Library

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Chronology

1930s1940s1950s1960s1970s1980s1990s2000s


— 1938 March 7 —

President Stanley King 1903 memo to Newton F. McKeon 1926, then Assistant Director of the Library, showing interest in forming a Friends group. McKeon annotations indicate fear of "interference" and "useless material," and a preference for individual versus organized help.

— Prior to 1939 —

Robert S. Fletcher 1897 (Librarian 1911-1939) undated letter to "a considerable number of Amherst men" proposing formation of a Friends group and asking who would join.

 — 1939-1970

Newton F. McKeon 1926, Director of the Library.

— 1941 February 2 & September 15

Newton F. McKeon 1926 memos to President King 1903 seeking approval of formation of an Alumni Visiting Committee to the Library as a precursor to eventual formation of a Friends group.

— 1955

Alumni Visiting Committee recommends formation of a Friends group.

— 1968 March 20 —

Newton F. McKeon 1926 letter of invitation to a meeting to organize a Friends group.

— 1968 April 27 —

Initial meeting, at which an Executive Committee is named and a constitution is adopted. The Founders: William B. Stitt 1918, Chairman; Richard S. Zeisler 1937, Vice Chairman; Newton F. McKeon 1926, Secretary and ex officio member; Howard J. Burnett 1952; Donald B. Engley 1939; Paul C. French 1926; Jack W.C. Hagstrom 1955; Rowland V. Patrick 1929.

— 1968-1969 —

William B. Stitt 1918, first Chairman (died in automobile accident in May 1969).

— 1968 December 19 —

First annual membership solicitation.

— 1969 —

Gifts-in-kind are received, ranging over the years from single manuscripts and volumes to whole collections. The first Life Memberships are awarded and the Student Book Collecting Competition is established. A Friends tradition of funding Special Collections and Reference materials begins.

— 1969-1973

Richard S. Zeisler 1937, second Chairman.

— 1970 —

The first publication of the Friends ("Myfanwy Thomas Remembers Robert Frost"). Richard Wilbur 1942 reading in Johnson Chapel is the first of many readings, addresses, and other events sponsored by the Friends over the years. The first Honorary Memberships are awarded and the Newsletter of the Friends of the Amherst College Library begins.

— 1970-1974 —

Richard J. Cody H1968, Librarian of the College.

— 1970-1975 —

Charles T. Laugher, Directory of the Library and Secretary of the Friends.

— 1971 —

The M. Abbott Van Nostrand 1934 Prize for Excellence in Book Collecting is first awarded.

— 1971-1997 —

Richard J. Cody H1968, Editor of the Newsletter.

— 1972 —

The Robert Frost Library Fellowship begins, bringing to the campus every other year for a week an eminent scholar or writer.
Charles Carrington, first Robert Frost Library Fellow.

— 1973-1990 —

Jack W.C. Hagstrom 1955, third Chairman.

— 1974 —

An "outreach" program of notices and letters to various groups and classes begins, aimed at increasing membership, gifts, and gifts-in-kind.

— 1975 —

An Amherst College Library Handbook is funded.

— 1975-2004 —

Willis E. Bridegam H1985, Librarian of the College and Secretary of the Friends.

— 1978

The constitution is revised to enlarge the Council from 15 to 18 members. An allocation of $500 for improved organization of the College Archives is one of the Friends' first "start-ups" or "seed" projects.

— 1985 —

An allocation of $1,000 is made toward better organization and preservation of archival photographs.

— 1987 —

Support is allocated for a project to put handwritten indexes to manuscript collections in machine-readable form.

— 1990

Allocations are made to Technical Services for reformatting important books beyond repair, and for preservation equipment.

— 1990-2005 —

Samuel B. Ellenport 1965, fourth Chairman.

— 1992 —

The Student Advisory Committee is formed; Council member Professor Ute Brandes H1993 serves as liaison.

— 1992-1995 —

Alan W. Powers 1966, Co-editor of the Newsletter.

— 1993 —

The Student Advisory Committee sponsors its first annual panel discussion for juniors and sophomores interested in planning and writing a thesis. Panelists include seniors writing theses, the Head of Reference and Online Services, the Head of Archives and Special Collections, and the Director of the Writing Center. An imaging project, funded by an anonymous donor, begins to digitize slides and prints for access on the campus network.

— 1994 —

The Amherst College Library Depository opens in the former U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command's bunker in the Holyoke Range. The first welcoming party is held in Frost Library for incoming first-year students.

— 1995 —

The Friends of Amherst College Library Twenty-Fifth Anniversary 1968-1993 is published, summarizing the group's history and activities to date. Renovations of the Robert Frost Llibrary and the Merrill Science Library are completed, with a rededication ceremony on October 28. Special funds are provided anonymously to support library staff travel to professional meetings. A first group of bookmarks is published, featuring titles recommended by faculty, administration, and staff (a Student Advisory Committee project). M. Abbott Van Nostrand 1934, interviewed by Professor Michael Birtwistle H1985, is the first subject in an on-going project to interview on videotape members of the Amherst community whose involvement with the College has been longstanding and whose reminiscences seem likely to be of historical significance.

— 1996 —

An allocation of $10,000 from an anonymous gift funds a project to preserve, arrange, describe, and catalog the papers and publications of President Edward and Orra White Hitchcock, as well as the Edward 1849 and Mary Judson Hitchcock Family Papers. The Amherst College Undergraduate Folger Fellowships, sponsored in part by the Friends, are first made available to support students' research for two weeks in January at the Folger Shakespeare Library. The first Friends New Year's greeting cards are distributed to the members of the Friends.

— 1997 —

An anonymous gift of $30,000 is received to provide staff support and materials needed to process and provide access to manuscript and archival materials in the Archives and Special Collections. The Science Library in Merrill Science Center is named for Harry V. Keefe, Jr. 1943, for his gift to the College in memory of his college classmate and friend, Bruce B. Benson 1943, Professor of Physics, 1947-1990. A five-year series of presentations, held during reunion weekend, features "Hidden Treasures of Amherst." The series is conceived of by Council member M. Barnes Taft 1957. The Friends are represented on the Library's web site.

— 1997-2007 —

John Lancaster, Editor of the Newsletter.

— 1998 —

Enlarged reproductions of historical Amherst photographs and posters provide permanent exhibitions on walls of Frost Library, Keefe Science Library, and Morgan Music Library. The Center for Russian Culture is moved to the newly renovated Webster Hall. Dedication October 17.

— 1999 —

The Student Book Collecting Competition is renamed "The Frederick S. Lane 1936 Student Book Collecting Competition." The Five College libraries seek grant funding for a joint off-site storage depository in the former U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command's bunker in the Holyoke Range.

— 2000

The Barbara and Frederick S. Lane 1936 Room, devoted primarily to instruction in the use of Library resources in both digital and print formats, is dedicated on January 28. The "Care and Preserve" program is begun to better serve ongoing conservation needs of the Library. Friends can "adopt" a particular fragile item or contribute to a general fund. An occasional series is begun of talks by outside scholars who have used the Library's resources for their research.

— 2001 —

A project is undertaken to process 2,000 field photographs of Yoruba art given by Professor John Pemberton H1967 and make them accessible on the campus network.

— 2002 —

The Five College Library Depository opens in the former U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command's bunker in the Holyoke Range.

— 2003 April 27 —

35th Anniversary of the founding of the Friends of the Amherst College Library.

— 2004 —

Sherre L. Harrington, Librarian of the College and Secretary of the Friends.

— 2005-2007 —

John Peterson 1971, fifth Chairman.

— 2007 —

Michael Israels 1971, sixth Chairman.

— 2010 —

Bryn Geffert, Librarian of the College and Secretary of the Friends.