1 February 2013

Demise of Keith Cuninghame

By John Pullinger

Friends and colleagues will be saddened to hear of the death of Keith Cuninghame early on Monday 7 January.

Keith retired from the Library of the UK House of Commons in 2006 after 37 years. He had joined in 1969 working first in the Members' Library and then in Research before moving into senior management roles from 1993. He was an active participant in our Section and is well known to many colleagues across the world of parliamentary libraries.

He was a thoroughly decent man, liked by everyone he worked with, and an excellent researcher. He was a pioneer, leading the establishment of what started as the Education and Social Services Unit (ESSU) within the Home Affairs Section of the Library and later turned into what is now the Social Policy Section. His own specialist interest was health where he took pride in presenting complex material simply and clearly to Members of Parliament and in making external links to organisations like the Kings Fund.

Keith was also a leader in developing management practice within the Library Department and across the House of Commons. As Departmental Establishment Officer, he was responsible for staff management, finance and business planning. He also chaired the House-wide Diversity Forum immediately prior to retirement.

He kept in touch with many colleagues after retirement, including members of the IFLA Section. Keith was the principal author of the 2nd edition of the IFLA Guidelines for Legislative Libraries published in 2009. Characteristically, he worked with large numbers of people from many countries refining the final product to get it right. Keith would have been modestly astonished to learn that this publication is now available in Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish (pending).

That his words are now being picked up and used by many new democracies as a blueprint for developing their own library, research and information services is a fitting legacy for Keith's work in Parliament.

John Pullinger

Library and Research Services for Parliaments

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