Evan Farber 1922-2009

My sister is an Earlham college graduate and she passed along the sad news of Evan Farber’s death. The college has written a lovely obit for him and a memorial page where people can share their own memories of him which many people have. I’ve been enjoying reading them and curious to learn more about some of the stories…. “who of my EC generation can forget that picture of Evan leaning back in a chair up against the newly installed electronic security system with a machine gun across his lap.”

Evan’s leadership in college librarianship ran counter to the conventional wisdom of the time and he spoke, consulted and wrote prolifically to counter those accepted ideas. Perhaps his most famous thesis, that “the library is not the heart of the college, the teaching-learning process is,” not only rankled his peers, but also caused them to rethink their professional roles and the services offered by their libraries. In debunking such conventional wisdom, Evan illuminated the real importance of the college library and articulated ideas that today have become central tenants of modern librarianship: the meaningful value of a college library is the degree to which it helps students learn and faculty teach. College librarians’ most important responsibility is to work closely with the teaching faculty to educate students about how to use information resources as a key part of their education. This is the legacy he leaves and the challenge he places before present and future librarians.

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