Old Xaverians’ Association

Home The Association Events Photo Gallery Publications Alumni Photo Archive Contact Us

Dr Frank Gibbons 1931 - 2012 (43 - 48)

Frank was born in Liverpool in 1931. He was a gentle and cultured man and a loving husband and father. He became a professional librarian of international standing and of great learning. He had a quick wit and a great sense of humour and was admired and respected by his very wide circle of friends who will miss him greatly.

Frank attended SFX college in Salisbury St from ‘43 to ‘48. On leaving college he worked for the Liverpool Public Libraries and began his studies for the Library Association eventually becoming a Fellow of the Library Association.  Whilst working he gained his BA from London University, his MA from the University of Belfast and later his Ph.D. from the University of Strathclyde. His Ph.D. thesis  ‘The Pre-1850 Libraries of Liverpool... And Their Subsequent History’ gave him a deep sense of how the city had developed to become the second port of the Empire. His longstanding interest in religion continued to develop and during this period he also studied Theology with the Catholic Evidence Guild and became a noted public speaker for the Guild at the Hyde Park type open-air meetings in the city. He could handle a crowd and could respond to their questions and often their aggression with a combination of humour and learning.

At the beginning of his career he worked in Liverpool Public Libraries and it was here that he met his wife Ann, also a librarian, with whom he had two children, Janet and Alan. Here Frank progressed to become Head of LADSIRLAC, where he assisted personnel from industry with their scientific and technical enquiries.


In the 1960’s he became a Lecturer at the School of Librarianship at Liverpool Polytechnic, later to become The Liverpool John Moores University. During this period he worked in the Public Library Service in the North West Territories of Canada, improving library services to remote indigenous communities. In 1976 on a one year sabbatical from Liverpool Polytechnic, he lectured in Brisbane, Australia. Later he lectured on a number of occasions in summer schools at the University of Pittsburgh, Vanderbilt University, Tennessee and the University of Arizona, Tucson, USA. He was always warmly received in the USA as a Visiting Professor and his professional and social contacts there remained vibrant for the rest of his life.

His last lengthy period overseas was in the School of Librarianship, University  of  Gaborone, Botswana where he was Head of Department for two years.

Whenever possible Frank had his family living with him during these periods working abroad and was able to give them rich, mind broadening experiences in living in foreign environments. He was very proud of his Liverpool origins and when abroad was always a great ambassador for the city.  

On returning to the UK from Botswana Frank took up the post as Librarian in the Liverpool Community College with responsibility for a network of over thirty separate libraries. It was in this post that he finally retired in 1996 but continued to lecture for a number of years at the University of Arizona, Tucson, USA.

In 1993 Frank and a fellow classmate tried to re-assemble their original class of 1943 in SFX. They eventually traced over half of the class. A reunion was organised to meet in the Philharmonic Hotel in Liverpool and there was a joyful meeting of very old friends. Attendees included the British Ambassador to Prague (Lawrence O’Keefe) and the President of Williams College USA (Frank Oakley) This resulted in the formation of “the class of ‘43”.The  local members have continued to meet for monthly evenings, for lunches and for summer vacations in the Lakes and in London, Dublin, Barcelona and Madrid. Frank played a leading role in this our Second Spring, He was an enthusiastic supporter of the movement he had initiated and he arranged regular lunches for us and our wives at his club, The Liverpool Athenaeum.

Frank’s unexpected death from lung cancer through Malignant Melanoma has been a terrible blow to us all. His warmth, his knowledge and his wonderful personality are going to be very sadly missed.

Ann & Alan Gibbons and Denis Mannix