Anthony Thompson Papers

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 982 ATHOMP
  • Dates of Creation
      19th Century, 1940s-1979
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
      English, Russian, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, German.
  • Physical Description
      0.25 cubic metres

Scope and Content

The archive contains a small amount of personal papers including newspaper cuttings and papers relating to World War II (in Norwegian, English, Swedish and German), Italian postcards, and Russian stamps and correspondence. The majority of the archive relates to Thompson's professional interests and comprises papers produced by the committees and organisations in which he was involved (including agendas and minutes of meetings), and papers produced during his career (including lecture notes, course syllabuses and handouts). The archive also contains research material gathered by Thompson for his publications (including notes on aspects of information and documentation classification and terminology), and also material relating to library architecture (in the form of cuttings of articles, reviews, a large number of photographs, and plans of libraries and their equipment).

Administrative / Biographical History

Anthony Thompson was born in Edenbridge, Kent in 1911. He was educated at Bedales School, Kent and Magdalene College, Cambridge where he graduated in Modern Languages (French and German) and an Advanced Diploma in Russian. Thompson worked as a cataloguer in the Department of Printed Books at the British Museum (1935-1936) and at the University of Cape Town (1937-1944) before leaving to serve in World War II. On his return to the UK, Thompson worked as the Librarian at: Edinburgh College of Art (1947-1948); the Royal Institute of British Architects (1948-1953) and the Science Museum (1953-1959), before taking up the position of full-time Secretary for the International Federation of Library Associations. Thompson's job as Secretary involved moving to Munich to be close to the President in late 1961, but after the succession of a new President Thompson re-located the secretariat to his house in Seven Oaks, Kent (1962-1970).

Thompson's skills in languages and interest in library architecture and classification schemes led to much research in these areas and resulted in the publication of a number of works including: Vocabularium bibliothecari(Paris: UNESCO, 1953), which was subsequently translated into French, German, Russian and Spanish; List of subject headings on architecture and related subjects: as used in the Periodicals Subject Index of the Sir Banister Fletcher Library of the Royal Institute of British Architects(London: Royal Institute of British Architects, 1968), the material for which was compiled by Thompson whilst at the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1953 but not published until 1968, and Library buildings of Britain and Europe: an international study, with examples mainly from Britain and some from Europe and overseas, with contributions by specialists, which reflected Thompson's interest in library buildings.

After retiring from the International Federation of Library Associations, Thompson went to work at the College of Librarianship Wales, Aberystwyth as a research scholar and language specialist, where his work included translating library literature for the College's journal Selected Publications in European Languages(Aberystwyth: College of Librarianship, Wales). His language skills were also utilised in his translation from French into English of the Classification Scheme for the archives of the Commission of the European Communities(1973), and he edited a further book on library architecture entitled National library buildings: proceedings of the colloquium held in Rome, 3-6 September 1973(Pullach [Isartal]: Verlag Dokumentation) in 1975. Thompson's interest in the MEILLEUR project led to the publication, in 1977, of MEILLEUR, Mobility of Employment International, for Librarians in EURope: professional staff exchanges and secondments between libraries in Western Europe: a survey of opportunities and difficulties (London: Library Association). On retiring from the College of Librarianship Wales, Thompson worked on a bibliography of Russian literature published as Russia-USSR: a selective annotated bibliography of books in English(Oxford: Clio Press, 1979).

Thompson (who died in 1979) was a member of several library associations including ASLIB (The Association for Information Management), and The Great Britain-USSR Association, and since 1980 the organisation CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) has administered the Anthony Thompson Award which enables foreign librarians the chance to study British librarianship.

Access Information

The Data Protection Act 1998 applies to a small number of files in this archive and so access to these files may be restricted.The papers may be consulted through application by e-mail to: or by post to: Aberystwyth University, Archives, Information Services, Llandinam Building, Penglais, Aberystwyth, SY23 3DB. Tel: 01970 628593.


This archive is primarily in English although the Personal Papers (reference GB 982 ATHOMP/1) contain material in Russian, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish and German.

This archive is held at the Thomas Parry Library, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth.

Description compiled by the students on the MScEcon in Archive Administration course, 2002-2003, at the Department of Information and Library Studies, University of Wales Aberystwyth and the ALARC Project Archivist, with reference to: Library Association Record, number 81 (1979) and number 82 (1980), and Who's Who in Librarianship and Information Scienceby E T Landau (Ed.) (London: Abelard-Schuman Ltd., 1972).

Other Finding Aids

Basic finding aid available on request from Archives staff.