Librarian and university academic;

Born: November 16, 1920; Died: June 23, 2011.

Bill Tyler, who has died aged 90, was an academic who played a major role in the development of libraries in Scotland and who became the first professor of librarianship in the UK.

As the head of the Scottish School of Librarianship and in his professorial role, he also played a major role in the evolution of librarianship as a university discipline.

In the latter stages of his career he made a significant contribution to the management of the University of Strathclyde, as dean of the School of Arts and Social Studies and as vice-principal of the University.

Born in Salford, his potential was recognised at an early stage when he won a scholarship to Salford Grammar School, where he excelled academically and gained colours at rugby, football and cricket.

A genuine all-rounder, his breadth of interest and ability was reflected in his active involvement in the dramatic, literary, scientific and choral societies.

He was a young man with considerable potential and his headmaster’s view that “he would go far” would prove to be an accurate prediction.

University education was not an affordable option in the late 1930s and he began work as an assistant in the Salford public library in 1937. However, war intervened and he joined the Royal Navy in 1941, serving as a coder in the corvette flotilla at Harwich, and carrying out convoy escort duties in the North Sea.

His time in Harwich was to have a major influence on his life. He met Marie Orr, a young WREN from Edinburgh, and they were married in 1944, a marriage that would last for more than 66 years and provide the happy family life, which would be the foundation for all of his future success.

As the war neared its end he was commissioned and served as a cypher officer with the Home, Ceylon and East Indies Fleets.

After the war he and Marie settled in Manchester.

He returned to his library duties and studies, becoming an associate and then a fellow of the Library Association.

An outstanding student, he was invited to work as a part-time lecturer in the Manchester College of Technology, which contributed to his move to Scotland in 1950 as the head of the Scottish School of Librarianship at the Scottish College of Commerce in Glasgow.

He had found his niche as an educator, and in 1964 his commitment, vision and enthusiasm were responsible for librarianship becoming a viable academic discipline in the newly formed University of Strathclyde.

Under his leadership Strathclyde University awarded the UK’s first university degrees in librarianship in 1969 and his appointment in 1970 to the first chair in librarianship in UK was worthy recognition of his achievements, personal qualities and academic ability.

Having successfully established his own department Professor Tyler became more widely involved in the management of the university, serving with distinction as the Dean of the School of Arts and Social Studies from 1972 to 1978 and as vice-principal from 1980 until he retired in 1984.

His election and re-election to these posts and his appointment as an emeritus professor on his retirement were an acknowledgement of the affection and high regard in which he was held by his academic peers and recognition of his outstanding contribution to the University.

A man of many talents, he was engaged in a wide variety of other activities.

Popular and sociable, he served as staff club president at the College of Commerce and at the University of Strathclyde where he was particularly proud of his role in the purchase and development of Ross Priory.

He was president of the Scottish Library Association in 1970.

Professor Tyler retained a lifelong interest in the armed forces and took particular pleasure in his chairmanship of the Military Education Committee.

A devoted Manchester United fan, he maintained his active sporting interests for many years, playing club tennis and cricket, and when age precluded this he became active as a solo and choral singer.

When he retired in 1984, their shared love of the sea, and a desire to be nearer their children Ian, Anne and Alan, drew Bill and Marie to Dovercourt near Harwich.

A world cruise in the early months of 1985 was a fondly remembered highlight and over the years they enjoyed more than 30 cruises, visiting over 70 countries.

He continued to contribute to the local community, editing the Harwich Society’s monthly magazine, singing with the local choral society and, with Marie’s help, delivering library books to the housebound.

The one blight on his successful and fulfilled life was the premature death of his younger son Alan in 2004, a loss deeply felt but born with the stoicism typical of his generation.

Bill Tyler died aged 90 and his funeral service was held in the small Methodist church in Dovercourt, where he had met and married Marie so many years before.