Jill Lever obituary

By Alan Powers

Architectural librarian and curator of drawings who changed the way that architecture was studied and interpreted in Britain and internationally

The architectural librarian and curator Jill Lever, who has died aged 82, wrote in the final volume of the printed catalogue of the Drawings Collection of the Royal Institute of British Architects that if the publisher or cataloguers had known the immensity of the task, it would never have been started. Although cataloguing drawings may not seem a heroic activity, Lever's innovative methods of description, high standards and persistence made it one. Through the series of printed catalogues that she wrote or edited, the entire drawings collection of the RIBA at the time was brought to wide attention, changing the way that architecture was studied and interpreted in Britain and internationally.

Before the 1940s, the institute had set little store by what the librarian James Palmes called its “haphazard accumulation of interesting and in some instances extremely valuable” drawings. Lever joined the RIBA library in the early 60s alongside John Harris, who had become the first curator of drawings in 1960.

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