David Menhennet CB (4 December 1928 – 5 February 2016) was a British librarian. As librarian at the House of Commons Library from 1976 to 1991, he oversaw a period of modernisation and other improvements to the library, transforming the library into a modern research facility.
Early life and education
Menhennet was born in Redruth, Cornwall, the son of William and Everill Menhennet. He attended Truro School on a scholarship and excelled in languages, going on to graduate with a first in French and German from Oriel College, Oxford. He then moved to Queen's College to study for a D.Phil. in 18th-century French literature.
House of Commons career
He became a clerk in the Commons Library in 1954. When given responsibility for the research area in 1964 he introduced a system of comprehensive daily briefings for MPs, and he was promoted to Deputy Librarian in 1967. When Speaker George Thomas appointed him 10th Librarian of the Commons Library in 1976, he began a process of modernisation. He set up the Public Information Office (now the House of Commons Information Office) in 1978, and electronic publication began the same year, when the Library contributed to the Prestel viewdata system, which at one time had 90,000 subscribers. Computerisation of the Library's information systems began in 1979 with the creation of the Parliamentary On-Line Information System (POLIS). He also established a service for schools. The new systems introduced by Menhennet enabled MPs to find and check information far more easily, and were used particularly often by Gordon Brown and Tony Blair while in opposition.
In 1964 Menhennet was a founder member of the Study of Parliament Group, and also chaired the British Library's Advisory Committee on Bibliographic Services from 1986 to 1992. He also wrote a number of books about Parliament. After his retirement in 1991 he was a visiting research fellow at Goldsmith's College.
Menhennet was a life Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a freeman of the City of London and a liveryman of the Stationer's Company. He was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in the Queen's 1991 Birthday Honours.
David Menhennet married Audrey Holmes in 1954. He died on 5 February 2016, survived by Audrey and their two sons.
- 1967: Parliament in Perspective (with John Palmer)
- 1972: Erskine May’s Private Journal 1857-82
- 1991: The House of Commons Library: A History
- "Factsheet G18: The House of Commons Library" (PDF). parliament.uk. House of Commons Information Office. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
- "Been and gone: the refugee behind television's famous pigs". BBC News. 3 March 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
- "David Menhennet, commons librarian: Obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 25 February 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2017.