Howard Drake held the joint post of IALS Secretary and Librarian from 1st October 1947 until his sudden death from a heart attack on 20th November 1967.
He was born in 1915, read history at Cambridge and was later called to the Bar. He worked in Cambridge University Library for five years and was later Deputy Librarian at the Royal Empire Society Library before its bombing and partial demolition during the Second World War.
Howard Drake was the key figure in the establishment and development of IALS during its first twenty years. He set up the administration and organised the Institute's first research activities, but "he will be best remembered for his principal achievement which was the creation of the leading law research library in the United Kingdom".1 His lasting achievement was to help place "the Institute at the centre of legal education in the UK".2
Howard was a dynamic and legendary figure in British law librarianship who "had a gift for human relations, established contacts with law librarians, other lawyers and relevant institutions world-wide, and was consulted by many librarians and library authorities in this country and abroad".3
These numerous contacts enabled him to help fill significant gaps in the collections and to set up many exchanges of foreign legal publications which were of enormous benefit to IALS. His hand-written notes on the back files of many of these serial subscriptions testify to his capacity for hard work, attention to detail and continuing concern with the day-to-day running of the new library.
Howard Drake also used these extensive professional contacts to help establish the British Association of Law Librarians (BIALL), although the Association was only formally established after his death.
He was one of the first UK law librarians to establish close links with the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) and was the first General Editor of the Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals. He was also a founding member and the first Vice President of the International Association of Law Libraries (IALL) and was its President at the time of his death.
He was also Honorary Assistant Secretary of the Society of Public Teachers of Law from 1950 to 1960 and Honorary Secretary of the Seldon Society from 1950 to shortly before his death.
After his death a public appeal led to the creation of the Howard Drake Memorial Fund which had the object to encourage collaboration and exchanges between legal scholars and law librarians and especially between those of different countries.