London where he took charge of the book order department. He stayed in the university sector for the rest of his career. However, his interest in special libraries with its emphasis on the organisation, classification and retrieval of information left its mark. A first-class administrator, he was always looking for ways of improving library routines and processes.

For personal and professional reasons - he found the cautious British university library world of the 1950s restrictive - he decided to go overseas. In 1957 he took up a post in the University of Malaya at Singapore as an assistant librarian. He returned to England two years later and in 1960 became an assistant librarian in the University of London Library.

His appointment in 1962 as deputy librarian at Makerere University in Uganda began a decade of librarianship in Africa. Three years later he became the founding librarian of the University of Zambia and was responsible for planning its new library building. He was a prominent figure in moves to further co-operation among libraries in both Zambia and East Africa as a region.

Loveday finally returned to England in 1972 to a job that might have been made for him. The generally higher profile of universities after their expansion in the 1960s had persuaded Sconul that it needed a full- time secretary and Loveday was appointed to this new post in 1972. The Sconul office had traditionally been located in the library of the incumbent honorary secretary. When Loveday took up the appointment the office was in Cardiff but it was moved to London in 1973.

Over the next 17 years, by developing contacts with civil servants and vice-chancellors, Loveday was instrumental in moving Sconul from a rather inward-looking and exclusive body into an outgoing organisation concerned with voicing the views and requirements of university libraries in the context of the national provision of higher education. He also encouraged the full participation of the national libraries element in Sconul and opened up greater communication between Sconul and other library bodies such as the Library Association.

Through the International Federation of Library Associations (Ifla) he developed links with foreign university libraries. Moreover, perhaps to a greater extent than he knew, he helped to give Sconul the flexibility and resilience that it would need to absorb the financial stringencies and structural changes in higher education in the 1990s.

Anthony Loveday loved to be at the centre of things. He revelled in the social side of meetings and conferences. He enjoyed music, Mozart was his favourite composer, and he looked forward to his annual visits to Glyndebourne. Most of all, however, he loved ballet. For his Diploma in Librarianship he presented a bibliography of the Beaumont Press and he was delighted when Darcy Bussell came to live opposite him.

Tony Bowyer

Anthony Joseph Loveday, librarian: born Manchester 20 November 1925; Secretary, Standing Conference of National and University Libraries 1972- 89; died London 28 August 1998.

Comments