Obituary: Dr Brenda Moon, former university librarian, 80

Tributes have been paid to Dr Brenda Moon, the first female chief university librarian in Scotland, who has passed away at the age of 80 after a long and respected life at the top of her profession.

Born on April 11, 1931, in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Brenda Elizabeth Moon was educated in Birmingham and read classics at St Hilda's College, Oxford.

She worked initially as a librarian at Sheffield and Hull universities. It was at the latter that she wrote her PhD and worked under the poet Philip Larkin, with whom she became friends.

Dr Moon then moved to Edinburgh in 1980 and became one of the first women in the UK to head up a major UK research library.

Modernising the internal workings of Edinburgh University's library, she had a clear understanding of how new technologies could aid research at all levels.

Those that knew her best said she exhibited "typical zeal and determination" into tackling the complex task.

Dr Moon, who lived in Newington, not far from the library where she carried out her life's work, was not only the first woman chief librarian of a major research university and a co-founder of the Consortium of University and Research Libraries, but she also made a distinguished contribution to maintaining and cataloguing the valuable archival material in the university's vaults.

Throughout her career Dr Moon was determined to upgrade the library and was an inspiration to many colleagues.

Tam Dalyell, a former rector of the university, spoke of "how valuable Brenda's contribution was to staff, researchers and students who asked for help".

Dr Moon herself is described as an excellent and patient listener and a genial and generous host in her Edinburgh home. After important university meetings, she provided scones and lemon cake, which she had baked early that morning. She did much to revive the Friends of Edinburgh University Library and attended its meetings regularly.

She was also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, acting as its curator from 2002 to 2005.

Dr Moon was an avid traveller, often with her sister. One of her great joys was to photograph many lesser-known species of flowers in Europe and, after her retirement in 1996, the sisters travelled further afield with typical energy and enthusiasm.

For 30 years, she worshipped at the Augustine United Church on George IV Bridge. Its secretary, Doris Caldwell, knew her well and remembered her as "a hard worker" in various fields of church work, especially in mission, serving on national committees and gatherings of the church.

She said: "Brenda was a deeply loved and revered friend. Her hospitality was renowned and she always had time for people."