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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM
INTERVIEWEE: Vivian Christine Prince
INTERVIEWER: Stephen Kerber
DATE OF INTERVIEW: April 27, 1979
K: Today is April 27, 1979. My name is Steve Kerber and I am
conducting an oral history interview with Ms. Vivian
Christine Prince, formerly a cataloguer and head of the
Technical Processes Department at the University of Florida
Libraries. This interview for the University of Florida
Oral History Program will take place in room 106 of the
Florida State Museum [Florida Museum of Natural History,
University of Florida campus] at 9:00 a.m. I would like to
start by asking you to tell us your full name.
P: Well, I am Vivian Christine Prince.
K: How long did you work at the University of Florida?
P: Nineteen years. A little over nineteen, from June 1943
through September 1962.
K: What was your position or your job title when you left the
P: I was head of Technical Services or Technical Processes, I
believe it was called, at the University library.
K: Tell me your place of birth, and when you were born?
P: I was bornfJuly 31, 1908, in Anderson County, South
K: Had your family been long-time residents of South Carolina?
P: Yes, the Princes had originally settled in Charles City
County, Virginia, in 1635. About 1755, when the Indian
lands were opened up in Princes, South Carolina, they moved
to Union County. Incidentally, Fort Prince was named for
them on their land holdings. They had built this stockade
as protection against the Indians. They lived there right
on through until my generation, moving first into Anderson
County, which was then Pendleton District. Then going from
Pendleton District when the land was divided in 1826 to
Pickens County. They lived in Pickens County--Anderson
County border. Their land, as a matter of fact, over-lapped
the county line. I was born in Anderson County though my
father was born in Pickens County.
K: What was your father's name?
P: James Chesley Prince.
K: And your mother's name?
P: My mother was Elsie Entriken Prince.
K: Was your father a farmer?
K: What sort of crops did he raise?
P: He raised cotton for money, and corn, oats, and wheat for
food, not only for the family, but for the cattle and horses
and mules. And in the garden he raised vegetables for
canning and fruits.
K: Did you have any brothers and sisters?
P: Well, there were ten of us, five girls, my twin sister died
at six weeks. And then there were five boys, and then a
younger girl so that we were five of each.
K: That is quite a group. Did you attend elementary school in
a nearby town?
P: Yes, Easley, South Carolina, in the southern part of Pickens
K: Was that all grades in one group?
P: Yes. It was called graded school, with ten grades. Later
it was extended to eleven when I graduated, and then later
South Carolina added a twelfth grade.
K: So you attended that school all the way through until
K: When did you graduate?
P: I graduated in 1925, then I went to Winthrop College in Rock
Hill, South Carolina.
P: Yes, I graduated from there in 1929.
K: Did you acquire a library degree at Winthrop?
K: Was that your field of interest?
P: My major was history and I also majored in French. I taught
in public schools in South Carolina and became interested in
library work because the superintendent asked if I would
undertake some supervision of the library. He then asked me
if I would go to a university and take a library course for
certification. But I decided that I would not just take a
certificate, but would get a degree. So I went to the
University of North Carolina in a series of summers and got
my first library degree there; it was a graduate degree,
though at that time it was called a Bachelor of Library
Science. Prerequisite to entry into the program was an A.B.
degree. I had already been admitted to the graduate school
at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I
had started a history degree. During the Depression
teachers salaries were drastically cut. I found myself hard
put to save enough money to continue the history degree.
But things improved somewhat by 1936, and I finished in
K: You worked on the library degree int he summers between 1936
P: Yes, at Chapel Hill.
K: Were you taking those history courses also at that time?
P: No, I abandoned the history courses because the library
degree took full time. I became interested in
specialization in library work, and so I got a working
scholarship to Columbia University. Though I continued to
do school library work after I had gotten my first library
degree, I went then in a series of summers to Columbia
University. In the meantime, in 1943, I had been offered a
position at the University of Florida. Mr. Walter Hill
[librarian] wrote me sometime in the spring or the winter of
1943. Finally, when I came down June 1 to work, he was
sick, and Miss Nell Barmore was the acting librarian at that
time. From then on I continued to work at the University of
Florida until 1962.
K: How did Mr. Hill or whoever hear about you? How was the
P: Well, I had not met him. He was, I believe, an official of
some kind in the General Education Board--that is the
Rockefeller Foundation. The General Education Board was
interested in the University of Florida. Perhaps somebody
has already told you about this, but they had given a great
deal of money to the University of Florida. Now it probably
does not sound like a great deal, but at that time it seemed
like a great deal. They had given some money to the
University of Florida to build up its collection and Mr.
Hill had been sent to Chapel Hill to get a degree in Library
Science. Now, I did not know him because while I went in
the summer and did my school library work, and taught during
the winter. But I did not hear of him there. I must have
been recommended by the School of Library Science to him
because he was seeking people to come to Florida to be
cataloguers for this collection that had been acquired
through the grant from the General Education Board. I
believe that is how it happened. I am sure the university
recommended me for the position, so I came.
K: Was that a particular collection, was it a grant of money to
help build up the entire University library collection?
P: I believe that is so. I never was aware of any particular
emphasis, so I am not in a position to say. I think the
records of the University library would show exactly the
terms of the grant. But I was a cataloguer, and while I had
an interest in it, I am not familiar with the exact terms of
the grant. My impression from working with the collection
is that it was general acquisition of, say, out-of-print
books, perhaps the buying of a few private collections of
general interests, but there was no specialization that I
K: Now, of course, you did not work then for Mr. Hill.
K: Did you ever get to meet him?
P: I never met him. I met his wife. He had gone, I believe,
to Georgia to some institution with his wife. They owned a
house on what was then Arlington Street, now 4th Avenue.
His wife came back and closed up the house and sold it. I
met her on that occasion. I never met him.
K: Do you happen to know if he ever recorded? I believe that
he had a breakdown.
P: I think some kind of breakdown. I think not. If so, it was
only a temporary recovery because as far as I know he never
returned to Gainesville.
K: Now when did you actually arrive in Gainesville for the
P: May 31st, I believe. The last day of May. I came to the
library on June 1. I stayed at the White House Hotel. I
came down by noon train, and went to the hotel. Then the
next morning I arrived out at the University by taxi.
Incidentally, I think the taxi cost me fifteen cents, but I
had just come from New York and I was unaccustomed to the
cheap taxis, and I thought the boy said fifty, so I gave him
fifty cents. He looked a little startled. But I did not
wait for any change, because I thought that was the fare.
Anyway, I came out by taxi and arrived at the library. Miss
Barmore came in to meet me and so I went in, introduced
myself to the people who were there, and I began work
K: I take it then you had been hired before you arrived.
K: By letter?
K: Would you tell us a little bit about Miss Barmore, about her
personality and character?
P: Yes. She had a very interesting life. She was a native, I
believe, of Atlanta, but she graduate from Randolph Macon
College in Virginia, majoring in Greek. And, not wanting to
teach, she decided to go to library school, and went to
Emory Library School from which she graduated. She
immediately went to Greenville, South Carolina, as a
neighbor of the Easley, the place where I was living, but I
did not know her then. Later on we found out we knew some
people in common. Well, she went there to work in a
library, and she did a great deal of bookmobile, travel,
among other things, in a large textile city. I am not quite
certain how long she was there, but for several years. She
went to New York to work. I do not know whether she had a
position before she went, but in any case, she ended up
working in the old Rockefeller Institute before it became
Rockefeller University in New York City. That is how she
was interested in coming to Florida, I believe, because of
the Rockefellers being interested in the national education
board. And so they sent her down here to work in the
collection, organizing the collection. Or at least they
were instrumental in her coming, and she worked with Mr.
Hill, I presume, for a year or os, I believe that was the
case before I came down. So she had been here a short
K: Now her title was acting director, is that right?
P: Well, after Mr. Hill's breakdown, she was given the title of
acting director and she continued in that position for
several years. I would say three or four, I don not
remember exactly. The records I am sure will show the exact
date. But Dr. Tigert [Dr. John J. Tigert, president,
University of Florida, 1928-1947], who was then the
president, indicated that he wanted a man to be head of the
library. As was the common practice in those days, very few
women got such positions. So she then found a position at
the Communicable Disease Center in Atlanta, which was then
opening up, now called the Center for Disease Control. Same
initials, but under the U.S. government. So she became head
of the library of that opening institution and continued
there until her death.
K: Do you know roughly when she passed away?
P: The reason I remember is because of an episode which
happened to me. I was abroad teaching at that time and it
was in the late winter or early spring of 1956, I guess or
K: Could you please tell me who the other department heads were
when you first arrived?
P: The head of circulation was Margaret [Dickinson] Duer.
Naomi [Louise] Edwards was the head of periodicals. Lilly
[Isabelle] Carter was the head of the order department,
later called acquisitions, but I believe at that time called
the order department. The acting head of the reference
department was, I believe, Nancy [K.] Bird. I have
forgotten exactly the circumstances of their not having a
head. I believe that the previous head of the reference
department had gone away to work somewhere else, or if it
was a man, he had gone into the service. I never met him so
I do not quite now remember his name. I think there was a
man named Pratt or Platt who was the head of circulation,
and Mrs. Duer, who had recently come, had been his assistant
and was continuing and eventually was made head. Whether
immediately or not, I do not know. But in any case, as far
as I knew, she was the head of the department at that time.
K: So you went to work in cataloguing?
P: That is right.
K: Was that your full-time position?
P: Yes, full-time.
K: Or were you split?
P: No, I was full-time.
K: Now would you please tell me what your job entailed at first
K: In other words, how did you spend your day?
P: Well, we were using the Dewey Decimal Classification and we
were classifying books, assigning cutter numbers, complete
call numbers. We made what we call copy slips, original
cataloguing slips for those books for which no printed cards
were available from the Library of Congress. We supervised
the typing of those cards, the preparation, the making of
added entries, assigning subject headings, and then finally
supervising the filing of those cards into the public
K: Who was in the cataloguing section at that time, in addition
P: Frances Apperson was there half-time and half-time in
documents, I believe. Edna Baker, who subsequently became
Mrs. Thomas Haley, was there as a full-time cataloguer. A
month or so after I came, a woman by the name of Clara
Johnson came as a full-time cataloguer. We did have, at
that time, some people who were employed part-time, but that
was essentially it, there may have been one other person. I
think at that particular time that was it.
K: Now, you were quartered, of course, in the old part of what
is not Library East. Would you tell me exactly where the
catalogue department was located?
P: At the head of the stairs, going straight ahead after you
come up on the second floor landing, there was a small room.
I am not very good at dimensions, I would say eight by
twelve feet, or something like that. Behind it another room
which had originally been designed for the librarian's
office, but the librarian had been moved to the third floor,
so we occupied that small space. I do not know whether the
room is still there, but the back office opened out into the
reference room. Our cataloguing department was immediately
behind the catalogues which operated two ways, so that it
was not necessary for us to go out into the reference and
reading room in order to use the card catalogue, because it
pulled out on both sides.
K: So in other words, the card catalogue itself ran along that
wall which would have been, I think, in the south end of
P: That is right. It was the south end of the reading and
reference room. Of course, at the north end of the
cataloguing department's quarters.
K: What was on the first, second, and third floors of that
building at that time?
P: The first floor was the University College reading room. I
believe at that time it was called General College. And
behind it was a shipping room, behind the staircase. The
shipping room went immediately into the stacks, so there was
one floor of stacks and that was it. The University College
room extended the full length of the building from south to
north. The reading room and the reference immediately above
that extended the same length of the building, with an
entrance into the stacks and the circulation desk off in the
southeast corner of the room.
K: Where was the office of the library director again, on the
P: Third floor, just immediately above the offices occupied by
the cataloguing department.
K: Now, as far as your own career, how long were you in
P: I continued in it, essentially, the rest of my life, with
advances or changes of title. Immediately after I got
there, beginning in September, I believe it was, they asked
me to supervise the making of a union catalogue. I had
experience in cataloguing and had a partial second degree
from Columbia University. I finished it later. I had done
cataloguing in a public library during my other summers off.
I had some experience. So they asked me. I was, I would
say, the most experienced cataloguer there was the exception
of Miss Barmore, who was the head of the cataloguing
department and acting director. They asked me to supervise
the making of a union catalogue with all the books on the
campus in the various libraries. For example, agriculture,
law, and forestry had separate library establishments and
there was no central place where all the records of all the
holdings could be found. I undertook to supervise that with
some temporary help from funds supplied by the General
Education Board. I worked on that project until its
completion. We did not re-catalogue anything from these
other libraries. We just took and put into the card
catalogue their author entry the way they had them, unless
there were some differences between their spelling and entry
and ours, in which we would justify it so it would file into
one catalogue. I supervised that and continued to do some
part-time cataloguing also. I have forgotten exactly how
long the project lasted. I think, certainly, over a year.
But then in the meantime, it was obvious that Mr. Hill was
not going to be able to return, and Miss Barmore was named
as acting director. I wa made acting head of the
cataloguing department after, I would say, two or three
years. My duties consisted of exactly the same thing I had
done before. That is working with books, cataloguing books,
supervising. I had additional duties of instructing new
personnel, or assigning new personnel to other cataloguers
who had arrived in the meantime. Emily Phillips and Doris
Welch had come to work with us, both graduates of library
schools. And, from time to time, we had other people come.
For example, a year later, two years after I came, Mary
Pardee came. But my duties consisted of instructing the new
people in the ways of the University of Florida and
supervising personnel to a certain extent. Though we were
in such close quarters it was unlikely that anybody would do
anything that needed any supervision. We had a comradery
and feeling of rapport that everybody worked very diligently
in my years there. It was very pleasant.
In the summers I went off with a leave of absence because we
had only one month's vacation here, and I would have a two
week leave without pay in order to go to Columbia University
for six weeks. I went two more summers and finished my
course work, in 1947 and then was awarded the degree the
next year at the one big commencement. My duties had been
increased to the extent of doing the supervisory work, which
I had done rather unofficially almost from the day I arrived
because Miss Barmore's time was taken up with administrative
K: With reference to pulling the branch library catalogues
together into a union catalogue, did you have particular
difficulty with the agriculture library? Was that any
worse, any harder?
P: Yes, I would say it was worse than others because the
cataloguing there had been done by intelligent people, but
without library training. And to an experienced cataloguer,
that is nothing more than we normally would expect to have
happen. Looking back on it after years of working in
various parts of the world, I would say that it was not
unusually difficult though at the time I may have felt that
I had a problem with it. But there was no problem with
respect to rapport with Mrs. [Ida K.] Cresap and Miss [Jane]
Tyson and the other people who were working in the
agriculture library. From my standpoint, and I hope from
their standpoint too, we all seemed to get along very well.
I did find that we had to do a great deal of searching for
the correct form of name or entry in order to be sure that
we had uniformly listed in one place instead of two
different places under two different spellings or things
like that. As a matter of fact, I rather enjoyed it because
I have always felt it is a good thing to take chaos and get
order out of it, and to this day that delights me. I felt
that, bibliographically, this was a challenge. I did
consider it a bibliographic challenge and I did have a food
staff that worked faithfully on it. Most of them were
inexperienced persons who worked immediately under my
supervision. But it turned out to be, I think, a worthwhile
project and very good.
Now the organization of all the branch libraries into a
unified head came only later. I suspect that Stanley West
and some of the other people who were on the staff and in
positions of authority when that happened would tell you
more about that than I would, though I was working at the
library at that time. After we had made a union author
catalogue, later on the libraries--with the exception of
agriculture, I think--were all put under the supervision of
Mr. West as the director. The staff had grown a great deal
by that time, and the library had grown. We sent people to
work from the cataloguing department in the branch libraries
to do the cataloguing or conversely their books were sent to
us and we would catalogue them and send them out to the
branches. I believe the forestry books were always
catalogued on the premises, that is in the forestry library
area, which was at that time in the agriculture building. I
am not certain about what the working relationship was
between agriculture and the main library. The cataloguing
was done by a resident cataloguer in the agriculture library
and not under my supervision, except in an advisory way.
After they got a professional cataloguer to work in
agriculture, there was no problem of adjusting because the
person knew what he was doing. Everything fit all right,
which of course, meant that we then had a union, a true
union catalogue, all made according to standards of--well I
will not say perfection, it was far from that--but standards
of bibliographic exactness as far as we could do it.
K: While we are on this line, could you tell me a little bit
about Mrs. Cresap, your recollections of her?
P: Yes, she was charming, and a marvelous person socially. And
in other ways, too. She was an author. She wrote a novel.
I am not sure it was published. It had not been published
at the time when I talked to her. It was a saga of early
Florida life. Se had been an editor of a newspaper that I
believe she had inherited from her father, or maybe her
husband. She fought a battle in the agricultural field, for
the control of some agricultural pest, I would say
Mediterranean fruit fly, which at that time caused the
destruction of a great deal of citrus. Her newspaper was
influential in getting the fruit growers to submit to this
destruction in order to control the pest. Because of that
she had a fine relationship with the agriculture people in
the state, and because of her bookish interest, charm, and
ability (because she is a bright woman), she was appointed
librarian of the agriculture library. She built up a good
workable collection. My relationship with her was rather
casual in the sense that I was not working for her or under
her not was she in any way subordinate to me. I know our
relationship was rather pleasant. I enjoyed her and I think
she enjoyed me. She was not a bibliographer, and she was
much more practical than, the preciseness of a bibliographic
citation would indicate that she should be, but I think, her
relationship with the library was good.
She had the Agricultural Extension Service and the
Agricultural Experiment Station, which are under the
U.S.D.A. So because of that, the College of Agriculture was
all amalgamated into one library. She felt that her
position as head of the Experiment Station Library and the
Extension Service Library, that she was certainly
I should say here maybe that in the interval after Miss
Barmore got this position at the CDC in Atlanta, and Mr.
West's leaving the Navy and his coming to be head of the
library, there was interval there--I have forgotten how many
months--when I served as acting librarian just to carry on
things that had to be done, signing appointment forms, and
that sort of thing.
K: This would have been about 1946 or late 1945?
P: Yes, after the war. I do not remember exactly when it was
late 1945 or early 1946. I am sure it must have been
sometime during 1946.
K: Did Dr. Tigert or someone give you any particular
instructions about what was to be done or was it simply a
case of carrying on as usual?
P: It was just a case of carrying on. I had no instructions at
all. I think it was entirely likely that I had no official
K: Someone had to be there to sign.
P: Somebody had to do this, and I did it. I think when I wrote
letters I did sign them as acting head of the library. It
was not in any sense an official appointment.
K: Was Miss Barmore personally upset that this continuing
chauvinist attitude prevented her from being the permanent
director? Did it bother her a great deal? Or did she
P: I think that she would like to have been head of the library
because there had been other female heads of libraries over
the years. Though at the time there was a feeling that the
position could be better handled by men. She was a little
upset because she thought she had done a competent job of
managing the library and, truthfully, she had. The library
increased marvelously. I must say with some candor, I think
she did not like Florida as well as she liked Atlanta, so
that when she had a chance to move back to Atlanta, she was
delighted to go. Her feelings were of relief that she was
no longer living in Florida, but chagrin that she was not
made director when she felt that she had served ably and
could have continued ably. Now whether she would have
continued to stay here I do not know. I rather doubt it. I
was in love with Florida from the day I arrived. She had
been living in New York City for a score of years. I think
her unhappiness was partly that she rather felt that they
might have named her head of the library even though she
probably would not have stayed on. Her position in the CDC
was a very fine one. I understand that she was very well
liked and had organized from the beginning a very good
K: Roughly how old a woman was she when she left?
P: I am not sure I ever knew exactly how old she was.
K: She was still a fairly young woman.
P: Well, yes.
K: In her forties?
P: Yes, I think so.
K: To your knowledge was the planning for the physical
expansion of the library under way at the time when she was
denied the opportunity to be permanent director?
P: Yes. The big stack area was already planned and the whole
reorganization of that building had already been planned.
She and Guy Fulton worked together on the plans for the
rebuilding and adding on the big stack area and the change
of the work rooms, etc. In fact, I think it was completed,
the plans were completed, before she left. Whatever my
position may have been at that time, I was not in on any of
the planning. I believe that she and Mr. Fulton and others
did it completely. Though I remember, before she left
Florida, we went to the Florida Library Association meeting
and she took the plans with her and showed them at the
meeting. That was the first time I had seen them too. So
that was one of the reasons why I assumed more and more
responsibility with respect to the cataloguing department.
K: So as far as you know, the department chairman in the
library really did not have any input into that? It was she
and people above her in the administration?
P: I believe that is true.
K: Now this is purely hypothetical, but did it ever occur to
you,, or did you ever hear it mentioned that perhaps the
performance of Miss Miltimore in an earlier period as the
head of the library might have counted against the selection
of another woman?
P: No, I never heard any such insinuation made. As a matter of
fact I thought Miss Miltimore was generally admired and
respected. I met her myself, she was not here on the staff,
but I met her years later when the Florida Library
Association met in Jacksonville. She was resident, I
believe, at what was then the Seminole Hotel, and I found
her a most charming person. We had, though I had not met
her previously, a great deal of conversation about people on
the campus. I have no reason to think otherwise, than that
she was highly respected and liked as a librarian and as a
member of the faculty of the University. I would be
surprised if there was anything to the contrary.
K: I meant to ask you a moment ago when we were talking about
the branch libraries, if it is fair to say that there not
too much missing or socializing between the people who were
working in the branch libraries and the librarians in the
main library, simply because of the physical separation? Or
is that a fair question?
P: I do not think that is a fair statement. Miss Apperson, for
example, was a church friend of Janie Tyson, and I believe a
good friend. We did not see a great deal of Mrs. Cresup
except on less formalized occasions. For example, she would
have a dinner at her house and we were all invited.
K: Did many of the young women librarians, who, frequently like
yourself, had been exposed to more cosmopolitan cities and
more sophisticated universities share this view of
Gainesville and Florida as kind of a wasteland that one
might attribute to what you said about Miss Barmore and some
of the other people that I have talked with. Was this a
common feeling that they were kind of isolated and alone
P: Did I give you the impression that I felt that?
K: No, this is my reaction to what some others felt.
P: I did not feel that way at all.
K: You did not feel that?
P: I did not feel that at the time. I liked Gainesville, and
I, myself, grew up in a small town.
K: I know you liked it. I was reacting to what you said about
Miss Barmore and also some other people I had talked with.
P: I was not among them. With the exception of my time in New
York City when I was going to Columbia University and the
years I spent at Chapel Hill, I had always been in small
towns. So, for my part, I felt that it was rather a
cultural center. I did say Miss Barmore felt that way, on
account of having lived all her life either in Atlanta or
New York City, but I did not feel that way. For the first
time in my life I was able to go to an A.A.U.W. chapter. I
subsequently joined Delta Kappa Gamma, I was a member of Phi
Alpha Theta, so I felt rather sophisticated. [laughter] I
felt as if I was in a sophisticated area.
K: Was there ever any formal pressure that you were or are
aware of against librarians dating either, graduate students
or faculty members?
K: It would not in any way effect one's job if one did so.
P: No, I do not see how it could possibly.
K: Would you tell me what the technical process was and how you
got involved in that?
P: Yes, after Mr. West came, he slightly reorganized the
library and named me, instead of being head of the
cataloguing department, as head of technical services. Now,
strictly speaking, in most libraries it was the style of
that day to put reference and circulation into public
services, and technical services was ordering cataloguing,
and so forth and it was called technical services. Now,
because of the traditions here in the library and the long
time of departments being independent of each other, he did
not want to upset the situation. I think that was quite
wise of him. And so he considered technical processes to be
preparation of the book for the stacks and the preparation
of checking in or serials, making up the union catalogue,
and so forth. So it was in a sense, everything having to do
with preparation of the book. The actual ordering and
opening of the packages was done by acquisitions.
Everything else was involved in what was called technical
processes. That would be binding, repairs, marking,
lettering, shellacking, labeling, maintenance of the public
catalogue, and the maintenances of the public catalogue in
all the outlying areas. So from our department we sent
people out to do the filing in the public catalogues of all
the libraries except the agriculture library. That was what
was involved in technical processes. It is a little bit of
a misnomer according t the way the organization of libraries
takes place today. But at that time it was rather common
term to be used.
K: Did he make you the head of that?
K: Immediately upon that reorganization?
P: I believe so.
K: Is that the position that you filled until the time you left
the University of Florida?
K: Were you then merely doing more administering, or did you
keep your hands in cataloguing? What all did you do?
P: I used to tell my students, when I came to teach, that I did
books that nobody else would touch with a ten foot pole.
For example, I had studied a little Russian, and while I did
not pretend to know Russian, I at least could read the
alphabet. I did some cataloguing, some supervision. But
the cataloguing department had expanded tremendously so that
there were thirty or forty people working. We had a
tremendous number of books coming through. The budget had
increased a great deal. I did a great deal of planning for
what staff we would need. If the book budget was increasing
by a certain amount, I would say that we needed a certain
number of people of professional nature, markers, letterers,
typists, and so forth, so as to keep a balance of the flow
of work. So my duties were more administrative then, less
cataloguing, though I did continue to catalogue as long as I
stayed, doing principally difficult books. Though by that
time we had people who were rather knowledgeable about
languages. We did what the Library of Congress has
continued to do, transliterate and I would have some member
of the faculty who knew those scripts and languages come and
ink in the Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, or whatever
names, so that those persons who would be looking for them
in the catalogue under their scripts or languages would be
able to find them, too. So the library expanded
tremendously. My work was rather changed more into
supervision and planning, yes.
K: Did Mr. West set up what you might call a strict system
whereby the department chairs who would be under your area
worked through you to him? Was he more flexible than that?
In other words, did he prefer a more formal system or did he
go outside of that system once he set it up.
P: He was on good terms with the people on the library staff,
but I believe that anything that concerned the personnel
under my supervision he certainly discussed with me. and I
never knew of an instance when he would make a decision
respecting any part of the work without my knowledge and
consent. So I think that while there was a certain
informality, in general, the lines of the hierarchy were
adhered to rather, I would not say strictly but certainly
K: He was the director during the remainder of your tenure
P: That is right.
K: Would you give me your evaluation of his performance as the
director in the several areas that you are competent to talk
about. In other words, how you worked with him as
administrator and how you saw his performance in leading the
library in certain directions.
P: I think, he was superb in the sense of getting funds for the
library. He was supported totally by the faculty who would
want more money for books so that their fields would
increase. He was generally popular. I do not know whether
you want these personalities or not.
P: He was generally popular with the library staff. As far as
I know, he had respect for the department heads and seemed
to work with them very well. In fact, I worked with him
when I had problems. I would take them to him and discuss
them either privately or when we had department head
meetings. If he had some reasons to discuss things with me
he would do the same thing. And so, I would say that the
administration was handled--I would not say loosely, and I
don't mean that in a derogatory sense but I mean it in a
kindly way so that everything went along fine. I do think
that we all worked awfully hard, and we did have a great
many demands on our time. I always worked mighty hard. I
do not know anybody on the library staff who did not. I
think I would say I had no complaint about it. I do not
know how he compares with other administrators in other
libraries, or subsequent administrators here, because I
never worked for them.
K: Yes. When people were going to be hired, did Mr. West allow
the department chairpeople to make those decisions, or did
he involve himself in the hiring of the professional
P: Well, if it was just the professional librarians in my
department, I made the decision with his approval, I would
say or maybe just advice. I think it was more my decision.
Of course, the career credentials of the person who was
making the application had to be scrutinized. But when I
look back on it I think that I made the decision myself. I
cannot remember a time when he employed anybody, I believe
one time he did employ a professional librarian who had
previously been on the staff who came back to work. She was
employed while he was away. As a result it was a quite nice
K: Do you remember whether Mr. West did all the lobbying and
politicking with the administration or did he ever involve
the administrators under him in trying to keep up good
relations with the University administration?
P: Well, I think to a certain extent we were all involved
because he wanted us all, everybody on the staff, to
participate in the activities of the University community.
The public services departments--reference, bibliography,
circulation and so forth--would have more day-to-day
dealings with the public. I believe the faculty felt free
to come into the library and consult with me and my
department members. Later on I designated certain persons
in the department to be heads of sections with science, or
humanities or architecture, whatever it might be, and they
felt free to come in. I think there was a feeling of
friendship between the members of the faculty and the
various persons in my department. Mr. West certainly
encouraged this. Now whether there was any formalized
presentation, I do remember occasions when we would go to
the library committee meeting, and present our problems or
our need for new staff.
K: Specifically with regard to the library budget, did he sit
down? Or did he pretty much make that up himself?
P: No, he did not make it up himself.
K: He worked with everyone.
K: I wanted to ask you about the teaching program in library
sciences. If that was still in existence when you came here
and if you were involved in that, if you taught cataloguing
P: Yes, it was not in existence when I came here. It was
reestablished after Mr. West came. I believe it was not
established until Dean Page came to be head of the College
of Arts and Sciences. I believe it was established after he
came. But from the start I taught cataloguing though other
members of the cataloguing staff taught it from time to
time. Miss [Mable M.] Reynolds at one time taught it. Miss
[Eunice] Disney at another time. Miss [Marian] Youngs
taught it. I did more of the teaching than others.
K: How frequently did you teach? Would you teach each
P: Not every semester. We would always have somebody teaching
in the summer, and the one of the other semesters. So that
it would be perfectly possible for one to teach a semester
and a summer session.
K: Were the librarians who took part in this program paid an
extra amount of money in addition to their salaries?
P: Yes. I have forgotten how much it was. My memory is not
very good. We were also given time off, that is if we were
teaching, we were not expected to be on duty eight hours. I
think we worked thirty-eight and a half hours a week in the
library staff as practicing librarians. What I did expect,
and the others did too, was to work in my office as head of
the technical processes and just take time, whatever time I
felt I had to have, to get my course work together. I
usually did grading of papers and writing of examinations
and that sort of thing on my own time. That is at home or
coming back to work in my office at night after the
cataloguing department was no longer open.
K: Were there any rooms in the library where those classes were
taught or were they taught in other classroom buildings on
P: They were taught on the fourth floor of the old stack area.
When the new stack area was built, that fourth floor was set
aside and we had classes there. It was rather inconvenient
because the elevator had been removed completely from that
wing. So that it was necessary to go up completely on the
staircase. Theoretically we had offices up there, small
cubby holes, where we could keep our teaching things. I
did use it on occasion when I needed to get away from the
cataloguing department. But generally speaking, I did my
work, preparation, etc., down in the office on the first
K: I believe either at the end of the World War II or shortly
afterwards there was a wooden building that was constructed
on the side, that would be on the west side of the old
library building there. What was that used for and when did
they put that up?
P: They put it up, as you say, after the war. It was used for
a reading room for the University College, because the
University College just absolutely expanded by leaps and
bounds, thousands of students. The old room was no longer
able to accommodate them. In the meantime, I think they
were working on the building, but had not yet completed it.
It stayed there for a long time. I think after I left in
1962 it was torn down.
K: How did you and the other people from cataloguing feel about
the adequacy of the new quarters that were created for you
in the addition? Were they adequate? Did they serve the
P: Well, at first we thought they were just luxurious and
spacious. Somebody said, "How will we ever fill up all this
space?" They were quite nice as compared to the little
rooms that we had before. Quickly, because of the increased
budget and staff, we found we were outgrowing them. We set
aside a room off the stack area on the second mezzanine,
just down through the acquisitions department, a small room
where we did the shellacking and marking of books. In the
meantime, on the fourth floor, there was book binding, which
was largely responsible for repairing old books or books
that we did not want to send to a commercial bindery. The
next move was into a room adjacent to the book bindery for
all the typing activity. It was also my responsibility as
head of the department to see that all was going fine. The
actual physical microfilming of the newspapers was under our
supervision for a while, I believe until I left, and that
area was back where the microfilm machine was located. That
room was originally intended for the processing room, but
when we came to move into the building, we found that no
adequate plans had been made for some part of the activity,
like serials, and so it was necessary to put serials there
and there was some other change that had to be made because
not everything had been taken care of. As work expanded
many changes and adjustments had to be made.
K: Were you at all involved before you left in 1962 with any of
the planning for the new separate library building that is
now called Library West?
K: Now how about the library facility for the medical center
during the early 1950s? When they were talking about that,
did they involve the regular library chairpeople from the
various departments in that?
P: Yes, as a matter of fact one of the members of my staff was
appointed to work with it. Fred [D.] Bryant operated out of
the cataloguing department when we were still in those old
cramped quarters on the second floor. We, in the meantime,
had expanded the catalogue so we had separate catalogues
standing free in the reference room. Mr. Bryant worked
behind them, out in a corner of the reference room. We did
all the processing, he did the ordering I think through the
order department with Lilly Carter and Alice McNairy. He
discussed with me the decision as to what classification
scheme to use and how to treat serials. Now I believe when
we moved into the new quarters down on the first floor the
medical school still had not been built. I believe he had a
separate room somewhere.
K: Would you tell me a little bit about Mr. Julian Chandler
[Yonge]? Did you get to know him very well?
P: Very well. His quarters were adjacent to ours being in the
old stack area on the first floor and he came and went
through our area. He was a genial, likeable person, and a
great scholar. We had the greatest admiration for him and
as far as I know he for us. He had a separate cataloguer at
that time. At first, before the separate library was
established, Mrs. Scoffield operated under our supervision
in our department but later she worked back in the stack
area and then subsequently she left and somebody else took
her place. Everything was from the professional standpoint,
the relationship was fine. We felt most kindly to him
personally. We felt that he was part of the library staff.
There was no rivalry, no lack of rapport at all. Now that I
look back on it, I believe at one time his library was in
the law building. That was before he moved into his new
K: Did you ever hear any stories about Mr. Yonge staying in the
library overnight sometimes, on a cot, or something like
K: Do you know where he lived in town? Or if he lived near
P: Yes, he lived near the University. I think on 2nd Avenue.
I would say within a block or two from the University. I
think he had a room, now that I look back on it. There are
people who certainly know more than I about that. I was not
conscious of ever taking him home in my car or anything like
that. I am a little uncertain. I would be very surprised
if he spent the night in the library. He sometimes worked
late, but I would be absolutely surprised to hear that.
K: Would you tell us something about Margaret Duer?
P: Well, she came to work in the library, a few months before I
came. She graduated at FSU which it was then. Anyway, she
did not have her library degree, but after she came to work
in the library and became head of the circulation
department, she went to North Carolina and got her library
degree, like me, a semester at a time. We were very good
friends and are still except that I am so remote. I do not
hear from her much. She was a very handsome woman, and a
Presbyterian like me, and so I saw her a great deal on
church occasions. We went to the same organizations; she
had her mother and father, and her son, so naturally her
life was scheduled a little bit different from mine, but we
were very good friends. She was extremely well liked by her
staff, and we worked very harmoniously together. I rather
admired and liked her. I do not know what you want to know
from me about her.
K: In addition to that, is there anything you can tell us about
the way she functioned as an administrator? I realize you
were in different departments of the library, but are you
aware of anything at all?
P: Nothing other than complete adequacy and she was very
popular with her numerous student assistants. So he ran the
library almost complete, certainly for a while, without a
full time administrative assistant or a full time assistant
head. I believe soon after Mr. West came, she had a full
time assistant. One was Clark Lewis, I do not remember the
other one's name, though I remember him quite well
personally. They were very likeable, approachable people.
I think she ran quite a good department.
K: Did you ever employ students? Did you have student workers?
K: How were they hired? Did they come to your department
looking for work? Were they referred to you by a student
placement service like they have today? Do you remember
anything about that?
P: I believe either way. I rather fancy that to begin with
they may have gone to the circulation department and said,
"I wonder if Could get a job working," either to the head or
circulation or to Mr. West's office. They would come to my
office and I would interview them and talk to them and work
out their schedules. I think that to begin with they were
rather independent, but later on there may have been some
University bureau where they were referred to us. I do not
know the details of that.
K: Did you make use of them as typists?
P: Yes, all things. They would do filing, preliminary filing,
typing, shellacking, lettering, moving books around, rolling
book trucks to the book stacks to get books when we needed
to make corrections, going to the branch libraries and
departmental libraries to bring back items that we needed,
and preliminary filing in the branch catalogue. So they did
everything except original cataloguing. I had a very smart
law student who worked all the way through law school and
undergraduate, I think. He graduated summa cum laude later.
I said to him, "Don't you want to do something other than
shellac books?" And he said, "No, Miss Prince, I put my
mind on my law studies and I'd just as soon do this."
K: I am sure that is true.
P: So anyway, I had him working in various capacities; they did
everything except original cataloguing of books.
K: During the entire time that you spent here at the University
of Florida, from what you saw and what you heard, do you
feel that the library was adequately supported financially
by the University?
P: It is variable. No librarian ever feels they have enough
money for books. So, with that stipulation, I would say
that it was fairly well supported. The library collection
grew tremendously after I came here. It was nothing that I
had anything to do with, it just happened because of the
grants that were received, and then the influx of students
after the war. We did have monies left over from other
unused funds and we would suddenly have money to spend.
While I did not actually have anything to do with that, I
felt free to suggest purchases. I served on the book
selection committee from time to time. Later on, the
reference department built up files of books and sources
from which they could be obtained so that when we had a
great sudden influx of money because of some windfall, we
would be able to order immediately what books we had already
decided we wanted to have. I would say it was moderately
well supported. I think the faculty certainly would like to
have had more money spent. The administration, the director
would certainly have liked it. The reference and
circulation department would get a grant of $1,000 or a
$100,000, Mr. West was very good to see the necessity for
increase in the staff so that we had no objection to that
windfall. Besides, I am a great reader. Most librarians
are, and we would be happy to see our collection grow.
There may have been some areas where we would have splendid
support, but generally all was moderate.
K: You never really encountered a situation during one of these
times of affluence when there was a lot of books being
ordered because of a lot of money being available when you
were not given additional personnel to help deal with the
P: That was not always possible. Additional personnel would
not be immediately forthcoming so that we would tend over
the years sometimes to build up a backlog, which I
personally hated to see. I would reduce them as soon as I
could, even pushing staff. They complained, maybe
immoderately, I do not know, I pushed myself also. What I
tried to do was have no books stay in the cataloguing
department longer than six months, even the most difficult
one for cataloguing. We made concerted effort to go through
the whole collection, have somebody to weed out those that
had been there longer than a certain period of time. We had
certain priorities, for example, any current book or any
book which was required for a course, or any book which was
immediately useful would be catalogued immediately. It is
rather easily done, those are easy to cope with. We worked
out priorities sot hat the final would be those gifts or
special orders where we would get a collection of books, not
by individual title, but just a collection which we just
bought because it was a good collection basically, and they
may not be in immediate demand. So I worked those out, I
have forgotten the figures on them. I used to draw little
diagrams to show to the administration about how certain
proportions, percentage of books would get out within
twenty-four hours of arriving. I do not remember the
details, all cataloguing departments do that. There were
times when we had backlogs, and there were times when we
pushed ourselves rather immoderately maybe. I doubt that
anybody ever suffered from the health standpoint because of
over-work. They were faithful in their duties.
K: Of the people that you have already talked about or the
people who we have not yet mentioned, was a particularly
competent person in the University of Florida library?
Person or persons who helped make it a good place to work
and help make it a good library from the public standpoint?
P: One person?
K: Not necessarily. I know you said repeatedly that many of
the people you worked with were very competent.
K: But, is there anyone or a few people who stand out?
P: Do you mean from the standpoint of building the collection
or organizing the library?
K: From the standpoint of doing a particularly good job in what
they were supposed to do or from the standpoint of helping
make this hopefully a good University library. Or by any
other standards that you hold to be important in library
P: Well, it is all a matter of money, is it not? If you have
the money to spend for books you can buy if they are
available. And you buy the books on recommendation of
faculty members who need them for courses or books of a
general interest which all libraries have. I think
everybody worked towards this end. The head of the
reference department would be in a position to know what was
in demand and would be necessary to acquire.
K: I will not ask you to name any particular person, but from
what you saw, did you ever encounter anyone here in the
library in any position of importance that was particularly
inept or someone who wa not a qualified professional? Did
that ever come up to your knowledge?
P: In a professional position?
K: Yes, without asking you to give their name.
P: I think among the heads of the departments, we all have
variable characteristics and traits. Some hit the floor
running in the morning and go strong all day, others work
late at night and so forth. Some take it easy, some are
harder workers than others. Some did not mind doing what
little bit of overtime work when called upon, or they felt
that it was necessary to do so, and others just left
immediately. I would say in my own department, I have had
workers of both kinds. On some occasions I have had workers
who were not particularly adequate or competent. I tried to
get them to go somewhere or maybe they left of their own
accord. We tried to exercise care in selection of people so
that they would perform the functions they were expected to
perform. Over the years I would say that if you are
thinking of it from the standpoint of the people who worked
most assiduously in the building up the collection I would
have to say that, Miss Edwards, Mrs. Held, Miss Knox, and
Dr. Goggin were certainly wonderfully efficient, and they
had efficient system from various staff members. I believe
Miss Chapman was very good in helping building up the P. K.
Yonge collection in Florida History. Lilly Carter and Miss
McNairy were wondrously efficient in ordering. I think the
cataloguing department was efficient in their functions. We
did not specifically have responsibility for making book
suggestions, though everybody did. I am trying to think of
people who were influential in making the library grow in an
academic way. I think we would have to say, maybe these
people I have mentioned, but also members of the faculty who
are interested in good libraries would have been influential
in getting more money, getting appropriations, urging the
purchase of special collections and so on. Those persons
who were most influential in building up the collection.
K: Would you mind telling us why you decided to leave?
P: I do not mind telling you. I had been teaching here in the
little course and then one summer I was asked to go to Emory
and teach in the graduate library school. I got a Fulbright
grant and went to the University of Dacca in East Pakistan
and taught there in the library school in English.
K: When was this?
P: This was 1956-1957. Everybody was getting Fulbright grants
then, so I just thought I might as well get one. I applied
and the state department called me up and two months after I
wrote the application I had my lost shot and departed for
Pakistan. I liked teaching, and I had taught at Emory and
North Carolina where I had graduated. In the meantime, I
had a two-year leave of absence and taught at the University
of California, Berkeley in the library school.
K: When was this?
P: That was 1959-1961. Dean Boaz from the University of
Southern California asked me to teach there. I was teaching
at Chapel Hill, and Dr. Acres who had been deal for the
school there was retired, but a good friend of mine. And I
asked her advice. She said, "Well I understand you're a
good teacher." I could have retired because when we had a
choice of retirement plan I took the earliest one. I was in
a position to be able to retire from Florida if I wanted to.
So, on Dr. Acres advice, I decided to take the retirement
here and go. It was a hard decision to make because I loved
being in Gainesville. I liked the work, I liked to see the
University grow. I worked hard but still felt that I had a
good life. Los Angeles was a long way away, though I had
taught in Berkeley two years, I had visited Los Angeles, and
I had friends there.
K: Quite a step.
P: I decided to do it, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I look
back on it as, from my own personal standpoint, a very
satisfying career. I loved teaching. All the students,
faculty, and deans recognized I was a good teacher.
K: How long did you teach there?
P: I taught there until I was sixty-six and retired.
K: You taught cataloguing?
P: Cataloguing, in the library school, and a few other courses.
For example, occasional they would say, "You seem to have an
interest in history books and printing history. Would you
teach that course?" So I taught that, and other things.
But generally I was cataloguing and bibliography.
K: Would you just tell us a little bit about how large the
library school is there, was it a new school or an
P: It was established, in the early days of librarianship it
was a part of the L.A. public library. Just like the Emory
school was at one time part of the Atlanta public library.
Now in the early 1930s I think the school was transferred
from the public library to the University of Southern
California, and so it had been actively giving advanced
degrees in library science since about 1929-1930 or
something like that. It was a well-established library
school. t wa enormous. I had up to fifty in a class. I
would teach as many as 150. I would teach three, sometimes
four, classes a semester. I would have always at least 150
students all together in any given semester. Some of them,
of course, took other courses, and so I had many students
that I taught in several different classes. It is a one-
year, plus a summer, school. It is two semesters plus one
summer school degree, thirty-six semester hours. They would
get a master's degree in library science.
K: Is that the only library science school in L.A.?
P: No. The University of California established a school, then
UCLA and others later. This was when there was a great
demand for librarians and not enough schools. Many of them
were established over the country in state universities.
For example, in this state they established one, at FSU
where they had library course for many years.
K: Have you remained out on the West Coast for the past four
K: After you retired?
K: Do you plan to stay there?
P: I do not know, I cannot make any decisions, so my decision
is not to decide. [laughter] I am still there. I find the
life congenial, we have smog and earthquakes and crime, and
here they have bugs, hurricanes, and humidity. I have
enjoyed everyplace I have ever lived. It has always been a
great wrench for me to leave. Even when I was working in
school work, somebody would offer me a better position in
the sense of paying me a little bit more and I would to into
new work, and I was always sorry to leave the old. I
certainly was sorry to leave Florida. I would love to come
back. I have a great many friends here. I have a good many
friends in L.A., very good friends. My relatives, generally
speaking, live in the southeastern part of the United
States, though I have one brother already, and several
nieces and nephews living in California and one other
brother coming to California. So my decision is not to
decide yet. I had a happy life there, and I just continued
to stay there.
K: You are really pulled almost three ways, aren't you?
P: [laughter] Yes, well it is a difficult standpoint.
K: Is there anything that we should mention that we have not
talked about the time that you spent at the University of
Florida, anything of importance that you would like to say
or get on record that we have not talked about?
P: I do not think so, I cannot think of anything startling. I
just want to say that I considered my tenure here at the
University of Florida one of the happiest of my life. I
think that there were some outstanding events in my life
here, and one of them was my getting a position to teach
here. I had other offers at the same time to go to Maryland
and to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, and have
subsequently had offers to go as a permanent faculty member
to Berkeley where the climate did not agree with me, though
I liked being in that university, and to go to Illinois
teach. I have had offers to go to other places to be head
of the cataloguing department while I was here.
Subsequently once having started on a teaching career I
decided to stay with that. But I consider my work here one
of the best things that ever happened to me.
One of the other things was when I was offered the chance to
go as a Fulbright laureate to Pakistan. That was a
marvelous experience. Worth far more to me than it was
actually worth in money. When I went to my fiftieth college
reunion from Winthrop College just recently, I was named by
the administration as being the first of that college from
Winthrop to get a Fulbright grant. So that was quite an
honor. I consider my opportunity to go to teach at Berkeley
to be a great milestone in my career as well as my decision
to go to teach at the University of Southern California
permanently. These are the days that I look back on,
decisions which I made, which I think are quite good as far
as I am personally concerned. I never had a position in my
life, either volunteer or paid that I did not work hard. I
have some honors, aside from being granted the Fulbright
position. I was an officer in the A.A.U.P. chapter on
campus, and I had some other modest little recognitions
received on the University faculty and the University
community. I came to know Sam Proctor among other people
and I have some other good friends here. He is just one of
many friends. I do not know of anything you ought to ask me
that you have not already asked me.
K: I am sure that there are many things I should have asked you
that I have rot asked you.
P: I do not regret leaving the University here. I could have
stayed on I am sure. I had tenure. I was quite happy in
my work. I do consider going into teaching a very good
thing for me.
K: Very fulfilling?
K: Thank you very much.