Archibald William McClellan was a librarian, author and lecturer. One of the outstanding librarians of his time, he made a lasting contribution to his chosen profession by applying modern management techniques to libraries and by advocating an innovative and experimental approach to library organisation.
McClellan was born in London on 29 May 1908. He went to school in Tottenham and his first job was as a junior assistant in the old Tottenham Library. After working in libraries in Poplar, Penge and Chelmsford, McClellan returned to Tottenham to be appointed Director of Libraries and Museums for the borough in 1945. He remained at Tottenham until 1965, at which point he retired from the library and accepted a research position at the College of Librarianship Wales in Aberystwyth, where he remained until formal retirement in 1975. Following retirement McClellan moved to Trowbridge, Wiltshire with his wife Phyllis.
Research was an important aspect of McClellan's life and career, and this was revealed through the systems he promoted and implemented throughout his professional life. In 1947, with the assistance of Mass Observation, McClellan undertook a full-scale survey of reading at Tottenham Library. It was the first such survey to be conducted, the results determining future development of the library service. In the 1950's he introduced the concept of 'Service-in-Depth' at Tottenham Library, which promoted public accessibility to the library and its staff. He was also instrumental in putting into operation the first mobile library to service an urban library authority's schools. McClellan was also actively involved in many organisations and for many years served as a committee member of the London and Home Counties Branch of the Library Association. In 1973 he was elected a Fellow of the Library Association in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the literature of librarianship.
McClellan's interest in reading, literacy and public service was reflected in the many papers he wrote on these subjects and also in his book The Reader, the Library and the Book (London: Bingley) which was published in 1973. However, McClellan's main area of interest concentrated on specific aspects of library management, in particular systematic book provision and stock revision methods. In the course of pursuing his interest in these areas he produced a substantial body of written work, including papers and lectures, which were eventually published in The Logistics of a Public Library Bookstock (Harrogate: Association of Assistant Librarians) in 1978.
'Mac', as he was known to family, friends and colleagues, died on 7 February 1985 in Trowbridge.