Thursday, July 14, 2005

Thirty years ago

Where were you thirty years ago? I know exactly where I was.

July 15, 1975 was the day my father died. He was 48. I was taking the "Foundations of Librarianship" course, my first course, at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. The course was taught by a school librarian from Urbana (whose name is lost in the mists of my mind), library historian Michael Harris, and the head of cataloging at the British National Bibliography, Michael Gorman. Yes, that Michael Gorman. All three were very supportive as I made the arrangements to return home for several days for the funeral. My father's death was not unexpected. It was the end of a year-long struggle with cancer. But it is still a traumatic event. There have been many times of the past 30 years when I wished I could have had his advice, or shared a moment with him. [My mother is still alive and in good health. She turns 80 in the fall.]

It was also the day the Donald Hornig announced his resignation as the President of Brown University. He is the President who signed my diploma. He may have been a good chemist, and maybe even a good teacher. My assessment (then and now) is that he was not a particularly good administrator. He was a University President at a very difficult time, he became President in 1970 just after the campus unrest and Kent State shootings. While he presided over the establishment of Brown's Medical School, he also was president for the first strike of Brown University staff -- the support staff in the libraries. I served as a representative to the University Library Committee. I vividly remember one meeting which he attended to answer questions. He looked ill, and was extremely nervous. I actually felt sorry for him, he seemed so out of place.

So.....a little history for today's date.

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