Cyril Barnard Memorial Prize

HLG Nursing Bulletin Vol 37 (2)

Medical librarianship is a fairly small, niche specialty, with no great ceremonies to honour those that have done exceptional work, and have made great contributions to the field. But, there are awards made, and one that Health Libraries Group takes great pride in bestowing is the Cyril Barnard Memorial Prize.

Cyril Barnard (1894-1959) had, for many years, served as the librarian of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where he devised the Barnard system of classification, as well as being one of the founders, and first chair of, the Medical Section of the Library Association in 1947.(Poynter, 1959) Following his death in a road accident in 1959 (Thornton, 1984), it was suggested that an award be set up in his name to commemorate his life and work. Initial suggestions were that the award be presented annually, but it was eventually decided that it should be made every three years, with a fund to set up the cost of the award.(Hipkins, 1959) The formal announcement came in July 1960, stating that the first presentation, for ‘outstanding contribution to medical librarianship’, would be in 1962.(Thornton, 1984)

The first recipient of the award was William J. Bishop in 1962. This was awarded posthumously following his death in 1961.(Brodman, 1961) The award was presented at that year’s annual Medical Section Dinner in the form of an engraved silver salver.(Thornton, 1984) The tradition of making the presentation at a formal dinner continued until 1977, which was also the final year that a salver was presented.(Thornton, 1984)

The prize continues to be awarded, with the most recent recipient being Anne Brice from Public Health England in 2014.(Brice & Grant, 2014)

1962William J. Bishop
1965Frank Rogers
1968Brian Armitage
1971Leslie Morton
1974William R. LeFanu
1977John Thornton
1980Roy Tabor
1983Anthony J. Harley
1986Shane Godbolt
1989Michael Carmel
1993Derek Law
1996Margaret Haines
1999Judith Palmer
2002Bob Gann
2005Jean Shaw
2008Margaret Forrest
2011Andrew Booth
2014Anne Brice
Table 1: Recipients of the Cyril Barnard Memorial Prize
Figure 3: Anne Brice is presented with the 2014 Cyril Barnard prize by David Stewart

However, no award was made in 2017, as the Health Libraries Group, the current successor to the Medical Section, has decided to amend the period between awards from three to two years, allowing the presentation to coincide with the biannual Health Libraries Group conference. To that end, the HLG Committee is inviting nominations for the 2018 Cyril Barnard Memorial Prize. Nominations can be made using the online nominations form, and should be received by 30th April 2018.


Brice, A. & Grant, M. J. (2014) What’s in a name: putting the skills of librarianship back into circulation. Health Information & Libraries Journal. 31 (3), 173-175. Available from: Available from: doi: 10.1111/hir.12080.

Brodman, E. (1961) William J. Bishop, 1903-1961. Bulletin of the Medical Library Association. 49 (4), 666-667. Available from:

Glanville, V. G. & Stuart, R. (1959) Cyril Barnard. Library Association Record. 61 108.

Hipkins, G. J. (1959) Cyril Barnard Memorial Prize. Bmj. 1 (5134), 1414. Available from:

Poynter, F. N. L. (1959) CYRIL BARNARD 1894-1959. Bulletin of the Medical Library Association. 47 (3), 361-362. Available from:

Thornton, J. L. (1984) The Cyril Barnard Memorial Prize and Essay: a brief history. Health Libraries Review. 1 (2), 96-98. Available from: Available from: doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2532.1984.120096.x.

Thornton, J. L. (1966) Chapter 49 – Cyril C. Barnard. In: Anonymous Selected Readings in the History of Librarianship. 2nd edition. , Library Association. pp. 379-384.

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