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Robin Alston

By Andy D Dawson, on 19 July 2011

It is with much sadness that we report the death of Professor Emeritus Robin Alston Esq., OBE, FSA who passed away aged 78. Robin was appointed Director of SLAIS (the School of Library, Archive and Information Studies, the precursor to DIS) at UCL in 1990, and despite having his scholarly roots in (Old) English literature and traditional historical bibliography, was a great proponent of information technology and information science, and was largely responsible for developing the teaching of internet issues and the practical use of IT across the School’s programmes. He was an immensely knowledgeable man and a captivating speaker, full of ideas and insight whether discussing the history of the book or the workings of the latest piece of technology. For all his many scholarly works it is perhaps for his energy and enthusiasm as a speaker that he is most vividly remembered – pacing up and down in front of a class, gesticulating widly, with his keen eyes twinkling as he engaged students and staff alike, constantly decorating his talks with anecdotes which were always as apposite as they were amusing. On his retirement from the School in 1998 he continued teaching, researching and publishing, being heavily involved with the MA History of the Book at the University of London and the development of his longstanding Library History database project. He was awarded an honorary DLitt by the University of London in 2005, and his last major work was An Inventory of Sale Catalogues in the British Isles, America, United States, Canada and India 1676-1800 in 2 Volumes which was published in 2009. Our sincere condolences go to his family and friends.