Richard Landon, 1942-2011
It is with deep sadness that we announce that the Fisher Library has lost its guiding spirit. Richard Landon, the Fisher's long-time Director, died peacefully on Wednesday 5 October.
In 1967 when Richard joined the department, initially as a rare book cataloguer, the collection was estimated to be some 40,000 volumes, plus a small collection of papers. Today, largely under his leadership, the Fisher houses over 700,000 volumes, with an additional 3,600 linear metres of archival material. His dedication in building the Fisher into one of the world's greatest rare book libraries is a legacy that will endure for generations to come.
With the exception of a brief hiatus when he pursued a graduate degree in Bibliography at Leeds University, Richard spent his entire career at the University of Toronto, progressing from cataloguer to Director of the Fisher Library. He built research collections of books and manuscripts in all areas of academic interest over the whole period of recorded history, thereby supporting the twin pillars of the university – research and teaching. He did this by purchase – reading antiquarian booksellers’ catalogues, visiting bookshops, and attending book fairs in search of books and manuscripts – and by gift, encouraging private collectors to donate their libraries. Richard also developed a close relationship with a wide range of Canadian authors, ensuring the preservation of their manuscripts.
Richard lectured and published widely primarily on book history and bibliography. He taught courses in Bibliography, Book History, and Rare Books and Manuscripts at the University of Toronto and had been a Visiting Professor at Columbia and the University of Virginia. He was a mentor and inspirational influence to generations of students, many of which have gone on to distinguished careers in the area of rare book librarianship.
Richard will be missed by all of his colleagues here at the Fisher Library, and by a wide community of students, scholars, book lovers, friends and family.
A memorial will be held for Richard on Tuesday November 15, at 5:15 p.m., at the Knox College Chapel. Donations in his memory may be made to the Friends of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library (120 St. George Street, Toronto, ON M5S 1A5).
At last week's Friends of the Fisher Seltzer Lecture, Katharine Kyes Leab paid tribute to her friend Richard when she spoke of the "House that Richard Built." You can listen to it by clicking here or on the sound icon above.
To listen to an interview Richard did in 2009 with Nigel Beale of the web site Literary Tourist, please visit this site.