Erret Weir McDiarmid ( 1909-2000; Librarian 1943-1951)

No University Librarian since Folwell served the University in so many roles. During his long tenure, he was Dean of the College of Science, Literature and the Arts and on the faculty of the Library School and Graduate School. McDiarmid was born in West Virginia in 1909. He earned his B.A. in Library Science from Emory University and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. His first professional position was at Baylor University. In 1937, he accepted a position in the Library School of the University of Illinois. In 1943, he was named University Librarian of the University of Minnesota.

McDiarmid wrote two classics of library literature--The Library Survey: Problems and Methods (1940) and The Administration of the American Public Library (1943), both published by the American Library Association. McDiarmid’s administration was colored by his conviction that a library should be a source of cultural and intellectual inspiration. He shepherded the library through the end of World War II during a time when the nation’s research libraries were moving toward building international collections. He established the Children’s Literature Research Collection in 1949 when Irvine Kerlan tdonated his collection to the Library. On the national scene, McDiarmid served as President of the American Library Association in 1948/49. In 1951, he left the Library to become Dean of School of Liberal Arts and from 1963 through 1978, he was Director of the Graduate School Fellowship Office. In 1947, he helped found the Norwegian Explorers, a group of faculty who were Sherlock Holmes fans. After his retirement, he continued as a volunteer in the Special Collections unit, working with the Holmes collections to which he donated over 15,000 items in 1995. McDiarmid died in 2000.

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