Monday, August 16, 2010

Bob McKee

I am utterly shocked and greatly saddened to hear of the death of Bob McKee, the Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). Bob was attending the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) Conference in Gothenburg when he died over the weekend.

I haven’t seen Bob for a number of years, since a change of profession took me outside library circles, but I got to know him reasonably well over the years. One of the last times I met him, ironically enough, was at a previous IFLA Conference in Glasgow. I heard him speak on many occasions, indeed invited him on a few occasions to address conferences I was organising. He was a witty, warm, enthusiastic and engaging advocate for library services. His passion for libraries was self-evident. His interest in librarians was inspiring. He approached the various challenges in the library world with vigour and hope. It was impossible to come away from one of his addresses without feeling uplifted - and back in the days of the cultural desert of Thatcherism that was a vital skill.

Bob was due to retire in only a few weeks time, having promised himself he would take early retirement at 60 to do more things with his life. It is desperately cruel that this good, honest, decent man has been denied that pleasure. I don’t normally struggle for words, but tonight I’m lost.

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