Lynne Brindley

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Lynne Brindley

Brindley in 2008
Born (1950-07-02) 2 July 1950 (age 73)
Alma materUniversity of Reading, University College London
AwardsDBE (2008)
Hon FBA (2015)
Brindley in the 1990s

Dame Lynne Janie Brindley, DBE, FRSA, HonFBA (born 2 July 1950)[1][2] is the former Master of Pembroke College, Oxford, a post she held until June 2020. Prior to this appointment she was a professional librarian, and served as the first female chief executive of the British Library, the United Kingdom's national library, from July 2000 to July 2012 and was founding chair of the Digital Preservation Coalition.[3] She is also a member of the Ofcom board.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Brindley gained a first class degree in music at the University of Reading around 1975 and then began her professional career as a library trainee at the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. She studied librarianship at the School of Librarianship, University College London, where she was awarded the Sir John MacAlister Medal as top student on her course.


She first worked for the British Library in 1979, in the Bibliographic Services Division and by 1983 she led the chief executive's office. She moved on to be director of library services at the University of Aston, and spent some time as a consultant for KPMG. She was librarian of the British Library of Political and Economic Science at the London School of Economics (LSE), before moving to the University of Leeds as Librarian and Keeper of the Brotherton Collection, and later as Pro Vice-Chancellor.[5]

On 17 November 2011, Brindley announced that she would be stepping down from her post as Chief Executive at the British Library at the end of July 2012.[6] Brindley became the Master of Pembroke College, Oxford, from 1 August 2013 until June 2020.[7]

In 2021–2022, Brindley served as Prime Warden of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths.[8]

Context of change[edit]

A switch from print to digital publishing by the year 2020 is anticipated; which implies that readers will have diminishing physical contact with books, the primary experience and foundation of civilisation for the last 500 years. In this context of change, Brindley is committed to ensuring that the Library does not become little more than "a book museum".[9]

Brindley's explained:

"Most people are aware that a national switch to digital broadcasting is expected by the end of this decade. Less well known is the fact that a similar trend is underway in the world of publishing: by the year 2020, 40% of UK research monographs will be available in electronic format only, while a further 50% will be produced in both print and digital. A mere 10% of new titles will be available in print alone by 2020."[10]

Book preservation[edit]

Brindley's British Library has long been the conservator of historic print collections and regarded as a place of quiet study; but with the explosion of the internet and electronic publishing, users are increasingly turning their backs on libraries as a physical space, using them as virtual, digital environments instead. In this context, the British Library's role in warehousing large book collections is at risk.[11]


Brindley accords special priority to the needs of researchers and believes that libraries should also play a key role in helping to teach information literacy skills. In this context, Brindley observed:

"[That t]he younger generation is technologically more literate but not more information literate is a challenge that must be tackled by libraries and education more widely. Students who simply want to use Google and take what it says as gospel do a real disservice to the skills people will increasingly need to survive in the digital economy. Libraries add a degree of sophistication, support and richness of content, all of which will encourage creativity, quality research and participation of the citizen in the global digital world that we are in."[11]

Academic awards[edit]

Brindley has received honorary degrees of D.Litt. from the University of Leicester on 11 July 2002, the University of Reading in 2004 and the University of Leeds on 14 July 2006.[12][13][14] In April 2006 she was awarded an honorary degree from the Open University as Doctor of the University for "Public services and exceptional contribution to the educational or cultural well-being of society".[15]

A full list follows:

  • UCL – Hon. Fellow 2002
  • Nottingham Trent – Hon. D.Litt. 2001
  • Oxford – Hon. D.Litt. 2002
  • Leicester – Hon. D.Litt. 2002
  • London Guildhall – Hon. D.Litt. 2002
  • Reading – 2004
  • Sheffield – 2004
  • City – Hon. D.Sc. 2005
  • Leeds – Hon. D.Litt. 2006
  • Open University – Hon. D.Litt. 2006
  • University of Wales, Aberystwyth – Hon. Fellow 2007
  • Aston University – Hon. D.Litt. 2008
  • University of Manchester – Hon. D.Litt. 2011


She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA). She was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2008 New Year's Honours List for services to education.[16] On 16 July 2015, she was elected an honorary fellow of the British Academy (FBA).[17] In 2009 she won the Miles Conrad Award.[18]


  1. ^ "Dame Lynne Brindley, DBE". Debrett's. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  2. ^ "Profile". The Times. London, UK. 2 July 2009. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
  3. ^ "An Update on The Digital Preservation Coalition". Retrieved 14 September 2023.
  4. ^ "Dame Lynne Brindley DBE". Archived from the original on 5 October 2015. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  5. ^ Swain, Harriet, ed. (11 February 2000). "Lynne Brindley". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 13 March 2008.
  6. ^ "Dame Lynne Brindley to step down as British Library chief executive". Information World Review. 17 November 2011. Archived from the original on 29 November 2011. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
  7. ^ "Farewell to Dame Lynne Brindley". Pembroke College Oxford. 30 June 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ Lewis, Sam (26 May 2021). "Goldsmiths' Company elects second ever female prime warden". Professional Jeweller. Retrieved 14 December 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ Starkey, Jerome; Gray, Sadie (21 January 2007). "Could this be the final chapter in the life of the book". The Times. London, UK.
  10. ^ "British Library predicts 'switch to digital by 2020'". British Library. 29 June 2005.
  11. ^ a b Gilbert, Natasha (15 January 2008). "Intellectual literacy hour; A new report says libraries will have to change what they do or risk becoming redundant". The Guardian. London, UK.
  12. ^ University of Leicester. "Honorary Graduate's Speech: Ms Lynne Brindley, Doctor of Letters". E-bulletin. Retrieved 13 March 2008.
  13. ^ University of Reading. "Honorary graduates of the University". Retrieved 13 March 2008.
  14. ^ University of Leeds. "Honorary graduates". Archived from the original on 27 February 2008. Retrieved 13 March 2008.
  15. ^ "Graduation 2006: London Region". Open University. Retrieved 25 June 2009.
  16. ^ "British Library's Chief Executive made a Dame in New Year Honours". British Library. 2 January 2008..
  17. ^ "British Academy Fellowship reaches 1,000 as 42 new UK Fellows are welcomed". British Academy. 16 July 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  18. ^ "Miles Conrad Award and Lectures | NISO website".


External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by Master of Pembroke College, Oxford
Succeeded by