Navy wives have taken the place of drafted librarians to relieve the shortage of trained helpers which has afflicted the library at a time when Widener's functions are doubly important to both civilians and servicemen.
The library itself is under the direction of Keyes D. Metcalf, who has headed the library staff for the past five years and has instigated several new reforms which have proved useful to the library.
Professional librarians are the backbone of Widener. Fifty-six of these employees have attended colleges in addition to training in library schools at Simmons, Columbia, Michigan, and California.
The catalogue department comprised of 30 members, work behind the scenes and do not have a chance to become well-known in their occupations. T. Franklin Currier, who retired three years ago, is a good example of what the library has produced in this field since his cataloging has earned him an outstanding reputation in nation-wide libraries.
Thirty-seven libraries work in the reference and circulation departments, and are generally considered as sub-professional employees. They are divided into two classes, according to their previous schooling and recommendations.
Clerical assistants constitute a final division in the classifications of librarians. This is the largest department in the library, with 77 people doing the miscellaneous jobs covered by this field. Their duties range from errand boy to work at the charging desk. Also included in this department are office assistants and clerks.
Recently wives of navy and other service men have been working in the reference and clerical fields. Ten such women are now actively employed on the library's staff.
Before the war young men made up the bulk of the librarians at the institution, since Metcalf as well as college authorities considered male helpers more appropriate in a men's college. Under the National Youth Administration and the Temporary Student Employment Service, which are no longer in operation, undergraduate students could obtain part time work at the library.
Edward L. Gookin is the oldest employee, having held the position of registrar for over 50 years. Several persons have worked at the book storage house as long as Gookin; however they are retired. Those who have retired recently are Walter W. Briggs and Charles Mahady, both of whom had records which lasted over half a century.
During the war a good library with attentive assistants has meant much to the University. When the training of fighting men depends on the knowledge which they can gain from books, all possible expediency should be exercised in getting the agents of knowledge to the men promptly. In addition to the service men, the library must cater to a student body which is intensifying its courses in order to get in as much learning as possible before induction into the armed forces. The library and the librarians have tried to live up to these needs, explained Metcalf