The death of Ian Mowat in a hill-walking accident in Glen Coe has robbed his profession of one of the most able and forward-thinking university librarians of his generation.

Ian was born in Dingwall in 1946, the son of a bank manager and educated at Robert Gordon's College, Aberdeen, and the universities of Aberdeen and Sheffield (studying successively history and librarianship). His first job, at St Andrews University library, was followed by posts at Heriot-Watt University library, and the National Library of Scotland.

In 1978 he moved to Glasgow University library, first as superintendent of reader services, and later as associate librarian, taking on additional responsibility for special collections and conservation. Ian's open and cheerful

personality made him popular among the staff, and his ability to persuade and cajole allowed him to steer through changes in the service which on occasion required reassessment of practice. Equally evident was his enthusiasm, his commitment, and his growing eminence in the wider profession. He was, in current phraseology, a ''people-

person'', and succeeded in combining managerial authority with a genuine and practical friendship and concern for any

colleagues with personal or health difficulties.

In 1986 he succeeded Philip Larkin as university librarian at Hull. His style was very different from Larkin's, and he embraced the onward development of the newly automated catalogue with relish, and soon established Hull as a place for both library innovation in the use of technology, and as a significant centre for special collections.

After five years, he moved to Newcastle. There he began to play a more prominent role on a national and international stage, in addition to instigating energetic developments at his own library. He served on a number of significant national committees, most importantly as chairman of the non-formula funding (NFF) committee of the JISC (joint information systems committee). During this time, he was elected to the members' council on OCLC, a major international consortium of libraries, the Online Computer Library Centre, centred around a shared database. Ian was a passionate advocate for international collaboration between libraries. He rose through OCLC's ranks, becoming recognised in the US for his original thinking, as well as for his infectious laughter. He was elected to the centre's board of trustees this year.

He was also a prominent advocate for stronger links between librarians in the UK and in central Europe. He developed strong links with the Polish library school at Torun, and in 1991 led a Library Association delegation to Romania to develop contacts between the two countries' library associations.

He continued to develop these connections while at Newcastle and Edinburgh, and in 1994 became a consultant for Unesco for the rebuilding of the university and national library at Sarajevo.

In 1997 Ian fulfilled a long-held ambition, and became librarian to Edinburgh University. Here he drove forward automation of the catalogue, acquiring a next-generation library system. His appetite for change was enormous, and he initiated strategic developments - such as the adoption of e-journals and e-books - at a pace which was not initially appreciated in Edinburgh. He also positioned the library as a central player in the digital revolution. He was particularly successful in winning external funding for the library, particularly through the research support libraries programme and he was keen to promote project-working in collaboration

with academics.

Ian served on a wide variety of professional committees, including the national preservation office advisory committee, several committees of the joint information systems committee; on Sconul, and the British Council. He was external examiner at Manchester Metropolitan University and at Northumbria University. He was a member of the board of the consortium of university research libraries (Curl), the research libraries group (RLG), chair of the Scottish Consortium of University Research Libraries (Scurl), and a member of the Scottish Library and Information Council.

He was much in demand as a speaker on the national and international conference circuit, and published widely. He was also a distinguished architectural historian, actively pursuing a number of scholarly projects on eighteenth-century Scottish architecture at the time of his death.

Ian Mowat was an inspirational leader, mentor, and manager. Two of his strongest characteristics were his infectious enthusiasm for life and his unstinting generosity. Both of these attributes he shared in equal measure with his wife, Margaret. He was a keen architectural historian and hill-walker, and it is a particular tragedy that he should die in an accident when walking in Glen Coe.

He leaves his wife and children, Vari and Simon, and countless friends across the world.

Ian Mowat, university librarian; born April 20, 1946, died September 6, 2002.