Born: April 11, 1931; Died: March 7, 2011.

Dr Brenda Moon, who has died aged 80 in Edinburgh, modernised and preserved the priceless books and artefacts held by the Edinburgh University Library and had it acknowledged as a major centre for research. Dr Moon was the first women chief librarian of a major research university, co-founded the Consortium of University and Research Libraries and oversaw the introduction of the library’s much needed automation system. It was her enthusiastic lobbying that ensured the system was introduced and then Dr Moon ensured all her staff were well versed in its widespread usage.

Brenda Elizabeth Moon was born in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, educated in Birmingham and then read classics at St Hilda’s College, Oxford. She initially worked as a librarian at Sheffield and Hull universities – at the latter she wrote her PhD and worked under the poet Philip Larkin. Dr Moon came to Edinburgh in 1980, an appointment that recognised her scholarship, as the first woman university librarian in Scotland and one of the first in a major UK research library.

She immediately set about revising and cataloguing the internal structure of the library. Dr Moon was always determined to upgrade the library and was available to help colleagues at other institutions. When David Steele, then rector of the university, launched the automotive system in February 1985 it was the culmination of a process that Dr Moon had pioneered and installed. The new system enhanced the university’s already considerable reputation.

In 1995 the university was given £1 million to install the latest UK National Dataset Centre on the internet. With justified pride Dr Moon said at the time: “The university library will be extending its online catalogue to include information on its older collections of printed books and manuscripts.”

The valuable archives proved a special challenge. The special collections needed particular care and her scrupulous work on the collections’ behalf was rewarded when the university was offered important papers such as those of George Mackay Brown, Norman MacCaig and Hugh MacDiarmid as well as papers on WH Auden and the Corson Sir Walter Scott Collection.

Dr Moon was a resolute and dedicated lady. She cultivated excellent working relationships with her colleagues, encouraging them to be involved in university events. Sheila Cannell, a colleague of many years, recalls: “Brenda had a personal style, and wanted to provide the best possible library service to a wide range of users. Her files were full of letters of help to individuals using the library and collections in Edinburgh. Brenda was determined—when she made up her mind, she stuck with it, with a gentle smile which you knew hid a strong will.”

Dr Moon was an excellent host at her home and had the charming tradition after important university meetings of providing scones and lemon cake which she herself had baked early that morning.

She was recognised in academic circles: she was a member of the Scottish Library Cooperative Automation Project and sat on various national committees, and was a co-founder of the Consortium of University Research Libraries and its chairman (1991-95). She was also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh – becoming a member the same year as her friend Henry Heaney, librarian at Glasgow University – and acted as their curator from 2002-05.

Dr Moon was an avid traveller, often with her sister. She always returned with photographs of the flowers she had discovered. For 30 years Dr Moon worshipped at the Augustine United Church on Edinburgh’s George IV Bridge. She never married.