How the Joint Library Was Created

On April 11, 1910, the Trustees of Andover Theological School and the President and Fellows of College signed an agreement to combine “the resources of instruction,” specifically the libraries of the two institutions. The consolidated library was to be administered by a Library Council, made up of faculty from both institutions. The specific duties of the Council were to decide what percentage of the library’s budget was to be spent for books from the various departments of the schools, what percentage should be spent on periodicals, and what percentage should be spent on “extraordinary purchases.” The mission of the Council was “to secure the symmetrical development of the Library as a whole.”

The first meeting of the Council was held November 20, 1910. Professor John Winthrop Platner was elected chair, and Professor William Rosenzweig Arnold was elected a. The second order of business was the appointment of a Librarian, and William Wallace Fenn, the Dean of Harvard Divinity School nominated Owen Gates.

Owen Hamilton Gates was born on October 18, 1862, in Tinmouth, Vermont, where his father, Matthew Alonzo Gates (1826-1901), was a Congregational minister. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1883, and delivered the English Oration and Valedictory Address, “The Transient and Permanent in Modern Thought.” The next year he studied in Leipzig. He was elected a tutor of Latin (1884-85) at Dartmouth, where he continued his studies and received an AM and a PhD promerits in 1887. He then studied at Union Theological Seminary in New York, graduating in 1889. From 1889-91, he was a Union fellow at the University of Berlin. He was appointed Instructor in Hebrew at Union in 1891-92 and Professor of Old Testament Language and Literature at Oberlin from 1892 to 1899. In 1902, he was appointed Instructor in Sacred Literature at Andover Theological Seminary (a title he kept until 1908) and the next year also became Assistant Librarian, in charge of beginning the reclassification of the collection. When William Ladd Ropes retired as Librarian in 1905, Gates was appointed Librarian.

Platner was asked to contact Gates before transmitting the Council’s recommendation to the governing boards. On November 25, the Council met again, and Platner reported that Gates had agreed pending information on the salary. On November 30, the Council recommended a salary of $2500 per year and to send their recommendations to the governing boards. By the next meeting on December 22, it appears that Gates’ appointment was approved, although the Council did not set the starting date (July 15, 1911) until January 20, 1911.

Extending library privileges to Radcliffe
Annual reports of the President and Treasurer of Radcliffe College, 1911/12

Andover Hall and Andover-Harvard Theological Library opened its doors in the fall of 1911. One of the first acts of the Council (Oct. 31, 1911) was its vote “that the freedom of the Library be extended to the instructors and students of the Episcopal Theological School, of the New Church Theological School, and of Radcliffe College.” Extending privileges to the first two schools foreshadows the later extension of mutual privileges through the Boston Theological Institute. The “freedom” given to Radcliffe was without parallel at Harvard for many years to come, although it would be over 40 more years before Harvard Divinity School would admit women as degree candidates.

The Council's minutes and their letters of instructions to Gates sheds light on the life and growth of the library.

The budget for 1911-12 was $2000. Selection in each subject area was assigned to one or two faculty members. The total budget remained the same at least until 1919-20.

 

Andover

Harvard

 Old Testament

$ 200.00 

$ 100.00 

 New Testament

$ 150.00 

$ 150.00 

 Church History

$ 200.00 

$ 100.00 

 History of Religions

$       .00 

$ 200.00 

 Theology, Philosophy & Ethics

$ 100.00 

$ 100.00 

 Practical Theology & Homiletics

$ 100.00 

$ 100.00 

 Periodicals, Bibliographies, Reference,
 Special Purchases, Binding

$ 250.00 

$ 250.00 

Total  

$1000.00 

$1000.00 

 

The Council seemed to enjoy their role in selecting periodicals and reference books. They also determined the privileges of various types of patrons—stack passes were given to only a few. They set the hours of opening and closing. Any extraordinary supplies or expenses were approved by them—an additional typewriter and a desk lamp for the Librarian (Dec. 10, 1911); high-efficiency Mazda electric light bulbs for the work tables in the stacks (Dec. 11, 1915); lowering the temperature in the stacks to 50 degrees because of the scarcity of fuel during World War I (Dec. 11, 1917). They struggled with their fellow faculty members’ inability to follow simple procedures for designating books for the “reserved list” (Jan. 16 & 23, 1915).

They also authorized Gates to hire other library staff, although they set the terms of employment and the salaries. There were usually two “assistants—Helen Haff (“Miss Haff”), who worked from 1911-19, and “Miss Ewing,” who only worked one year, were the first two. Other names mentioned are “Miss Jones,” “Miss Pressy,” Ruth Cummings, and Dorothy Leach. From 1912 to 1916, Fred White, the “shelf-man,” was jointly employed by Andover Harvard and the College Library. At various times “clerks” and student workers are also mentioned.

In addition to managing the library’s operations, Gates assigned the classification for all books. He was in charge of continuing the reclassification he began at Andover and of reclassifying all the Harvard books. This was probably finished in 1915.

Although the relationship between the Council and Gates was usually cordial, there are occasional signs of tension. In 1913 (Apr. 9), they requested him to defer the binding of periodicals to the end of the academic year. In 1917, they denied his request to work part-time in the College Library and to give him a raise (Mar. 8, 1917) as well as his request to prepare a catalog of Hebrew books (because Professors G.F. Moore and Wolfson need to examine them first). Gates did, apparently, feel that his knowledge was not always respected by the faculties. Secretary Arnold tried to re-assure him that that was not the Council’s opinion (Jan. 15, 1915):

For the rest, I don’t understand what you mean by the repetition of criticism passed on you for interfering in such matters. I have never heard of any criticism passed on you for suggesting desirable purchases. Of course, no one but the professor concerned can actually order books against a departmental appropriation; but it is open to any well-disposed person to suggest, or even to request, that a certain book be ordered. The professors are very glad to have desirable purchases brought to their attention, particularly by the librarian. I am sure that is the common attitude. Certainly it is mine.


Adapted from: Wunderlich, Clifford S. "100 Years Young: Theological Librarianship at the Andover-Harvard Theological Library:  Owen Hamilton Gates, 1911-1936: Theological Librarian as Faculty Clerk." American Theological Library Association Summary of Proceedings 66, (2012, 2012): 82.