New Search

Maurice B. Line

  • Born: June 23, 1928, Bedford, United Kingdom

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0205
Interview Date: June 27, 2000
Location: Harrogate, United Kingdom
Interviewer: W. Boyd Rayward
No. of pages: 44
Minutes: 92
Sponsor: Eugene Garfield Foundation
Eugene Garfield Foundation

  Abstract of Interview

Maurice B. Line's interview begins with a discussion of his education and early career. After high school, Line received a scholarship to attend Oxford University and major in Classics. He began his long career in library institutions at the Bodleian Library as a library trainee. He then moved on to the University of Glasgow as an assistant librarian. While there, he was one of the first to conduct library system studies regarding student's attitudes towards the library. Line brought his interest in library systems to Southampton University where Beres Bland, the head librarian at Southampton, gave Line the freedom to develop his abilities and focus his ideas about information science. As deputy librarian at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Line helped create the first automated acquisition system in Britain. When he became a librarian at Bath University, he directed the study of social scientists' information requirements, named INFROSS, and a further study on the designs of information systems, named DISISS. In 1985, Line became the director general of Science Technology and Industry at the British Library. Line discusses the constraints of working in the public sector, and his desire to create easy access to library collections internationally. In conclusion, he describes the potential obstacles to the international library system in the future, and the importance of technology in making libraries more accessible to users.


1950 B.A. University of Oxford
1954 M.A. University of Oxford

  Professional Experience

University of Oxford

1950 - 1951 Trainee

University of Glasgow

1951 - 1953 Library Assistant

University of Southampton

1954 - 1965 Sub-Librarian

University of Newcastle upon Tyne

1965 - 1968 Deputy Librarian

University of Bath

1968 - 1971 Librarian

National Central Library, London

1971 - 1973 Librarian

British Library

1974 - 1985 Director General, Lending Division, Wetherby, England

British Library

1985 - 1988 Director General, Science Technology and Industry, Wetherby and London, England

University of Sheffield

1977 - Present Professor Associate

Loughborough University

1985 - 1991 External Professor

Independent Consultant

1988 - 2001 Independent Consultant


1980 D.Litt., Heriot-Watt University
1985 Honorary Fellow, Library Association
1988 D.Sc., Southampton University
1988 Fellow of Birmingham Polytechnic
1988 Companion, Chartered Management Institute
1989 IFLA medal
1990 President, Library Association

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Early Education and Career 1

Winning a scholarship in Classics to Oxford University. Dealing with a speech impediment. As sub-librarian at Southampton University. Conducting library system studies. As librarian at Bath University. Establishing UKLON. Conducting the INFROSS studies. The DISISS studies. Discussion of gaps in journal coverage.

Leaving Bath University 5

Working at the Boston Spa while at Bath University. Watching people's careers develop. Donald J. Urquhart's personality. Urquhart's influence on the Boston Spa. The "online revolution." UK MEDLARS. Establishing the NLST. Competition between libraries. The value of online systems.

Working at the British Library 14

Influential coworkers. Harry Hookway. Lord David Eccles. Frederick Dainton. Opinion of Margaret Thatcher. The creation of the British Library. International relationships between libraries. Successes of the UAP. Connections with the IFLA. The merger of LA and IIS.

Libraries and their Future 21

Access versus holdings. The future of libraries in higher education. The effect of immigration, global warming, and the world water shortage on libraries. The constraints of the public sector. Information for profit. Public libraries versus academic libraries.

Modern Library Systems 26

The effect of new technology on libraries. Seeing students as customers. Views on religion. User-oriented information services.

Notes 31

Index 33

  About the Interviewer

W. Boyd Rayward

W. Boyd Rayward is a research professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Chamapaign. He turned to librarianship after graduating in English literature from the University of Sydney. He received his Ph.D. from the Graduate Library School at the University of Chicago in 1973. He has held positions in the University of Chicago (where he became Dean of the Graduate Library School). He served as professor and head of the School of Information Library and Archive Studies and Dean of the University's Faculty of Professional Studies at the University of New South Wales in Sydney where he is now professor emeritus. He has published two books related to Paul Otlet, Belgian documentalist and internationalist, and a great many articles on history of national and international schemes for the organization and dissemination of information.

Hear It Firsthand

The Center for Oral History captures and preserves the stories of notable figures in chemistry and related fields, with over 425 oral histories that deal with various aspects of science, of scientists, and of scientific practices. For more information please visit CHF’s Oral History Program or e-mail oralhistory@

Annual Report

Annual Report
Take a look back at a year of preservation, research, and outreach in CHF’s annual report to supporters.

Support CHF

Help us preserve and share the history of chemistry and related sciences. Make a tax-deductible tax-deductible gift online.