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Obituary: Jack Meadows 1934 - 2016

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Hazel Woodward

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How to Cite: Woodward, Hazel. 2016. “Obituary: Jack Meadows 1934 - 2016”. Insights 29 (3): 291. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1629/uksg.321
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  Published on 04 Nov 2016
 Accepted on 02 Sep 2016            Submitted on 02 Sep 2016

Professor Jack Meadows, who died on 18 July 2016, was one of the world’s leading information scientists. He spoke at numerous UKSG conferences about the wide range of scholarly communication research projects he was leading and was an invaluable member of the Serials (now Insights) editorial board for many years – even after his formal retirement.

Hazel Woodward (former editor, Serials) presenting Jack with a book on his retirement from the Serials editorial board

Photo: © Ally Souster

Jack was a multi-talented man with an astonishing breadth of knowledge. After completing his National Service, he gained a First in Physics at New College, Oxford, staying on to complete a DPhil in Astronomy. In the 1960s he studied further at University College London where he was awarded an MSc in the History and Philosophy of Science. After a brief period in the US as a Fulbright scholar he returned to the UK and became a lecturer at the University of St Andrews.

Then came a turning point in his career. During his National Service, Jack had become fluent in Russian and this skill enabled him to take up the post of Assistant Keeper in the Slavonic section of the British Museum Library. It was this experience, as well as the challenges of working with large physics data sets in his earlier career, that helped develop his interest in information science.

In 1965 Jack moved to the University of Leicester as a lecturer in physics but went on to found the Department of Astronomy. He stayed at Leicester for some 20 years, becoming Professor of Astronomy and History of Science. He even had a minor planet named after him: Asteroid 4600 Meadows!

I first met Jack in 1986 when he took up his position of Professor of Library and Information Studies in the Department of Library and Information Studies at Loughborough University where I worked on a number of research projects that he was leading. Indeed, I regard Jack as one of my significant mentors. He actively encouraged me to complete my PhD, for which I am ever thankful.

Jack was clearly a brilliant scholar, authoring or co-authoring hundreds of publications in a range of academic disciplines. But he was also a wonderful, kind man who supported and encouraged his students and staff alike. He had a great sense of humour – he loved terrible puns – and was always self-deprecating. I and many others will miss him as will his wife Jane, their son and two daughters.

Hazel Woodward

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