Robert Moore obituary

Other lives: Medical librarian who introduced new technology in the UK, enabling researchers to make quicker searches of material

My friend and former colleague Robert Moore, who has died aged 81, was head of library services at the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), one of the bodies that later formed the Crick Institute. He modernised the library and introduced faster and easier literature searching for the institute’s scientists.

Robert was born and brought up in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, and educated at the King Edward grammar school. His father, Lewis Moore, was injured in the first world war before the age of 20, and died when Robert was still young. Robert left school aged 16 to help support his widowed mother, Beatrice (nee Clark).

He then trained as a librarian with Warwickshire county libraries and studied medical librarianship at evening classes. In 1962 he moved to London, where he became deputy librarian at the NIMR in Mill Hill, working under the eminent medical librarian Leslie Morton.

In the mid-1960s Robert was among the first UK librarians to be trained in, and to use, Medlars, the US-based medical literature searching service. When its service went online, Robert, an information wizard, mastered this new technology and in 1969, thanks to him, NIMR became the first library in the UK to use the service. Researchers could suddenly ask new sorts of questions and find the answers very quickly.

In 1972 Robert was appointed head of the library and information service at NIMR. He expanded the range of the library by developing a tailored online information service for NIMR researchers, a database of researcher expertise and an influenza bibliography, which had an international circulation. At this time he also obtained a degree from the Open University.

Robert also developed the institute’s archives and studied the history and achievements of NIMR scientists. He was often acknowledged in research papers for the assistance he provided to historians of science and medicine. He co-edited, with Morton, a Chronology of Medicine and Related Sciences, as well as three editions of the Bibliography of Medical and Biomedical Biography.

Robert inspired great loyalty and affection among his staff. He took great interest in the people he worked with, getting to know them, sharing their concerns and offering useful advice when asked. He was a modest man, never pompous or puffed-up.

He retired in 1999 and was appointed MBE in 2000 for his services to scientific librarianship. His interests in retirement included inland waterways, church bell ringing and gardening.

Robert married Catherine Jones in 1966. She survives him, along with their three children, Angela, John and Sarah, and five grandchildren.

Frank Norman

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Benjamin Lee obituary
Other lives: Dedicated doctor and accomplished musician

Hermione Lee

25, Feb, 2019 @5:30 PM

Article image
Jonathan Marrow obituary
Other lives: Doctor who devoted most of his career to accident and emergency healthcare and training

Peter Wiles

18, Oct, 2019 @5:09 PM

Article image
Jon Poole obituary
Other Lives: Occupational medicine specialist who worked at British Steel and Rover

Adrian Hamlyn

30, Aug, 2020 @10:34 AM

Article image
Frank Odds obituary
Other Lives: Specialist in the study of fungal pathogens and the diseases they cause

Neil Gow

25, Aug, 2020 @6:50 PM

Article image
Lionel Fry obituary
Other lives: Dermatologist who altered our understanding of the development and treatment of the skin ailment psoriasis

Catherine Hardman

14, Feb, 2021 @10:03 AM

Article image
Richard Bruckdorfer obituary
Other Lives: Biochemistry professor who became an expert on autoimmune disease

Surjit Kaila Singh Srai

13, Apr, 2021 @5:05 PM

Article image
Jan Stern obituary
Other lives: Biochemist whose work contributed to the newborn baby heel prick test

Stefan Stern

24, Mar, 2021 @10:31 AM

Article image
Michael Atkinson obituary
Other Lives: Professor of gastroenterology who developed the Atkinson tube, which helps people with oesophageal cancer to swallow

John Bennett

13, May, 2021 @3:26 PM

Article image
Richard Greenhall obituary
Other lives: Oxford neurologist committed to the values of the NHS

Joseph Winkelman

17, Jun, 2021 @4:03 PM

Article image
Michael King obituary
Other lives: Professor of psychiatry and campaigner for LGBTQ+ rights

Louise Jones

23, Sep, 2021 @5:22 PM