Rutgers University Office of University Librarian (Donald F. Cameron) Records
Scope and Content Note
The administrative records of Donald Cameron, University Librarian, range in date from 1925 to 1967. They are organized into six series: Annual Reports, Budget and Financial Records, General Correspondence, Subject files, Building files, and the Rutgers University Press and Press Council. Taken as a whole, the records contain reports, meeting minutes, and correspondence of a professional and, less often, personal nature.
The Annual Reports of the Librarian of the University relate the activities of the library as a whole, its departments, and its units and were issued for accountability purposes. A source for library statistics including volumes held and circulation, they run from the fiscal year 1943-44 to 1965-66 with some large gaps in the series. From 1949-50 onwards, in addition to the report itself, the files also contain reports from individual library departments (including circulation, reference, order and periodical, and cataloging) and library units (including the NJ College for Women and the report of the law librarian). Though there is almost always some of this supporting material included in each file, that material varies from year to year.
The Budget and Financial records include letters and memos on budgetary matters, budget sheets, salary rates, accountings of endowments, and financial statistics. In most cases, an itemized budget sheet is included. Like the Annual Report files, there is some inconsistency in the records saved from year to year. In general, records of the latter years (from 1951-52 onwards) are more full. There is also one gap; the fiscal year 1956-57 is not represented.
The General Correspondence series mainly consists of letters, the majority of which document the mundane matters of Cameron's everyday work. The subject matter is largely professional, a great number of letters being library gift acknowledgments and letters of reference. These letters are generally brief, with only one or two letters per recipient. They are arranged in alphabetical order by the name of the recipient and placed in file folders labeled A through Z. An attempt has been made to arrange the letters alphabetically by correspondent within each folder.
Arranged alphabetically by folder heading, the Subject Files contain meeting minutes, reports, and correspondence relating to a specific topic. Within the Subject Files is documentation of Cameron's leadership of the Rutgers Libraries, including correspondence with the librarians at the Management and Labor Relations Institute Library, the Newark College Library, the Physics Department Library, the College of Pharmacy Library and the Newark Law Library. Other folders within the Subject Files provide correspondence and minutes of meetings with the various library department heads within the University Library (first the Voorhees Library, later the Alexander Library). These folders contain meeting reminders, meeting minutes, memoranda and general correspondence with the heads of the cataloging department, the binding department, circulation, government documents, periodicals, reference, reserve, special collections and the order department. Each department of the University Library has a folder in which can be found monthly reports, documentation of day to day activities, yearly reports, statistics and correspondence with Cameron. There is extensive documentation of correspondence between the head of the catalog department, Mrs. Catherine Merritt, and Mr. Cameron. The Subject Files also include Cameron's correspondence with other Rutgers University faculty and staff, such as the registrar, Wherry E. Zing, professor of English William Lamont (who also appears to be a personal friend), and University President, Lewis W. Jones, as well as others.
Cameron visited many libraries after he was appointed librarian, and folders within the Subject Files titled with the name of the institution visited contain library publications he obtained on these visits, as well as his notes about the library. There is a folder containing general information on his library visits, including travel itineraries, receipts, notes and a map documenting all the libraries he visited. Consultations he provided to these and other libraries are also documented in the Subject Files series. Various collections acquired by Cameron during his administration are documented in the Subject Files, and can be found under the name of the collection.
This series provides many records of Cameron's involvement in professional associations and committees, as well as documentation of his involvement in organizations of personal interest to him. Cameron belonged to the New Jersey Library Association, Melville Dui Association, Proprietors of Eastern and West Jersey, New Jersey Historical Society, New Brunswick Historical Club, Library Advisory Board, Library Committee, and New Jersey Press Association, as well as others. Folders with these headings contain meeting announcements, meeting minutes, correspondence with other members, and invitations to special events. Cameron was also appointed to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (New Jersey chapter) in 1962, and two folders contain reports put out by the Commission from 1936 to 1976. Cameron was interested in the problems of migrant laborers in New Jersey, and these two folders provide excellent documentation on the Commission and Cameron's role within it.
Of particular interest is his friendship with Robert Kriendler, Rutgers alumnus, Friend of the Library, and "21 Club" owner. Kriendler was very active in the Rutgers community as an alumnus, and as a library donor. Two folders, entitled "Kriendler," contain personal correspondence, invitations for parties and special events, postcards, photos, lists of collections donated by Kriendler, biographical information on Robert Kriendler and his brother, and records of the class of 1936, to which Kriendler belonged and Cameron was an honorary member. These folders provide documentation of not only Kriendler's involvement with Cameron and Rutgers University, but of Kriendler's personal and professional activities, particularly the development of the 21 Club.
Some of the more notable subjects documented include the controversial publication of a graphic story of an abortion, titled Cumberland Street. Funded in part with public money, the Rutgers literary magazine Antho was under threat of being suspended for publishing the story. However, a committee appointed by the university president investigating the matter, headed by Cameron, recommended that the suspension be lifted and that steps be taken to regulate publications. The report of the committee, some correspondence on the matter, and the Antho issue in question are included in the file. Generally, the files may be characterized as follows: professional, both library business and involvement in Rutgers University committees; and personal, including membership in outside organizations like the American Library Association, the Grolier Club, and the Middle States Association.
The Library Buildings series documents the planning and construction of many Rutgers University libraries, which were overseen by Cameron. These folders contain construction plans, drawings, blueprints, construction contracts, and material orders for the Douglass Library, the College of South Jersey Library, Newark Dana library and the Newark Law Library. Of particular interest are the reports generated as to the various stages of the progress of buildings. These reports can be found in the folder of each library built during Cameron's administration. As Cameron was involved in the planning of these buildings these folders also contain planning committee minutes and memoranda which document the planning process.
There is extensive documentation on the planning and construction of the Alexander S. Alexander Library on College Avenue in New Brunswick. By the 1950's, it was understood by the administration that the University was in need of physical expansion in order to keep up with its increasing enrollment. One of the most outgrown facilities of all was the Voorhees Library, which served as the University Library at the time. Collections were stored in basements, as well as in off-site locations. A new, larger library was necessary.
In 1952, New Jersey Governor Alfred E. Driscoll recommended the appropriation of $2 Million for the construction of a new library. Careful planning of the new facility ensued. Construction began on October 1, 1953 and ended on October 3, 1956. The new library was dedicated on Saturday, November 17th, 1956, at 10:00 am. The new library contains over 2 million cubic feet of space and has a capacity for 1.5 million volumes. There is seating capacity for 1,200. The total cost of the new library was $3,936,128.35.
Contained in this series are minutes to the 155 planning meetings which were held from 1952-1954. Plans, drawings, and correspondences with architects are included. Specification on the building, from the infrastructure to the furnishings are also part of the collection. Bound copies of the construction contracts are also included. The series ranges from 1952 through 1959.
In 1932, a plan for the creation of a graduate faculty was approved by the Board of Trustees. These professors became strong advocates for increased scholarship and research at Rutgers. As a result of this quest for productive scholarship came the Rutgers University Press, a press that would publish the works of the Rutgers faculty. The plan for the establishment of the Rutgers University Press was adopted by the Board of Trustees in 1936. The Press, headed by Donald F. Cameron of the English Department and Earl S. Miers of the Department of Alumni and Public Relations, published four books in its first year. In 1939, nine titles were published. The Press' prestige surged through the 1940's, establishing a name for itself with the release of The Lincoln Reader, which was even selected by the Book-of-the-Month Club.
The Press Council evolved over time from a two-man team to a large advisory board. Donald F. Cameron remained active on this board, holding the title of Secretary, through the 1960's. The Rutgers Press and Press Council series contains documentation on the development and ensuing activities of the Press, 1945 to 1967.
14.8 Cubic Feet (37 manuscript boxes)
Language of Materials
The administrative records in this collection document the activities of the Office of University Librarian under the leadership of Donald F. Cameron. Not only does it outline the regular operations of the office, but it also records the multitude of activites that Cameron partook in as the University Librarian. The Annual Reports of the Librarian of the University relate the activities of the library as a whole, its departments, and its units and were issued for accountability purposes. The Budget and Financial records include letters and memos on budgetary matters, budget sheets, salary rates, accountings of endowments, and financial statistics. The General Correspondence series mainly consists of letters, the majority of which document the mundane matters of Cameron's everyday work. Within the Subject Files is documentation of Cameron's leadership of the Rutgers Libraries. The Library Buildings series documents the planning and construction of many Rutgers University libraries, which were overseen by Cameron.
Administrative History of the Office of the University Librarian (Donald F. Cameron)
Born out of a small collection of theology books beginning the late eighteenth century, the Rutgers University Libraries have grown to comprise twenty-four libraries, collections, and reading rooms holding over 2.4 million books, 640,000 bound periodicals, 4 million government documents, and 5 million manuscripts. This growth can be attributed to a number of people, not the least of whom includes Donald F. Cameron.
The transition began in 1944, when Donald Cameron assumed the role of university librarian, succeeding the retiring George Osborne. At that time, the University Library's collection, housed in the Voorhees Library, numbered approximately 400,000 volumes. It had long been recognized that the collection, the staff, and the library building itself would need to be expanded to sufficiently provide for Rutgers' growing community. As University historian Richard P. McCormick wrote in 1966: "Adequate for the purposes of undergraduate instruction, the library was housed in a building that had long since become crowded to capacity and was handicapped by inadequate staff and a minuscule book fund. The growing emphasis on graduate instruction and research would require facilities and resources vastly larger than those available." (1) These were the challenges Donald Cameron took on during his twenty-two year tenure as university librarian.
Cameron came to Rutgers as an associate professor of English in 1929. It was fifteen years later when he became university librarian. Though he had no working experience as a librarian when he was appointed, he was actively involved in library issues and helped to found the Associated Friends of the Library of Rutgers University in 1937. This group initiated the publication of The Journal of the Rutgers University Libraries, which featured excellent articles based on library materials and generally constituted a vocal constituency in behalf of the library's needs. (2) Cameron also championed faculty research as a co-founder (and later editor) of the Rutgers University Press and organizer of the University Research Council. In fact, Cameron was active throughout his career at Rutgers, contributing to university governance through his service on numerous committees.
Cameron's appointment to the position of university librarian came at a time of great change at Rutgers. Prompted by World War II, new attitudes were being taken toward life in general and higher education in particular. According to University historian Richard McCormick: "As the war entered its final stage, with the promise of a victorious peace seemingly assured, the American people were conscious, even determined, that a different and better world must follow the holocaust . . . . A host of Governmental planning groups were at work . . . [developing among other things] daring proposals for a vast expansion of higher education." (3)
Set into motion by this widespread initiative for expansion, the state legislature moved to clarify the status of Rutgers as the state university. By 1945, the declaration was made; Rutgers was designated the State University of New Jersey. With this official designation and eventually, the end of the war, came several internal organizational reforms, a merger with the Newark Colleges, a new corps of faculty, and the appointment of several new key administrators, including Cameron.
The atmosphere of change was reinforced by an influx of returning veterans entering college on the GI Bill. Enrollments soared from a prewar high of 7,000 to 16,000 by early 1948. The explosive expansion witnessed after the war forever changed Rutgers. From this point on, the university would continue to expand its constituency, which would require the provision of more and larger library buildings, collections, and services.
As the library acquired new collections in the early years of Cameron's tenure, space issues that were always recognized became desperate. The remedy to this problem, a new University Library was finally constructed under Cameron's direction. The carefully planned building, designed to hold over 1,500,000 volumes and to seat 1,200 students, was formally dedicated in November 1956. (4) Four million dollars in the making, the University Library, which was eventually renamed the Archibald S. Alexander Library, was a tremendous feat and is the accomplishment for which Donald Cameron is perhaps most remembered.
Library construction was a hallmark theme of Cameron's term as university librarian. In total, he was instrumental in the planning of over fourteen million dollars worth of library buildings on the various campuses. In a 1966 article reporting his retirement, Cameron's record of building was summarized: "He was consultant for the new library built at Douglass College in 1958, the library the went up on Rutgers Camden campus in 1959, the library for Rutgers Newark finished in January , and is involved in planning for the new library of science and medicine for which ground will be broken in the fall. He's also helping to plan a new addition to the Camden library." (5)
Cameron filled these new buildings with thousands of acquisitions. The records reflect hundreds of gifts and purchases. During his twenty-two years as university librarian, holdings increased from 400,000 volumes to 1.2 million.
Donald Cameron retired from Rutgers in 1966. Robert Kriendler expressed a common sentiment in a letter to Cameron dated May 26, 1966, writing: "Something seems out of joint here. Your retiring from Rutgers is something like Billy the Silent uprooted from his observation post at the foot of Bleecker Place. It's like Old Queens without the ivy." (6)
For a total of thirty-seven years at Rutgers, Donald Cameron presence was significant. One thing is for sure, Cameron left his mark in the library system he helped to build.
After leaving Rutgers, Cameron remained active in the library community, acting as a consultant to New Jersey and New York state college and university libraries and to the American Library Association until his death in 1974 at the age of seventy-three.
(1) McCormick, R. P. (1966). Rutgers: A Bicentennial History. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 241. (2) Ibid. (3) Ibid. 262. (4) Ibid. 297. (5) "Rutgers Librarian Comes Out for Air." (1966, June 5). New Brunswick Home News. (6) This personal correspondence and selected others may be found in the Donald Cameron Rutgers faculty biographical file (R-Bio: Faculty), held in Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University.
Arrangement of the Papers
The records of the Office of University Librarian (Donald F. Cameron) are arranged into six series:
- I. Annual Reports
- II. Budget and Financial Records
- III. General Correspondence
- IV. Subject Files
- V. Library Buildings
- VI. Rutgers University Press and Press Council
(1) McCormick, R. P. (1966). Rutgers: A Bicentennial History. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 241.
(3) Ibid. 262.
(4) Ibid. 297.
(5) "Rutgers Librarian Comes Out for Air." (1966, June 5). New Brunswick Home News.
(6) This personal correspondence and selected others may be found in the Donald Cameron Rutgers faculty biographical file (R-Bio: Faculty), held in Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University.
McCormick, R. P. (1966). Rutgers: A Bicentennial History. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 241.
"Rutgers Librarian Comes Out for Air." (1966, June 5). New Brunswick Home News.
This personal correspondence and selected others may be found in the Donald Cameron Rutgers faculty biographical file (R-Bio: Faculty), held in Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University.
- Annual Reports
- Building construction-- Libraries--New Jersey
- Buildings-- Libraries--New Jersey
- Farmington Plan
- Fraternities - Journals, Newsletters, Rulebooks, Regulations
- Greek letter societies
- Japanese students--New Jersey--New Brunswick
- Library administration-- New Jersey
- Literary manuscripts
- New Brunswick--History-- Sources
- New Jersey--History-- Sources
- Soldiers--Education, Non-military--United States--History
- University Administration-- New Jersey
- World War, 1939-1945--United States
- World War, 1939-1945--War work--Schools
- Inventory to the Records of the Rutgers University Office of University Librarian (Donald F. Cameron), 1925-1971 RG 40/A1/03
- Edited Full Draft
- Christiane Mills, Laura Haines, and Michael Banick
- May 1998
- Language of description note
- Finding aid is written inEnglish.
Part of the Rutgers University Archives Repository
Rutgers University Libraries
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