The Heart of The College

Submitted by Margot Lyon, Director of Business Development

It’s the beginning of the academic year at many of ATLA’s member institutions, and as I reflect on my career and life, I think back to those individuals who inspired me. Today I focus on Evan Ira Farber, College Librarian at the Lilly Library of Earlham College, my undergrad alma mater, from 1962 to 1994. Evan (I called all members of the community by their first names in the tradition of the Society of Friends) was one of the first people I met as a first year student — my class came to the library and he explained to us that “rather than researching a fake assignment in the library, we want you to research something relevant to your class!”

In fact, Evan’s most famous thesis, that “the library is not the heart of the college, the teaching-learning process is,” not only rankled his peers, but also caused them to rethink their professional roles and the services offered by their libraries1. While I waited more than six years after college, Evan inspired me to eventually go to graduate school at the School of Information at the University of Michigan.

Evan Ira Farber, Library Director Emeritus of Earlham College • Photo credit: Earlham In Memoriam

I recently returned to Earlham’s campus and reflected more on my academic journey. Outside of countless awards and honors, Evan inspired hundreds if not thousands of people to enter the field of librarianship. How did he do this? Through his approachability, love of knowledge and wisdom, and non-anxious presence.

So, as the new academic year begins for you, who inspires you? Who do you hope to inspire?

Learn more about Evan Farber.

The Lilly Library is an ATLA Institutional Member serving students of Earlham College, Earlham School of Religion, and Bethany Theological Seminary.



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