Obituary: Librarian Malcolm Campbell guided the development of a world class business research facility

Malcolm Campbell

Malcolm Campbell - Credit: Archant

Malcolm Campbell, who died on March 15, made a massive contribution to commercial librarianship and information provision, guiding the development of the City Business Library (CBL) as a world class research facility open to the public.

Malcolm James Campbell, who lived in Agar Grove, Camden Town, was born in Portsmouth on April 11 1930 and commenced his library career as a Library Assistant at Holborn Public Library in London aged 16. In 1959 he left to become Librarian at the British Employers Confederation (Confederation of British Industry from 1963) and served in this post until 1968.

When the Corporation of London decided that a pre-eminent financial centre needed the support of a much enhanced business library, they choose Mr Campbell, already renowned in his field, to deliver this. While ‘commercial reading rooms’ had been a feature of big city public libraries since Victorian times, the CBL was a new departure as a self-contained collection in purpose-built accommodation. It was also unusually well-resourced and Mr Campbell’s drive, imagination and managerial expertise made the most of this exceptional opportunity. Business researchers owe him a very considerable debt of gratitude for the range and quality of the services he developed.

He also negotiated with the Corporation on behalf of the members of the City of London Staff Association. His inauguration as its President at the Guildhall was a spectacular event with a military guard of honour and band, choir and a seven gun salute! Mr Campbell was also active professionally in Aslib and the Library Association and wrote two standard texts on his discipline: Business Information Services and the Manual of Business Library Practice.

His commitment to public service did not diminish with his retirement and Mr Campbell threw his energies into national bodies such as the Council for the Protection of Rural England, National Trust, Oxfam and Ramblers Association as well as local civic, history and antiquarian organisations in north London.

In Scotland, he served as honorary secretary of the Gatliff Hebridean Hostels Trust, which helps local people turn crofts into simple accommodation for visitors.

His achievements were honoured by the award of the MBE in 1990, following his retirement the previous year, and an honorary MA from the City University.

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Malcolm Campbell is survived by his wife Margaret and their professional classical singer son Colin.