Information Services

Brenda Elizabeth Moon (1931-2011)

University librarian who had a clear vision of the transformative effects of digitisation.

Photograph of Brenda Elizabeth Moon

Brenda Elizabeth Moon was appointed chief librarian of the University of Edinburgh in 1980, becoming the first woman to hold such a post in Scotland, and one of the first in a major UK research library. In her 16 years in the role, she was a pioneer, bringing the library into the late 20th century with a clear vision of the transformative influence digitisation would have on libraries. She led Edinburgh to be among the first UK libraries to deliver a computer-based service.

Shortly before coming to the University of Edinburgh in 1980, Brenda travelled to Canada to investigate online automated “ systems. There were no automated records in the University of Edinburgh library catalogue at the time of her appointment, but by the time she retired there were over a million.

During her time at the University of Edinburgh, Brenda also reinvigorated the special collections, paving the way for the service the library now provides. She played a major role in bringing in collections including the papers of modern Scottish poets such as George Mackay Brown, Norman MacCaig and Hugh MacDiarmid, and materials on WH Auden.

She had a lifelong personal research interest in writing about women travellers. While working at Edinburgh, she gained a MPhil (Leeds University) writing a thesis about Marianne North. After retiring, she attained a PhD (Hull) for a thesis on Amelia B. Edwards later published as a book, More Usefully Employed: Amelia B. Edwards, Writer, Traveller, and Campaigner for Ancient Egypt.

She worked closely with the Friends of Edinburgh University Library and remained visionary about the future of libraries throughout her life.

At Edinburgh she has led the Library staff in developing a system which is the admiration of many other universities... [the online catalogue] is an integral part of the University’s information systems and... provides the University with one of its most visible shop-windows to the world...

Tribute to Brenda Moon in the University Bulletin magazine, January 1997

Related links

 Brenda Moon Wikipedia article