by Jules Winterton, BAILII Chief Executive Officer

I heard of Betty Moys as a leading figure and one of the founders of the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians (BIALL) when I first joined the Association and in due course I learned of her many achievements in the profession. She was Vice-President of BIALL between 1987 and 1990 and President from 1990 to 1993 and I remember her presiding at annual conferences of the Association, already a legendary figure in the profession. She contributed greatly to BIALL and to the Society of Indexers, editing the cornerstones of the profession of law librarianship: The Law Librarian, the journal of BIALL, and two editions of the Manual of Law Librarianship. Her lasting achievement was her classification for legal materials, originally published by Butterworths in 1968.i In her will Betty bequeathed the copyright and royalties to the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians (BIALL) so that the work might be continued. It is now in its 5th edition ii maintained by a dedicated editorial board and user group. The scheme continues to be used in several countries. Her successful career as a law librarian, indexer, and university librarian is well documented in various places, not least in the obituaries which appeared after her death in 2002 where reminiscences and testimonials from many colleagues in the UK and overseas appeared. iii

Photograph of the Wheatley Medal

The Wheatly Medal

The archives containing her papers relating to law librarianship were left to BIALL and deposited by them at IALS. The online notes accompanying these archives contain useful biographical details of her career, her work for associations, and the various honours awarded to her. iv The archives contain two rather impressive medals: the Wheatley Medal and her MBE. The Wheatley Medal from the Society of Indexers was awarded to Betty in 1991 for her index to the British Tax Encyclopedia and her index to Archbold’s Criminal Practice earned her a further nomination for the Medal. Some years later, as Barbara Tearle recorded in her insightful obituary, “Betty’s outstanding career was fittingly recognised by the award of the MBE for services to classification and indexing in the Birthday Honours List of 2000”, which came as a great surprise to Betty who was endearingly modest about her achievements. v

MBE awarded to Betty Moys, bequeathed to the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies

Betty’s career included a close association with the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) where I spent much of my career. Betty had been in effect deputy to Howard Drake, the first IALS Librarian, serving from 1952 to 1959 before she left to work in west Africa. Her initial ideas towards the Moys Classification which she developed while in Ghana and then Nigeria are evident from the in-house classification at IALS. She was Librarian at the University of Lagos before returning to work at the University of Glasgow and then served as Librarian of Goldsmiths College, University of London for over 20 years. Although we never spoke of it, I felt some affinity and admiration for her apart from out link through IALS, as I had spent a little time in Nigeria and Ghana, both countries which have established institutes of advanced legal studies with the support of the London IALS.

I recall visiting her at her house in the village of Badgers Mount in Kent, perhaps in 1994, to discuss the project of editing a new edition of Information Sources in Law vi and the proposal we would put to Bowker-Saur. There was a tree-lined lane and a lovely garden, and a proper cup of tea. I was intrigued by the name of the house, Hengist, but I never asked whether it was Betty’s choice. The conversation was focussed, vigorous and to the point and we covered a lot of ground, making decisions on the scope of the book and the way of working that held good throughout the project. The structure was so sound that it was later adopted by online compendiums of guides to the legal literature of many more jurisdictions than the European jurisdictions numbering about 40 which we tackled. We worked together for at least two years on the project and after publication in 1997 we shared BIALLS’s Wallace Breem Award for the book in 1998. The project was very fulfilling and I developed an affection for Betty’s energy, professional dedication, and decisiveness. It was a privilege to work with her.

Jules Winterton  is BAILII (British and Irish Legal Information Institute) Chief Executive Officer and former Director and Librarian of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies
‘History of a Classification Scheme’, The Law Librarian 23(2), June 1992, 96-98

iiElizabeth M. Moys (2012), Moys Classification and Thesaurus for Legal Materials, 5th revised and expanded edition by Diana Morris in conjunction with a team of contributing editors. De Gruyter Saur. ISBN 3110254530

iiiTearle, Barbara (2002), ‘In memoriam Elizabeth Mary Moys 1928 to 2002’, Legal Information Management, 2(1), 4-7; Tearle, Barbara (2002), ‘In memoriam Betty Moys’, Australian Law Librarian, 10(1), 68-76; Tearle, Barbara (2002), ‘Elizabeth Mary Moys’, Law Library Journal, 94(3), 547-552


vTearle, Barbara (2002), ‘In memoriam Elizabeth Mary Moys 1928 to 2002’, Legal Information Management, 2(1), 4-7 at p.6

vi Moys, E. M. & Winterton, J. (editors), Information Sources in Law, 2nd Edition. Bowker-Saur, 1997. ISBN 857390415.