Notes for: Douglas J FOSKETT

Notes for: Douglas J FOSKETT

MA, FLA. Source: Authors and Writers Who's Who 1971 University of London, Institue of Education, Malet St, London WC1
Obituary from Times
Douglas Foskett
Director of the central library at London University who anticipated changes in the profession
DOUGLAS FOSKETT was an outstanding librarian, well known in Britain and overseas. He was one of the thinkers of the library profession, and although devoted to books as such he was also among the first to recognise the potential of automated systems.

He was born in London in 1918, and his library career started in the Ilford public libraries. It was interrupted for six years, though, as he served first in the Royal Army Medical Corps and later in the Intelligence Corps. After the war he became librarian of the Metal Box Company in 1948, remaining in that post for ten years, during which he made his mark not only in the field of information management, but also professionally in the Library Association. He was elected to its council in 1952 and served as both chairman and president before his retirement.

In 1957 he left special librarianship to head the University of London’s Institute of Education library, succeeding in 1978 to the post of Goldsmiths’ Librarian. Because Goldsmiths’ is the central library of London University, and the main point of reference for all the colleges (notably because of its periodical holdings), Foskett also became Director of the Central Library Services of the University of London.

Foskett had many strings to his bow. He was a specialist on classification, documentation and computerisation. He was one of the founders of the Classification Research Group, an influential body, and became its chairman in 1984.

From the beginning he was an internationalist through and through. He was a consultant to Unesco, Unisist and the British Council, and lectured at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and at universities in Brazil, China, Ghana, Iceland, India, Malawi, Nigeria and other countries. He also spoke at all the library schools in the United Kingdom.

He produced more than 360 articles, reviews and books. Among the books were Science, Humanism and Libraries (1964), Classification and Indexing in the Social Sciences (1963) and Pathways to Communication (1984).

Foskett was appointed OBE in 1978, and after his retirement the next year he acted as a courier to numerous parties touring China, a country he admired.

He was a life member of Sussex County Cricket Club, and was delighted when that county won the championship for the first time last year. He was also a member of MCC and was on its arts and library sub-committee for many years, helping to computerise its library and museum collections.

He is survived by his wife Joy, whom he married in 1948, and by their son and two daughters.

Douglas Foskett, OBE, librarian, was born on June 27, 1918. He died of cancer on May 7, 2004, aged 85.