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Ian Sainsbury presented with unique retirement gift after 36 years

Ian Sainsbury

The cover of the book that Ian's Library colleagues created in honour of his 36 years' service

'His knowledge and willingness to go the extra mile to help our users has been a consistent theme of Ian’s service throughout his years at Reading.'

Ian Sainsbury has recently retired after working as Liaison Librarian and Social Sciences Team Leader at the University's Library for over 36 years. Academic and Library colleagues gathered in the Main Library staff room to wish him a long and happy retirement, where he was presented with a unique commemorative book entitled 'Sainsbury's Law of the Library'.

The book was created by Library colleagues, Geoff Gardner and Ian Burn, using their expert design and binding skills. It was filled with puzzles and quizzes - including several based on library remembrances of the last 35 years, as well as legal witticisms, pictures of Ian's interests, and goodbyes written by University staff amongst the pages. Being librarians, the team gave it a proper title page, book jacket and ISBN - but it is not available in any bookshops, anywhere.

Ian began work at the University on 1 March 1974. He was appointed with specific responsibility to develop the law holdings of the Library to support the work of the recently founded Department of Law. With his personal and professional background in this subject area, possessing a first class degree in Latin and Law from Hull University and having previously worked at the Inns of Court Middle Temple Library in London, Ian went about this with great dedication, enthusiasm and success.

He said: "On beginning work at Reading, I thought that I would move on within three to four years, after establishing the law collection. I did not imagine that I would stay until retirement. I have, however, been very happy at Reading, due in no small measure to friendly colleagues in the Library and made more interesting as my responsibilities extended beyond law liaison. I will miss the day-to-day contact with staff and students, and the legal problems that members of the public enquired about."

He was the Library's first 'subject librarian' and also insisted he should be based on the subject floor with his resources and deliver help to users there - everyone else was then based on the Ground Floor. He followed his subject in detail, reading the legal press each break-time so he always knew the latest issues [and inevitably all about notorious cases].  His professional legacy in building the collections, and training others will stay with us for a very long time.

In 1985 Ian embraced Politics liaison into his remit and in 1986 (with the Main Library extension) became the manager of the Social Sciences (4th) Floor.

Ian's colleagues had many positive things to say about him and the impact he had on the Library throughout his time here. "Ian's knowledge of his subjects and the resources have been of huge benefit to the University staff and students over the years. This knowledge and willingness to go the extra mile to help our users has been a consistent theme of Ian's service throughout his years at Reading. Equally, so it has been to his colleagues with work, chartership or other matters. He was both liked and respected - always supportive of his colleagues and with a good (dry!) sense of humour. He was ever willing to explain the intricacies of legal information resources and to train junior staff and other colleagues in this specialist area.

"Staff and students of many generations will remember this quiet, traditional and kind man, one of the University's unsung heroes."

Ian also administered the Library's European Documentation Centre (EDC) as part of his portfolio and became not only the Library's copyright expert but recognised as such widely within the University as its Copyright Coordinator for several years. He kept pace with the complexities and technicalities that is the confusing field of copyright in the digital age - taking a perverse delight in the legal idiosyncrasies or conflicts this involves.

Ian was also active in the profession more widely: in the British & Irish Association of Law Librarians (BIALL) he was a member of the Standing Committee on Cataloguing and Classification for 20 years, and its Chair for 5 years. He also served as a scrutineer for the Library Association (now Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals, CILIP), passing (or failing) candidates' submissions for Chartership and entry on to the professional register.

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