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Jean Inness, 1954-2021

Category: News

CILIPS were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Jean Inness, former Head of South Ayrshire Libraries and Chartered Member of CILIP. Jean was a key and popular member of Scotland’s public library community and all at CILIPS pass on our condolences to family, friends and former colleagues of Jean. Thank you to Gerry Bergin and all at South Ayrshire Libraries for sharing the following tribute to Jean’s life.

Obituary – Jean Inness, 29th July 1954 – 9th July 2021

Jean Evelyn Clunie was born in 1954 in the Glencoe area of Argyll. She attended Oban High School and the University of Edinburgh, where she gained an Honours degree in History. Jean spent a year working in the library of Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, and then gained a Diploma in Librarianship from Strathclyde University, Glasgow. In 1979 she was appointed Mobile Librarian with Kyle and Carrick District Council Libraries, tasked with setting up and developing a mobile library service. She accompanied the mobile library driver on his routes, and soon became a well-known face in the district’s outlying areas.

In 1980 Jean married Douglas Inness, a teacher. By the time that South Ayrshire Council took over responsibility for the public library service from Kyle and Carrick in 1996, she had become the supervisor in charge of branch libraries, introducing programmes of workshops, talks and exhibitions. Following the retirement of Charles Deas as Libraries and Museums Manager in 2006, Jean was appointed in his place. A self-confessed ‘madly enthusiastic librarian’, Jean was a passionate advocate for libraries and their role in society. She oversaw the introduction of Scotland’s first e-book lending service in July 2010 with a promotion campaign that gained national media coverage. The project was shortlisted for a COSLA Award and was later a winner at the local authority’s Outstanding People Awards. An Overdrive Award was also received. In 2011 South Ayrshire Libraries published their first e-audio book, and later that year became the first public library service in the world to publish an e-book. Both publications related to local history, another of her passions.

In 2011, Jean was invited to speak on e-services at the CILIPS (Chartered Institute of Information and Library Professionals Scotland) Spring Conference, the CILIPS Autumn Conference and the E-Book Unbound Conference. She contributed a chapter entitled ‘Embracing Change: How South Ayrshire Council Library Service became a world leader in Electronic Resource Management’ to the 2014 publication ‘Progressive Trends in Electronic Resource Management in Libraries’.

In recent years, Jean became involved in charity work and fundraising. In 2015 she became a chairperson of Pass It On Trust Uganda, a NGO based in Kampala. It supports two local primary schools in marginalised communities, supplying both library books and school supplies. Since 2016 it has also supported several mini-enterprises. Both schools now have regular reading sessions as part of the curriculum, and both have established pupil reading groups. Jean became a member of the board of directors of Voluntary Action South Ayrshire in 2017.

Jean retired in the summer of 2018. Among her last tasks before retiring was one she particularly enjoyed – organising the library service’s South Ayrshire History Fair. Her enthusiasm for Scottish and local history and genealogy ensured the long-running success of this annual event, attracting prominent speakers for a programme which came to be chaired by one of Scotland’s foremost historians, Professor Dauvit Broun of the University of Glasgow.

For more on Jean’s charity, Pass It On Trust Uganda, please see this guest blog post that Jean kindly shared with CILIPS in 2018. You can also find out ways to support the charity via their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Jean and Douglas

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