Infomotions, Inc.Reference and rare books : oral history transcript : three decades at UC Berkeley's School of Librarianship, 1950-1981 / Fredric J. Mosher ; with introductions by Grete W. (Frug‚e) Cubie and Michael F. Buckland. Interviews conducted by Laura McCreery in 1 / Mosher, Fredric J. (Fredric John), 1914- ive

Author: Mosher, Fredric J. (Fredric John), 1914- ive
Title: Reference and rare books : oral history transcript : three decades at UC Berkeley's School of Librarianship, 1950-1981 / Fredric J. Mosher ; with introductions by Grete W. (Frug‚e) Cubie and Michael F. Buckland. Interviews conducted by Laura McCreery in 1
Tag(s): university of california, berkeley. school of library and in; university of california (1868-1952). school of librarianship history; university of california, berkeley. school of librarianship history; swank, raynard coe, 1912-; danton, j. periam, 1908-; mccreery; mosher; faculty; school; students; newberry library; bancroft library; library school; dean swank; oral history; leroy merritt; teaching
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University of California Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office University of California 

The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 

Library School Oral History Series 

Fredric J. Mosher 


With Introductions by 
Crete W. (Fruge) Cubie 

Michael K. Buckland 

Interviews Conducted by 

Laura McCreery 

in 1999 

Copyright > 2000 by The Regents of the University of California 

Since 1954 the Regional Oral History Office has been interviewing leading 
participants in or well-placed witnesses to major events in the development of 
northern California, the West, and the nation. Oral history is a method of 
collecting historical information through tape-recorded interviews between a 
narrator with firsthand knowledge of historically significant events and a well- 
informed interviewer, with the goal of preserving substantive additions to the 
historical record. The tape recording is transcribed, lightly edited for 
continuity and clarity, and reviewed by the interviewee. The corrected 
manuscript is indexed, bound with photographs and illustrative materials, and 
placed in The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, and in 
other research collections for scholarly use. Because it is primary material, 
oral history is not intended to present the final, verified, or complete 
narrative of events. It is a spoken account, offered by the interviewee in 
response to questioning, and as such it is reflective, partisan, deeply involved, 
and irreplaceable. 


All uses of this manuscript are covered by a legal agreement 
between The Regents of the University of California and Fredric J. 
Mosher dated March 15, 1999. The manuscript is thereby made 
available for research purposes. All literary rights in the 
manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to The 
Bancroft Library of the University of California, Berkeley. No part 
of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written 
permission of the Director of The Bancroft Library of the University 
of California, Berkeley. 

Requests for permission to quote for publication should be 
addressed to the Regional Oral History Office, 486 Bancroft Library, 
Mail Code 6000, University of California, Berkeley 94720-6000, and 
should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, 
anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user. 
The legal agreement with Fredric J. Mosher requires that he be 
notified of the request and allowed thirty days in which to respond. 

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows: 

Fredric J. Mosher, "Reference and Rare 
Books: Three Decades at UC Berkeley s 
School of Librarianship, 1950-1981," an 
oral history conducted in 1999 by Laura 
McCreery, Regional Oral History Office, 
The Bancroft Library, University of 
California, Berkeley, 2000. 

Copy no. 

Crete W. (Fruge) Cubie, Fredric J. Mosher, Evelyn Mosher, and Alexander 
Cubie on the UC Berkeley campus, March 1991. 

Cataloging Information 

MOSHER, Fredric J. (1914-1999) Librarian 

Reference and Rare Books: Three Decades at UC Berkeley s School of 
Librarianship, 1950-1981, 2000, xiii, 201 pp. 

Family background, education in North Dakota; doctoral study at the 
University of Illinois; postwar library studies at the University of 
Chicago graduate library school; head of reference at Chicago s Newberry 
Library, late 1940s; to UC Berkeley s School of Librarianship, 1950: 
impressions, loyalty oath controversy, teaching reference and bibliography 
from 1950-1981, comments on deanship of J. Periam Danton, others; 
intellectual freedom and the Fiske Report of 1956 on censorship in 
California libraries; 1960s, 1970s, deanship of Raynard C. Swank, Institute 
of Library Research, Fulbright in Denmark, the Free Speech Movement; 
faculty views of computers for librarianship; interest in the history of 
printing, rare books, and the history of books and libraries. 

Introductions by Crete W. (Fruge) Cubie, Senior Lecturer Emerita, 
School of Librarianship, UC Berkeley; and Michael K. Buckland, 
Professor, School of Information Management and Systems, UC Berkeley. 

Interviewed 1999 by Laura McCreery for the Library School Oral 
History Series. The Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft 
Library, University of California, Berkeley. 


The Regional Oral History Office wishes to express its thanks 

to the following individuals and organizations 

whose encouragement and support have made possible 

the Library School Oral History Series 

Patricia Anderson Farquar Memorial Fund 
Morley S. Farquar, Patron 

Class of 1931 Oral History Endowment 

Alumni Association of the School of Librarianship and 
School of Library and Information Studies 

Corliss S. Lee 

In Memory of Patricia Anderson Farquar: 

John Baleix 

Willa K. Baum 

Robert L. Briscoe 

Irene Frew 
Jean E. Herring 

Lester Kurd 

Jean C. Marks 

Rebecca D. Mclntyre 

Sharon A. Moore 

Corinne Rathjens 

Marlene B. Riley 

Juanita S. Vidalin 

In memory of Fredric J. Mosher: 

Ricki A. Blau 

Brigitte W. Dickinson 

Charlotte A. Tyler 

San Francisco Chronicle 
June 17, 1999 

Fredric J. Mosher 

Fredric ). Mosher, professor 
emeritus in the School of Informa 
tion & Management Systems at the 
University of California at Berkeley, 
died May 30 of a heart attack at his 
home in Kensington. He was 85. 

Mr. Mosher taught in the depart 
ment from 1950 when it was 
called the School of Librarianship - 
until his retirement in 1981. 

He headed instruction in refer 
ence and bibliography and taught 
the history of books and printing. 
His research centered on the history 
of books, printing, publishing and 
early forms of bibliographical de 

Mr. Mosher also was a Fulbright 
Lecturer at the Royal School of Li 
brarianship in Copenhagen in 
1963-64 and worked on the Eigh 
teenth Century Short Title Catalo 
gue in the British Library- in London 
in 1977 and 1978. 

Among his publications was "A 
Guide to Danish Bibliography," 
which he co-authored with Erland 
Munch-Petersen, published in Co 
penhagen in 1965. He also compil 
ed, with Archer Taylor, "The Biblio 
graphical History of Anonyma and 

While in retirement, he was a 
major contributor of scholarly arti 
cles on the subject of American 
printing to the revised edition of the 
"Lexikon des gesamten Buchwes- 
ens," the leading encyclopedia on 
the history of books. 

The Bancroft Library s Regional 
Oral History Office recently record 
ed his biography. "Fredric Mosher 
was a dedicated teacher who pre 
pared thoroughly for class and 
charmed his students with his wry 
wit and dry sense of humor," said 
Michael Buckland, a colleague of 
Mr. Mosher and former dean of the 

Bom in Oakes, N.D., Mr. Mosher 
Deceived his bachelor s degree in 
1934 and his master s degree in En 
glish the following year from the 
University of North Dakota. 
, He earned a Bachelor of Library 
Sciences degree from the University 
of Chicago in 1948. In 1950, he 
received his Ph.D. in English from 
the University of Illinois. 

Before arriving at UC Berkeley as 
an instructor in 1950, he taught En 
flish at the University of Illinois 
from 1936 to 1943. He then served 
in the U.S. Army as a sergeant from 
1943 to 1946. Later that year he was 
hired at the Newberry Library in 
Chicago as an apprentice librarian 

Mr. Mosher is survived by his wife 
of 62 years, Evelyn Mosher of Ken 
sington, and his sons, John Ran 
dolph Mosher of Tacoma, Wash., 
and Allan Mosher of Youngstown, 
Ohio, and three granddaughters. 

A memorial service for Mr. 
Mosher has been held at Trinity 
United Methodist Church in Berke 

Contributions in his honor may 
be made to the Bancroft Library at 
die University of California, Berke 

TABLE OF CONTENTS--Fredric J. Mosher 


INTRODUCTION by Crete W. Cubie v 

INTRODUCTION by Michael K. Buckland ix 

INTERVIEW HISTORY by Laura McCreery xi 


Grandparents, Parents, and Early Life in North Dakota, From 

1914 1 

Schooling in Oakes, North Dakota; First Library Job 6 

Attending High School in Grand Forks; Early Career Interests 7 

University of North Dakota; Courting Evelyn Varland 10 

Marriage, 1936; Doctoral Study at University of Illinois, 

1936-1943 13 

Life in Urbana, Illinois; Teaching English 15 

Deciding on a Dissertation; Considering Librarianship 18 
Working at the Newberry Library and Attending Library School, 

1946-1950 20 

U.S. Army Service in World War II, 1943-1946 23 
Finishing the Ph.D. after the War; Revising a Book for 

Publication 28 

The Newberry Library: From Apprentice to Head of Reference 30 

Further Recollections of Attending Library School, 1946-1948 36 

Coming to Berkeley s School of Librarianship, 1950 39 
The Loyalty Oath Controversy; Early Impressions of Berkeley 42 
The First Semester at Berkeley 44 
Early Experiences at the School of Librarianship; Colleagues 46 
Deanship of J. Periam Danton 49 
Recollections of Edith Coulter and Delia Sisler 50 
Teaching Reference and Bibliography 51 
Promotions to Assistant and Associate Professor; Meeting with 

Clark Kerr 52 
Teaching the History of the Book; Summers in the Rare Book 

Room 54 

Impressions of Students; Admissions Process 55 
The Deanship of J. Periam Danton; Establishing Doctoral 

Programs 58 

Loyalty Oath Controversy 63 

State Aid to California Public Libraries 65 

Recollections of State Librarians Mabel Gillis and Canna 

Zimmerman Leigh 68 

Coit Coolidge and the Richmond Public Library; Men Librarians 

Group 69 

Faculty Club Lunches; Donald Coney and the Main Library 

Staff, 1950s 71 

Fighting Censorship During the McCarthy Era 76 
Study on Censorship in California Public Libraries 80 
Publish or Perish 82 
Working with Rare Books 86 
History of the Book Course; Roger Levenson and the History 

of Printing 87 

Mentoring Doctoral Students 90 
Planning and Teaching Courses; Preparing Students for 

Reference Work 91 
Foreign Language Requirements for Students; Teaching 

Government Publications 96 

More on Intellectual Freedom and the Fiske Report of 1956 99 

Interactions with California s Legislature; Censorship Bills 103 
More on Teaching Reference; Anecdotes from the Newberry 

Library 104 

Summer Program of the School of Librarianship 107 

The Sisler Book Prize 109 
Clark Kerr s Presidency; School of Librarianship s Lack of 

Visibility 110 

The School Moves to South Hall 112 

Recalling Other Faculty Colleagues of the 1950s and 1960s 114 

The Deanship of Raynard C. Swank, 1963-1970 117 
The Institute of Library Research 120 
Fulbright Lectureship to Denmark 123 
The Royal Library School; "What Americans Can Learn From 

the Danes" 126 
Research in Denmark; Thoughts From Abroad on the Kennedy 

Assassination 131 

Returning to Berkeley and the Free Speech Movement, 1964 133 

The Firing of President Kerr 140 

Civil Rights and Other Concerns of the 1960s 142 

More on Dean Swank and the Institute of Library Research 143 

Faculty and Student Interest in Computers for Librarianship 146 
A Split Faculty at the School; Changes to the Curriculum, 

1960s 148 
Stereotypes About Librarians and Library Work; Gender 

and Librarianship 152 
Dean Swank and His Programs ; More on the Faculty Split 

Over Computers 155 

Leading a Team of Reference Teachers 158 
Poetry for Reference Students; Miss Coulter s "Trick" 

Question 163 

The Rare Book Room Joins The Bancroft Library 166 
Swank s Resignation and the Deanship of Patrick Wilson, 

1970-1975 167 

The Post-Master s Certificate; Doctoral Recruitment 172 

ALA Accreditation 174 

Quarter System Versus Semester System 176 


The Deanship of Michael K. Buckland, From 1976 177 

Name Change: School of Library and Information Studies 180 

Effect of Proposition 13 on Libraries 183 

Sabbatical to the British Library, 1977-1978 184 

Promotion to Full Professor, 1979 187 

Retirement, 1981 189 

Writing for the German Lexikon, From 1984 191 

Contact With the School Since Retiring; The Advent of SIMS 192 

Thoughts on Retirement 195 


INDEX 199 

SERIES PREFACELibrary School Oral History Series 

The Library School Oral History Series documents the history of 
librarianship education at the University of California, Berkeley. 
Through transcribed and edited oral history interviews, the series 
preserves personal recollections of those involved with Berkeley s 
graduate library school since the 1930s. In the process, the interviews 
touch on the history of libraries in the Bay Area and California and on 
remarkable changes to the profession of librarianship over time. 

Certain lines of inquiry are central to all the interviews. What 
were the changes to the School of Librarianship (later the School of 
Library and Information Studies) over the years? How were decisions 
made, and by whom? Historically, what is the proper role of and 
training for librarians? How has that changed? What, in the opinion of 
those interviewed, is the public s view of librarianship? 

Library education at Berkeley spans nearly a full century. In 
1901 Melvil Dewey, founding director of the New York State Library 
School and author of the Dewey Decimal classification system for books, 
wrote to University of California President Benjamin Ide Wheeler, 
encouraging him to start a library school on the West Coast. Berkeley 
offered the first summer courses in librarianship in 1902, and summer 
training continued intermittently until 1918, when library education 
joined the curriculum of the regular academic year. 

In 1921, a Department of Librarianship was authorized for the 
College of Letters and Science, with instruction to begin in 1922. The 
state library school in Sacramento, which had offered courses since 
1914, closed its doors in 1921, turning over the training of librarians 
to the University of California. 

In 1926, Berkeley s departmental program became a separate 
graduate School of Librarianship, which existed until 1946 under the 
leadership of the founding dean, Sydney B. Mitchell. In the early 
years, with a staff of two core faculty members, Edith M. Coulter and 
Delia J. Sisler, Mitchell offered both a graduate Certificate in 
Librarianship and a second-year course leading to the Master of Arts 
degree. Generally the school accepted only fifty students each year 
from among several hundred applicants . 

In 1933, under new accreditation standards, the American Library 
Association named Berkeley a "Type I" school, one of only five so 
designated because of its graduate degree offerings. In 1937 an 
endowment grant of $150,000 from the Carnegie Corporation assured the 
school s place among American educational institutions. 


After World War II, during the deanship of J. Periam Danton (1946- 
1961), the school grew dramatically in size of faculty and number of 
students, while expanding and specializing every area of its programs. 
The graduate certificate was replaced in 1947 with a Bachelor of Library 
Science degree (BLS) and in 1955 with a Master of Library Science degree 
(MLS); Ph.D. and Doctor of Library Science (DLS) degree programs were 
inaugurated in 1954; and the school developed its own Library School 
Library as a branch of the main Doe Library. 

With the deanship of Raynard Coe Swank (1963-1970) came the 
school s first attention to computers and automation for libaries, an 
issue which eventually found its way into the curriculum and was taken 
up also through the school s Institute of Library Research. Swank s 
leadership culminated in the school s move from its quarters inside Doe 
Library to the venerable South Hall, one of two original buildings of 
the Berkeley campus (and the only one remaining) . Throughout the 
seventies and eighties, under the leadership of Patrick Wilson and 
Michael Buckland, significant changes came to the curriculum and the 
faculty, as reflected in the eventual change of name to the School of 
Library and Information Studies. 

In the late eighties and nineties, the school and its curricula 
were evaluated as part of a larger review of the campus and its mission 
as a research university. The school had only one permanent dean during 
this period, Robert C. Berring, who served half time from 1986 to 1989. 
Much of the assessment took place under a series of acting deans. 
Eventually the School of Library and Information Studies ceased 
admitting new students, while the campus administration contemplated 
whether it had a future. 

Although the threat of complete dissolution was beaten back, in 
part owing to the efforts of alumni and their "Save Our School" 
campaign, the school was, in effect, compelled to close down its 
operations. It reopened as the School of Information Management and 
Systems (SIMS), which graduated its first master s students in 1999. 
Although a few faculty members have remained, the new school s 
curriculum bears little resemblance to the old, as it offers an 
electronically based, rather than print-oriented, training. SIMS did 
take over the library school s endowment and its location in South Hall. 
As of January 2000, SIMS also administers the alumni association that 
incorporates graduates of the former school. To date it has not sought 
accreditation from the American Library Association. 

Meanwhile, schools of librarianship across the country have 
closed, changed their missions, or been subsumed under other graduate 
schools. The library systems devised so carefully by nineteenth and 
twentieth century founders have given way--in academic, public, and 
special libraries of every kindto new ways of recording and managing 
collections and providing service to patrons. The Regional Oral History 


Office s Library School Oral History Series provides a strong narrative 
complement to written records of a key educational institution at a 
crucial time. With traditional education for librarianship fast 
disappearing, this series, like ROHO s broader University History 
Series, can serve as an enlightening case study of changes in education 
occurring throughout the United States. 

A significant gift from Morley S. Farquar in memory of his wife, 
Patricia Anderson Farquar 53, allowed this series to begin in the fall 
of 1998. Additional gifts from the Class of 1931 Oral History Endowment 
and the Alumni Association of the former School of Librarianship /Library 
and Information Studies, along with important individual donations, have 
further supported the collection of interviews. 

A key to creating this series has been the longevity of the 
individuals selected to be narrators. The first four interviewees for 
the series were born in 1914 or earlier and were between eighty- five and 
ninety years old at the time of their interviews. Two of them were 
students at the school in the 1930s, and their recollections shed light 
on the founding faculty members. Two of them had substantial experience 
in California public libraries. Three had long careers on the School of 
Librarianship faculty. Other narrators in the series will add their 
experiences as students, faculty members, and deans. Taken together, 
these oral histories will offer a rich history of librarianship 
education throughout the twentieth century and beyond. 

Special thanks go to the wise and thoughtful team of advisers for 
the Library School Oral History Series: Michael K. Buckland, Julia J. 
Cooke, Mary Kay Duggan, Debra L. Hansen, Robert D. Harlan, J. R. K. Kantor 
(who also proofread every transcript), Corliss S. Lee, and Charlotte 
Nolan. Special thanks go also to those whose ideas, assistance, and 
goodwill helped the series come to life: Willa K. Baum, Anne G. Lipow, 
Christine Orr, Shannon Page, Suzanne Riess, and Leticia Sanchez. 

The Regional Oral History Office was established in 1954 to 
augment through tape-recorded memoirs the Library s materials on the 
history of California and the West. Copies of all interviews are 
available for research use in The Bancroft Library and in the UCLA 
Department of Special Collections. The office is under the direction of 
Willa K. Baum, Division Head, and the administrative direction of 
Charles B. Faulhaber, James D. Hart Director of The Bancroft Library, 
University of California, Berkeley. 

Laura McCreery, Project Director 
Library School Oral History Series 

August 2000 

Regional Oral History Office 

The Bancroft Library 

University of California, Berkeley 


Library School Oral History Series 
October 2000 

Crete W. (Fruge) Cubie, A Career in Public Libraries and at UC Berkeley s 
School of Librarianship, 1937-1975, 2000 

J. Per lam Danton, Dean and Professor at UC Berkeley s School of Librarianship, 
1946-1976, 2000 

Fredric J. Mosher, Reference and Rare Books: Three Decades at UC Berkeley s 
School of Librarianship, 1950-1981, 2000 

Flora Elizabeth Reynolds, "A Dukedom Large Enough": Forty Years in Northern 
California s Public and Academic Libraries, 1936-1976, 2000 

Oral Histories in Process 

Fay M. Blake 
Robert D. Harlan 
Patrick G. Wilson 

INTRODUCTION by Crete W. (Fruge) Cubie 

Upon Edith Coulter s retirement the School of Librarianship waited 
a year before Fred Mosher came from the Newberry Library, Chicago, to 
join an expanding faculty at Berkeley. The appointment was well worth 
the waiting because the school gained a worthy successor to Miss Coulter 
in the teaching of Reference and Bibliography. At the same time Fred s 
arrival made possible continuation in the curriculum of a course taught 
by Delia Sisler until her retirement: History of Books and Printing. It 
was offered by Fred and the colleagues who shared with and succeeded him 
during the many years when librarianship, in its encompassing sense, 
made up the school s curriculum. 

When Fred Mosher came to Berkeley in 1950 his preparation for 
these subjects was the best. At the Newberry Library his humanistic 
mind had been nourished and he had found his profession as librarian, 
teacher, scholar. Rapidly advanced from apprentice to head of 
reference, he came to Berkeley to share with his students his own 
fulfillment and pleasure in good reference service. Knowledgeably and 
with meticulous thoroughness, he went about developing a course that 
would send graduates into the field with confidence and competence in 
realizing their expectations. Fred had helped them see the rewards, the 
stimulation of the search and its often unexpected turns, the exercise 
of resourcefulness, the sometimes amusing results. Like Edith Coulter 
before him, he relished such recollections with a chuckle and a slowly 
spreading smile. 

The ready acceptance by his colleagues of Fred as head of a team 
of reference teachers owed much to his attitude and manner. His 
reasonableness, his appreciation of what others brought and gave, his 
personal modesty matching strong convictionssuch qualities invited and 
sustained cooperation. As new teachers joined the team during Fred s 
more that thirty years of active service, some whose doctoral research 
he had supervised, his beneficient influence continued. Fred was, and 
still is, gratefully remembered by many graduates who made a satisfying 
career in librarianship. Reference librarians among them remember him 
with special fondness. 

When the Mosher family was on its way home from Fred s Fulbright 
lectureship at the Royal School of Librarianship in Copenhagen 
(1964-65), they enjoyed some days of travel in Germany, France, and 
Belgium. For Fred there was a special opportunity to visit the 
Gutenberg Museum in Mainz and the Museum Plantin-Moretus in Antwerp. It 
was his day in the home and printing house of Christophe Plantin that 
gave him very special pleasure and was at the top of his traveler s tale 
when he returned to Berkeley. He had savored the experience of being in 


the house where humanists had visited and been published, where all was 
still intact in its totality and the presses in working order after more 
than 300 years of use. In the first days of Fred s return to the school 
there was much talk of this before he got to telling us what else had 
happened in his year away. 

Before long Fred found a way of helping students enrolled in the 
History of Books and Printing course to realize the meaning of "the art 
of printing." Together with Roger Levenson of San Francisco he found an 
1861 Caslon Albion press to install in the basement of South Hall. Here 
students experimented with types and typesetting and the whole printing 
process under the watchful eye of Roger Levenson. They secured 
manuscripts of modest size and printed them in limited editions under 
the imprint "The South Hall Press, University of California." 

For his recreational and private enjoyment Fred also installed a 
handpress and well-stocked type cabinet in his study; here he printed 
gifts for his family and friends. I was the lucky recipient of one, a 
box of elegant stationery, a retirement present printed while I was 
traveling in Europe after having taught my last class in 1975. I 
returned engaged and shortly to be married to Alex Cubie, and so with 
laughter and a reference to Murphy s Law, Fred brought his gift, fresh 
from the press but with a soon-to-be outdated name. After it was 
properly adapted, I enjoyed using it with hundreds of reminders of 
Fred s intention. 

Of all the years I knew Fred I like most to remember him as family 
man and friend. My memory spans the time from his arrival in Berkeley 
with his wife Evelyn and their son Randy to an evening s telephone chat 
between friends only days before Fred so suddenly left us. 

When he came to the school it took no time at all for friendship 
to flourish between the young Mosher family and Ethelyn Markley, a 
friendship in which I was happily included. Shared views of what 
matters most in librarianship drew Fred and Ethelyn together, and an 
affinity in understanding the nature and worth of their respective 
subjects. They were equally committed to passing on that sense to their 
students, and as teachers they soon developed a mutual appreciation and 

They both had the gift of friendship in great measure. The 
Moshers 1 warm welcome into their home soon made it thrive. Ethelyn and 
I were invited to Evelyn s delicious meals, informally after work and on 
festive occasions to honor a person or a holiday. The serendipity of 
Fred and Ethelyn "s shared birthday did its part. February nineteenth 
was their day and was celebrated at the Moshers with hardly a year 
missed while Ethelyn lived, and then only when one or the other was 
away. Evelyn set an exquisite table with gleaming silver, sparkling 
crystal, and her treasured Danish china, blue on white. Fred s birtnday 


wish was the same each year, for a prune cake baked with an old family 
recipe; and each year Evelyn carried it to the table, candles blazing in 
numbers of some combined birthday formula. Fred would go to the small 
organ to tune us up for "Happy Birthday." 

With my marriage to Alex Cubie the friendship expanded, and with 
our move to Santa Cruz visiting took on a new dimension. North or 
south, it brought leisurely days together to enjoy shared interests. 
Music stood high among them. The Moshers 1 home on Arlington Avenue had 
a "music room," perfectly equipped for listening and viewing. Here Fred 
would bring Alex up to date on his collection of recordings and select 
what we would all enjoy together, especially when there was a tape of 
their son Allan s most recent concert performance. As Allan Mosher s 
career as music teacher and performer unfolded it was his parents joy 
to "attend" his latest performance. They had the best possible 
incentive for taking early advantage of what sound and video technology 
can bring to the home. 

Visits in Santa Cruz gave us outdoor pleasure in summertime, of 
meals in the garden and walks along the ocean. With fall and winter 
came holidays and arrival of the Monarch butterfly in Natural Bridges 
State Park. I look back on Thanksgivings together on Fair Avenue when, 
dinner preparations made and the turkey roasting, we would walk to the 
eucalyptus grove where the butterflies spend the winter. Luckily 
weather was favorable for midday sun to fill the sky with whirring 
wings, orange on luminous blue. The butterflies became the symbol of 
Santa Cruz for Fred, who never failed to mention them in letters. 

Fred had ways of keeping in touch with friends besides visiting 
and letter writing. Sometimes the desire to share found tangible 
expression. Alex s collection of music recordings is enriched by gifts 
from Fred who, having added a disc or tape of a much-enjoyed performance 
to his collection, wanted Alex to have one; and a parcel went off in the 
mail. Once a box of apples arrived to let us taste the "Jonagolds" that 
had just appeared on the market and on the Moshers table. 

One kind of parcel I remember with particular warmth; it was 
addressed to me at intervals over many years. When Alex and I took up 
part-time residence abroad, the kind of printed or typewritten documents 
that appear in desk baskets ceased to come from South Hall. Ever the 
alert librarian and thoughtful friend, Fred spontaneously decided to 
keep me informed by sending what he thought I should read. The parcels 
tended to be bulky but kept coming, and I owe it to Fred s faithful 
effort that 1 did not lose touch with the library school. 

When I think back on Fred s last years, I am glad for two events 
that enriched his life to the end. The first was the joy of attending a 
performance of Haydn s "The Creation" in Hertz Hall, April 1998, 
listening to his son s bass-baritone voice a quarter century after 


Allan s first appearance on that stage before going east for his 
conservatory education. 

I am glad too that Fred was granted time to enter with zest and 
finish with satisfaction his series of recorded interviews on the School 
of Librarianship. Only a few days before his death Fred and I talked on 
the phone and touched on our just-finished sessions. We heartily agreed 
on having enjoyed them. With thoughts of Fred, and more thoughts so 
recently shared, I am glad for having been asked how I remember him. 

Crete W. Cubie 

Senior Lecturer Emerita 

University of California, Berkeley 

Santa Cruz, California 
July 2000 


INTRODUCTION by Michael K. Buckland 

Fred Mosher had already been at Berkeley for twenty- five years 
when, in January 1976, I arrived from Indiana to join what was then 
called the School of Librarianship. A Graduate Council review committee 
chaired by John Wheeler had issued a report on the school in 1974. The 
Wheeler Report urged a broadening of the school s scope. The school was 
advised to extend its interest in library services to concern itself 
with information services in other, additional institutional contexts 
and to be more concerned with what was then called "Information 
Science." I was recruited as dean with instructions from the 
Chancellor s Office to modernize the school and to implement the 
recommendations of the Wheeler Report. 

There had been serious and unpleasant disagreements among the 
faculty and it was very clear that the level of conflict had to be 
reduced. Fortunately, the faculty themselves had also come to the same 
conclusion. It helped that I came in as a complete outsider and with 
quite varied experience. Both factors made it easier to establish 
rapport with the varied points of view. 

Fred Mosher had quite specific views on how and what to teach. He 
emphasized giving students first hand experience with important 
reference books, he valued paying attention to the historical 
development of the field, and he considered the foreign language 
requirement for doctoral students to be important. But for a decade the 
pressure had been to move in quite different directions. Computers and 
information science began to consume large amounts of faculty positions 
and school resources. His views on what should be taught and how had 
been losing ground. 

He had come to Berkeley with quite specific research projects and 
he worked hard for many years on them. Unfortunately, in two of his 
areas of interest he found himself upstaged by other authors who 
published more limited studies on the same topics, apparently unaware 
that Fred had been working on them, and so, for that and other reasons, 
his publications were fewer than his work would ordinarily have 

My impression was that Fred had felt that his contributions and 
his work had been somewhat under-appreciated for a considerable period 
of time, but he always treated me very well and he was a constructive 
influence in the redirection of the school. 

As we discussed what new opportunities there might be in 
professional education for database administration, records management, 

archives, corporate information management, and other areas, Fred took a 
positive stance. Anyone who went to work in these areas, he declared, 
would have to have the service-oriented skills of a well-trained 
reference librarian and, so far as he could see, they would almost 
certainly need to be fluent in finding government information. Such 
students, he said, would need to take his courses whatever else they 
might do. It was this constructive attitude by Fred Mosher and others 
that enabled the school to make a significant strategic re-orientation 
without the battles, bitterness, and entrenchment that can so easily 
accompany efforts at change. 

Fred also took the initiative to be supportive in practical ways. 
He thought it important, when I arrived, that I should get to know 
retired members of the faculty and so, soon after my arrival, he and his 
wife Evelyn arranged a dinner party in their home, carefully seating me 
between Crete Fruge and Anne Ethelyn Markley. In 1988 my wife and I 
left Berkeley for a year abroad and rented out our house. A few days 
before we left, the arrangements we had made for our son, Anthony, to 
have somewhere to stay in Berkeley during his college breaks collapsed. 
Fred immediately invited Anthony to stay in the Mosher home, which he 
did with enjoyment during his 1989 spring break. We remain very 

By 1977 he was eligible for sabbatical leave and I urged him to 
make the most of it. It proved possible to arrange for him to be 
attached to the Eighteenth Century Short Title Catalogue team at the 
British Library in London, which gave him the wonderful privilege of 
roaming the library s stacks. This year abroad was very fruitful and 
resulted in publications and promotion to full professor. 

It was very good to see Fred productively and usefully occupied 
with his research during his retirement years, unfortunately interrupted 
by failing health. 

Part of his legacy is in his work on intellectual freedom in the 
1950s, part of it is in his specialized publications, and another part 
is in grateful students. He is often spoken of fondly when I encounter 
alumni . 

At his memorial service, as several people paid tribute to Fred s 
positive, resilient attitude, his Christian faith, his caring for 
others, and that distinctive smile that accompanied his dry sense of 
humor, I reflected that we should all hope to be so fondly remembered. 

Michael K. Buckland 


University of California, Berkeley 
April 10, 2000 
Berkeley, California 



During the planning stages of the Library School Oral History 
Series, several names came up repeatedly as "must-do" interviews. These 
narrators were named by their colleagues as essential to any 
comprehensive history of the School of Librarianship (later School of 
Library and Information Studies). 

Fredric J. Mosher was one of these. In his thirty-one years of 
teaching, from 1950 to 1981, Professor Mosher oversaw the school s 
instruction in the pivotal area of reference and bibliography. (His 
predecessor for these subjects was Professor Edith M. Coulter, one of 
three people who made up the school s first faculty.) He was also a 
specialist in the history of books, printing, and libraries. 

When I went to Professor Mosher "s Kensington home in February of 
1999 to introduce myself and the oral history project, I discovered an 
eager collaborator with a quiet demeanor and a ready smile. Though we 
sat in the living room at first, we soon chose his downstairs office as 
the site for our interview sessions. The cozy room would muffle harsh 
background noises on my tape, and he would have ready access to his 
bookcases and filing cabinets. 

We did not commence interviews until March, as the Mosher home was 
to be a flurry of family activity until then. Both Professor Mosher and 
his wife of sixty-two years, Evelyn, would celebrate their eighty-fifth 
birthdays during February, and his sister Carolyn in Seattle was having 
a birthday as well. There would be visits from his two sons, Randy and 
Allan, and the grandchildren. 

Professor Mosher sat for oral history interviews from mid-March to 
the end of April. After a while we settled on Friday mornings as our 
regular time. Often we worked to the accompaniment of spring 
rainstorms, and once it poured so hard outside that the sound came 
through on the tape. 

During interviews, we sat at opposite ends of the large couch in 
Professor Mosher s office, with the tape recorder between us and all our 
papers spread on nearby surfaces. He always had a few pertinent things 
to show me from the neat piles he had arranged on the daybed nearby. 
Between tape sides, he always got up and stretched his legs; he disliked 
sitting still for long periods. 

Professor Mosher s interviews proved thoughtful and appealing. He 
spoke slowly and deliberately, and he had an unusual capacity to follow 
my line of inquiry and explore it fully without wandering or jumping 


ahead. I came to admire this combination of openness and discipline, 
and I was delighted by his playful sense of humor. 

At the end of eight sessions, we had recorded twelve and a half 
hours of tape and covered the main periods and issues of his career. 
Although we touched only occasionally on personal things, Professor 
Mosher revealed himself as a gentle person whose foremost priorities 
rested with family and church. In counterpoint, such topics as 
intellectual freedom brought out in him a forceful manner and strong 

On May 28, 1999, four weeks after the interviews came to an end, I 
phoned Professor Mosher to say the tapes were not yet transcribed and to 
ask his patience during the long editing phase of the project. Though 
he was glad to know where things stood, he assured me he did not mind 
delays. I encouraged him to think about who should write the 
introduction to the manuscript and to select a photo of himself as well. 

Sadly, that very weekend, Professor Mosher suffered a heart attack 
and passed away. Two of his colleagues, Michael K. Buckland and Robert 
D. Harlan, were kind enough to help with the review of interviews so 
this manuscript could be produced posthumously. The text was edited 
only lightly, and no significant changes or deletions were made. All of 
us who were involved have tried to uphold Professor Mosher s high 
standards. Now that we have committed his words to paper, we hope this 
memoir will find the audience it deserves. 

Laura McCreery, Interviewer/Editor 

March 2000 

Regional Oral History Office 

The Bancroft Library 

University of California, Berkeley 


Regional Oral History Office University of California 

Room 486 The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 94720 

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[Interview 1: March 15, 1999] ## 

Grandparents, Parents, and Early Life in North Dakota, From 

McCreery: Good morning. It seems to me that you have just had a 

significant birthday, if I recall from our last conversation. 

Mosher: Yes. My birthday is February 19 and I was eighty-five. Born 
in 1914. 

McCreery: Congratulations. 
Mosher: Thank you. 

McCreery: Let s start right there, then, with having you tell me a little 
bit about when and where you were born. 

Mosher: I was born in Oakes, North Dakota. This town was founded 

because two railroad lines intersected there, and therefore it 
was a good place for traveling men to live. There was a lot of 
that. When the town was founded the only way of traveling long 
distances was by railroad. 

I was born above the movie theater in Oakes, North Dakota, 
and I ve been a movie fan all my life. I don t know whether 
that has anything to do with it or not. [laughter] 

We soon moved to a little rented house in Oakes, and I 
lived in Oakes until we moved for one year to Minneapolis when 
I was four and five. Then we moved back to Oakes again and 

## This symbol indicates that a tape or tape segment hajj begun or 
ended. A guide to the tapes follows the transcript. 

stayed there until I was in junior in high school, when we-- 
this isn t what you want to know right now, is it? 

McCreery: This is fine, actually. Perhaps you could just tell me a 
little bit about your grandparents, if you know much about 
them. You can start on either side of the family. 

Mosher: I saw the only living grandparents I had only once [each] . 
Both my grandmothers were dead by the time I was born. My 
maternal grandfather was John Ireland. He had served in the 
Civil War as a drummer boy, and he was a farmer most of his 
life. He visited us, just one or two days, on his way from 
Minnesota to Oregon, where he lived the rest of his life. And 
I saw him only that once, when I was a just a baby--one or two 
years old, maybe a little less. I m not sure. 

We went to Allegan, Michigan, where my father [Fred Smith 
Mosher] had been born and where his father was living then, and 
that s the only time I saw the paternal grandfather, Albert 
Mosher. He was born in Vermont and had a butcher shop in 
Allegan. When I saw him he lived on a farm near Allegan, I 
think. That s all very dim in my memory. 

McCreery: Why did you see him only the one time? 

Mosher: Because he was living in Allegan, Michigan, which is a long way 
from Oakes, North Dakota. And we didn t travel easily those 
days. Besides me, I have an older brother and a younger 
sister, and that would mean taking three children along on the 
train. It would be quite a trip. 

McCreery: You mentioned Oakes was a good place for traveling people to 
live, and I know your father sold insurance. 

Mosher: Yes, that s right. 

McCreery: Is that how you ended up there? 

Mosher: No, he didn t sell insurance then. He sold insurance later on. 
He was a traveling salesman when I was born. He traveled for a 
farm implement company, the Moline Plow Company. And he had 
most of southern and western North Dakota as his territory, so 
he would be gone from Monday through Friday most of the time 
and only home on weekends. And of course it wasn t long after 
I was born when he got a car and wasn t dependent upon the 
trains any longer. I suppose that s why Oakes, North Dakota 
never became much of a town. It had around 1,000, 1,200 
inhabitants when I was born, and I don t think it s much more 
than a couple thousand now. 

McCreery: What about that year when you were four or five that you left 
Oakes? What were the circumstances of that? 

Mosher: My father went to the head office, the Minneapolis office, of 
the Moline Plow Company as an assistant manager, and so the 
whole family went. My brother went to school and I went to 
kindergarten in Minneapolis when I was between four and five. 

My father did not get along with the manager of the office, 
and I think he quit. And he went back to Oakes, and there he 
first started selling insurance with an insurance agency in 
Oakes. But this was the time of the post-World War I 
Depression, and it hit particularly hard in such places as 
North Dakota. They depended largely on wheat, the price of 
which was not so high. 

The insurance did not work out, and Dad got a job with the 
National Biscuit Company selling cookies. He traveled around 
North Dakota selling the cookies of the Nabisco. We thought 
that was great because the sample cases he had we could eat 
when he came back. [laughter] That was every week. But that 
didn t last long, either, and he got back into the employment 
of the Moline Plow Company and stayed with them until the 
Depression, 1929. 

McCreery: What kind of memories do you have of your dad from when you 
were growing up? 

Mosher: Well, I felt that I had to do what he told me to do. He was 
never- -there was no corporal punishment involved that I can 
remember. I m really kind of puzzled about himnot puzzled, I 
guess, but I really don t know him so very well because he was 
gone so much during those formative years. He was sort of a 
father authority figure that didn t play much part in my 
everyday life. 

McCreery: That was very common, of course, for many people. Tell me 
something about your mother and where she came from. 

Mosher: Mother [Georgie Ireland Mosher] was one of eleven children. 
Her mother had come from Norway as an infant and she married 
John Ireland, I m not sure when. She had eleven children and 
then died of tuberculosis when she was in her early forties. 

At that time my mother was in the fifth grade and sort of 
in the middle of the group, of the family, and she had to stay 
homequit school and take care of the family. She was eleven 
years old. And of course, the death of a mother was an awful 
blow to her, which she never really got over. 

McCreery: Where was her family living then? 

Mosher: My mother was born in Minnesota. Elbow Lake, I think it is. 

But my father, or my grandfather, had moved with the family to 
Glidden, Wisconsin where the lumbering was going on. My mother 
had older brothers who worked in the lumber industry, and my 
grandfather ran a livery stable in Glidden. 

When her mother died, everything went to pieces, of course. 
They stayed on in Glidden for a while, and then they moved out 
to North Dakota, to a little town named Benedict, North Dakota, 
where my father and mother met. 

McCreery: Tell me something about your memories of your mom. 

Mosher: I think she was one of the most wonderful people who ever 

lived. I was very close to her, and I worked a lot with her in 
the house. I helped her clean the house. And she was subject 
to migraine headaches and when they hit, why, I would try to 
take care of hergive her cold cloths for her head and that 
sort of thingand just be there to take care of the house. 
She was usually out of it when she had one of these awful 



She was, nevertheless, a happy person, a jolly person, and 
looked on the bright side of things. And, well, everyone liked 
her. She was interested and interesting, and although she d 
never graduated from eighth grade even, she read a lot and was 
knowledgeable about a great many things. 

Do you get some of your interests from her? 

Oh, I m sure I do. Well, she was responsible for most of my 
beliefs and opinions and knowledge for quite a long time. 

How much older was your brother? 

My brother was not quite two years older. He died just--I 
don t remember now whenthree or four years ago, but he had 
been suffering from diabetes for many years and lived in St. 
Louis. He was one year and nine months older than I, and I 
think there was always quite a bit of sibling rivalry there. 
We both were very good in school, and he was much better at 
sports and much more interested in sports than I was. I didn t 
ever engage in any athletic activities primarily, I realize 
now- -because I wasn t any good at it. [laughter] And I had to 
wear glasses. My eyes weren t--! couldn t see too well. Well, 
I was near-sighted. It was sort of interesting that this near- 
sightedness prevented me from getting a commission in the navy, 


for example, and prevented my being included in sports. But 
since about 1978, I ve had 20/20 vision. I don t wear glasses 
and I don t need glasses to drive. I use glasses only for the 
small dif f icult-to-read print. 

And that s because near-sightedness tends to correct itself in 

Mosher: I guess so. 

McCreery: I have heard that. I keep hoping. [laughter] 

Mosher: I noticed it first because of watching TV, and needing my 

glasses for TV. And suddenlyor not suddenly, I guess over a 
period of time--I found that I took my glasses off to watch TV. 
The optometrist confirmed this. 

McCreery: Did you maintain much closeness with your brother later in life 
or see him often? 

Mosher: I didn t see him often because we never lived in the same town, 
except for a short period of time. Before I came out here he 
was living near Chicago, too. But otherwise, we just haven t 
seen much of each other. In those younger periods of our lives 
we were quarrelsome and very unhappy with each other a lot of 
the time. In fact, everyone thought that we were fighting all 
the time. But he was larger, of course, and bigger and 
stronger, and so I didn t win out. 

McCreery: Tell me something about your younger sister. 

Mosher: Yes, Carolyn. She s still living. She lives up in Seattle. I 
spent a lot of time with her, taking care of her and playing 
with her. She quit schoolquit going to the universityand 
got married fairly young after she had only two years at the 
university. And she had several children and remarried twice, 
and has not had a happy adult life, except now she s very happy 
with her grandchildren. 

McCreery: Are you close to her, would you say? 

Mosher: Yes. Of course, I have a son living up in the Seattle area, 

and my sister Carolyn has lived up in that area for quite a few 
years now. She used to live in Denver, but we ve seen each 
other quite a bit. Well, there was a long period of time when 
we didn t, because we were tied down to our own families at 

McCreery: Do you know the story of how your parents met each other? 

Mosher: Yes, at least I was told my father was a traveling salesman up 
in North Dakota, middle North Dakota near Minot. And 
restaurants in North Dakota, I presume even today, are pretty 
sorry affairs. They were, I m sure, worse back then, early 
1900s. Let s see, my father met John Ireland, mother s father. 
He was quite a convivial fellow--he liked to talk with people-- 
and I guess grandfather John took pity on Dad and invited him 
home for dinner. And Mother was responsible, of course, for 
the home, pretty much, and that s how they were introduced. 
And it didn t take long for them to get married. 

Schooling in Oakes, North Dakota; First Library Job 

McCreery: What do you remember about growing up in Oakes and going to 
school there? 

Mosher: It had a good school system, I thought. The teachers were all 
well prepared and interested in what they were doing, and I 
learned a lot. I thought, and I still think, it was one of the 
best school systems I know about or have experienced. 

I did well in school, always. My chief ambition was to 
become valedictorian of the class. My brother, because he 
didn t pay enough attention, I think, to his studieshe d 
skipped a grade and he was only a salutatorian, so I wanted to 
be valedictorian. 

McCreery: [laughs] There s that rivalry again. 

Mosher: Yes. The trouble with that was that when I was a junior in 

high school we moved up to Grand Forks. And you had to go four 
years to high school in Grand Forks to have any honor at all as 
far as scholarship was concerned, so I lost any incentive of 
that sort when we moved to Grand Forks . 

McCreery: What size was your school in Oakes? 

Mosher: Oh, it can t have been more than two or three hundred. A new 
building was built while I was going there. I started taking 
music lessons then and became very much interested in the 
piano, and of course read a great deal and even worked in the 
library a little bit. 

McCreery: Oh, you did? Tell me about that. 

Mo she r: 



The librarian was a good friend of our family, and I liked 
working with books . I liked books , but after a while I got 
pretty tired of going in and reshelving books. [laughter] So 
I just quit. I didn t want to do any more. It seemed like an 
endless task. Every day it was the same thing. 

The school and the 

Was this the public library? 

It was a public library in the school, 
public library were the same. 

Do you remember that librarian s name? 

Yes, she was Stella Christensen. She was the wife of the local 
dentist--or a local dentist--who was a good friend of the 
family, too, and the dentist we all went to. 

Attending High School in Grand Forks; Early Career Interests 

McCreery: Some of your early roots are there, then, in the library. How 
did you happen to move up to Grand Forks during high school? 

Mosher: My brother was two years older. He was through high school and 
he needed to go to the university, and so Mother and Dad 
decided that they would move to where he went to school instead 
of trying to support him elsewhere, although he had worked in 
grocery stores, and he probably would have made it anyway. 

This position opened [for my father] in Grand Forks as 
assistant manager of a farm implements company. The successor 
to the Moline Plow Company was the Minneapolis Moline Power 
Implement Company, and this was its first year, 1929. We just 
got moved, started school, Dad took over his job, and the 
Depression hit. [It was] a brand new company and still all 
based on farms, and the bottom dropped out of everything, so he 
lost his job right away. Eventually he took various minor jobs 
traveling around, but he became an insurance salesman and 
stayed an insurance salesman then for the rest of his life. 

McCreery: But that grew directly out of the stock market crash and the 

Mosher: Yes. 

McCreery: What did you think of Grand Forks upon arriving there in the 
midst of high school? 

Mosher: Oh, I, of course, hated to leave Oakes and all my friends, 

because I did have some good friends in Oakes. You know, I had 
lived there all my life. And I guess I should say the first 
year was simply miserable. I was very unhappy, didn t know 
anybody, and I spent all my time on school, my courses, and of 
course got superior gradesnone of which did me any good as 
far as becoming a valedictorian. [laughter] 

But I should have said, in connection with Oakes, that 
there was a math teacher at Oakes--Thelma Swinkle, from whom I 
took algebra, and she made this course so interesting. You 
know, algebra simply was so interesting to me that I decided 
that I was going to become a math teacher. That was my 
ambition from then on, until at the university I did not get an 
A in calculus, I think it was. And I had A s in practically 
everything else, especially everything in English, so I decided 
I would major in English instead of math. But I got a minor in 
math and physics. I was very much interested in science, too. 

McCreery: Did that interest persist? 

Mosher: Well, yes. Of course it does. I never took any more courses 
after the university, but in a strange way it played a part in 
my being drafted into the army. I didn t want to be drafted in 
World War II, and the University of Illinois, where I was then, 
had a program for what they called ASTP--student servicemen 
would come there for courses, and they circulated the 
university asking for anybody who could possibly teach physics 
or math to volunteer. Well, this would keep me out of the 
army, so that s what I did. And I actually started teaching 
physics until I was classified 1-A and drafted. Just two or 
three days [of teaching], was all that was. 

McCreery: That s kind of a surprising use of your math interest there. 

Before I forget, what was your religious upbringing as a child? 

Mosher: We were always Presbyterians, and that s where I was baptized 
and became a member of the church. I was quite active in the 
church as a child. We went to church faithfully every Sunday 
and to Sunday school, of course. And most of our social 
activities centered around the church, which was a good 
experience. The pastors were nearly always interesting and 
good people, good with children. 

My mother always wanted me to become a minister. She 
thought that s what I should do. And I had no interest in that 
at all, no call whatsoever, but she wanted me to go to the 
Presbyterian university, Carleton [College], in the same town 
as St. Olaf [College] in [Northfield] Minnesota. But at that 

time ministers weren t allowed to smoke or drink or play cards 
or dance. [laughs] That wasn t the kind of life I was looking 
forward to. [laughter] 

McCreery: Tell me a little bit more about how you adjusted to living in 
Grand Forks. You said the first year was a big adjustment. 

Mosher: Yes. I made a kind of reputation the first year, particularly 
with the English teachers and anyone who had me in class, I 
guess. One morning, early in the fall of the second year, a 
student came up to me and asked if I was Fred Mosher and 
introduced himself as Bill Kruger. He was the editor of the 
Centralian, the high school newspaper, and he said he had been 
asked by Frank Clement, the adviser to the paper, to look me up 
and see if I didn t want to work on the high school newspaper. 
Well, I thought that was a great idea, so I said I certainly 

And so I reported to Frank Clement, and then Bill and Frank 
gave me my first assignment, which was to go and write a story 
on the high school band. I still remember it. And then I 
became assistant editor of the newspaper, and that made all the 
difference because Bill Kruger became a good friend, and he s 
still my best friend. He visited here just a couple months 

Frank Clement was the physics teacher at the school, and he 
lived with the family of the girl that Bill was going with at 
the time, and whom he later married, so he spent quite a bit of 
time, Frank did, with Bill and Helen, driving around. He liked 
to drive in the rain at night, and he liked to go out and get 
hamburgers and this sort of thing. And I liked to play 
cribbage and so did Frank and Bill, and we became cribbage 
players and got all involved. 

I remember the first night I stayed over with Frank and 
Bill, we didn t come home before eight or nine o clock or 
whatever, and both my brother and my mother were very much 
worried about me. Well, what could have happened to me? 

The rest of the senior year was just full of activities, 
mainly centering around the Centralian; however, I also got 
involved in lots of other things. There were clubs that I 
joined. I became a member of the debating team and I entered a 
speech contest, which became a statewide contest and I 
organizedor my teacher organized for me--a piano recital, 
just for me, in the spring. And let s see, I d written a story 







for my English class and the teacher had entered this in the 
state contest, and the story won the state contest. I also 
entered the piano contest for the state. It was just one thing 
after another. 

I didn t get anywhere with the state piano contest, and 
that convinced me that I really didn t have the talent to 
become a pianist, which I would like to have been. And I did 
not succeed in the speech contest. The debating team was 
reasonably successful. I think we won most of our debates. 

These various clubs had dances and so on that had to be 
organized. I think I was president of one of the clubs, so the 
senior year was full of activity, and I didn t spend very much 
time on my studies. I couldn t see any necessity for getting 
good grades, or better grades than the rest of the people, 
since they wouldn t do me any good, I thought. But I got good 
grades anyway. I just didn t spend so much time, but I still 
learned very quickly and had the reputation of being a bright 
student and so on. 

But you still wanted to be a math teacher at that point? 
Yes, that s what I thought I would be. 

Was it a given that you would go on to University of North 

Pretty much, because that s where we were. And I certainly 

wanted to go on. I really wanted to go to the university. And 

both Mother and Dad wanted all of us to go to the university, 
to higher education. 

Now the Depression was of course in full swing by this time. 

Yes, 31 is when I graduated from high school. But by 1931, I 
guess my father hadn t decided to be in the insurance business 
yet. That was later. 

University of North Dakota; Courting Evelyn Varland 

McCreery: But you and your brother were both able to attend University of 
North Dakota right away? 

Mosher: Yes, we both finished the university in three years, with 

summer school. So he went for three years and then he was an 


accountant, and he got a job right away down in Oklahoma with a 
friend of my father s. And so he was gone from about 1932 on. 

We had to move from the house we had rented in Grand Forks 
--it was very large and a very nice houseto a much smaller 
and less nice house in 1931, I guess, when I started the 
university. And then I finished in 1934. I took a lot of 
courses. I don t know how I managed to do it, but I did, 
because in 1931 Evelyn and I began to go together. 

McCreery: Now how did you meet? 

Mosher: Well, that s a fairly long but interesting story. It turned 
out that when we moved to Minneapolis from Oakes, Evelyn s 
family moved into the house we d been renting. They came up 
from South Dakota, and when we came back from Minneapolis to 
Oakes, they were still living in that house. We bought a house 
somewhere a couple blocks away, so we know we must have played 
together-- just a couple blocks apart. But Evelyn s family left 
to go back to South Dakota for a while, so we didn t really 
strike up any kind of acquaintanceship. But her family moved 
up to Grand Forks after two or three more years in South 
Dakota, and she was in Grand Forks when our family moved up 



Both Evelyn and I were in a history class. We were seated 
alphabetically. I was in the front- -Mosher, middle of the 
front- -and because her name was Varland, she was way back in 
the room. I turned around and looked at her and thought, "Oh, 
I ve never seen an angel before. She looks just like an 

Well, that was just that, because she became ill with 
pneumonia and had to drop out of school that term. I didn t 
really see much of her again untilshe was the best friend of 
Helen Pederson, who became Bill Kruger s wife. And on one of 
the drives with Frank Clement, Bill and Helen and Frank stopped 
and picked up Evelyn before coming to pick me up, and that 
started it. That was in the spring of 1931. 

Okay, so when you first met her in that history class--! know 
you re both the same age how old were you then? 

Just sixteen. It was 1929. Fifteen? It was 1929, so I guess 
we were fifteen. But we didn t really- -we never had a date out 
with each other, separately, until 31. It was all very 
closely tied up with Frank Clement, this physics teacher, and 
with Bill Kruger. 


Another thing that happened that needs to be mentioned 
here, I guess, was that we needed money. And there weren t any 
jobs. The only job I could find was delivering newspapers. 
Grand Forks Herald was the daily newspaper in Grand Forks, sort 
of famous recently because of that flood. They kept publishing 
the newspaper, even though there was hardly anything left to 
Grand Forks . 

Anyway, I had a morning route and an evening. In the 
morning I usually left the newspaper office about six, six- 
thirty and the evening about four, four-thirty. So I d go to 
the university and then I d take these paper routes. For the 
next, oh, let s see, five years, I guess, that s how I managed 
to get tuition and so on for the university. I don t know why 
I began to think about that, or why I thought it was necessary 
to bring it in right now, but at any rate, that kept me pretty 
busy even as I was taking a double load of courses, more or 

And I don t know, somewhere along the linewell actually 
what happened was that I decided I wanted to get married, and I 
didn t think I was going to do very well- -I thought I would 
probably be better able to find a job teaching English, or what 
I really wanted to do was to write. I thought that teaching 
English would give me an opportunity to write. Completely 
wrong, of course, but that s what I thought at the time. And 
so I switched. I decided, well, my major was going to be 

I didn t think there was any chance of my ever teaching at 
a university or college, but I thought maybe I should get a job 
teaching in secondary schools, so I better take some education 
courses and get a teaching credential. So I did the three-year 
bachelor s degree and then decided to do a master s degree in 
English, and I did that. Then I was offered a job teaching 
English at the University of North Dakota, so I taught there 
for one year. 



Marriage, 1936; Doctoral Study at University of Illinois. 1936- 

Mosher: I realized by that time that if I was ever going to do anything 
more than teach- -well, even if I was going to do nothing but 
just teach at the University of North Dakota, I had to have the 

Now Bill Kruger at the same time had just finished a 
bachelor s in physics and he had been writing around for 
possibilities for a degree in physics, a Ph.D. And he got one 
at the University of Illinois. When I learned that he had 
found this position at the University of Illinois, I told him, 
"Well, if you can get an assistantship I think they called 
them- -I m sure I can, too," so I wrote to the head of the 
English department and got the job, [laughs] because they 
needed, oh, something like --well, I don t know how many 
assistants there were, but they needed a lot because everybody 
had to take freshman English at the University of Illinois, and 
they opened the doors to any graduate of the Illinois high 
schools. Anyway, I was offered the position and took itwhich 
caused a wedding that fall [laughter] and a honeymoon trip to 
Illinois, which was a nightmare. 

McCreery: How so? 

Mosher: We traveled by bus, really very poor buses. We couldn t afford 
to stay anywhere except with relatives in Minneapolis, and we 
didn t have any place to live in Urbana, Illinois. We had no 
idea that it would be hard to find a place to live, but in a 
university town trying to find a place to live in September- 
no. So it wasn t comfortable honeymoon. Then, well, that s 
still quite a bit ahead of the story, I guess. 

McCreery: That s fine. You took your master s, then, in English at 
University of North Dakota and taught there? 

Mosher: That s right. 

McCreery: So this must have been around 1936 you got married? 

Mosher: 36 we were married. 

McCreery: Okay. 

Mosher: The bachelor s degree in 1934 and the master s degree in 1935, 
and I taught 35 to 36. I could have stayed on, but Evelyn 
agreed that I should go on since I had a job at Illinois. 

McCreery: Yes. I m wondering what you recall about the larger events 
during that period. You ve talked about the effects of the 
Depression, of course, and that was reaching out to everyone. 
What about, for example, when [Franklin D.] Roosevelt was 

Mosher: Yes, I wasn t able to vote yet. My mother and father were both 
Republicans. My mother thought that Prohibition was one of the 
greatest goods in the world. Roosevelt came in and took away 
Prohibition, which she thought was a great mistake. So she 
didn t like Roosevelt. And I tended to follow her opinion, so 
I didn t believe in alcohol either and I thought--! didn t 
understand what Prohibition meant by way of crime, so I was all 
against Roosevelt. In fact, I never voted for Roosevelt--not 
that I voted for the Republicans . I voted for Norman Thomas . 
I don t know what party he was part of, but he ran for 
president nearly all the elections I can think of back then. 
Of course, you see, I was delivering papers all this time, so 
all the news-- 

McCreery: Yes, you were keeping up pretty well. 

Mosher: I was keeping up with the news, yes. We even had to sell 
extras occasionally. 

McCreery: What about your own writing interests? You mentioned switching 
to English partly out of an interest in writing. What did you 
want to write? 

Mosher: Probably fiction. I guess what gave me the impulse was winning 
this contest. See that little book up there [points to 
bookcase] ? 

McCreery: Oh, yes. 


Mosher: Very top shelf. That s the works of Robert Louis Stevenson, 
and that s what I won. That was the prize for winning the 
contest. It gave me the idea that maybe--! liked to write, and 
I d written a lot of stories for classes, but I didn t have any 
burning desire to write. Nothing was compelling me to write 
anything in particular, and I guess that s one of the reasons 
why I never did. I can put words together in a clear and 
meaningful way, but I don t have the ideas, I guess, as far as 
fiction goes. 

McCreery: As you said, you found out that teaching English didn t leave 
you a lot of time for other things. 

Mosher: That s right. It had nothing to do with writing. 

Life in Urbana, Illinois; Teaching English 

McCreery: It s interesting that you essentially followed your friend to 
Urbana to take a job there. What did you think when you and 
Evelyn were newlyweds and arrived there? What did you think of 
that community? 

Mosher: I thought it was awfully hot in September. [laughter] We 

liked it of course, although we were very lonely. It helped to 
have Bill there. He lived in some local fraternity house of 
graduate students, and they didn t serve meals on Sunday or 
weekends or something. At any rate, he was very often over at 
our house. Of course, he married the next year- -unfortunately 
for him, I think, because he announced to the head of the 
[physics] department that he was going to be married, and the 
head of the department said, "You can t have your job next 
year, then. We won t employ anyone who s married." So this 
made Bill angry enough to just quit his job. And he started 
teaching physics then up in Naperville, Illinois. They were 
married one year after we were. 

Urbana, at that time, had these tremendous elm trees. 
[There were] all kinds of opportunities for hearing music and 
seeing plays--and lots of people in the same department, about 
the same age, and the same position I was. We made a number of 
good friends. And that was our first year of marriage, and we 
enjoyed it thoroughly. 

McCreery: And you solved your housing problem? 


Mosher: [laughter] We finally did find a place. It was far from a 

good place to live, but it was adequate. The landlady was fond 
of telling everybodythe local president of the WCTU--is that 
right--yes, Women s Christian Temperance Unionshe wouldn t 
have any alcohol in anything she owned, any house. She made us 
sign a two-page document telling us what we could do and what 
we couldn t do, when we could brush our teeth. There were 
other people living in the house too, you know. We shared a 
bathroom with somebody. And it worked out, but it wasn t a 
very happy situation, as far as our landlady was concerned. 

The next year we lived with one of the English teachers . 
There was an English teacher who had her own house not far away 
from where we first lived, and we lived with her for a year. 

McCreery: What did you think of the university? 

Mosher: I was impressed of course, and rather dismayed by how little I 
knew. To do graduate work in English, I was plunged into 
courses that I wasn t really very well prepared for, because 
the preparation at Grand Forks, or the faculty there, wasn t so 
great. And we had at Illinois the top-most Milton scholar, 
Harris Fletcher--the top-most in the world, I would say. And 
Spenser scholar H. S. V. Jones became my adviser. He was 
there, and oh, I could go on and mention about ten others who 
were really tops in English at the time. And of course the 
other students were, most of them, ahead of me in preparation. 

But I decided early on in my master s degree at North 
Dakotayou had to have a dissertation, and the dissertation 
was an edition of a Middle English manuscript of Wyclyfite 
sermons, which I transcribed. We had a manuscript from the 
British Museum in photostat. I had to transcribe it and then 
edit it. And as it turned out, enough time had elapsed--! 
decided I could do only half of it, so I did only half of the 
manuscript. Meanwhile, the head of the department wanted me to 
get my master s degree that June. So I pushed it through. 
They allowed me to do only half of it. 

For my Ph.D. I was going to do the whole thing and really 
edit it properly. Well, that s what I started working on with 
H. S. V. Jones, because he was at that time the only Middle 
English, early English, specialist. He taught the courses at 
Illinois. I began to investigate and discovered that these 
Wyclyfite sermons had already been done, so I couldn t they d 
never been edited [but] they had been, I guess, a dissertation 
of someone at Yale, maybe. And so I had to find something else 
for a dissertation. And I wasn t in any hurry to do that, but 
I decided to stay with my early [English] field, anyway. 



But I had a lot of catching up to do in early English 
literature. I was teaching, of course, three courses a 
semester. It was freshman English. And each of them [were] 
required [to write] a theme a week, each one of the students, 
so I d have about seventy- five to eighty themes to read every 
week. This got old pretty fast. I decided after a couple of 
years that I really didn t want a degree in English anyway, if 
that s what it meant. But I didn t have any particular 
interest in any particular literature, so there were a lot of 
decisions to be made. 

I decided somewhere along the line that maybe what I really 
seemed to be interested in was language, and that I might 
become a lexicographer. I wrote around and talked to my 
adviser about the possibility of--but later on there were other 
reasons why I didn t go into that. 

Did you enjoy teaching in generalthe students? 
Not especially. 

McCreery: We were just talking a moment ago about how well you liked, or 
didn t like, teaching freshman English while you were studying 
at the University of Illinois. What was it that you didn t 
enjoy so much? 

Mosher: I didn t feel I was able to teach them much of anything. It 

was very hard to measure improvement. By what measures we had, 
you could see that there was some improvement maybe, but the 
students in general were uninterested. They d had twelve years 
of it and didn t like it well enough to learn the simple 
basics. It was awfully hard to get them interested enough to 
do anything. It was required, they had to do it, so they did 
it as well as they could, but you couldn t help them much. I 
don t think you can teach people how to write. Either they are 
able to or they aren t able to. 

One of the discouraging things about the situation at 
Illinois then was that proficiency tests were administered at 
the beginning of each year, and everyone had to take that 
proficiency test. If [students] passed that proficiency test, 
[they] didn t have to take freshman English. So what you got 
were- -you didn t get any of the good people, or any of those 
who naturally were good writers ; you got only those who were 
bad enough so they needed more help at the university. 


There was even further segregation in that there were 
certain classes, certain sections, reserved for engineers, so 
you d have a class full of engineers --most of them are not very 
literate at eight o clock in the morning- -taking a course they 
didn t see any use for, had no interest in. I thought it was 

McCreery: Was there any opportunity for you to teach anything besides 
basic composition? 

Mosher: No. That s all. Well, yes, what I did was to give them a 

reading program. They had to read certain books and we tried 
to--one of the chief reasons they didn t want to write was that 
they weren t good readers. They d never read much of anything, 
so one of the purposes of the course was to encourage them to 
read. But you know, it wasn t a course in reading, it was a 
course in writing. 

Deciding on a Dissertation; Considering Librarianship 

Mosher: Now, as I said, I just gave up on it, really, and decided that 
that wasn t what I wanted to do. I suppose that was maybe the 
only fortunate thing about the war coming along. It gave me an 
opportunity to get away from it. Although, before I went into 
the army, I decided that I would become something else. And I 
thought of being a librarian too, as well as being an 
lexicographer . 

McCreery: Where did that idea come from, do you remember? 

Mosher: Librarian? Yes. I was walking home with one of my fellow 

assistants who knew another graduate student who was going to 
library school. And Gibbon Butler, my friend in the English 
department and fellow assistant, said to me, "Why don t you 
think of becoming a librarian? So-and-so likes the school." 
And it sort of was illuminating to me. I hadn t even thought 
of library work as a possible profession before. And so that 
started me thinking, well, maybe that would be better for me 
than teaching. So before I left Illinois I had the idea of 
becoming a librarian. 

McCreery: It s interesting how a chance suggestion can have a big effect 


Yes, that s right, 


McCreery: Meanwhile, you were working your way towards your Ph.D. Tell 
me a little bit more about the person who became your adviser 
and your mentor. Jones, you said? 

Mosher: H. S. V. Jones. I don t really know what his first name was. 
Everyone called him H. S. V. Jones. [laughter] He was a 
Harvard graduate and the world s most respected Spenser 
scholar. Well, he was very remote and rather a cold person, I 
thought. Whenever he met or passed anybodyany woman that he 
knewon the sidewalk, he would take off his hat and bow and be 
very formal. I don t think I had any meetings with him except 
in class or seeing him about the necessary paperworkno talks 
about what I was doing or what I wanted to do or anything like 

He did see me through. I did finish the preliminary 
examinations for the doctorate. It took me a couple years 
after I started, because my written examinations weren t as 
good as some members of the committee thought they ought to be, 
and I was told to wait for another year before taking the oral. 

Professor Jones stood by me all the way through that, 
didn t give up on me. I did finally pass the oral examination, 
and the next job was to find something for a dissertation. And 
since he was my- -I don t know whether he suggested it or not. I 
guess maybe he did suggest that I take a subject he was 
interested in, and that was the early English translations or 
I guess it was the fifteenth-century English translations of 
the Psalms. He thought this was an important bridge to modern 
English. It would bring together the interest in words and 
interest in early literature, and he would be the adviser. 

I got that title accepted and started collecting new 
translations and working on getting some kind of idea of what 
the dissertation might be, when Professor Jones died of a heart 
attack. I was really up a tree or something then, because he 
was the only one on the faculty who would be able to guide that 
dissertation. I didn t know enough to do it by myself. 

Then I decided that maybe I would forget about the Psalms 
and do something more lexicographical, and I decided on the 
subject of "The Syntax of Roger Ascham." Now Roger Ascham was 
an Elizabethan writer who was the tutor of Queen Elizabeth. He 
wrote on various well, "The Syntax of Roger Ascham" indicates 
that he wrote on the subject of grammar- -English grammar and so 
on. This was an early stage in the development of modern 
English. And this meant that I should change my advisers. I 
had to change advisers anyway, but a new member of the faculty 
had just come in who was an Old English and Old Middle English 


scholar, Henning Larson, from the University of Iowa. He 
became my adviser, and I started out on the idea of "The Syntax 
of Roger Ascham." 

Later on the war intervened, and later on this becamethis 
is jumping way ahead of the time. 

McCreery: That s okay. 

Mosher: I thought a lot about becoming a librarian while I was in the 

army, and I wrote to the head librarian--! was stationed in the 
Hawaiian Islands for quite a while--! wrote to the head 
librarian of Hawaii for suggestions and so on. And I wrote to 
[Sydney B. Mitchell], the dean of the University of California 
library school, asking about being able to come to California 
and what he thought of my plans. And it became obvious that 
really I ought to finish the doctorate, since I was that close. 
It didn t seem to me that a dissertation entitled "The Syntax 
of Roger Ascham" would be of any benefit to a future librarian, 
[laughs] so I gave that up. I wasn t ^very much interested in 
it anyway. 

Working at the Newberry Library and Attending Library School, 

Mosher: The opportunity to become a librarian evolved in a strange way, 
too. I wrote to Henning Larson, told him I was planning to 
change to librarianship. Before I knew it this is after I d 
been discharged from the army--I got a letter from Stanley 
Pargellis, who was the head librarian at the Newberry Library 
in Chicago, telling me that he had been talking with Henning 
Larson, who was my adviser and who at that time was dean of 
liberal arts at the University of Illinois. Henning Larson had 
suggested that I might be interested in working in a library, 
and Pargellis was just desperate for librarians. There weren t 
any. Library schools had not been functioninglibrarians had 
all been drafted, or most of them had and he needed someone to 
stand behind the reference desk. Henning Larson thought-- [the 
Newberry] is a library in the humanities --that I might be able 
to do it. 

So Pargellis offered me a job, basically. And that seemed 
to satisfy a good many needs for me. It would get me back to 
Illinois where I could finish my doctorate. It would give me 
library experience. And it turned out that Pargellis had a 
scheme of making this an apprenticeship under the G.I. Bill of 


Rights. I would work at the Newberry and go to the University 
of Chicago library school, get my degree and experience at the 
same time, and the Newberry would provide me with experience in 
all departments of the library, from binding preparation to 

Seemed like a good deal, and so we went back to Urbana and 
stayed with friends, and I went up to see Pargellis and he was 
all for it. I started work the next day. [laughter] That s 
practically what I did, and it was no problem at all. I knew 
enough to be behind the reference desk--I could help people 
and I liked doing it. I liked Pargellis and the Newberry 
Library. I had been at the Newberry before when I was a 
student at Illinois, so I knew what a good place it was. I 
enjoyed working, did well, went to library schooland thought 
that was awful. 

McCreery: Ah! [laughter] Well, how do you mean? 

Mosher: Well, it was a very, very poor library school at that point. 

They had lost to the armed services most of their faculty, one 
way or another, and they were just managing to get along by 
having people from the community teach or people in the library 
schoolthey didn t have much of a faculty left, really, so it 
was some of the worst courses I ve ever had. And I thought at 
the time that it was the worst educational experience I d had. 

Of course, it didn t bother me much because I was working 
in a library, and of course I had taught, you know, how to use 
a library in the freshman English course. They all had to 
write a library theme, pick a subject on how to use the 
library, so I knew about using libraries besides from just my 
own experience. So at the very beginning of the summer of 
1946 Evelyn and my older son Randy were in Urbana staying with 
a friend, and I could not find a place to live in Chicago. 
There just weren t any placesnothing in the newspapers. 

I was allowed to stay in a YMCA for a certain number of 
weeks, and then I couldn t stay there any longer. I have to 
mention another person at this point who went to the Newberry 
with me from IllinoisBen Bowman. He was also an English 
Ph.D. candidate and was searching for he had failed his tests, 
his preliminary exams and doctoral exams at the University of 
Chicago, and his wife was teaching at the University of 
Illinois during the war, so that s why he was in Urbana. 

The two of us that Henning Larson had suggested went 
together to be interviewed by Pargellis, and both of us decided 
to accept his plan. So we started together on this venture. I 


Mosher : 

don t know why I thought I had to bring him up now, but--oh, he 
and I both were staying at the YMCA. We couldn t stay there 
any longer. This was during the summer, and Pargellis, whose 
family spent the summer in Maine, had a large apartment in 
Chicago. He suggested that we just come and live with him 
until we found a place to live. 

We lived with him all summer. We couldn t find any place 
to live, but toward the end--in the meantime I d been 
corresponding with Sydney Mitchell of the library school here 
in Berkeley. And the university had for graduate students at 
that point--! guess it was what they call University Village 
now--it was just being started. I had applied for one of 
those, thinking, "Well, if we can t find a place to live in 
Chicago, we ll have to go to California." 

But just then, the Lutheran pastoroh, what do you call 
it- -who had made Evelyn a member of the church in Grand Forks 
was then living in Chicago at the old Chicago Lutheran Bible 
School, which was in the area just west of the loop. There 
were dormitories there that were now being used as dormitories 
for Lutheran theological students. There wasn t any Bible 
school anymore, but the dormitories were rented to Lutheran 
students, and Evelyn found out about this. A good friend of 
Evelyn s who lived in Chicago found out about this and told us 
about it. We applied for one of the flats in this dormitory- 
it had been converted into apartmentsand got one. Just then 
learned that there was an opportunity to get a place in 
California, but we decided we d better stay in Illinois because 
of the doctorate problem. 

And so we rented the place. It was three bedrooms around 
one bathroom and a hallway. It needed painting and so on, and 
I did that while Evelyn got ready to come. She and Randy came 
up in September then. From then on we were pretty well set in 
Chicago. We stayed there for a couple of years and then we 
moved to the Newberry Library had an apartment building close 
to the library itself where we finally were able to get an 
apartment, but it was hard to get anything in those days. You 
had to be put on waiting lists and you couldn t get a gas stove 
for a long time. We finally did. A refrigerator and so on 
were just impossible to get, so we put things out the window. 

To keep cool. 

We had a little electric pan on the stoveno, that isn t the 
right word for it--to cook on. 

McCreery: Kind of a hot plate? 


Mo she r: 

Yes, a hot plate. 

U.S. Army Service in World War II. 1943-1946 

McCreery: You had the one son by then? And where was he born? 

Mosher: He was born in Champaign, [Illinois], Oh, I skipped over all 
that, eh? Yes, in 1943 he was born in Champaign. And three 
months later I was drafted and had to report to Michigan in 
June. He was born in March. 

McCreery: You got to meet him first? 

Mosher: Yes, I saw him for three months and we took himboth Evelyn s 
parents and my parents were living in Grand Forks, so we 
decided that she d better go to Grand Forks and live with 
Randy, because she had a baby. I went back to Grand Forks with 
her and deposited Evelyn and the baby, and then I had to come 
back to Michigan for entrance into the army. 

McCreery: What happened in your army service? 

Mosher: It was mostly just waiting and being useless and hating every 
minute of it. What could they do with an English teacher? 
[laughs] Nearly all the English teachers that had become my 
friends and so on were able to get commissions one way or 
another, but nobody would give me a commission because of my 
eyesight. In fact, I even had a position lined up to become an 
English teacher at Annapolis. When I happened to learn of an 
officer who was an English teacher at Annapolis, and he was 
being called to active dutyactive sea duty--I thought I could 
replace him. Everything went fine until my eyes were examined, 
you know, so no commission for that. I was just waiting to be 
drafted, and I was drafted into the infantry-- just drafted into 
the army, I guess. 

But I had been told by other people that maybe some English 
teachers [were] doing jobs as classification people, 
interviewing new entrants into the service, seeing what kind of 
jobs they could handle. Since I d been a teacher, I ought to 
be able to talk with people and find out whether they were 
truck drivers or what. As it turned out that s mostly what 
they wanted, the truck drivers. Anyway, the person who 
interviewed me agreed that would be fine and sent me to Camp 
Lee, Virginia, for basic traininga special kind of basic 






training, not the regular infantry training but a special kind 
of training for clerks, I guess, mainly. 

That was in July. Camp Lee, Virginia. I d never experienced 
heat like that before. But anyway, then I went to a school in 
WashingtonJefferson University or College? [Washington & 
Jefferson College] It was near Washington, Pennsylvaniafor six 
weeks or a couple months , and then I was shipped out to Fresno to 
a reclassification center there at the fairgrounds. 

And Evelyn and Randy, after I d been there for some months, 
were able to come out. I got out there, they came in March, 
and we were together there near the fairgrounds until the next 
January. Then this replacement depot was disbanded and I was 
put into a group to be disposed of one way or another and was 
sent to Dayton, Ohio, where I waited, oh, a few weeks for them 
to decide where I could go. Finally it was decided to send me 
to Hawaii, by way of Salt Lake City and Seattle. I don t know. 
I didn t feel that I was accomplishing anything. All during 
that time it didn t make any difference about this 
classification bit, really. It was just something the army had 
to go through, I guess. So I stayed in the islands until-- 
well, the group I was with had been assigned to go to Guam to 
establish a classification depot there on the first of 

We had all been given carbines. Up until that time I d 
never had a gun except when we were in basic training or 
learning how to shoot a rifle. But we were given these and 
they needed to be cleaned up. I was out behind the barracks, 
cleaning up my carbine, when the radio announced the first atom 
bomb. So we weren t sent to Guam on September the first. I 
was eventually sent back to headquarters of Haycomb Field as a 
clerk typist. By the time I had enough points to be 
discharged, I was about the only one there who could write a 
letter. [laughs] 

Do you remember your thoughts upon hearing about the bomb? 

Oh, I thought it was wonderful. I didn t know anything about 
what had happened, you know, what was involved, but [it meant 
the] end of the war. 

Yes, just that fast, everything changed, didn t it? 
Yes. It surely did. 

Was there anything redeeming about your army experience 


Mosher: The time that Evelyn, Randy, and I were together was good 

didn t have anything to do with the army. What I was trying to 
say was that I don t think I did anything except harm the 
military capabilities of the United States. I had no interest 
in become a hero of any sort . 

[Interview 2: March 19, 1999] ## 

McCreery: When we finished taping our last session early this week, we 
were talking about your service in the army during World War 
II, and of course the war had ended by the time you were 
released in 1946. You were talking generally about your 
thoughts about the war and the military and I just wondered if 
you could add any postscript to that. 

Mosher: Oh, all my life I objected to the idea of war, and from as 

early as I can remember I vowed never to participate in one. 
But when it came right down to it, I couldn t see putting 
Evelyn and my newborn son Randy in a position where they 
couldn t support themselves in any way, or I would probably be 
unable to support myself, so I didn t seriously consider 
conscientious objection. In fact, I hardly knew that there was 
such a thingreal formal conscientious objection. 

I had to take ROTC at the universityReserve Officers 
Training Corpsand I detested that and tried to get out of it 
every way I could. And I was called before and I pleaded 
conscientious objection when I was a sophomore I think, or 
junior one of the years I was going. And I wasn t allowed to 
--I was brought before a committee and asked the question, "If 
some German soldiers or enemy soldiers came to your house and 
raped your sister, would you try to stop them?" And I said 
sure. "Well, then obviously you re not a conscientious 
objector," so I was denied being a conscientious objector for 
ROTC, and I had to go on taking the courses. 

But a very kindly dean of liberal arts suggested that I try 
to get out of it by some other means. I was, I told you, 
delivering papers every afternoon, and this was very 
inconvenient to ROTC because they had drill after school. I 
petitioned to get out of ROTC that way and it worked, [laughs] 
so I never did finish ROTC. But I guess maybe that experience 
convinced me that I wouldn t be able to validate myself as a 
conscientious objector. I didn t know how it worked. 

But although I really--! can t think of anything during my 
service in the army that I in any way enjoyed in connection 
with the army itself. I met some people who became friends. I 
liked to play cribbage, and I found someone who liked to play 


cribbage and we played cribbage every night, but otherwise, I 
could only look forward to the day when I was no longer a 
prisoner, as I considered myself. 

McCreery: You were a sergeant upon discharge? 

Mosher: I became a sergeant, yes. 

McCreery: What were your feelings then, when you got out? 

Mosher: About this time I was beginning to feel not so unhappyafter I 
said I hated it every minute of it and so on, but I did enjoy 
Hawaii so much that when it came right down to it, I thought 
even of staying on in the army so that I could stay in the 
islands. But I had enough reason to observe that where you 
wanted to be in the army was not probably where you were going 
to be. So anyway, I didn t seriously consider it. I just 
wanted to get out and be responsible for myself. 

As I mentioned before, I was trying to figure out how I 
could become a librarian rather than a teacher. And by the 
time I had enough points to get out, I had corresponded with 
various people and pretty much decided to try to become a 
librarian. I knew that meant going to a library school. I 
think I told you something about corresponding with Stanley 
Pargellis at the Newberry. 

McCreery: Perhaps you can just pick up then upon your discharge from the 
army. Did you return immediately to Chicago? 

Mosher: No. Evelyn and Randy were both in Grand Forks yet. I was 

discharged out here in California, and off the boat I took a 
train immediately to Grand Forks and just waited to see what 
would happen. I went out to the university, and they were 
looking for tutors for students who had come back to the 
university and needed special help. 

McCreery: In Grand Forks? 

Mosher: Yes, in Grand Forks, so for the rest of that year living in 

Grand Forks, I tutored in some kind of government program. I 
could have gone back to teaching at North Dakota, and of course 
they wanted me to come back at Illinois, but I had decided 
pretty much that I didn t want to teach freshman English any 

Then this letter from Pargellis came, and so I decided to 
go back to Illinois and see what it was all about at any rate. 
I did know that if I was going to stay in academia, I d have to 


have a doctorate. I d come too close to that to just give it 

McCreery: What did that letter contain, exactly? 

Mosher: I wish I had it. I do have it somewhere. I spent quite a bit 
of time this past week looking in old boxes, and I ve got all 
the correspondence between Evelyn and me ever since we first 
knew each other, I think, but I can t find the correspondence 
about the Newberry Library or any of the early library 
experiences. And I know they re around somewhere. 

Anyway, it simply reported that Pargellis had been to the 
University of Illinois to see if there was anyone there who 
could be a reference librarian at the Newberry. That dean, who 
was my adviser then, suggested my name and Ben Bowman s name. 
We were both graduate students in English. So he more or less 
offered me the position and suggested this way of getting a 
library school degree, by going to the University of Chicago 
library school while working at the Newberry in a kind of 
apprenticeship deal and at the same time being able to work in 
various departmentsall the departments of the Newberry 
library- -while going to library school. 

It seemed like a good deal to me, so we went back to Urbana 
and stayed with friends . Ben and I went to Chicago and talked 
with Pargellis and decided to accept his offer. And that 
worked out very well. 

I think I told you about the difficulty of finding housing 
and so on, but the library experience was very good. I did 
work in every department of the library. I got an excellent 
idea of what goes on behind the scenes. And I was able to, I 
think, do a good job as reference librarian. I could answer 
most of the questions that came inlead people to the right 
sources . 

McCreery: By apprenticeship, they meant the chance to work in all 

Mosher: Well, yes they meant go to the University of Chicago library 
school and work in the library at the same time- -some kind of 
financial business there worked out between the G.I. Bill of 
Rights and the Newberry Library. As far as I know, Ben Bowman 
and I were the only two who ever took advantage of it. I never 
heard of anyone else who worked in a library and went to 
library school, under the G.I. Bill of Rights at any rate. 


McCreery: Do you recall your salary as an apprentice at the Newberry? I 
think it may be on your c.v. or something. 

Mosher: I guess I don t. It was oh, thirtyI m trying to think. I 
think I came to Berkeley for $4,200 and I think I was getting 
$3,600 at the Newberry. This was after the apprenticeship was 
over. I had my degree from the library school and the 
apprenticeship part of the library program was over with, too. 
In fact, both of us had been appointed heads of the reference 
department by this time, and so we had regular jobs there. 

Finishing the Ph.D. after the War; Revising a Book for 

Mosher: There s a lot more to be said about what happened at the 

Newberry besides just working in the library. I was determined 
to finish my degree, and I didn t have a subject. The Newberry 
Library had a program of fellows and the Newberry Library 
fellow professors or scholars could come to the library for a 
certain period of time and work and advise the library on 
purchasing and on the quality of its holdings. And one of 
these fellows had been John T. Flanagan, a professor of 
American literature from the University of Illinois. And one 
of the jobs of these fellows, also, was to locate material for 
the library and to get acquisitions for the library. 

It seemed to Pargellis, and probably other people, too, who 
were involved in acquisitions that it would be a good idea to 
try to get the literary papers of the Chicago authors. Chicago 
had a kind of literary renaissance, with a lot of rather famous 
American authors writing in Chicago. And also, the most 
important magazine of literary criticism, of book reviews, 
during this period from 1880 to 1930 or something like that was 
The Dial . And Flanagan and others at the Newberry got in touch 
with the heirs of Francis Fisher Browne, who was the editor of 
The Dial, and got his papers, so they were at the Newberry. 

Flanagan, knowing this--I mean, that these papers were 
therethought they ought to be investigated and suggested The 
Dial as a subject for a dissertation under him, which sounded 
good to me. I liked Flanagan, although I didn t know him very 
well. He was gone, I think, before I came to the Newberrty. 
It seemed just sort of ready made and an especially a good 
subject for a fellow who was going to be a librarian. Literary 
review magazines seemed to me to be a much better subject than 


"The Syntax of Roger Ascham," so I switched to that and 
everybody approved it. 

I started reading The Dial, oh, I don t know how many 
volumes, and I also began to collect further papers. The 
papers of William Morton Payne, who was the chief literary 
editor of The Dial, were not at the Newberry, but I found out 
where they were and managed to interview the lady, whose name I 
can t remember right now. Anyway, she gave his papers to the 
Newberry Library, so I had access to them, also. I interviewed 
everybody I could think of who was still around. 

So that settled the problem of the dissertation, finally. 
I had my final examination on the dissertation just before I 
left for California, September of 1950. I came out late 
because I had to have this meeting at Illinois about the 
dissertation, which was just a formal thing. You probably 
wouldn t have to have it nowadays, but in those days you had to 
have certain meetings. 

At the Newberry Library, when I was working on this 
dissertationthis was not part of the Newberry. I did my work 
at the Newberry separately from this. This was on my own time, 
of course. While I was there I got involved with still another 
project. Archer Taylor, who was a professor of German here at 
Berkeley and who had retired from the University of Chicago and 
was rather a famous scholar, had written a book on The 
Bibliographical History of Anonyma and Pseudonyraa that s how I 
got into that. Well, Archer Taylor was out here in Berkeley 
and the Newberry Library had agreed to publish his book on 
anonyma and pseudonyma, and the copy came in to the Newberry 
and Pargellis had me take a look at it just to make sure it was 
okay to be printed. 

As I looked through it, I found all kinds of mistakes-- just 
typographical mistakesand I thought it needed to be proofread 
and I also, from what little I knew about bibliographical 
history and so forth, noticed a number ofwell, I began to 
check up a number of errors involved and questions that needed 
to be answered. I pointed out enough of these to Pargellis so 
he said, "Well, looks to me as though you d better go over this 
and revise it as much as it needs to be." 

That wasn t a simple short task because I didn t finish 
doing it until I was out here. It meant really redoing the 
whole thing because it was so loaded with mostly just 
superficial errors, you know, but Pargellis said, "I don t want 
the Newberry Library to publish anything with any errors, and 
certainly we should avoid as many of them as we can." 


Then I began to correspond with Archer Taylor, and he 
agreed that this ought to be done. I was writing the 
dissertation and actually writing The Bibliographical History 
of Anonyma and Pseudonyma, and working at the library from, oh, 
about 1948 to 1950. 

The Newberry Library: From Apprentice to Head of Reference 

Mosher: I don t know where to bring in the idea of coming out here. 
Should I talk more about the Newberry? 

McCreery: Yes. If you don t mind, I would like to stick with that for a 
moment . Let s return to when you first came to the Newberry in 
the apprentice position. 

Mosher: Yes, the first thing was standing behind the reference desk and 
taking care of that. 

McCreery: Can you describe the atmosphere there for me? 

Mosher: Yes, I certainly can. It s a library restricted to the 

humanities. It began as a general library which collected 
everything and then somebody else- -well, then Chicago began to 
think of libraries as important and left enough money to 
establish a library. Well, they didn t want to establish two 
general libraries, so the second request was for the John 
Crerar Library. The John Crerar Library became a science 
library, and the Newberry gave up the science and even 
transferred books to Crerar. Two very excellent research 
libraries . 

So it was always intended to be a library for scholars. It 
was supposed to have research materials that scholars would be 
able to use, and it wasn t intended to be a library for the 
general public, so the general public didn t use it much. Most 
of the patrons of the Newberry Library were scholars from the 
surrounding universities, particularly in Chicago, but 
[scholars from] anywhere in the middle west or all over the 
country would come there and use the materials that the 
Newberry held. 

But some people did come to the library to just use it as a 
librarycome and sleep over the newspapers or the magazines-- 
and created problems of various kinds. 


McCreery : 
Mo she r: 

Mosher : 



But most of the questions that you would get at the 
reference desk would be from scholars who had come to use the 
particular materials of the Newberry. They would like to go 
through them as quickly and easily as possible, and so the 
people at the reference desk would help them find the 
materials. And there were card catalogs and so on, but they 
had to be--as a special service to scholars, which meant all 
readers, if you wanted a book to hold a book in your hands, it 
would have to be paged for you. In other words, the stacks 
were not open. They got very good service, and a great many of 
the questions at the reference desk were just about how can I 
get these materials. So you learned quickly the setup of the 
library and the stacks and how to find the materials in them, 
which is different in every library. 

Did you enjoy reference service? 

Oh, yes. It wasn t long before I decided I d just as soon stay 
there the rest of my life. And well, I would have, I think, 
because I thought it was a wonderful library and I liked 
working there . 

But it was in the centeryou know, 1000 North in Chicago, 
so it was really not quite the center of Chicago, but very much 
so, very close to the center. And we managed all right, 
because the Newberry had an apartment building of its own. It 
was the first building built for the library while the library 
building was being built. It was made into the Irving 
Apartments and rented out mostly to Newberry employees, but 
possibly other people, too. 

Where was that building? 

It was only two blocks from the library. 

It s on North Clark 

You and your wife and son were able to live there starting in 
"46, was it? 

No, 46 there was no room in the Irving Apartments, so I think 
I mentioned that we found a place at the Chicago Lutheran Bible 
School, 46 to 48. Then I guess it was 48 I became head of 
the reference library, head reference librarian. 

What about the Newberry building itself? 

There was just half a building at the time. Only half of it 
was built with the idea that there was, of course, land for the 
rest of it. It was an entire city block, and just half of the 




building was built. Then when the library needed more space, 
it was much too expensive to build the same thing again- -build 
in the same wayand so it just sat there for a long, long- 
well, I ve forgotten now. It was after I had left there that 
they sort of added a second part to it. Still, it was not 
built of the same materials. As a matter of fact, I haven t 
been back there since it was redone. 

The departments that I was particularly interested in were 
the rare book department that Gertrude Woodward was head of 
and the Ayer Collection that Ruth Butler was in charge of. 
Ruth Butler was the wife of Pierce Butler, who taught at the 
University of Chicago. I think I must have mentioned him. 
Maybe not. Anyway, I had courses under him at the University 
of Chicago library school, and he and his wife lived in the 
same apartments we lived in, the Irving Apartments that 
belonged to the Newberry Library. We were not in the same 
building, but this building was built around a courtyard, which 
made it pretty good for children. 

But I was beginning to talk about why I left the Newberry. 
Well, here was Randy, and this was not a very good place for a 
child-- 1000 North, no, I said Clark but it s North State 
Street. He was beginning to start school, and it was a pretty 
awful school. No playground. They would--! can t think of the 
word--rope off the street for recess periods, and this was a 
really--un-"anything you can think of" place for kids. I 
wouldn t let Randy walk to school. I took him to school myself 
and at noon, fortunately, when I had my lunch, I could go and 
pick him up and take him back home again, because it was a 
dangerous street. Traffic was terrible, and the people who 
lived around there were not very law-abiding, I guess you might 
say. It all worked out. 

I can see why that was not ideal, though, for raising your son. 

No, well, that s right. So the only thing we could do if we 
stayed on at the Newberry, eventually, would be to live in one 
of the suburbs and come in by train. That meant a daily 
commute of some time, and I didn t want to commute. I didn t 
want Randy to go to school where he was going, so I decided 
we d better leave. 

The stage was set for your finding an opportunity elsewhere? 

Yes, I was looking for another place. Of course I was too busy 
to bother too much about what I was going to do next. I had 
all these projects going at the same time. I could stay on at 
the Newberry as long .s I wanted to, but Pargellis said that 


the library could not afford both Ben and me, and it looked as 
though I would have the better opportunity to find another 
position. So that was sort of the way it was put. He d keep 
us on for a while, both of us, but one of us would have to go. 

McCreery: Before we talk about your coming to California, let s talk a 
little bit more about your time at the Newberry Library- - 
specifically, what were the circumstances that led to your 
being promoted to head of the reference department? 

Mosher: Both Ben Bowman and I came in at the same time. Basically what 
the Newberry needed was someone to man the reference desks . 
Well, the reference librarian had been there for many years- - 
his name was John Windle--and was a highly respected librarian, 
but he really had become tired of working in a library. He and 
his wife both liked antiques and were working toward opening an 
antique business, and so he would come to the library late 
nearly every morning and sometimes he wouldn t come at all. 
Sometimes days would go by without our ever seeing him. 

The mainstay- -the one who was really the reference 
librarian during all this time- -was a woman named Bess Finn. I 
often told my classes when I was teaching reference that all I 
learned about reference was from Bess Finn. She really knew 
how to handle reference situations, and she knew her collection 
very, very well. She knew all about Chicago history. There 
were so many people who would come in- -just the general public 
--and ask about some feature of Chicago history, because the 
Newberry library was in Chicago and history was its chief 
subject. At the desk of the Newberry Library there would be 
files of typical questions that people would ask about the area 
and about the library. 

McCreery: She set those up? 

Mosher: Yes, she had set them up. She was a very good librarian, 

although she had never gone to library school. Most of the 
people in the Newberry Library had never gone to library 

McCreery: But that was common then, was it not? 
Mosher: Well, yes. I suppose so. 

McCreery: Or you tell me. I don t mean to put words in your mouth. 


Mosher: Certainly a library like the Newberry--see, many libraries run 
by governments require the library school degree in order to 
fill a position as a librarian; the Newberry had no such reason 
for insisting on library school graduation, because not a penny 
of support for the Newberry ever came from government. It came 
only from its original bequest, which was mostly near-northside 
Chicago real estate, so it didn t really diminish in value 
much. I think the Newberry thought that it had enough money 
forever to do whatever it wanted to- -proved not to be true, but 
that s a story after I left there. 

Anyway, Bess Finn agreed with Ben and me that Windle wasn t 
doing his job and was interfering with our ability to do our 
jobs. Pargellis, of course, the chief librarian, was aware of 
all this- -that he was coming in late and wasn t very much 
interested anymore. He saw the opportunity of getting rid of 
Windle, giving him enough money to establish his antique 
business, and putting us in as permanent employees, at least 
one of us eventually. So that s what happened. 

I never did like it very well that we came in and Windle 
went out, but you couldn t blame anyone except Windle. He just 
wouldn t do his job. By that time, I had worked with Mrs. 
Woodward, Gertrude Woodward, in the rare books room, which was 
a fascinating place. It s a wonderful collection of rare 
books. She had made a bibliography of all the incunabula 
thereone of the big collections of incunabula in the country. 

Ruth Butler, too, although I wasn t much interested in the 
Ayer Collection. It was a library of anything to do with the 
American Indian, basically. It was such a good bequest, by the 
way, that by the time when I was there, Ruth Butler was buying 
almost anything that mentioned an Indian. [laughs] It was a 
wonderful collection, and I liked working with it. 

McCreery: How did it come about that you and Mr. Bowman sort of shared 
the duties of head of reference? 

Mosher: That was simply when Windle left and they wanted- -we were both 
there and both sort of sharing the whole business anyway, 
because Windle wasn t bothering with it much. And I don t know 
why they didn t make Bess Finn head of the reference 
department. She deserved to be, but she just wasn t. 

McCreery: Was it just the three of you, then? 

Mosher: No, that was another reason why I became a teacher in a library 
school. They employed people to stand behind the reference 
desk, and they had been successful in the case of Ben and me. - 


Pargellis, particularly, would just see somebody, someone would 
ask for a job, and he d give them a job, and we didn t have any 
say about it, at first, at any rate. They didn t have any 
library school education, didn t know anything about libraries, 
and we had to give them library school, really. 

That made me think, well, maybe there is something to 
library school. I think I mentioned once that I felt that 
library school was largely a waste of time, but I began to 
revise my opinion when I learned how much library school did 
teach to someone who didn t know anything about libraries. 

McCreery: I take it, then, that you had to supervise these people that 
Pargellis hired? 

Mosher: Yes, yes. Well, they d come in and they d be working with us 
[laughs] mostly doing- -well, they obviously couldn t do it. 
You know, they d have to call upon one of us all the time, or 
on Bess Finn, and they didn t know the operation of the 
library, so that convinced me that library schools fulfilled an 
important function. 

McCreery: How did you and Mr. Bowman split up your duties? 

Mosher: I don t think we did. We justwhatever came up we really 
see, actually we weren t heads of anything, we were just 
working there. That was just a title. Pargellis did all the 
important things like budgeting and hiring and all that. Bess 
Finn was still there, too, to do thewell, she was there all 
the time. But there wasn t too muchit wasn t too complicated 
a business. It all ran by itself, pretty much. 

McCreery: Do you recall the size of the total staff of the Newberry at 
that time, about? 

Mosher: I never thought of a number. There were probably no more than 
fifty. Let me think. There was a genealogy department, a 
separate library on another floor. It was very active. It had 
a large collection of family history, but it had no more than 
three or four employees. There were a lot of you might call 
them student assistants. They would be going to school 
somewhere and working at the Newberry in the meantime. 


Further Recollections of Attending Library School. 1946-1948 

McCreery : 





In light of the comment you just made that you began to see 
value in library school, let s return just a moment to your own 
experience in library school. We did talk about that a little 
bit last time. I think you said the courses were terrible. 

the school there. Wasn t 


But tell me just a little bit about 
it founded by Louis Round Wilson? 


Was he still there? 

No, that was the problem. The faculty had been dispersed and 
not replaced, and so there were just people who didn t know how 
to teach or organize courses who were teaching. They were just 
very, very poorly done. Of course I would have to keep 
reminding myself that I was different from most of the 
students, because I had had so much experience. I was having 
experience in a library and I had had so much experience 
teaching how to use a library in the freshman English courses 
that I knew most of what they werewell, all I had to do to 
get through library school was to attend the classes. After 
the first two classes I was excused from attending them and 
given the opportunity to take special courses under Pierce 

At one point, Ben and I both decided that we didn t need 
the degree; we d just quit going to library school. So we 
talked to the dean of the library school about us quitting, 
saying that it wasn t going to do us any good. He didn t want 
that to happen. I can t think of his name now. He became 
librarian at Stanford, eventually. But he suggested this. 
They wouldn t require us to take all these required courses 
that we didn t need to take, [laughter] that we already knew 
all the materialand to take courses under Pierce Butler, who 
graciously agreed just to--the courses weren t being offered at 
that particular time, but he would meet with us once at the 
beginning of the course, and we d write a paper and that would 
be it. 

Pierce Butler was very deaf and it was hard for him to 
teach regularly. I remember the first time we ever met with 
him, he had a great big hearing aid and he put it out on the 


table and said, "Talk into that." [laughter] 
that he taught me very much, really. 

I didn t feel 

So anyway, the one who taught the library administration at 
that time in the University of Chicago library school was the 
Chicago Public Library librarian. She was, oh, maybe a little 
past middle age. She d never done anything except come up 
through the ranks in the Chicago Public Library. She didn t 
know anything about teaching, or she didn t know what to teach. 
She certainly didn t know very much about administration of any 
libraries except the Chicago Public, which was not a very well- 
run library at that time. So that was sort of typical of the 
courses we took. 

The wife of one of the professors who was a librarian 
taught a course, also, and she tried very hard, but she didn t 
know how to teach. So, as I said, the whole thing was simply a 
waste of time. 

McCreery: Who taught reference and bibliography, which became your 

Mosher: Well, that s a good question. I think we were excused from 

that course, because we both were working in reference. We did 
take some additional courses or separate courses under the 
chief reference librarian at the University of Chicago, whose 
name escapes me nowshe s a well known reference librarian-- 
but it was just, you know, a very perfunctory account of how 
she did reference work at the University of Chicago, which was 
not very good because she didn t stand behind the desk and do 
reference work; she would work with the faculty members who 
needed help. I learned, frankly, nothing that has been useful 
to me about working in a library from going to a library 

McCreery: Now the degree you took was a BLS? 

Mosher: That s right. That was another problem there because, see, the 
University of Chicago library school was founded in order to 
give graduate experience or more than one year of library 
school. Actually it was founded to give the doctorate in 
librarianship, and it was the first library school to give 
doctorates . 

There wasn t any first-year program when it started. There 
was a program for a second year of librarianship study, and so 
that this first degree was a master s degree, and then most 
everybody who went to the University of Chicago library school 


was in it for the doctoral program. A very large number of 
very good librarians went through that doctoral program. 

Just at the time that Ben and I went there, they decided to 
give a first-year program, a bachelor s degree. We were one of 
the first classes to have to get the bachelor s degree in 
librarianship. That s why I have a BLS instead of an MLS. Of 
course, that was all that was being given here in Berkeley 
until some years after I came. 

McCreery: Did you have much interaction with the American Library 
Association while you were in Chicago at any time? 

Mosher: No, I did not. I didn t have time. As I said before, I m not 
a joiner, and I didn t like having to go to meetings. And I 
wasn t particularly interested in library association business. 
They seemed to be interested only in public libraries, and I 
didn t think that I would ever be in interested in public 
libraries at that time. At that time I was going to become a 
university librarian. That s what I wanted to be. I didn t 
want to have to fuss around with the problems of public 
libraries. Oh, I attended, I think, some meetings of the ALA 
when they met in Chicago- -very few, though. I did not have 
time to, and I was completely uninterested in most of the 
subjects . 

I went to meetings of the American Library Association 
after I came out here. The school always sent someone to 
represent the library school, particularly at the mid-winter 
meeting. So I did not have any experience with the American 
Library Association in Chicago. 

McCreery: We ve talked about how you were finishing up your Ph.D. at this 
same time that you were head of reference at the Newberry. You 
told me you ended up with the topic about The Dial publication, 
and so on. Who ended up your adviser? 

Mosher: Flanagan. 

McCreery: Flanagan, the person that we just talked about this morning. 

Mosher: Yes. 



Coming to Berkeley s School of Librarianship, 1950 

McCreery: Now you say the Ph.D. degree came, or the final exams came, in 
September of 1950. By that time it sounds as if you had 
already lined up the job at Berkeley? 

Mosher: Well, I was on my way out here. 

McCreery: Perhaps you can just tell me how you first began considering 
the job at Berkeley and how the contact was made and so on. 

Mosher: Yes. It was in the summer of 1950. I was finishing my 
dissertation. I think I had it all written and was just 
getting it approved. I had it in my mind, of course, the fact 
that at least within a year or two I was going to have to find 
a job somewhere. The first job I think I ever asked for- -well, 
library job- -was I thought I d like to be at Boulder, Colorado. 
I d heard a great deal about it from a friend, and so I wrote 
to the head librarian at the University of Colorado library and 
asked for a position, explaining all the details. "Sorry, we 
don t have any position to offer you." So that s all I d been 
able to do. 

One day I got a letter from then-Dean [J. Periam] Danton at 
Berkeley asking me if I d be interested in a position teaching 
at Berkeley, at the library school. 

McCreery: Were you acquainted with him at the time? 

Mosher: No, I d never heard of him before. He had gone to the 

University of Chicago library school, got his doctorate. He 
knew Pierce Butler. I also know that they needed new faculty 
members. He had corresponded with all the library schools. 

McCreery: Do you know how he got your name? 


Mosher: Yes. He got my name from Pierce Butler. Pierce Butler 

suggested to Danton that I might be able to teach history of 
the book. What he wanted was someone to teach history of the 
book. Well, he did have someone, had had someone-- [John] Barr 
Tompkins was on the library school faculty. He resigned from 
the facultystayed on as a librarian at The Bancroft Library, 
but he resigned from the faculty- -because he did not approve of 
Danton s marital problems. 

Danton and the wife of the Assistant [University] Librarian 
had fallen in love and had gotten married- -divorced and 
married- -and it was all blown up. You could hardly believe 
that anything like this could happen nowadays. Well, it 
couldn t happen nowadays. But it created a real scandal, 
especially in the library and the library school. And, well, 
most of the librarians and the library school faculty were not 
on speaking terms even, with Danton, for a while. 

Barr Tompkins resigned, as I said, because of this. He 
didn t want to be associated with Danton anymore. I mean, it 
must have been real hard feelings if you quit your job in sort 
of a moment s notice. Anyway, Danton was left to try to find 
someone to teach history of the book, which was a required 
course. There weren t many people around. 

I must have been at the bottom of the barrel, because 
[laughs] I had never taught history of the book, didn t know 
much about the history of the book. But I talked with Pierce 
Butler about it, and Pierce thought I could handle it and he 
said, "Anyway, it would get you out there to California, and 
you ll be able to find a library job once you get out there." 
So I agreed. 

I did want to come out here, and of course I was really--it 
was a hard time putting together, you know, the fact that I had 
quit teaching English because I didn t want to teach--! vowed 
that I d never teach again, and I d gone into library work to 
get out of teachingand here was a job teaching! But I did 
want to come to Berkeley, [laughs] 

Danton wanted someone to interview me before they employed 
me. [laughs] He was going to the American Library Association 
convention--! think it was in July and I think it was in 
Cleveland. And nobody flew in those days. He came by train 
and he had to change trains in Chicago, so his train was due to 
arrive at Union Station or whatever in Chicago at a certain 
time and, if I were there, we could walk together over to where 
his train would leave for Detroit or Cleveland, whatever it 
was. [laughs] So this happened. We met and walked to the 


train he wanted to catch--and well, I don t think he said 
anything right then and there, but I soon got a letter from him 
offering me the position. 

I think I had- -I didn t bother him very much. I should not 
have accepted the position as instructor, because I was going 
to have my doctorate and if you had a doctorate, you ought not 
to be hired as an instructor. At any rate, that settled that. 
The salary was good enough, $4,200, and the university would 
pay my moving expenses, and I d have time enough to get my 
doctorate absolutely completed. This was July, I think. 

McCreery: Do you remember much more about your interview with him in the 
train station? 

Mosher: No, I don t remember much of anything. Well, he just looked me 
up and down. I think he just wanted to see that I wasn t a 
[laughs] monster and that I had clothes on, or something! But 
he just sort of looked me up and down and I don t know whether 
he said, "You ll do," or not, but he inferred that. [laughs] 

McCreery: He was offering a full-time job, however. 
Mosher: Yes, it was a full-time job as instructor. 

McCreery: Did you know what else you would teach besides history of the 

Mosher: I did not even know that. Well, no, that s right, 1 did know 
that- -but that would be the second semester. I didn t know 
what I would teach the first semester. That s one of the 
reasons why I was able to be late in coming in the fall. I 
didn t have anything to teach. 

That same yearthe fall of 1950--there were three new 
additions to the faculty: Reuben Peiss, and Will Ready, and me. 
Both of them were there, had already come, and Will Ready had 
been appointed to teach reference. Reuben Peiss was teaching- - 
well, I think, introduction to librarianship or something like 
that, and I was to teach history of the book the second 
semester. The first semester I was to teach methods of 
research along with two other members of the f acuity- -LeRoy 
Merritt and I guess Peiss, I don t remember right now- -but that 
was a course that not many people would be taking. It turned 
out, I think, there were two people who took it. There were 
three faculty members and two students. [laughter] So the 
first semester I was here I had nothing to teach, nothing to 
do, except prepare for methods of research in the spring 

McCreery: Let s continue our discussion of your decision to accept the 
library school job at Berkeley. 

Mosher: Well, I did try to find out more about what the situation was 
here . 

McCreery: Before you came out from Chicago? 

Mosher: Before I came out. A graduate of the library school worked at 
the Newberry and told me that there was a big scandal involving 
the dean, and that the faculty and California librarians in 
particular were divided about this. 

McCreery: Did you know what she was referring to at the time? 

Mosher: No. She told me then that it was a matter of the dean having got 
divorced and remarried and having married the wife of the 
assistant librarian at Berkeleywho later went on to become 
librarian of Harvard College, by the way. There were people who 
said, [sighs] there was good reason for the divorce because 
Lois s--Lois Danton s--f irst husband didn t want to have any 
children, and she did [want children] . That was why she was 
willing to marry Danton, under what was considered at that time 
scandalous circumstances. Also [the fact] that--I can t think of 
his name, I could look it up--but the assistant librarian 
[Douglas Bryant] went and cried on everybody s shoulder and made 
a big fuss about it--didn t go through the divorce graciously. 

The Loyalty Oath Controversy; Early Impressions of Berkeley 

Mosher: But there was another reason why I hesitated, or why I thought 
there might be a problem about coming to Berkeley, that this 
was the beginning of the oath controversy. 

McCreery: Yes, the loyalty oath. 

Mosher: It was a really serious problem here, of faculty resigning and 
lawsuits. I didn t know anything about this really until I got 
faint glimmerings of it from people I talked with in Illinois, 
but I was accustomed to signing the same statement. The 
University of Illinois required every faculty member to sign a 
statement saying he d never been a member of the Communist 
Party. Well, what s all the fuss about? Everybody does it. I 
realize now that if I d known all the circumstances, it would 

have been a big factor in whether I would come or not, but by 
the time I found out about it, all the arrangements had been 
made. That s perhaps enough about "before coming to Berkeley." 

McCreery: You had been stationed in Fresno and you certainly knew 

California, but what were your impressions of Berkeley, the 
place, when you first arrived? 

Mosher: I liked it very much, of course. The climate and theI ve 
always thought it an ideal place in which to live and one of 
the most beautiful spots I ve ever seen. I liked particularly 
the climate because I don t like hot weather. I don t like 
cold weather. [laughs] And I ve sort of felt ever since I 
arrived like a prisoner of the fog. I don t like to get very 
far away from it. [laughs] 

I love fog. I don t like warm, sunny weather. I suppose 
this is my North Dakota upbringing. But anyway, we sort of 
were in the same situation as when we first went to Illinois. 
We didn t have any place to live. August, and even September, 
are not good times to find places to live in Berkeley. But 
fortunately I had a cousin who was an insurance agent in 
Oakland. He was then still single, and I called him up and 
told him, look, Dean, you have to find us a place to live, and 
I specified what I wanted. 

At the same time Evelyn s parents decided to come out to 
California and live with us. Evelyn s mother s mother had 
recently died, and Evelyn s father was the victim of a stroke 
and couldn t talk and had a hard time getting around, so she 
had him to take care of--and, well, just decided they d come 
out and live with us, so we needed a house big enough for two 
families, sort of. 

My cousin found a place around on Del Norte Street, a large 
house with four bedrooms and a view and a fireplace, all the 
things that I d specified. [laughs] Furthermore, Dean- -that 
was his name, Dean Whitesel, my favorite aunt s sonwent on 
vacation back to Minneapolis where his parents lived, where 
he d grown up and left his Studebaker convertible and his 
apartment for us to use while he was gone the first couple 
weeks. [laughter] So we came by train, and after stopping in 
Colorado to visit my sister for some timenot very long, 
because we didn t have very long and arrived at night, stayed 
in Dean s apartment that very night. The next morning I had to 
be at The Faculty Club for a luncheon in my honor. 

McCreery: In your honor. 


Mosher: Well, you know, first time anyone had seen me except Danton. I 
remember driving from Oakland to Berkeleywait a minute yes , 
that s rightand parking on the campus, not far from the 
library. And after the luncheon and various other things -- 
getting a library card and so on I got into my car and had to 
stop a passerby to ask how do you get out of this place? 
[laughs] I didn t know which way to turn or how it would be 
possible to get to a public street. I was sold. 

McCreery: I m glad to hear you got a library card on your first day. 

Mosher: Yes. The only assistant librarian at that time was Marion 

Milczewski, and after lunch he took me tothe library and the 
library school used to have lunch together frequently at The 
Faculty Club and gave the authority for me to get a library 
card. Yes, I needed that right away because I was working on 
the Anonyma and Pseudonyma, yet. And then I was shown to my 
office too, on the fourth floor of the old [Doe] library. Of 
course, that s where the library school was then. 

McCreery: That must have been right around the time they moved to the 

fourth floor. Or perhaps they were in the process of moving? 
Do you recall? 

Mosher: Let me think. I guess it hadn t moved yet, and it wasn t on 
the fourth floor, but my first office was up on the fourth 

McCreery: In any event, it was around the time you came. 

Mosher: Yes. Yes, I had thought we were going to move I had been led 
to believe by Danton that the library school was going to be in 
the annex, was going to have a brand new building, but it 
turned out that, of course, we weren t. We stayed where we 
were for a while. I think maybe just about the time I came 
they were moving. 

The First Semester at Berkeley 

McCreery: Perhaps you could just say a little bit more about what your 
duties were right away, since you were coming late after the 
semester started. 

Mosher: As I reported, I had nothing to do except attend faculty 
meetings, which there weren t very many of, and to get 
acquainted. As I said, I was working on the Anonyma and 


Pseudonyma book. That kept me very involved, and I didn t have 
anything to do by way of courses, except this one course that 
we divided up the three of us into--I don t know who took the 
first part of the semester. I think I had the last part of the 
semester, so I didn t have anything to do the first two- thirds 
of the semester. 

McCreery: Again, that was you and Mr. Ready? 

Mosher: I m not sureno, it was Mr. Merritt, LeRoy Merritt, whose 
house by the way, this was, before we moved in. 

McCreery: This house we re in now? 

Mosher: Yes. This was LeRoy Merritt s house. Not then, but we bought 
it from him. And Reuben Peiss, I think. 

McCreery: The course was shared by three, who each took a part of it. 
Mosher: Yes, that s right. And in different time intervals. 

McCreery: So you had some time to get settled into your new house and so 

Mosher: Oh, yes, and we needed it, too, because Evelyn s parents didn t 
come untilit was 1950--Korean War--our furniture didn t come 
for, well, until the very end of September. We moved into this 
house that was rented for us. We had a house, but there was no 
furniture in it. The next door neighbor was an elderly lady 
who was very friendly and whose son lived a couple blocks away. 
They lent us couple of army cots and some bedding. 

McCreery: Pretty spartan? 

Mosher: Yes. 

McCreery: What did your wife think of all of these changes in your lives? 

Mosher: She has always liked Berkeley, and we were so glad to get out 
of Chicago. And for Randy--the very first day he wenthe was 
late to get into school, second grade, and his teacher was a 
lovely young woman. He had had an old battle axe in Chicago, 
[laughter] who d been there for years and years. We had had 
her over for dinner one night and you could see why- -well, she 
wouldn t be a real inspiration to the first-graders. But both 
Randy and- -I think something a little bit long here- -not long, 
but we stayed at my cousin Dean s apartment for the first 
couple weeks. It wasn t too bad there. We had time to get 
acquainted with our next door neighbor, and Evelyn had time to 


do a lot of housecleaning and get sort of settled in the 
neighborhood before our furniture came. 

Then around the first of October, her parents came and 
their furniture. It was all, well, just really delightful 
because the weather and everything pleased us so much. And 
there were no particular problems at the library school. 
Everything was functioning all right. And certainly no problem 
for me because I didn t have anything to teach. 

McCreery: [laughs] Well, you did start teaching, though, later in that 
semester. Can you describe your first teaching experience 

Mosher: No, I ve said there were only those two or three students, so 
we just sat around and talked. I didn t know anything about 
the methods of research except, you know, what do you do? What 
are the methods? They had some guidelines from the others, but 
they hadn t taught the course either. Maybe LeRoy Merritt had 
--I think I just drew on my own experience on what you do in 
research. I don t remember the students at all. At that time 
we didn t have a doctoral program, but there was a second-year 
master s program and the first degree was a bachelor s degree. 

Early Experiences at the School of Librarianship; Colleagues 

McCreery: What were your impressions of the library school itself when 
you were in your first year, do you recall? 

Mosher: I liked it, of course. After I started teaching the history of 
the book, I began to realize that my previous teaching 
experience had been very one-sided. I had students before- 
only students who were not very good and forced to take a 
required course; here all the students were graduates of a 
university before they came in my class, and they all were very 
much interested in the subject because this was going to be 
their permanent occupation, and this was the only education 
they had. So they were all eager and anxious to learn and all 
very much stimulated and unqualified. So it was fun to teach 

Barr Tompkins had left me a set of notes indicating what 
books the library had that would be useful in the history of 
the book course. These were all in the so-called rare book 
room, which was just an extra room wherewe didn t have a rare 
books department. So I spent quite a bit of time from before 


the spring semester just finding these books. Every week I had 
an exhibit of the books that I was talking about in the course, 
and the students loved this. 

It s a very interesting subject, the history of the book, 
and I said I didn t know very much about it, but I had learned 
a great deal at the Newberry, working at the rare books 
library. Mr. Pargellis had often given me groups of books to 
decide what to do with, which included a lot of rare materials, 
so I had begun to learn something about it. 

The students were just fun to work with. I liked Berkeley 
and the university and the library school and the whole 
situation well enough, so I decided I didn t want to do 
anything else- -especially didn t want to move away from this 

McCreery: [laughs] Tell me something about your faculty colleagues in 
the school. 

Mosher: The teacher of cataloging was [Anne] Ethelyn Markley, and we 
were fairly closely associated because we needed to correlate 
our courses. Cataloging students needed to know where to find 
information about the books they were cataloging, and so I 
needed to teach in reference- -now I m jumping ahead of myself. 
I wasn t teaching reference then. Anyway, I didn t get so well 
acquainted with Ethelyn the first year. We did correlate 
courses, and so I taught what she needed and she taught what I 
needed. I needed some information from the cataloging courses. 
I think she was about a perfect cataloging teacher, that s what 
I think, and a very friendly and intelligent and helpful 

I don t know whetherwell, it turned out, not at first, 
but we learned that we both have the same birthday- -February 
19--and so we began to celebrate our birthday together. That 
usually meant that we d have dinner together that Evelyn 
prepared at our home. Sometimes we d go out. 

Crete [Fruge Cubie] was on the faculty, but I had very 
little to do with her because she was just the assistant to 

I ve already mentioned LeRoy Merritt. I think he was not a 
good teacher. I felt that he didn t belong on the library 
school faculty. He had a bad stutter and he was not self- 
confident. And anyway, he was not well liked as a teacher. I 
liked him all right, got along fine with him, but I didn t ever 
think he was a good teacher, nor did I respect his publications 


very much either, 
interested in. 

But he was interested in stuff that I wasn t 

McCreery: Mr. Ready came at the same time you did? 

Mosher: Yes, Mr. Ready. I was trying to think of the ones who were 
there before. I guess it was sort of a new slate of people, 
wasn t it? 

McCreery: Yes, Mr. [Carleton B.] Joeckel was there, I gather, for a short 

Mosher: Yes, but he was --he taught one course, maybe, and he was not 
very important in the faculty, although he came to faculty 
meetings and he was a very likeable person. Of course, he had 
tremendous experience and authority and background, and 
everyone looked up to him as one of the czars of the library 
profession, sort of. And I think his knowledge and everything 
about him was very good. His wife was a sociable person and 
invited people to their home, and we had many good times with 

Will Ready didn t belong on the faculty. He was a Canadian 
and had not had much experience with American libraries at all. 
In fact, I don t think he had had any. He was from Canada, so 
his being put in to teach reference was a real mistake. He 
should never have taught reference in an American library 

McCreery: Were you and he asked to share that duty at first? 

Mosher: At first it was thought that we were going to, but when I came 
late, he d already started and he said he d prefer to just do 
the whole thing himself, so I never taught reference the first 
year. It wasn t until he left that I taught reference. 

He was more interested in writing than in librarianship, 
and his students felt that he had given them short shrift. He 
stood up in front of the class and told stories instead of 
teaching reference. But who knows, I don t know what teaching 
referencethere are various ways of teaching it. But the 
students didn t like him. 

Reuben Peiss was not well all the time. He died, of 
course, two years later. He had been involved with a number of 
important library areas. The most recent thing he had done 
was, after the war, organize collecting for American libraries 
the books that had been published in Europe during the war. 
And particularly he was involved with Portuguese and Spanish 


books Portuguese, especially. I can t remember the details 
now of his life, but he was a very, very brilliant person. I 
think he was a good librarian. He was a good teacher. And of 
course he was acquainted with practically all aspects of 
librarianship and knew all the librarians in the county, I 
think, of any importance. That s an overstatement, but I think 
he was an important part of the faculty that first year. 
Anyway, I had great respect for him and very little respect for 
Will Ready and not much respect for LeRoy Merritt. 

Deanship of J. Periam Danton 

Mosher: I don t know, that first year, just what I thought about the 
dean, Danton. He seemed to do his job well. Certainly he 
worked hard at it. 

The office was very well run, partly because of his staff, 
which consisted of one person. The school size was limited to 
fifty students that first year, only fifty students. This 
[staff member] Annette Goodwin, of course ever since Danton 
came at any rate and probably before that- -had been the 
mainstay of that office. She knew all the workings of the 
university and especially as it related to the library school. 
She had no student assistant help or temporary help and so on, 
but she was the one that knew how to work with the university. 
Danton was very good at this, too. He did his annual reports 
and kept his correspondence up to date and was on top of 
everything that happened at the school. 

I don t think [Danton was] ever well liked by the students. 
I don t know exactly why. But he never got any good reports 
about his course he taught--he taught administration of 
libraries, but there was the introduction to librarianship 
course that he was mostly involved in. I thought he was a good 
teacher, but 1 think that there was something about him that 
students just didn t like. I don t know what. Perhaps he was 
too autocratic. 

Maybe a good example, or some kind of example, of what he 
was like. Every student had a desk in the fourth floor 
corridors of the library, and Danton would walk through and if 
anybody didn t have a coat on or didn t have a necktie, he 
would point this out to them: "Well, you d better dress the way 
a professional person dresses." 


That s another thing. He got that much involved with 
making them, well, correspond to what he thought was right. 
But that first year I really didn t have much contact with him 
and felt that things were going along all right. I wasn t 
interfered with, at any rate. 

Recollections of Edith Coulter and Delia Sisler 

[Interview 3: April 2, 1999] ## 

McCreery: When we met last time, a couple of weeks ago, we ended talking 
about some of your colleagues in the library school during your 
first few years there, starting in 1950, and also about the 
courses you were teaching at that time. One of the things I 
wanted to do today was to ask about your recollections of the 
early faculty of the school. I wanted to ask in particular 
about Miss Edith Coulter, who I gather was still around at the 
time you arrived. Can you tell me a little bit about her? 

Mosher: Yes. She shared an office with Miss Markley and Mrs. Fruge 

[Cubie] , which was in the same corridor as my office. She came 
to faculty meetings pretty regularly, or I often saw her at 
lunch at The Faculty Club. I didn t really have much to do 
with her, except that I talked with her as you talk with any 
faculty member. When I asked her if she had any suggestions 
for teaching reference, which I had never done before and I 
knew that she was a very successful and very popular teacher of 
reference and bibliographyshe said, "Well, I really don t 
want to tell you anything about how to teach reference. I 
think you ought to decide how you want to teach it and what you 
want to teach. I m willing to give you information, if you ask 
me for it, but I don t want to tell you anything about it." So 
I didn t, although I was feeling verywell, I really didn t 
know what I was doing the first time I taught reference. I had 
to develop my course the way I thought it ought to be. 

Mr. Ready, who had taught it the previous year, had 
presented a very formless course, in which he basically just 
stood up and talked about reference, as I understand it. I 
didn t visit his classes. I didn t think that was the kind of 
course I wanted. I thought that they ought to know the basic 
reference materials , and I thought the course ought to make 
them learn about them. 

The only time I remember Miss Coulter telling me anything 
about teaching reference was when I started teaching the 


government documents part of the course. I think that she 
actually volunteered this information to me. She came into the 
office and told me that she knew that I was teaching government 
documents and she thought California state documents were very 
important. She told me about a work that was a very good 
bibliography of California documents and that I ought to be 
sure to include that, which I did then, because I didn t know 
anything about California documents at that point. 

McCreery: What was the name of it? 

Mosher: I can t tell you right now. Otherwise she was a very pleasant 
person to be around. She and her sister, Mabel, lived together 
in a house on Hawthorne, I think it was. And we were--Evelyn 
and I were invited there for a meal, or meals. The whole 
faculty was occasionally, I think. And so we became very 

I remember the time she was elected or appointed for some 
honor from the American Library Association for reference work, 
and she was very pleased about this. It had been announced at 
a faculty meeting which she attended, but she was not feeling 
good at this point. I remember, coming from The Faculty Club 
back to the library school, she had to sit down and rest a 

She was not a very great influence on my work. I think that 
Miss [Delia J.] Sisler would have been more of an influence, 
because she taught the history of the book and that s what I was 
most interested in, but I practically never saw her since she 
avoided the university and the library and the library school 
most of the time. I don t think I had more than a few words with 
her ever, just because she didn t want to be involved with the 
library school she was no longer part ofwhich I think she felt 
unfairly deprived of somehow. So she had frankly no effect upon 
my work, and I didn t know her very well. 

Teaching Reference and Bibliography 

Mosher: We mentioned Barr Tompkins before. He had left me a list of 
books that he had shown as examples of the books that the 
course was about, but that s all. He had no notes or anything 
of that sort. He wasn t unfriendly, but he was very busy as 
head of the Bancroft reference service. And I don t think he 
was particularly interested in my being successful anyway, 
because he had resigned in protest and the conditions under 


which he was protesting were still in effect. But he was 
always outwardly cordial and friendly and I really didn t--! 
had to develop these courses all by myself in other words. 

McCreery: How did you approach that task? 

Mosher: Well, first of all, I thought that experience, actual 

experience with the reference works was important, so I 
developed a series of assignments of questions that were 
mimeographed and given to the students to do each week. At 
first I did this all by myself, but later I was able to have 
help from the office in mimeographing and typing the copy from 
which you mimeographed, and mimeographing the stuff. The 
office provided one person, part time. 

I think the first class that I taught in 1950 was the last 
one limited to fifty students. Then we began to accept more 
studentsabout as many as we could get, because libraries were 
clamoring for more librarians. They had to come through the 
library school, so we increased the number of library school 
students as much as we could. In fact, we admitted many 
students I thought should not have been admitted, but they were 
admitted because they were so needed in the field. 

The first few classes were very, very good, I thought. 
That s why I was inclined to stay in the position, because the 
teaching was so much different from anything I d done before. 
I had sworn never to teach again, but I liked teaching library 
school students. 

I had more than one opportunity to leave during that time. 
Ray Swank, who was the head of the Stanford library then, 
offered me a job as an acquisitions librarian, which Will Ready 
accepted; I turned it down. I don t know whether- -well, he 
offered it to me, at any rate. And I was offered a job that I 
almost took at the University of Kansas, in Lawrence. Bob 
Vosper, who had been at UCLA, asked me to be his assistant 

Promotions to Assistant and Associate Professor; Meeting with 
Clark Kerr 

Mosher: I said that if I were made associate professor at Berkeley I 
would stay. I had just been made assistant professor, just 


McCreery: Yes, because you came in as an instructor, you said last time. 

Mosher: Yes, that s right. I d just been made, after two years, an 

assistant professor. And it was hard for the administration, 
hard for everyone, to then immediately make me associate 

McCreery: How so? 

Mosher: Because obviously they didn t know what they were doing, I 

guess. [laughs] I m not sure why. That s the indication I 
got. Well, [sighs] I suppose if I started talking about this, 
I might as well go ahead, but it finally came to the point 
where everyone agreedthe faculty, the library school, and so 
on, that they d like to have me stay at Berkeley. 

So Clark Kerr, who had just been appointed chancellor of 
the university, called me in. He said it was his first task as 
chancellor, was to talk to me about this problem that the 
administration had. He suggested a plan that would up me to a 
higher salary the first year and give me the promise of being 
reviewed for associate professor the next year. And this would 
please the administration and everyone. So anyway, it made it 
possible for me to stay on. Otherwise, I was just at the point 
of going. 

McCreery: What was the administration s problem that he described to you? 

Mosher: That it would make them look foolish, or it would interfere 
with the operation of promotion, and so on. Generally, if I 
were just made assistant professor, it would seem as though 
they didn t know what they were doing [to have] me become an 
associate professor immediately. That was the idea I got. It 
was okay to become associate professor, but not immediately. 
Because associate professor, of course, got tenure, and that s 
what I wanted. I d been there long enough to see that you had 
to have tenure to really 

McCreery: What were your impressions of Clark Kerr at that meeting? 

Mosher: I liked him very much. He was young and very knowledgeable and 
very persuasive, and had obviously considered the problem and 
sought a solution which was acceptable, so I liked him. 

McCreery: Had you met him before that? 

Mosher: I don t think I had ever met him, no. And I didn t have much 
to do with him afterwards. 

McCreery: So you were able to work that out with him? 

Mosher: Well, sort of. You might call it blackmailing on my part. 

[laughs] I ve been told that that was held against me for a 
long time, because they don t like to have promotions forced. 
They like to have the promotions scheduled along regularly. I 
didn t feel that I was doing anything very bad, because I 
thought I should not have been only an instructor for the first 
two years, but that was the way it worked out. 

I, of course, was very reluctantalthough I liked Bob 
Vosper very much, I was very reluctant to leave Berkeley for 
Lawrence, Kansas, especially since Evelyn s family had come out 
to Berkeley to live with us. Nobody wanted to go back to the 
middle west. 

So there were two decisions I had to make the first couple 
years of teaching. I was pleased, of course, that people 
wanted me to stay, and I was pleased that the courses were 
going along and the students seemed to like the way it was all 

Teaching the History of the Book; Summers in the Rare Book Room 

Mosher: The history of the book course was very popular, and the 

students enjoyed it thoroughly because they got actually to 
handle these very rare and historical books from the Bancroft. 
We had an exhibit every week in thewell, not in The Bancroft 
Library because they weren t in The Bancroft Library then. I 
think it was called the office collection or something like 
that and stashed away in a sort of store room, but right next 
to the room where I taught. The library school had a classroom 
on the third floor. It was right next- -well, it s all been 
changed so much now I don t know, unless you want to talk 
about all that. 

McCreery: That s fine. 

Mosher: The rare books were in this particular room, as I think I 

mentioned before, all in no particular order. And because I 
needed more than $4,200 a year, I asked for and was given the 
opportunity to work during the summer there wasn t any summer 
school then in the rare book room, just surveying it and 
making a report on what was there and rearranging it so that it 
could be used. So that s the first summer, I worked at the 
rare book room as, I might say, a rare book librarian. But 


there was no rare books department, and these books were just 
labeled as office collection, I think. 

I can t remember the date, but one night there was a flood. 
It wasn t the first year. A sewer pipe, or some water pipe 
burst above the room where the collection was housed, and I was 
called at something like eleven or twelve o clock at night, 
because I was presumably in charge of this collection. I 
dashed down to the library and steam was coming down, and water 
was coming down from the ceiling. A number of staff members 
had been called, too, and we all immediately started pulling 
the books out of the so-called rare book room and into what was 
the library school classroom. 

They did get the water stopped and not very much was 
damaged because on the top of the shelves were a collection of 
not very important books a collection on the Rubaiyat of Omar 
Khayyam--! think they d been given to them, or another similar, 
not-too-important collection. The really rare books were not 
much damaged at all. They had been put out of harm s way. And 
the next morning after, the library staff was there drying them 
out, page by page, and so on. 

Then they had to move them someplace, and that s when they 
started to become part of the rare book room. Well, that s 
when the rare book room was established, I think. They didn t 
become part of the Bancroft for years after that. 

Impressions of Students; Admissions Process 

McCreery: Let s return to your teaching for a moment. You were preparing 
these courses pretty much from scratch. 

Mosher: That s right. Entirely from scratch. 

McCreery: But they were going well. 

Mosher: Yes. 

McCreery: As you began teaching, what did you think of your students? 

Mosher: Oh, yes, the reason for liking what I was doing was the 

students. As I mentioned before in teaching freshman English 
at Illinois, there were no good students. All the students 
that knew how to write, that had learned anything, had taken 
the proficiency test and had been excused from it. But her<j 


the students at the library school were all graduates of a 
college or university and had decided they wanted to be 
librarians. This was the only training and education that they 
were going to get, so they were all eager and more or less 
excited, I think, about a new profession that most of them had 
little experience with- -although a number of them had had 
library work--so it was a lot of fun to work with them. They 
were enthusiastic and intelligent and knowledgeable and 
interested, and most of them were very good. 

McCreery: Do you remember any names that stand outagain, just from your 
first few years or so? 

Mosher: Yes. Let s see, I hate to mention anyone because there were so 
many of them whom I thought were very good. Pat Anderson was 
one of them. Pat Anderson, who became Mrs. Farquar, was one of 
the students who stood out. 

McCreery: She graduated in "53, I think. 

Mosher: Yes. The class of 53 was an especially good class from my 

point of view. There were a number of good students who liked 
history of the book. I think I probably just got to the point, 
after a couple of years, of teaching reference pretty well and 
they liked it. I remember toward the end of the year I told 
the class that I was getting a little tired of standing up in 
front of them and talking all the time, and I thought some of 
them ought to talk about some of the subjects that they knew 
about like philosophy, that I didn t know too much about. I 
asked for volunteers who would teach that particular subject. 

The most important of those who volunteered and who did 
teach or lecture--! think it was only one session, one or two, 
was Pat Wilson. In fact, that s actually why he became part of 
the library school, because I was so impressed with his ability 
as a teacher that I suggested that he do some lecturing. He 
had been working in the library and he had been working toward 
a Ph.D. in philosophy. And he s a good teacher, but I think 
that s probably the first time that he ever tried to, well, 
pose as a teacher in class. [laughter] 

I have a list of all the students I ve ever had back there 
that I can look over and point out names. I can t think of his 
first name, but his last name was Black. He went to Humboldt 
State College Library at the same time I guess that Pat 
Anderson went, or maybe she went a year later, I m not sure of 
that. He was a very good student and could have gone to a 
number of libraries, but he decided he wanted to go to Humboldt 
State because of the opportunity to get out into the country. 


He loved that part of the country. Don [Donald V.] Black, I 
think, was his name. He didn t stay there. He later got into 
computers down here somewhere. I think he had his own company. 

But another 1953 class member was Portia Hawley [Griswold] . 
Portia Hawley later became--! ve forgotten her official title 
a member of the faculty of the school and then married Ray 
[Raynard C.) Swank. So she became Mrs. Swank. She was 
librarian at Reno [Washoe County Library in Nevada] before she 
came here. She was working toward her doctorate at one point, 
but she started teaching and never had time to work on it, I 
guess. She became the librarian at Richmond [Public Library], 
too. She had a very successful library career before she 
started teaching reference. No, she didn t teach reference, 
she taught public librarianship. 

McCreery: You mentioned a few minutes ago that as the school expanded and 
began taking more students, you noticed that there were some 
students you thought should not have been admitted. Can I ask 
you to talk a little bit about the admissions process to the 
extent you knew about it? 

Mosher: I think that at one pointparticularly the period that we re 
talking about when librarians were in such demandthat we 
began to accept almost anyone who had a bachelor s degree and 
at least a C average- -whatever it was and who had had a little 
library experience or who just expressed an interest. But we 
were particularly concerned with people with subject interests 
and people who d worked in libraries. We often admitted some 
who had no particular subject experience and no subject 
knowledge and no experience in libraries, just because we 
needed people. At one desperate point, I think all over the 
country there were probably ten vacancies for every library 
school graduate every year. It was really amazing how the 
library people librarians, administrators, and so on from 
seeing the problem [of high demand for librarians] then began 
to lower their requirements for positions. They didn t have to 
have a library school degree, and that helped. 

We also had a couple other problems that led to admission 
of students who weren t as good as they ought to be. One was 
blacks, when the furor over opportunities for blacks came 
about. The university wanted to admit as many blacks as 
possible, and so we would admit black students, even though 
there was so little demand for them. Very few libraries wanted 
black staff people. 

The other was Orientals. There were I don t know exactly 
what officially prompted this, but there were a number of 


students in Oriental countries who applied to the library 
school so that they could presumably go back to work in their 
own country. But once they got here, they usually stayed. 

They, of course, were a problem because of language. Most 
of them were very, very smart and intelligent, but they had no 
idea what a library was, really. They had an awfully hard time 
with learning English while going to library school, which is 
what many of them were trying to do. So it was difficult to 
grade them along with the regular students and to graduate them 
so that a librarian would understand that they were able to go 
into a library and start working. That s what the purpose of 
the library school was. They weren t able to go into a library 
and start working unless it was a library of their own 

So that was hard. But we were being asked by the 
university administration to admit as many students from the 
Orient as possible, and as many blacks as possible. So the 
administration was no help in keeping these students out. They 
were qualified, and so they were admitted. They had to have 
some kind of language test which they had passed. 

Well, those are the problems I remember about admittance. 
But I guess I never did have the power to admit. I acted as 
associate dean, more than once, and the associate dean was 
often responsible for suggesting the names for admitting, so I 
read a lot of the applications. I think the applications were 
sent around to all the faculty, as a matter of fact. 

The Deanship of J. Periam Danton; Establishing Doctoral 
Programs ## 

McCreery: We were just talking about the process of admitting new 

students once the school began to grow so much in the fifties 
and so on, and about the role of faculty in making those 
decisions. Let me ask you something else about faculty 
relations. I m interested in faculty meetings and other times 
that the faculty may have gathered to discuss admissions or 
anything else and how those kinds of activities were conducted 
and how they were led by the dean. 

Mosher: From the time I got to the library school there were, I think, 
pretty much regular faculty meetings. I can t remember how 
often they were, partly because most of us ate at The Faculty 
Club- -or most of the men; women weren t allowed in The Faculty 


Mosher : 

Club except in the outer portions so that every noon we ate at 
the same table with people from the library staff and other 
faculty members. Often business would sort of be conducted 
there, and so I don t remember when--I think probably once a 
month we had a faculty meeting. 

At one point we had faculty meetings at The Faculty Club. 
This must have been after women were permitted to enter the 
hallowed precincts of the club. We sometimes even met at the 
Women s Faculty Club, had faculty meetings, usually over a 
lunch, then. We d sometimes have faculty meetings in the 
dean s office, too. The first faculty meetings, I think, were 
at the dean s office. 

Well, Danton, who was the dean, of course, when I first got 
there, was a good leader of such meetings, and he usually had 
an agenda. And he always had the paperwork all up to date and 
was very aware of what the administration needed from the 
school. He always had a plan, I think. 

One of the big and most important ideas he had during those 
first years was the inauguration of a Ph.D. program for the 
library school, which he was unable to push through the 
university administration. He was turned down at least once 
after trying very hard to get the permission to have a doctor s 
degree. He thought this was really important for the school. 

What did you think? 

Oh, I wasn t in favor of it. I didn t think it made too much 
difference. I thought that it was too much for the faculty and 
I thought that very few- -I didn t think that a doctor s degree 
in librarianship was really worth bothering with. That s what 
I thought then. I had a very poor idea of library schools. I 
think I mentioned that before, that it seemed to me they were 
mostly a waste of timethat you d be better just to go in a 
library and start working. And I thought that probably the 
best thing for someone who wanted a doctorate in librarianship 
was to start working in a library and get a Ph.D. --if that s 
what was wanted- -in the subject field. 

But I don t think I expressed that clearly and strongly. I 
went along with the idea of the doctorate. As it turned out, 
the very first student doctor s degree was in history of the 
book. And to go back further than that, the second or third 
time that a committee was appointed to decide whether the 
library school should have a doctorate or not, the committee 
reported that, well, they didn t think that librarianship 
deserved a doctorate, had the material for a doctorate. 


But they were convinced by the history of the book and 
history of libraries, which we were very strong in at that 
time. The history of libraries--Danton and Held and so on 
there were three or four people who could teach history of 
libraries and that was their field. So the committee agreed 
that a doctorate should be inaugurated, but that it ought to be 
very carefully guided. And there had to be two or three 
members from outside the schoolat least one--on the doctoral 
candidate s committee. They had to have a preliminary 
examination on the field of librarianship, which turned out to 
be very difficult for some students, because they hadn t paid 
much attention to the basic stuff in librarianship. They d 
been working in libraries. 

One of the doctoral students I thought most promising 
flunked his preliminary examination on librarianship, because 
he just hadn t paid much attention to it and he just couldn t 
make a convincing case. That was Lloyd Lyman, who was 
disappointed enough to quit librarianship after thatnot quit 
preparation for the doctorate. He became an employee of the 
University of California Press under Gus [August K.] Fruge and 
stayed in the University Press the rest of his career. I 
thought he was an excellent librarian. He would have deserved 
a doctorate in librarianship if anybody did. 

McCreery: How did it come to pass that the first Ph.D. granted in 

librarianship there was in history of the book, and what was 
your involvement? 

Mosher: His dissertation was a history of a magazine started in San 

Francisco. I can dig it out somewhere here. He was interested 
in the history of publishing, and I was his adviser. Grant 
Skelly was his name. He managed to get his dissertation 
written and accepted before anyone else did, partly because he 
was older, he was a good writer, and he had all the necessary 
qualities for--he later, what he did was to join the University 
of Washington faculty in Seattle. I think he stayed there--! m 
not sure whether he did or notbut he taught the history of 
the book there for years. 

McCreery: Were you won over to the idea of a Ph.D. program? 

Mosher: Oh, yes. It seemed to work out all right. I still have even 

now the opinion that a doctorate in library administration- -how 
to run a library sort of stuff --is unnecessary. And I don t 
think that many degrees awarded have been up to the standard 
that the University of California should offer for a doctorate, 
but I m conservative that way. I never taught library 
administration, and that s not what I m interested in. 



Mosher : 







Now Berkeley, of course, offered really two doctoral degrees, 
the Ph.D. and the Doctor of Library Science. 

Yes, that s right. That s the other thing that was involved. 
This committee decided it would be okay for us to have a 
doctorate. It was decided that for library administration 
subjects, it had to be a DLS--Doctorate of Library Science, I 
think it was called. And that, of course, was not very 
popular. Everyone wanted a Ph.D., not a separate degree. But 
a number of people started, and most of us thought that that 
would be the first doctorate finished, but it didn t turn out 
to be. Partly because, I suppose, it was a new thing, and 
nobody knew exactly what was involved in it, what conditions- 
no, there weren t any conditions. We didn t have an organized 
setup for what the preparation for a doctorate might be. 

You mentioned that students had to take a preliminary exam in 
the field of librarianship. 

Yes, the first year, I recall, 
librarianship . 

Yes. For the doctoral degree, 
included in that general exam? 

Yes, the first year of 

What kinds of things were 

Oh, reference and bibliography and library administration, and 
I think history of books and libraries. At one point, at any 
rate, I think history of the book was required of every 
graduate. And history of libraries, I m not sure whether that 
was required or not, but it may have been. Everything you 
learned the first year of library schoolit was an examination 
on those subjects. And I ve forgotten now, exactlyand 
frankly, the whole curriculum was required at one point. 

Yes, that s true. But that whole approach assumes that there 
is a specific body of knowledge that librarians should master. 
What do you think of that idea? 

I agree with it. I did then. It s a lot different to talk 
about librarianship back in the 1950s than it is now, or has 
been in the last ten years, even. So yes, I think the whole 
facultyand we voted on this, of course. It was a faculty 
decision on what should be required and all of us pretty well 
agreed. There were hardly any objections as to what we should 
include in the basic curriculum. It wasn t until we began to 
bring in computer specialists and start talking about 
information instead of librarians that the requirements went 
out. Very few courses were required after that, except 


McCreery: We will talk about that. You were talking, though, about 
faculty meetings and faculty involvement in admissions 
decisions and so on. Tell me a little more about how Professor 
Danton was received by the faculty as dean. 

Mosher: My impression and the impression of the faculty I admired most 
was that he was considered to be- -that he knew how to keep the 
paperwork going, but that his relationships with students and 
his relationship with many of the faculty was not very good. I 
don t know how to phrase it. It seemed to me that he was 
interested mainly in himself and not in the school or the 
students, and that he made many judgments that were against the 
best interests of students, especially, because of his own 
personal feelings. 

Well, I guess it just boils down to the fact that we didn t 
like him personally. He was--I don t know what word to use. 
He was personable and likable in many ways, but he did not seem 
to me to be conducting the library school for its best 
interests most of the time. But this is all--I can t put 
myself back in that time and place now. I do remember feeling 
very much opposed to him and what he was doing. I don t have 
much respect for anything he s done, except some of his 
publications are okay- -nothing, certainly, exceptional. It 
always has seemed to me that he was concerned mainly, as I 
said, with himself and his position, and his decisions were 
made basically on that position: that is, what good would it do 
him, or what harm would it avoid. 

McCreery: Are you thinking of any decisions in particular that weren t in 
the best interests of students, for example? 

Mosher: I m trying to think of the one that really tipped the scales in 
my opinion, and now I can t. I know it got to the point where 
the dean was being automatically reviewed. It was rather 
strange. He was supposed to be reviewed every five years. He 
hadn t been reviewed for I don t know how long- -ten or fifteen. 
Somehow or other a review process had started and something in 
particular happened that made me feel that he just didn t 
deserve to- -I couldn t work under him any more. Something in 
connection with a student, which I may think of. I went to the 
point of writing a letter to the review committee, saying that 
if Danton were to continue as dean, I would resign. So I felt 
pretty strongly about it. 

McCreery: What happened? 

Mosher: I met with a member of the review committee. I suppose he was 
the chairman of it--he s now deadwhose name I ve been trying 


to remember, but I can t. I told him what I felt or what I 
thought. Well, he was not continued as dean, Danton was not. 
They started looking for another dean, and that s when Swank 
became dean, eventually. LeRoy Merritt was acting dean first. 

McCreery: Did Professor Danton involve himself in your actual teaching? 

Mosher: No. No, I don t think that he interfered with anybody s 
teaching. I never heard of that, at any rate. He left 
cataloging to Ethelyn Markley, and he could hardly object to 
anything she did. He left history of the book and reference to 
me. He didn t know anything about them and he didn t know-- 
well, I shouldn t say that. I never had anybody tell me 
anything of how to teach or not to teach, or what to teach and 
not to teach. 

McCreery: That would hardly have been allowed at Berkeley at all, would 
it? [laughter] 

Mosher: No. It would hardly have been. [laughter] 

Loyalty Oath Controversy 

McCreery: You mentioned last time that one of the concerns you were 

alerted to before you came to Berkeley was the loyalty oath 
controversy here. Now I d like to follow up on that and ask, 
once you arrived and were teaching in the early fifties when 
this was going on, what were your experiences with that issue? 

Mosher: You know, I m trying to remember when the oath was removed. I 
know I signed the thing every time I got a contract. I didn t 
know anybody- -well, Danton was very much opposed to the oath 
and involved in the committee, I think, against it. I don t 
think we ever discussed it. My memory doesn t tell me when or 
how the oath was removed. 


It didn t have any effect on me personally. I signed the 
papers and everything was fine. And by 1950, the heat had been 
removed somehow, so there weren t demonstrations or meetings or 
anything of this sort. It was all, I think, in the law courts, 
pretty much. 

Other than Professor Danton, do you recall were the other 
library school faculty members particularly passionate about 
the issue, or involved? 










No, I don t remember that. 

You don t remember one way or the other? 

I don t remember that they were passionately involved, no. I 
don t remember anyone talking to me about it. No, we all 
thought it was a disgraceful political business, but none of us 
got stirred up enough about it to think of resigning or- -it 
just didn t seem to make much difference. 

The concern that you had before you came to Berkeley didn t 
really materialize into anything substantial? 

Not in any way at all. I now sort of regret that I didn t say, 
"No, I m not going to come to this university that insists upon 
an oath," but of course, frankly, every university in the 
country had some kind of an oath. I ve forgottenthis oath 
was in addition to another oath or something, and therefore it 
was more obnoxious, which I didn t understand at the time. I 
understood it later, but I wasn t angry enough about it to want 
to do anything about it. Anyway, I m not a passionate 
protestor. [laughter] 

What about, again, just any memories that you have or 
impressionswhat about in the larger campus atmosphere? Did 
you feel the loyalty oath matter had died down quite a bit by 
the time you were there or not? 

Yes. It had died down, I think, quite a bit. But you also 
must remember that- -I must say- -that the library school was a 
very small group. Most of the campus didn t even know that it 
existed, and I seldom had reason to be involved with anyone out 
of the library school. I was very, very busy just doing what I 
had to do in the library school, so I did not participate in 
matters outside the library school. I was on practically no 
committees. I didn t want to be, especially. Well, I didn t 
want to be because I didn t think I had time. I was also 
trying very hard to uphold the research part of my contract. 

Yes, I d like to ask you about that. But just to finish up, 
keeping in mind your comment that you stayed quite a lot within 
the library school, can you describe for me the general 
atmosphere on campus the first few years you were there, just 
your impressions? 


It was all really very quiet, 
excited about. 

I thought, and nothing to get too 


McCreery: Anything to compare, or to stand out from your time at 
University of Chicago, or University of Illinois? 

Mosher: No. Nothing, no. Later it was quite a different matter. 

McCreery: Yes, it was. Okay. 

Mosher: But I didn t think there was anything. 

State Aid to California Public Libraries 

McCreery: Let s turn to your research interests of that early part of 

your teaching career here. I happened to note on something you 
gave me, I think, a publication very early on when you were 
here, June 1951, in California Librarian, titled "State Aid: A 
Challenge to Librarians." Do you recall that particular one? 

Mosher: Oh, yes. 

McCreery: Can you tell me about it? 

Mosher: That was the first publication after I came to the school. I 
was asked--! think by Coit Coolidge, who was then librarian at 
Richmond [Public Library] and who was involved in some 
committee concerning state aid with the [California] State 
Library, which was then headed by the daughter of James Gillis. 

McCreery: Mabel Gillis? 

Mosher: Yes. Mabel. It was felt that the State of California needed 
to support public libraries, and I think that s what the state 
library thought, too. Many of the public librarians in the 
state felt this was the wrong thing to do, that public 
libraries ought to be supported by their clientele, by the 
libraries that owned and operated them and that state aid would 
only result in state control, and they didn t want this. So 
there was a very strong opposition to state aid for public 

So I was asked to--I think I had said something somewhere 
that I was in favor of state aid, because it would seem to me 
ridiculous not to be, and I was asked to write for the 
California Librarian, the California Library Association 
publication, an article on state aid to public libraries. I 
was all for it, and I wrote the article you mentioned. I have 


a copy of it. Would you like to see it? I ll get it out for 
you later. 

McCreery: Thank you. 

Mosher: 1 remember I gave it to Coit Coolidge. He was the one that 

asked me to do it. He told me that if he could write as well 
as that, he wouldn t be a librarian, he d spend all of his time 
writing for library journals. [laughs) 

McCreery: Oh, how nice. 

Mosher: Well, I didn t take him up on that. I didn t have time. 

Anyway, it was used in the campaign for state aid, I know that. 
And state aid became a law very soon. 

McCreery: Who made up this strong opposition to state aid? 

Mosher: The public librarians of the state, particularly in the south, 
particularly librarians that already had enough money just from 
their locality. You see, they didn t need any money from the 
state, and they didn t want the state library butting into 
their business. And also there was rivalry among the 
librarians, who didn t want somebody from the state library to 
come in and tell them what to do. They had all sorts of silly 
reasons for it. Maybe they weren t silly if I knew what they 
were all about, but it seemed silly to turn down money. I 
understand certainly there were lots of libraries in the state 
that needed financial aid and needed state help in organizing 
and selecting their collections. 

McCreery: But those opposed seemed to be concerned about interference 
from the state? 

Mosher: That s right. That s what the problem was. That s why it was 
a challenge to librarians, you see. So I guess that was the 
only time I published anything in the California Librarian. 

McCreery: Do you remember the reaction to your article? 

Mosher: Just from those who were in favor of it. They used it for 

advocating state aid. This was not only in California, it was 
pretty well all over the country about then, the question of-- 
local libraries had always been a matter of local financing. 
And people worried about it. 


McCreery: We were just talking about your article in California Librarian 
on state aid. While we had the tape off, you have pulled out 
the article and I ve been looking at it. Perhaps you could 
just finish that topic by telling me what happened after the 
article came out and the issue went before the state 
legislature and so on. 

Mosher: I ve forgotten the details, but I know that very quickly, 
within a couple years, state aid was approved by the 
legislature and it became the law. I don t think I had 
anything more to do with it. 

McCreery: I take it once that aid was in place, it continued? 

Mosher: Oh, yes, it still is. This is the law that giveswell, what 
it actually did, I think, was to unify the state library with 
the public libraries of the state. And I think this is one of 
the reasons why librarians were against it. They didn t want 
the state library interfering with what they were doing or be 
forced to work with the state library in collection building 
and so on. They wanted to be independent of the state library. 
They didn t see the advantages, evidently, of having a unified 
state collection, but the legislature made an integrated 
system, really, out of the state s public libraries with the 
legislation that had passed. 

McCreery: I saw one of the points you made in the article was that the 
state s population had grown tremendously and that 
circumstances were now so different that this change was called 

Mosher: Yes. It just was becoming necessary for good public library 
service to have better professional librarians available for 
consultation, and to help all these new libraries that were 
starting up and to make the collections of all the libraries in 
California available to all the other libraries in California. 
And this was the beginning of that, or the beginning of state 
aid for doing that at any rate. 

The state library has always been very much involved in 
public libraries in California. I think there was a cataloging 
service available, and the state library had published 
statistics of all the public libraries. I think it still does 
publish statistics for the public libraries in California. 


Recollections of State Librarians Mabel Gillis and Carma 
Zimmerman Leigh 

McCreery: In talking about the state library a moment ago, you mentioned 
Mabel Gillis. Can you tell me a little more about her? 

Mosher: I don t know how long she was state librarian after I came 

here, but I attended meetings with her. I remember sitting at 
a table with her at some convention or conference, and she was 
feeling very chilly. I think she didn t have a wrap and nobody 
else seemed to have one, and so I put my arm around her to try 
to keep her warm. She was shivering. 

She was, I think, pretty well she still seemed to be very 
much in command of her job and what she was doing, but I didn t 
really know much about it. Maybe two years at the most before 
she died, I think. 

McCreery: Yes, it says here in my notes that she retired in 1951 and then 
Carma Zimmerman took over in 1952. So you re right, it wasn t 
too long after you came. But what kind of a person was Mabel 

Mosher: I can t really say, except that she was friendly and able to be 
in charge of things, when I knew her, and seemed very much 
respected by everybody and just a nice woman and obviously a 
good executive. Everyone sort of bowed down to her. They 
thought she was even just because of her historical position, 
they thought she was I did at any rate thought she was pretty 
great. I can t really tell you much about her personality. 

McCreery: While we re on the subject of state librarians, Carma 

Zimmerman, later Carma Leigh, took over. Did you have occasion 
to get to know her very well? 

Mosher: Oh, yes, I did, indeed. 

McCreery: Can you tell me a little about her? 

Mosher: She was, I thought, a wonderful librarian and very much on top 
of everything, an excellent state librarian. She seemed to get 
along with most people. I don t remember hearing any problems 
with her. I certainly liked what she did, and wrote, and 
thought. And anything I had to do with her was I appreciated 
her and liked her. I thought she was about a perfect state 
librarian. I thought California was very lucky to have her. 
She did all the right things, I thought. 


I think she championed state aidshe must have been 
responsible for the actual passage of the state aid bill. She 
worked with the legislatureof course the state librarian in 
California is practically an official of the state government 
and legislature. She seemed to know the whole library world 
very well and how to get things done. 

She developed a staff at the state library that was 
excellent, I thought-- just really great. And I think that the 
staff began to go around to all the libraries in the state- 
maybe they already had been to some extent, I don t know- -and 
they were very much appreciated by the state s public 
librarians. I don t think there was any opposition to state 
aid to public libraries after it once got started. I don t 
recall hearing anything about it, at any rate. 

I didn t know Carma Zimmerman well enough to give you some 
idea of her actual personalitya private personality--! didn t 
know her all that well, but everything I knew about her made 
her outstanding to me. I always had wished there were more 
librarians like her. 

Coit Coolidge and the Richmond Public Library; Men Librarians 

McCreery: Thank you. When we were talking about this article a few 

minutes ago you also mentioned Coit Coolidge getting you into 
this. How about some recollections of him? 

Mosher: I remember him pretty well because he was, after all, Richmond 
public librarian. Did I say Richmond? I know it was Richmond, 
certainly. He was librarian at Richmond Public Library just 
after the war, and he built the Richmond Public Library into a 
very good public library system a new building and a good 
collection. And he was working hard for state aid. That s why 
he asked me to write this article. 

I don t know why I was asked. I must have expressed to him 
or somebody, somewhere, that I thought it was foolish not to 
have state aid, so I was asked to write the article. 

I guess his works speak for him, because he did develop 
this very good library and it has continued to be a good public 
library, although it has certainly fallen on bad financial 
times. But after the war, in Richmond, there was a lot of 


money sort of suddenly, and he made good use of it for 

There again, my knowledge of him is not personal, at all, 
really, although I did see him socially, I think, a few times, 
although I can t remember it specif ically--at meetings of a 
group of male librarians. I ve forgotten what it was called 
[known informally as He-Libs]. It didn t have an official 
name. It didn t have an official organization, but all the 
male librarians in the area were members of it or could be. 
They met, oh, I don t know how frequentlya number of times a 
year, at some restaurant. Women were not allowed [ laughs ]-- 
just males. The idea was to get away from all the women in the 
library profession and have a meeting by themselves. [laughs] 

McCreery: How did the group get started? 

Mosher: I haven t any idea. It was started long before I came. 

Somebody evidently decided that they d like to- -isn t it funny? 
Sort of as strange as not allowing women in The Faculty Club. 
Why do they do it? 

I ve been thinking- -well, not just recentlyhow impossible 
it is really to believe that women didn t have the vote in this 
country until 1920 or around there. If that could happen, 
almost anything could happen as far as male-female political or 
professional relations are concerned. 

Anyway, I m sure that Coolidge would attend some of these 
meetings. And I was invited to come when I first came--you 
know, go to a different part of the area [for each meeting]. 
Usually LeRoy Merritt or some other librarian or some other 
faculty member would go, and we d eat at a nice restaurant that 
somebody had picked out. 

McCreery: This group was not just Berkeley faculty? 

Mosher: No, it was the whole Bay Area. 

McCreery: Who else was in the group? Do you remember? 

Mosher: Oh, most of them, of course, were not people I knew. Coit 

Coolidge--well, no, I can t pick out names now. But there were 
a lot of male librarians, particularly in administrative 
positions. No business was ever conducted. They didn t have 
any officers or anything, they d just have a meeting. 

McCreery: What did you talk about over dinner? 


Mosher: Oh, just anythingnot about libraries particularlyjust to 
get to know each other, I guess. I don t know. I did not 
continue going to their meetings for very long. Maybe the 
organization died, I don t know, although I think I knew about 
meetings going on. They weren t easy to get to. I think we 
were encouraged by--I don t remember Danton going to them. We 
were encouraged to go to any kind of library meeting. 

McCreery: By him? 

Mosher: By him. He thoughtwe all thought it was good to go to as 

many library meetings as we could. And we were very strongly 
encouraged to go to any meeting of California Library 
Association the regional, county, whatever. Danton tried to 
get the library school represented by somebody at every 
meeting, so we d go to a lot of different places and meet a lot 
of different librarians, which was I think a very good thing. 
Danton was good at public relations, I think. 

Faculty Club Lunches; Donald Coney and the Main Library Staff, 

McCreery: You also mentioned that many of the men in the library school 
and on the library staff would lunch together every day at The 
Faculty Club. Can you tell me a little bit more about those 
occasions who was there? 

Mosher: Well, it would be mostly- -Donald Coney was the head librarian 
and Marion Milczewski was his assistant, and both of those 
usually were there. Barr Tompkins would sometimes be there 
not very frequently, though, as I recall. Other members of the 
staff, probably. I think they were probably intimidated by 
Coney s presence. But I think Danton usually was there, and 
depending on library school faculty, LeRoy Merritt would be 
there, of course, frequently. It wasn t the cheapest kind of 
lunch, so not many people regularly went there. I d go and eat 
very little they had a cafeteria-style thingbecause I 
couldn t afford to eat the regular lunch, either. 

McCreery: Since we re talking about the staff of the main library a 

little bit, can you characterize for me, again, in the early 
fifties or mid-fifties, what were relations like between the 
library school and the staff of the main library? 

Mosher: I think they were verygood is an okay word. Well, I think 
they were excellent. Of course we shared the same buildings 


and there weren t all that many librarians, so the library 
school and the library staff would get to know each other well. 
And very often we wouldwell, I had to be involved with the 
reference staff because my students would be using their 
collection all the time, and I would be there, too, frequently. 

McCreery: Who was head of reference at that time? 

Mosher: Oh, let s see. I think it was Lila Chandra. I think she was 
head of general reference. She was an Indian, youngish woman. 
All of the members of the reference staff, of course, were very 
much interested in library school students using the reference 
collection. They were often, of course, pestered by the 
students, whothey weren t supposed to help the students 
[laughs] find the answers to the questions. As I said, I would 
be there many hours of every week making out questions for the 
next ass ignment . 

Let s see, I don t really recall that the catalogers were 
much involved with anything with the library school faculty. I 
just don t recall that, because I think that Ethelyn Markley 
had her own ideas about cataloging and how to teach it, and 
nobody else really could help her much. And of course 
catalogers don t meet the public at all, and therefore they 
tend not to be convivial people in a library atmosphere. 
They re working at an occupation that doesn t allow for 
intercourse with other people. 

The order department at that time was headed by Helen- -no, 
Dorothy Keller. Helen Keller, of course, was quite a different 
person! [laughter] Dorothy Keller, I had quite a bit to do 
with in a way, because one of the things that Danton was 
especially good at was building up the library school 
collection, and he went through lots of catalogs, and I did, 
too, in the history of the book. But he went through all kinds 
of catalogs and got lots of literature, and he would refer much 
of it to me to see whether I wanted to order it or not, and he 
urged me to order. Just about anything that I requested would 
get ordered, so that the collection was being built up in good 
style. Very often for some reason or other, the order 
department would question some of the requests or would notify 
me that they had already been ordered or that somebody else- 
Bancroft was ordering them or something of the sort. For 
various reasons I would have business with the head of the 
order department, so I got to know her. 

She worked very closely with Don Coney, of course, with the 
head librarian. And her word was law as far as ordering was 


concerned- -not necessarily book selection, but she knew a lot 
about how to get books, as she should have. 

I always felt that I could do what I needed to do or wanted 
to do in the university library, and the staff was always very 
cordial. They seemed to me welcoming and I thought that the 
library itself, as far as the public and as far as the library 
school was concerned, was a comfortable place to be. 

I think very often many of the library staff were unhappy 
with the library. I think a lot of them felt that they weren t 
getting as far as they wanted to in the profession, but they 
didn t want to leave the library because they liked Berkeley so 
well. And so there was a feeling that the staff wasn t happy 
with their work. I got that feeling and knew it from some of 
the librarians with whom I talked. But this is over a long 
period of time. 

But Coney was not a kind of librarian who made it his aim 
to make his staff happy, particularly. And of course he 
couldn t fire people, either, I think, easily. And he never 
did, as far as I remember- -any person who had been there for 
very long, at any rate. And so although they didn t fear him 
particularly, they didn t feel that they were making progress 
as librarians at the university library. 

Enough of them felt that way so that they didn t feel 
secure under Coney. They didn t feel good about their jobs. 
Now this is true of some of them. I never heard anyone in the 
cataloging department express this, but then I didn t know the 
people in the cataloging department. 

I think the staff could have been improved by more careful 
consideration of each individual and promoting good people and 
employing new, better people. But Coney wasn t interested in 
doing this, somehow. 

I think that Mrs. Keller, Dorothy Keller, was a good 
example. I think she outlived her usefulness at the university 
library and should have been replaced. I think also that 
toward the end of his librarianship, Coney had gone beyond his 
usefulness, too. 

He was worried about the advent of the computer and the 
emphasis on information instead of on librarianship, and I 
think he felt that he should stay onhold it off as long as 
possible. His basic point was that libraries and library 
faculty should not go whole hog for thiswhat I want to say 
is, should go very slowly in adopting the computer and what it 

was bringing to the libraries. The worst mistake we could make 
would be to go too fast and sort of ruin the whole business 
because of libraries not being ready for it. He felt it would 
be absolutely too difficult to reorganize everything, to make 
computers and librarians compatible, I guess. You couldn t do 
that so quickly. So he wasn t in favor of bringing computer 
specialists into library school, and he wasn t in favor of 
introducing the computer into the university library. He 
wanted to go slow and see how it would come to work out. At 
least, that s what I understood about him. 

I think he was a very good librarian in many respects and a 
very intelligent and smart and a first-class head librarian. 

I should say he and Stanley Pargellis were friends. And 
Pargellis said, "Well, you go out to Berkeley. Don Coney is a 
good friend of mine, and he ll see to it that you get a job in 
a library if you want it." 

McCreery: Your fall-back position? 
Mosher: Yes. 

McCreery: Do you have much knowledge of whether Coney s staff shared his 
view of computerization? 

Mosher: I think most of them did, yes. Certainly our library school 

faculty did, until Swank came along and decided that we better 
enter the new computer age, I think too- -well, I don t know 
whether it was too soon or too late--exactly what happened. I 
think it was- -this is getting ahead of the subject again. 

McCreery: Yes, we will come back to that. It s very much of interest. 

But just to finish up about Mr. Coney as university librarian- 
aside from the computerization issue, what do you think were 
the main challenges he faced during his tenure--just you know, 
as you see it? 

Mosher: I don t think he did enough to improve his staff. I mentioned 
that before. I don t think he paid enough attention to the 
workings of the library. I said something like this to his 
wife Dorothy once, and she said, "Oh, you just don t know how 
much time he spends thinking and working and being concerned 
about the staff of this library." And of course I didn t know. 
I didn t see that there was much evidence that he had. He had 
not brought any good new librarians in for a long time. 

Milczewski left to become librarian at University of 
Washington, Seattle, and the other assistant librarian, 


[Douglas W. Bryant], just as I was coming, went on to become 
librarian at Harvard. They weren t replaced by anybody of the 
same caliber at all. He didn t seem to want good new people 
for some reason. The appointments he did make were pretty sad 
ones, I thought. He just didn t have any excellent librarians 
under him. He had to do it all by himself. I think that was a 

I have to say too, that I tried to become part of the staff 
and approached him about it, and he said that there were lots 
of good librarians but very few good library school teachers 
and that I ought to stay where I was. I guess maybe I always 
held that against him, because I really wanted to become part 
of the library staff, although I don t know now, whether I 
wouldwell, I would like to have taken--! m still two or three 
minds about this, so I guess I don t want to say anything more. 


[Interview 4: April 5, 1999] ## 

Fighting Censorship During the McCarthy Era 

McCreery: We were talking before we turned the tape on this morning about 
this publication titled Freedom of Book Selection, 1 a 
publication you edited based on the conference proceedings of 
the year before. I wonder if you can tell me a little bit 
about how these issues came together and how you came to edit 
the resulting publication. 

Mosher: The conference, of course, was an American Library Association 
conference held down in Whittier. The American Library 
Association was meeting in Los Angeles, and this particular 
"Second Conference on Intellectual Freedom" was held in 
Whittier. A new member of our faculty, Edward Wight, who was 
employed to teach public libraries and be our public library 
specialist in the school, suggested that I should go to the 
conference and eventually edit the proceedings. 

I was interested in intellectual freedom. I think I was on 
the intellectual freedom committee of the California Library 
Association, but this meeting at Whittier was an American 
Library Association meeting and I had nothing to do with its 
planning. I was simply there and listened to all of it, and 
then I was given the audio tapes of the proceedings and was 
asked to edit them for publication. 

1 Freedom of Book Selection: Proceedings of the Second Conference on 
Intellectual Freedom, Whittier. California. June 20-21. 1953. Edited by 
Fredric J. Mosher. Chicago: American Library Association, 1954. 
(Sponsored by the Committee on Intellectual Freedom, the Book Acquisitions 
Committee, and the Board on Acquisition of Library Materials of the 
American Library Association.) 


I was given some assistant help to transcribe the tapes 
into typewritten documents, which I then put together and added 
various prefaces, introductions, and so on, and consolidated 
the reports of the general meetings that were part of the 
conference. It took about a year. We were pretty slow in 
getting it out, but it eventually, I think, became a reasonably 
good account of the conference. It contained a lot of 
information and help for librarians who were struggling at that 
time with the problems of intellectual freedom for libraries. 
It was the beginning of the McCarthy era, really. 

McCreery: Just to back up for a moment, do you recall how you first 
became interested in issues of intellectual freedom? 

Mosher: I guess I always have been interested in them. As far as 

libraries go, there wasn t any problem at the Newberry, where I 
worked. Right away, of course, at the library school, it 
became a problem in book selection. Now, LeRoy Merritt was our 
chief book selection professor, and he was especially 
interested in the problems of intellectual freedom. But 
somehow or other I think I became, since I was a member of the 
California Library Association committee--! sort of took over 
this area of intellectual freedom. 

I just automatically, normally, I think, became interested 
in intellectual freedom. I thought it was simply horrible that 
libraries were being challenged in this way and that the 
prevailing atmosphere of the McCarthy Era was interfering with 
people s rights to read and discuss. So I just had to 
personally throw any support I could into the problem of 
securing intellectual freedom for librarians. 

There was a lot of censorship going on, not really overtly 
so much as the librarians themselves were afraid to select 
certain things or to make certain statements because of the 
prevailing atmosphere. They were afraid that they would be 
hauled before a court or something, I guess, and they did not 
want to select materials that might obviously be considered 
Communistic or ant i- government in any way. The idea of all 
materials being made available in public libraries was not very 
firmly held by most public librarians in the state, I would 
say. They all gave lip service to the idea, but in practice 
they were much more careful about what happened- -although, I 
think most of the time most materials were made available on 
most library shelves. 

It was the problem of school libraries, of course, that 
made life especially difficult for the library profession. 
Opponents of intellectual freedom could always point out, 






"Well, you must protect children against all this. You 
shouldn t allow children to read anything that s being 
published." So all efforts were being made in the library 
profession to combat the narrowing of the availability of 
controversial materials in libraries. I felt I had to be a 
part of that. 

Oh, I remember now, that before this conference the 
intellectual freedom committee of the California Library 
Association--! was really responsible for it--we put out this 
[tape interruption] 

You called it the CLA Freedom Kit. 
burners," it says. 

"Don t join the book 

That s right. It s a collection of book selection statements 
from the public libraries in the state. And I suppose that s 
one of the reasons why I went to the Whittier conference, 
because I had edited that, in a way, and made it available 
through the intellectual freedom committee. It really was 
available through me, through my faculty office. This was sent 
to anyone who requested it. It didn t have anything to do with 
the school, though, it was just the California Library 
Association. I think probably librarians had to pay something 
for it. I m not sure. 

But anyway, so I was very familiar with all the 
intellectual freedom problems, especially in California, when I 
went to the Whittier conference. And all this background 
helped a great deal in editing this transcription of the 

Perhaps you could set the stage for me a little bit more, as 
well. We know Senator McCarthy had been raising this Communist 
issue since 1950, so by the time this conference took place, 
would you say that across the library profession this was a 
foremost issue? 

All I can speak for, personally, is California, where it really 
was hot because, of course, the censorship in Los Angeles of 
the movie industry and so on was, I suppose, one of the most 
obvious ways that the McCarthy committee punished anyone who 
objected to what he was doing, or who would not conform to what 
he wanted done, or who would not testify. But the mere fact 
that this conference was held by the American Library 
Association nationallythe national conference in 1952-- 
indicates that it was a widespread problem, all across the 
country. Librarians were concerned and worried and afraid 



and up in arms about the problem of what public libraries could 
make available. 

I don t think there s anything more I can really say about 
it, just that most public librarians especially were concerned. 
That surprised me a little- -why I got involved in it, because I 
wasn t involved in public libraries. But I was involved in all 
libraries after I got to the library school and started 
teaching. I realized that I had to teach for all kinds of 
libraries, not just for academic libraries, which I was most 
familiar with. And LeRoy Merritt and Ed Wight both encouraged 
me very much to go ahead with this . 

Tell me a little more about the experience of the conference, 

Mosher: It was a pretty regular conference. It was well attended, and 
I thought that the speakers were very good speakers . They were 
nationally known authorities on the problem of controversial 
literature anywhere, but especially in libraries. They spoke 
to that, especially. And I thought the speeches were all 
excellent for encouraging librarians to stand up for 
intellectual freedom in their libraries. That s, of course, 
why I was willing to edit the proceedings. If they hadn t been 
what they were, I would not have agreed to do it. 

McCreery: Do you wish to record any recollections of these individuals 
who spoke at the conference? Or their contributions to this 

Mosher: Let s see, I was particularly impressed by [Harold D.] 

Lasswell, I remember, and by Larrabee. I thought that Paul 
Bixler s introduction was very good. I must confess that I 
don t remember much about Rogers--Virgil [M.] Rogersor 
Douglas [M. ] Black. Paul Jordan-Smith I thought was good, too, 
because he s a California newspaper man. And Les [Lester E.] 
Asheim s final talk was a good summary of the whole situation, 
not censorship, but selection. 

The opponents of intellectual freedom say, "Well, you 
always censor anyway. You can t buy all the books, and so what 
you do in selecting books is censorship." 

McCreery: Did they have a voice at that conference, the opponents? 

Mosher: Only in the discussion group meetings. And I don t believe 
there was any advocate of censorship or opposition to 
intellectual freedom speaking. Librarians weren t getting up 
and speaking in opposition to intellectual freedom. For many 


McCreery : 

of these people it was the only time I had any personal contact 
with them at all, so I was impressed by those speeches. I 
thought that was just what librarians needed to hear. 

Thank you. We noted before we started taping that you still 
have the files that you kept during the process of compiling 
and editing the proceedings that became this book. 

Study on Censorship in California Public Libraries 

Mosher: Yes, I still have all that material. While we re on this 

subject, I might mention a sort of continuation of it and of my 
interest in intellectual freedom was the book selection study 
that the school sponsored and initiated and brought to 
completion, which sort of grew out, I think, of this 

The intellectual freedom committee decided that we really 
needed a study of what librarians actually felt in California 
about intellectual freedom, and so we found someone to 
undertake a study of what they actually did feel. And that 
occupied a great deal of my time for the next, oh, couple 
years, I guess. Marjorie Fiske was the person whom we found to 
conduct the study, and Dean Danton agreed to seek funding for 
it through the university. We did get funding and did employ 
Marjorie Fiske, who was the wife of--I haven t thought of these 
names for a long time--a Professor Lowenthal at Berkeley. I 
shouldn t really go on and talk about that now, because I don t 
have the materials available yet. 

McCreery: Oh, okay. Well, we can come back to it as well, if you prefer, 
but I have seen other references to the so-called Fiske report. 

Mosher: Yes. 

Can you summarize for me her findings about the views of 
California librarians at that time? 

Mosher: Mainly the report indicated that most public librarians 

thought, intellectually, that intellectual freedom was a great 
idea, but that in practice most of them selected books with the 
idea in mind of not selecting controversial materials. Most 
California librarians were actually being censors, real 
censors, of their library collections. Most California 
librarians were so intimidated that they ruled out any 
materials that would lead them into trouble with the 


authorities or withthere was a woman named, I think, Mrs. 
[Anne] Smart was her name. 

She was over in Marin County, and she appointed herself a 
committee of one to examine and condemn school libraries. She 
went through a number of school library collections and pointed 
out that this book was a bad book for kids to read, and then 
this book supported Communism and this book- -well, even the 
Bible had bad passages in itwhich it does, of course, from 
the point of view of intellectual freedom advocates. 

McCreery: I ve seen references to so-called decency groups of that era. 

Is that the kind of thing you re talking about with Mrs. Smart? 

Mosher: Yes. It s also that, but it was especially an anti-Communism 
focus with Mrs. Smart and her group, who wielded considerable 
power in the state, actually. I think they had bills before 
the legislature to make sure that there were no controversial 
or obscene materials in school libraries. They never were 
passed, but they were very active and certainly quite effective 
in intimidating librarians. And she was a very vocal, 
articulate person, and convinced that her opinion was the right 
opinion and that school libraries ought to be very heavily 
censoredbut not only school libraries; all other libraries, 

We had a TV program on intellectual freedom that I was 
invited to participate in, but I refused to, and instead a 
professor at Berkeley in political science, I guess, 
represented the point of view I would have represented. I 
thought I d rather have someone outside the library field. And 
she, Mrs. Smart, was on, and somebody else, and they discussed 
the problem of school libraries and intellectual freedom. 

McCreery: Was that your sole reason for refusing, you thought it should 
be someone outside librarianship? 

Mosher: I also thought I wouldn t be as good an opponent as this person 
I knew was very vocal and very accustomed to speaking before 
groups. I wasn t. 

McCreery: Who was that? 

Mosher: I can t remember his name right now. It was all right. I 

didn t think the actual program made much difference one way or 
another. I was a little sorry that I hadn t participated, 
because I thought I could have made stronger points in favor of 
libraries than this professor, whose name I can t remember, 
did. But it was all right. 


Mrs. Smart, however, was a name to contend with, 

particularly in the San Francisco area. But her influence was 

felt all over the state because she was actively pursuing 
legislation to censor school libraries. 

Publish or Perish 

Mosher: I haven t thought about these things for a long time, because 
whenafter the book selection study particularly, right in 
there--! began to feel the pressure, the need to publish 
research of my own and not to be concerned with general library 
issues as much as I had been. I had spent an awful lot of time 
with the intellectual freedom committee and these projects. 
Anyway, I can t remember whether I ever edited the newsletter 
on intellectual freedom that the American Library Association 
was publishing- -had publishedor not. I don t think I 
actually was the editor, but I encouraged LeRoy Merritt to 
become the editor, and he was the editor for the rest of his 
life and a very successful one. He sort of took over--I agreed 
with him that he should take over- -intellectual freedom and I 
would go on and turn my attention to the history of the book 
and try to get something published in my field. He, by this 
time, I think, had been made full professor, so he wasn t 
concerned with publishing as much, but I was really fighting 
the battle of publish or perish about this time. 

McCreery: Talk to me a little bit about publish or perish. 

Mosher: Well, it s a fact of life, particularly at Berkeley. Berkeley, 
at that time at any rateand I think it s still pretty much 
true felt that, well, we can get the best any thing- -teaching, 
whatever you want to mentionso there s no reason why we 
shouldn t require publication. And if you don t publish, you 
don t get promoted. That s exactly what happened to me. 

I did not publish. I spent my time on teaching and 
intellectual freedom. My research projects were long-term 
ones, so that I didn t publish and I never was promoted. I did 
not get promoted for years and years well, until the very end 
of my career. You either spend your time getting something 
published, or you don t get promoted, particularly at Berkeley, 
and particularly true at our library school. 

One of the things that was held against me, however, was 
that I had pushed for associate professor and been made 
associate professor without the usual procedures. So I had to 


publish something in order to show that I was productive, I 
guess. And I can t disagree with that. I was at the point 
twice of having something published, and someone else published 
it and pulled the rug out from under me in a way. I don t know 
whether I should go on talking about this subject or not. 

McCreery: This is fine. 

Mosher: As a result of my dissertation on The Dial, I learned about Way 
and Williams. Washington Irving Way and Chauncey [L.] Williams 
were co-publishers of a literary publishing company in Chicago, 
and both were contributors to The Dial. So I had learned about 
them and began to think, and the papers of Williams were at the 
Newberry Library, and what papers you could find of Way were 
there, too. I thought there d be a good subject for a book on 
an important publisher. 

I tried to buy or find every book they ever published and 
was preparing a descriptive bibliography of each of these books 
and locating them in libraries in the country. I corresponded 
with all the proper people concerned with the booksauthors 
and even with reviewersand it was a long, slow, tedious 
process. I hadn t written anything, really. I hadn t started 
the actual history, but I had all the materials ready, and 
somebody else who had been studying the firm a long time also 
published a book on Way and Williams. Well, that ended that 
project pretty much. 

And then another research project I d been working on since 
the first, here in Berkeley, was the preparing a dictionary of 
printers in the sixteenth century for all the countries of 
Europe. Mrs. Woodward at the Newberry Library suggested to me 
that this would be a good project for me. There was such a 
dictionary for German language publications, and she thought it 
would be wonderful to have one for the other countries of 
Europe, or have such dictionaries for the other countries of 
Europe. I thought it would be a good idea, too, and decided I 
would try to do this project. 

I began to collect materials in the library on the history 
of sixteenth century printers and printing. Well, this quickly 
became an enormous task. I decided that I would concentrate 
first on Spain and Portugal, and I had a research assistant who 
knew Spanish and Portuguese very well and who was interested 
and who began to work on the materials that I was collecting. 



Mosher: The Spanish-Portuguese dictionary was worked on by this 

research assistant for two or three years, and I worked on it 
very hard along with her. Then she left and I could find 
nobody else who was especially interested in Spanish and 
Portuguese printers and there wasn t anyone who was able to 
help me very much with it, although by this time I had learned 
enough Spanish and Portuguese so that I could work with it 
pretty well. 

But I also was especially interested in Danish printing of 
the sixteenth century. When I went to Denmark for a year, I 
spent a great deal of time collecting materials on Danish 
printers to 1601 from the Royal Library in Copenhagen. 

I know what the other question was . This is not really the 
same as the dictionaries of printers in the sixteenth century, 
but it was another research subject that I undertook. One of 
the best general histories of printing, and there were very 
few, and no satisfactory text in English on the general history 
of printing--! used a book by [Douglas C.] McMurtrie called The 
Book [The Book: The Story of Printing and Bookmaking] , which is 
a general history, but very much flawed in detail. 

I used that as a text, and I used various other similar 
works as texts, but there wasn t a good text. Then I 
discovered, in French, a book called L apparition du Livre . I 
decided that, well, really, what I should do is to translate 
this book into English and bring the footnotes up to dateit 
had a lot of footnotesand bring it, in general, up to date 
since its publication. 

So I began to translate it and to check on the notes and to 
check on the text, and discovered, more or less the way I 
discovered with Archer Taylor, that there were all kinds of 
errors-- just all kinds of them in the text. And I really 
needed to revise the book, rather than simply translate it, so 
I spent years translating and adding materials and checking all 
the footnotes and adding footnotes . 

I have whole drawers full of materials . It covered the 
whole world, so I had to get interested in Oriental printing 
and in Slavic printing and Russian print ing --which I had known 
nothing about. And I just slowly got to the point of mostly, I 
think--! forgot how many chapters, it was something like seven 
--I think I had five chapters all ready, really, to be printed. 
And somebody printed a translation in English as a book. 


So those were the two projects that I nearly completed and 
was prevented from publishing because of somebody else 
publishing them. 

McCreery: I take it you had no inkling that someone else was working on 

Mosher: No, I had corresponded with the publisher of the French 

L apparition du Livre, and the publisher knew I was working on 
a translation. But it was taking me a long time and they just 
got somebody to translate it, you know, as it was and published 
it, because there was a demand for an English translation. 
Even though it was full of all these errors and not so much up 
to date, the general idea of it was very, very good. Sort of 
like Archer Taylor, again, the authors of this book of 
L 1 apparition decided they d get it published and not worry 
about details. And I corresponded with the publisher. I don t 
know whether I ever corresponded with the author or not, 
although I think I did and never got "a reply. I pointed out a 
number of mistakes that I was finding and I think, personally, 
that the author didn t want me to revise the edition and so 
hurriedly got the English translation. 

Also, the author of the Way and Williams history knew that 
I was working on it, too, and just decided to get in ahead of 
me. It was a good study, I think, but not nearly as thorough 
and comprehensive as mine would have been. Well, at least I ve 
got those matters straight in my mind. They took up a lot of 
research time, and I had a lot of research assistants helping 

I was working particularly hard toward the end on the 
Danish printers, because I had all that material from the Royal 
Library. And I thought it would be a possible one to do in a 
hurry, but my research assistant who knew Scandinavian 
languages graduated and left me, and nobody else was there to 
do the spade work. 

By this time, I began to be just too busy with what I was 
doing at the library school. I did not do much outside the 
library school by way of intellectual freedom and so on, but I 
still found little time for research. For one thing, the 
library school had grown so much that we were employing more 
reference teachers and there were three or four or five of us 
maybe--! ve forgotten the numberat any one time who were 
teaching reference, and I was sort of the head reference 
teacher. And we needed to correlate what we were doing and 
agree upon lists of books and what kind of examinations to 
give, and this took a lot of my non-teaching time. 


Back to research, is there something more that I should be 
talking about? 

McCreery: I just wanted to make sure that we covered your own research 

Mosher: I think pretty much now we have. 

Working with Rare Books 

McCreery: You mentioned that your first full summer in Berkeley you began 
in the rare book room a sort of consulting type job in the 
summer. How did you spend your subsequent summers? Were you 
still involved with that? 

Mosher: Let s see--I m not sure about the second summer. I think, 

though, that I did work in the rare book room the second summer 
too. I don t know for sure. One of those two years, very 
early, the library school began to offer summer school. 

McCreery: That was my next question, yes. 

Mosher: And the first summer school I began to teach, and I taught 

every summer thereafter when I was here, and so that ended my 
experience as part of the Berkeley library staff. 

But I think I also told you that there was a flood in the 
room above the rare books room, and the rare books then were 
moved into the library stacks, at first. Oh, I did continue to 
work as the person in charge of rare books , because I remember 
we inventoried- -a research assistant, Portia Hawley, and I 
worked down in those stacks. We had a shelf list, of course, 
and we inventoried the collection. Then I think it was after 
that that I made my report as to what I thought ought to be 
done. Very shortly thereafter, I think the next year, Ken 
Carpenter was appointed--! m not sure. Anyway, the rare books 
department was set up, whether there was a head of it or not. 
He was the first head, and I think very shortly Eliza Pietsch 
(Chugg), 2 who was on the staff of the university library, was 
put in charge of this collection. 

McCreery: The rare books. 

2 Eliza Pietsch (Chugg) was in charge from ca. 1958-1965. Leslie 
Clarke became assistant head, rare books, in 1965. --ed. 


Mosher: The rare books. I think she was in charge. She wasn t called 
the head of the collection, as I recall, but she was in charge 
of it. You see, I had to work very closely with anyone in 
charge of those books, because I used them all the time when I 
was teaching. Also, for a long time at any rate, nothing was 
added to the collection without my approval, so any books to be 
added to the rare books collection I had to see and approve. 
Eventually they were taken out of the stacks, of course, and 
given a room, a faculty office or study room or something on 
the west side of the library on the second floor. Eliza 
Pietsch and her helpers began to get them all cataloged and 
arranged everything and systematized and got a catalog formed. 
Eventually, then, Ken Carpenter became the head of that 

[Quite some time] after he left, there was a question of 
what to do about that department, and it was decided to just 
put it in The Bancroft Library. That was what my 
recommendation was. There didn t seem to me any reason for 
having two collections of rare books in the library; just put 
everything together that needed special attention because of 
its rarity or value. The Bancroft was there and all set up, 
and so the rare books collection was moved as a group into The 
Bancroft Library [in 1970]. 

History of the Book Course; Roger Levenson and the History of 

McCreery: Tell me some more about your course on history of the book. 

Mosher: Oh, yes. Well, I conceived of it as a course in the history of 
communication--recorded communication, at any ratebut I d go 
back as far as the beginnings of language, the history of 
language, and then the history of manuscripts. But most of the 
time I spent on the history of printing. A sizeable part of 
the course at the beginning of the term would be on 
manuscripts, and we d learn all about how manuscripts were made 
and what they were written on and how they differed from 
printed books and how the manuscript era differed from the 
printed book era. 

Then very quickly we began to concentrate on the invention 
of printing. We spent quite a bit of time on the invention of 
printing and early printing--f ifteenth and sixteenth centuries 
--because there d been a great deal of research and interest 
and scholarship involved there. And then we d go on to the 


McCreery : 
Mo she r: 

history of printing, especially in England, but everywhere else 
too, especially in Germany. But the important printers in all 
the countries would be included, century by century, on up to 
the twentieth century. 

A great deal of time was spent on the actual mechanics of 
printing: how printing was done up until the nineteenth 
century. Everything was printed by hand. All the letters were 
individually selected and the results of this would be printed 
on a hand press until the middle of the nineteenth century, so 
that was a long time. Then, of course, the mechanization of 
printing, which began in the second half of the nineteenth 
century- -we d go through that and on up to the advent of the 
computer and discussed this. So we went all the way through. 

Besides having an exhibit every week of the materials that 
we considered for that particular week, mostly where we had the 
exhibits in the rare book room in The Bancroft Library, 
eventually- -we also had printing field trips. Always we would 
take a tour of the University Printing Department the 
University Press, it was when it first started. We spent a 
morning going through all the operations that you could see in 
the University Printing Department. I would accompany them. 
After a couple of times, I learned where everything was, so I 
would simply tell thembut at first, at any rate, the printing 
department provided somebody to discuss what was going on. 

I thought that was a good idea. They learned a lot from 
seeing something actually printed by big machines operating. 
When we first started doing it, they had a big bindery section 
and they d have a larger room with a long table and women 
standing along, actually binding the books, putting them 
together and sewing them. 

By hand? 

They didn t do it by hand. That was when they were rebinding 
books, I think. But it s too long ago. 

Anyway, then I was dissatisfied with what we had available 
as to printing operations, and so I think it was around 1970 or 
somewhat earlier, a man by the name of Roger Levenson, who had 
taught printing he was a high school teacher who taught 
printing. He was very much interested in the history of 
printing, and he was a printer himself. He had his own small 
press called the Tamalpais Press in Berkeley on Bancroft Way. 
He gave a hand press to the library school, which we didn t 
have any place for and The Bancroft Library was willing to take 


it, and it was put in a special room set up for the laboratory 
for our exhibits. 

We needed a press that students could use. This was a 
large press in the Bancroft, and so we found space when we 
moved into South Hall, which was around 1970. We got rooms for 
a press that Roger was able to buy, and we got the old-style 
California types that were originally designed for the 
University of California Press. They had all matrixes. They 
could make us the types, so we got a full set of those types, 
and a number of other types that Roger donated or found. We 
set up a printing office with a small press and all the 
printing types in cabinets and all the necessary printing 
equipment, the rollers and the inking [sites]. 

One hour of a four-hour course, I guess, was considered a 
laboratory. They spent one hour a week in this laboratory 
under Roger s direction, and each student printed something 
that he set up, got the special paper for it, learned all about 
how to print a typical sheet of paper for a typical printed 
book. That was verywell, nothing is more informative about 
history of printing than simply doing that, just learning how 
it was done for 500 years. It s all completely different now, 
but that s how most of the older booksall books printed 
before 1850 were printed that way. 

We also were able to find moneyRay Swank was dean then, 
and he was very much interested in this project and was willing 
to find the money for it. We wanted to have each student make 
a sheet of paper. So Roger found a papermaking machine and the 
stuff that you can make paper out of. Swank found a room for 
us in the library school, and we set up the papermaking machine 
and every student made a sheet of paper. They had a lot of 
hands-on, firsthand experience with what was needed to make a 

The students liked all this very much, and I encouraged 
them. I usually would introduce the course by saying that, "No 
matter what you might learn from this course, there s one thing 
that s sure, that you ll never look at a book in the same way 
again. The way you look at a book will change forever, from 
having taken this course." And I think it was very true. 

Roger taught the course when I wasn t able to. I was gone 
a couple of years. Well, sometimes I had too many other 
courses to teach and he taught. And then two different times I 
was gone, and we had to have someone come in and teach the 
course, and one time it wasoh, now I can t think of his name. 
It s funny . 


McCreery: Someone from the outside? 

Mosher: Yes, from San Francisco--one of the best printers in the 

McCreery: We can fill in the name later [Adrian Wilson]. 

Mosher: He had a heart attack while he was teaching the course, but he 
was able to recover quickly enough to finish. And let s see, 
there was somebody from--oh, I know what it was, it wasn t so 
much my being gone as it was someone to actually teach the 
technical part of the course, the laboratory part of the 
course, because Roger wasn t always available. We found 
somebody from the California College of Arts and Crafts in 
Oakland. Those names have escaped my memory. 

Mentoring Doctoral Students 

McCreery: You mentioned last time that the very first student to finish 
the doctoral degree in the library school s program ended up 
working on history of the book. And I m wondering, overall, 
among either master s or doctoral students, did you find very 
many became particularly interested in this subject area? 

Mosher: I think this was true of the doctoral program. I don t have 
the figures , but I think at one point there were many more 
Ph.D.s from the history of the book program than from any other 
part of the program. 

McCreery: Really. Did that surprise you? 

Mosher: No, it didn t becauseremember, as I said, this was the part 

of the program that the original committee said, "Well, this is 
worth doing, but the rest of it not." One of the problems was 
that if you were doing administrative studies and so on, you 
had to sort of work it out that it was not Ph.D., where there 
wasn t any question about history of the book. That was Ph.D. 
The doctor of library administration was something different. 
They all wanted a Ph.D., not a D.L.S. 

McCreery: But you had no shortage of students to mentor and to work with. 

Mosher: No, we didn t. A number of very good people got interested in 
the history of the book from taking this course. We had other 
courses, also; not only the basic history of the book course, 
but courses inwell, let s seethere were three courses on 


the doctoral level, and it was sort of divided up 
chronologically. I can t remember now--I think it was 203A, B, 
and C, or something like that, but I can t remember. I do have 
somewhere here an actual collection, unless I ve just thrown it 
away recently, of the materials for one of these seminars. 
They were called seminars, not courses. 

It was the invention-of-printing period and the in-between 
period, I think, and then the more or less modern period. And 
anyone could take them besides doctoral students. They usually 
had a fair- sized number, and all this contributed to making 
those students who were interested think about the doctorate. 
I don t know that I ever really encouraged- -well, I encouraged 
some of them I thought were awfully good. 

Planning and Teaching Courses; Preparing Students for Reference 

McCreery: From your own point of view, teaching point of view, how did 
the history of the book and related courses compare to the 
whole reference and bibliography area? 

Mosher: Well, of course I really don t know that I can say. They both 
were a lot of work and took a lot of time to prepare each 
course meeting. The reference courses changed constantly. 
Every year you never could use your old materials; you had to 
get new lectures. I think probably I was more interested in and 
got more satisfaction from the courses in the history of the 
book because that was what I was mainly interested in from a 
scholarly point of view. 

Mosher: I was thinking about a program that took a great deal of my 

time and effort after it got started, and that was particularly 
with Roger Levenson s help. Roger Levenson actually 
photographed slides from the books in The Bancroft Library, and 
anywhere else we could find, illustrating the history of the 
book. I began to use this collection of slides in my lectures. 
My lectures usually consisted of a series of so many slides for 
the books that we were studying that particular week. 

Every time I d show the slides, which were very good 
slides, and we had to have a special classroom, of course, 
every term. I taught in practically every classroom in the 
university because of the slide projector and the screen. I d 


have to carry the projector and slides from South Hall to 
wherever I was teaching. I would show the slides and talk 
about them, after general introductions and so on, so that was 
the way the course proceeded--! think just about ever since we 
moved to South Hall. 

I thought that worked out very well, although I never did 
like the feeling of not being able to see my audience. I 
didn t know who I was talking to. It was a darkened room, so I 
could show the slides. All the direction was to the screen, 
and you couldn t tell what kind of response the students were 
making. But they seemed to enjoy the slides, and I thought 
they were very helpful in illustrating the points I was making 
in the lecture, although--my notes and so on I had at the 
projector. I never used a projection assistant. I projected 
the slides myself while I was talking. Well, that s why I 
thought I ought to say something about the teaching. 

We could go on and talk about teaching reference. I think 
your question was which did I like best or which did I 
appreciate more. I answered that I thought history of printing 
was the subject I was perhaps most interested in, but yet I was 
very much interested in reference and we did a great many 
things in reference. 

I started out, as I told you, just by making an assignment 
each week of questions that they would look up in the reference 
books that we were studying. I would lecture about the books. 
As a matter of fact, almost from the very beginning- -well, 
after two or three or four years--! had transparencies made of 
pages of each reference book that we were talking about. I had 
an overhead projector and I would put this transparency on and 
point out the various parts of the entry. That also took a lot 
of time in preparing the transparencies and getting them made. 
They were rather expensive compared to any other kind of 
projection material, so I was very careful about getting ones 
that I could use over and over again. 

It began to bother me more and more as time went on that 
there wasn t any good way to test the reference courses- -how to 
ask them questions about, oh, what s the best reference book to 
look up such-and-such; ask them questions like those that they 
were getting in their weekly assignments. Someone with a good 
memory could do them, and some others who didn t remember so 
well would not do so well on such an examination, so I conceded 
the idea of --well, I need to hop back a bit further. 

The university library began to feel that it was 
interfering with the activities of the library to have the 


library school students in the reference collections. We 
decided the way to defeat this, to take care of this problem, 
was to build a reference laboratory library of all the books 
that we taught in the reference courses. 

We were able to get the money to do thisthis was the 
library school library. We got a large room, now used as a 
computer laboratory. By this time I had a research assistant 
who was in charge of it and who made the questions out for the 
individual assignments. 

I decided that the best kinds of examination, then, would 
be to set aside periods with so many students--! don t know how 
many there were each time- -something like ten, I think--who 
would be given a set of questions. Each would be given a 
different set of questions to answer in the reference books 
that they d been using all semester or year. In an hour, you 
find out whether they can find answers in reference books or 
not, so that s what we did. Until the very end, under my 
teaching, the examinations in the reference courses were always 
in the reference laboratory library. The proof of whether 
they d learned what they were supposed to learn was right 
there. . 

Now, some of them complained that they got too nervous, it 
was more a test of their nerves than of their ability to do the 
work, and so they d have practicethe mid-term examinations 
would be just like that. And there would be various other 
practice tests, as I recall. All students were told that if 
they didn t pass the first time, we d have a makeup examination 
for them, in case they just weren t well or were too nervous. 
This worked out pretty well. Nobody really could complain 
about it, and nearly everyone would pass the examination. I 
think they all did eventually. I thought that was a pretty 
fair kind of examination. 

But it meant, of course, having another huge collection of 
reference books and a lot of work. You had to have different 
sets of questions for each student and it would have to be 
different for every year. It meant a lot of question-making, 
which would not bethey had to be good exam questions, too. 
They had to be questions that you would answer only in one 
place, or nearly. We always accepted answers in any place they 
could find them, but they were all made for sending you 
specifically to a particular reference work. 

That was interesting to set all this up and to see how it 
worked out and to feel that it was as fair an examination as 
you could give them. But I was more interested, perhaps, in 

teaching reference--! was very much interested in their getting 
to know the books . I thought they ought to know the reference 
books very well, because they were supposed to be able to stand 
behind a reference desk and answer questions as of day one of 
their library work. 

But I also was very much concerned about their attitudes 
toward reference work and toward the people that came in to ask 
questions. 1 talked a lotmuch of it from my own experience- 
about how you had to deal with the people who came up to the 
desk and wanted an answer to a question. Different clients 
have their different approaches to the reference desk, and the 
different kinds of questions. Some patrons didn t know how 
they should ask the question that they really wanted to know 
the answer to. 

McCreery: When you say attitude, what did you hope your students would 
get from your course about that public service aspect of the 

Mosher: I hoped that they would get the feeling that anyone who came to 
the reference desk came because they really wanted to get some 
information. For most people it s a real act of courage to 
enter the library, find the reference desk, go up to it, and 
ask a perfect stranger a question that they might not want to 
ask, so that the reference librarian had to realize all this 
and try to help the question-asker find what he wanted. An 
awful lot of librarians behind the reference desk don t seem to 
know how to handle this, to really help. 

I think I used to say to them it isn t answering the 
question so much that you need to learn how to do. The big 
problem is to find out what the question is, because most 
people hesitate to ask what they really want to know. And 
then, of course, a lot of the people who come in to a reference 
desk at a university library are authorities, and they know 
what they want and they know where it can be found, often, in 
their own subject field. But what they need at the reference 
desk is help in other subject fields, where they re just as 
ignorant as anyone else would be. That has to be determined, 
too, but it s quite a different kind of task to work behind a 
university library reference desk and to work behind a public 
library reference desk. 

This is the sort of thing that I would talk about rather 
than books . We would go through books with these 
transparencies and point out problems with their entries that 
they would need to- -I always was surprised at how even in a 
library school there will be so many people who didn t know how 








to use a reference book--hardly knew how to use a dictionary. 
The individual parts of a dictionary entry very few people can 
understand. And some of these complicated bibliographies are 
almost impossible without experience, so I took great pains to 
point out the special problems of the different kinds of 
reference books. That s why I had the transparencies. 

As you say, you tried to communicate that the public would need 
help with these very same things? 

Yes, that is the point of librarians. Reference librarians are 
there to help, and they can t help if they don t find out what 
is needed, so the reference interview is a very important part 
of reference work. 

I m interested in this term "reference interview." 
using that? 

How are you 

When a patron comes to the reference desk an interview takes 
place. A question is asked or it isn t asked. You try to 
interview the patron to find out what it is that is really 
wanted. That s hard sometimeswell, especially with people 
unfamiliar with libraries. There aren t too many--I always 
tried to point out that there aren t very many people familiar 
with libraries, anyway. You can sort of count on people coming 
to the reference deskmost of them don t know much about 
libraries, or may never have been in a library before. If you 
know much about libraries, you can do most of the reference 
work yourself, but it s the people that have a need for 
informationlibraries are encouraged to advertise that they 
will answer questions. People come in and they have a ghost of 
an idea of how to proceed, and the reference librarian is there 
to help them. That s why I hate to see librarians disappear 
from the scene if there are going to be any such things as 
libraries any more, at any rate. 

On the whole, how do you think your students took to this 
public service aspect of reference work? 

Oh, I think they understood that very well. Most of them had 
never thought of it, of course, because most of them had never 
been in a position to find out what the question is. I would 
try to help them in asking the questions, often to make the 
reference librarian student realize that, well, here s 
something that anyone would need help with. At first I tried 
to do this by giving examples of reference-question-asking, to 
indicate who the questioner was and what he wanted to find and 
what for and the kind of information you d need in order to 
answer the question. I had a whole paragraph, or at least 



Mosher : 

several lines on the whole problem as well as just asking the 
question. But that proved to take more time than I could use. 
I still have those questionssome of those questions, at any 

After I quit teaching, I kept all my files for some time 
because I thought I might be asked back to teach, but I never 
was. So eventually I decided I had to sort out my files, and 
there was a doctoral student who was interested in something in 
connection with--oh, I think it was intellectual freedom files. 
I was throwing out my files and she thought she was going to be 
a doctoral student the next year, and she asked me please to 
preserve all my reference materials so that she could do a 
dissertation on teaching reference. So I kept a lot of stuff 
that I would have thrown away, and I had to throw it away only 
recently. [laughs] But it s all useless now except as an 
example of what was done. 

What about the bibliography portion of the course. Did you 
treat that separately? 

No, I don t think so. There certainly would be different 
assignments on different subjects. And as far as what we 
called national and trade bibliographies the bibliographies 
that recorded the books published in each countryvery often, 
I think, one of the very first assignments on such 
bibliographies we would take up the standard Americana and 
English bibliographies, and then French and German and Italian 
and so on all of them, so that they would know where you had 
to go to find a book published at the present time everywhere 
in the world. I think probably not Russian. I couldn t worry 
about that because most of them could not use Russian at all, 
but French and German, Italian, and Spanish- -there were 
questions in all these bibliographies that we thought they 
ought to know. 

Foreign Language Requirements for Students; Teaching Government 

Mosher: At that time, all library school students were required to know 
French and German and then one other language well enough to 
read. They all didn t pass that test, but most of them had 
taken courses in French and German and were able to use them. 

McCreery: What were your views when the language requirements were 


Mosher: I didn t like it at all. I thought they still ought to be 

there. Well, I couldn t think of anything more necessary for a 
reference librarian than a knowledge of foreign languages. And 
I thought that every librarian, to stand behind a good 
reference desk, would have to be able to use French and German 
reference works, so I was definitely opposed to it. But 
arguments would be made, "Well, here s someone who s not going 
to be a reference librarian. Why deny them this possibility of 
becoming a librarian because they don t know French and 
German?" But it never made any sense to me. I had observed 
that what the students say they are never going to do is 
precisely what they often ended up doing. 

Anyway, knowledge of foreign languages makes such a 
difference, it seems to me, in just your mindset, especially 
when you re trying to find information and working with books. 
So I thought they needed at least French and German, but I was 
out-voted. And I don t know what needs to be required- -what 
the present school seems to think needs to be required, only, 
is a knowledge of how to program and use a computer. 

McCreery: Yes, quite different. And I will ask you about that a little 
bit later on. May I just return to your teaching and see if 
you d like to document anything about your government 
publications course? 

Mosher: Oh, yes. I thought from the very beginning, partly as a result 
of my work at the Newberry, that government publications were 
extremely important and that most librarians ignored them. I 
thought that one thing that they ought to learn in library 
school is some familiarity with government publications and 
knowledge of how to find out about them. Therefore, I always 
included in the reference courses something about government 
publications and eventually decided that we really ought to 
establish a special course in government publications. 

I think I was the first one to teach any such course. And 
that meant, of course, using the government document room at 
the university library extensively. A lot of people were 
interested in it, and it was another long and hard task for me 
to get well enough acquainted with them to teach them, to make 
assignments, make questions, and examine them. I couldn t use 
the kind of examination procedure for the government documents 
that I had developed for general reference, but just getting 
acquainted with the layout in the library and the different- 
government publications are treated differently from any other 
publications in most libraries, and students have to learn the 
ways that they are treated. There are special bibliographies. 


I didn t handle it any differently than I handled most 
reference courses. I had transparencies, and I pointed out 
various problems of entry and then discussed how the 
publications and the bibliographies were correlated, I guess, 
is the right word. It was really very good to have a 
government documents collection there, the government documents 
reading room. They could go there and find exactly all the 
bibliographies they needed. They were all shelved for the 
public to use. The collection was stored right there in the 
same room or a series of rooms, same stacks. 

McCreery: Which specific publications did you consider most essential? 

Mosher: Of government publications, you mean? The federal government 
publications were clearly the most important for American 
libraries, but state publications and international and foreign 
publications, especially Britishoh, we covered them all. 

McCreery: I m recalling you said Miss Coulter made a suggestion that 

State of California publications would be important. Did that 
come into play very much? 

Mosher: Oh, yes, it was true. Well, there was a lot of information in 
California government publications that is available only in 
California state publications. I can t remember right now what 
the title and who the compiler was, but it was an excellent 
source of information. That s why she insisted on telling me 
about it, because Edith Coulter was an authority on California 
state history and she had found this particular bibliography so 
important that she wanted to make sure that everybody knew 
about it, every librarian. So I always included it for the 
older publications. It was not current at all. 

There is no question, in my opinion, that government 
publications contain quantities of important information that 
librarians just don t know how to find. Most librarians, 
unless they ve worked specifically with government 
publications, are pretty ignorant of them and shy away from 
them because they find them difficult to use. That s one of 
the big purposes of the course, was to get rid of this fear and 
make them understand that it is possible to use them and that 
they contain so much information that one can t find anywhere 


More on Intellectual Freedom and the Fiske Report of 1956 
[Interview 5: April 9, 1999) ## 

McCreery: We spent much of the session last time talking about your 

classroom teaching, reference and bibliography, history of the 
book, government publications, and so on, and so I thought 
today we would talk a little bit more about that. I don t know 
if there s much to say, but you had so much interest in 
intellectual freedom in your so-called spare time, I m 
wondering how much those issues entered into your coursework. 

Mosher: Very little, because I was not teaching courses that involved 
intellectual freedom. I did teach courses other than the ones 
you ve mentioned, not regularly, but forit seemed to mesome 
years I taught the introduction to librarianship course that 
was Dean Danton s course when he was dean. And I taught that 
several times. And of course in an introduction to 
librarianship course, you d have to bring up intellectual 

I would always, of course, refer to the intellectual 
freedom conferences and publications and so on that the school 
was involved in. When the issue was really hot in the fifties, 
I think, I usually couldn t really help just talking about it, 
especially in the reference course because there it does 
concern what happens at the reference desk. 

McCreery: Did you find your students were quite interested in these 

Mosher: Oh, yes, they were. They were, and I think they understood 
and I think that they had been taught in the introduction to 
librarianship course what the proper response of the librarian 
is to attempts to censor books. 

McCreery: What is the proper response? 

Mosher: The librarian is always opposed to censorship of any sort, but 
he can t, of course, be opposed to book selection. But he 
doesn t consider book selection the same thing as censorship. 
It s simply a matter of acquiring the books that users of the 
library need, paying no attention to the subject matter as far 
as politics goes. I have a couple of publications or articles 
--well, I think they re in this Fiske study, which was, of 
course, sponsored by the school well, not only sponsored but 
was actually done by the school because Marjorie Fiske, when 
she was doing that study, was a faculty member at the school. 



I was on the California Library Association intellectual 
freedom committee at this point and I was responsible, I guess, 
for getting the library school to sponsor this. That was the 
only way we could get the university to accept our doing the 
study. We had relatively little trouble getting the money for 
the study from the Fund for the Republic, but the university 
was reluctant to let such a study take place at the university 
without control of the study and without having the faculty 
itself doing it. 

I have a lot of correspondence here concerning how, 
finally, the school gained the right- -even though the money was 
thereto do the study, and to appoint Miss Fiske, whose 
husband was Leo Lowenthal, and who was also on the university 
faculty toit s here in the Fund for the Republic three-year 
report, an account of what the study was. 

We had a symposium on the study when it was completeda 
public symposium sponsored by the schoolat which I gave a 
talk that provided the history of the study and how it all got 
started and funded, and who was responsible for it. There was 
a lot of correspondence concerning it while it was being 
conducted, because Marjorie Fiske would be constantly reporting 
to the faculty, and I kept all her reports about the study. 
The faculty, of course, had to approve her report and so on 
before it was released. 

I thought that that symposium was published, but I don t 
find any record of it a symposium conducted on the study. 

After the fact? 
After the fact. 
You do seem to have good records of most of this process. 

Yes, and there are drafts of the study here that Marjorie Fiske 
submitted to us. I think the book selection study symposium 
here is my account of it, which goes over the whole procedure 
and makes very clear what the problems were and how they were 
overcome. Finally it boiled down to when the California 
Library Association s officials were all in favor of it and the 
Fund for the Republic was in favor of it, the Regents of the 
University were worried about it because it was such a hot 
subject right then. Finally it took Dean Danton to allow it to 
become a school study and to be done by members of the faculty. 
When he agreed to this, then it was approved by the Regents, 
Marjorie Fiske was appointed, and she began the study. 


McCreery: Specifically do you know what their concerns were? Did it have 
to do with whether or not the school would sponsor the study? 

Mosher: They worried about its political- -they didn t want it to be 
connected with the university unless it was done by the 
university faculty. This was a way to--Marjorie Fiske was a 
professor in the school, and so she was responsible and 
accountable. It wasn t just somebody dragged out of the 
general community; it was someone that had conducted studies 
and was a scholar. And she was responsible to the school and, 
of course, to the university, eventually. So they thought 
those safeguards were necessary in order to not get something 
published that would be--oh, I don t know what exactly might 
have come from it, but there were a lot of possibilities of 
rather radical people getting hold of such a subject and making 
out a case not based on fact. Now mind you, Fiske did not 
discover anything exceptional or unusual; she just found what 
was happening in California libraries and reported it. 

McCreery: Did other faculty members share the concern of the Regents, 
that the school-- 

Mosher: Well, I don t know about other faculty members outside the 

school, but I think Danton was just worried about gettinghe 
thought that the study ought to be done. The funds were there 
and the researcher was there. You couldn t ask for anything 
better than the whole situation, but the Regents were balking. 
They didn t want it done without the school having complete 
control over it. I think all of us on the school s faculty 
agreed that this was a good idea, so we unanimously asked the 
Regents to approve the fund. 

McCreery: Now it says here in this three-year report of the Fund for the 
Republicit s dated May 31, 1956--that $36,000 was granted for 
this project. 

Mosher: That must be right. 

McCreery: Was that considered sufficient funds to do the complete and 
full study that was envisioned? 

Mosher: Yes, it was a liberal fund then. I think it must be, what, 
certainly it would be more than $100,000 now. 

McCreery: We talked last time a little bit about the results of the Fiske 
report, namely that California librarians were involved on some 
level in self-censorship in response to the political climate 
of the time. Did that surprise you? 


Mosher: No, I don t think it surprised anyone connected to libraries 
because, well, every librarian who was selecting books for a 
library has a lot of things to keep in mind. Also, most 
libraries have a political board of some sort, a political 
group that they re responsible to, and they re responsible to 
their communities. So they have to consider, if they re a 
public library, what the public library board will approve. Of 
course all California libraries were at that timeall 
libraries, everywhere, I guess, in the United Stateswere 
encouraged strongly to get the book selection policy approved 
by the board, so that whenever any incident of possible 
censorship came up, any publicized incident, the librarian 
would be able to say, "Well, here s our policy, and this is 
what we did." 

But you know, librarians are human beings, too, and they 
didn t want to antagonize their boards. In some districts of 
California the board might be very conservative in its 
politics. The first thing I did as chairman--! think I must 
have been chairman of the intellectual freedom committee for 
the California Library Association--! pushed for this 
collection of book selection policies from all over the state. 
We got that together and had it available to anyone that wanted 
it, I think. Speaking of students, when that was being 
compiled and mailed to people who wanted it, volunteer students 
helped a great deal with getting it together and mailing it. 

That sort of led on to a feeling that the California 
intellectual freedom committee ought to do something more to 
find out what was causing censorship problems in California. 
We began to explore possibilities of funding and who could do 
it, and so on. I can t remember all the details of how we 
arrived at the Fund for the Republic, or if that was the 
obvious agency at the time to provide the money. 

Marjorie Fiske just sort of appeared, I think. She was 
here in Berkeley, and both she and her husband had been 
involved in questions of intellectual freedom and publications 
on intellectual freedom. And she was very good, just a 
wonderful scholar and researcher. She knew how to conduct a 
research study and how to train her assistants to interview. I 
couldn t find any fault with what she did at all, and neither 
did the faculty of the school. They supported her all the way, 
not that there was any big question or objection at all to the 
study, or to the way it was conducted, or to the results. It 
was all just what you would expect, everyone said. 

McCreery: When the study was released to CLA and the public and so on, 
what kind of response did it get? 


Mosher: I guess I really can t answer that very well. I don t think it 
got too much response. People would say, "Well, that s what we 
would expect." It was undoubtedly true. I think that the idea 
was that library schools particularly, and library school 
students, ought to be made thoroughly aware of the problems of 
intellectual freedom and approved methods of combating 
censorship of books, and also they should push to get policies 
so they would have backing from their board whenever a 
censorship incident occurred. 

Interactions with California s Legislature; Censorship Bills 

Mosher: I mentioned Mrs. Smart from over in Marin County and her group 
--and I don t know what group it was, except she was a 
representativemanaged almost to pass a couple of bills in the 
California legislature which would censor school library 
collections . 

The legislature was not at all in favor of this. I 
remember I even went to Sacramento with a couple other 
librarians for hearings on a bill. And it turned out they did 
have a hearing. But the chairman of the committee that held 
the hearing and that was responsible for approving the 
legislation--! don t remember the legislative history well 
enough- -assured us that there was no possibility that this was 
going to be sent out of committee, because most of the 
legislature was not in favor of censoring books for school 
libraries or any other library and the legislature was very 
sensitive to this issue. So Mrs. Smart didn t get anywhere, 
but she still continued to campaign all over the state- -but 
especially in the Bay Area because she lived in Marin--and 
succeeded, I think, in censoring a number of school library 
collections, temporarily, at any rate. But she was the 
powerful force behind censorship of libraries. 

McCreery: Do you remember the names of those you met with in Sacramento? 

Mosher: I don t remember them, no, but I may have it in one of these 

McCreery: We can check later. I just wondered if there was anything in 
those interactions that stood out to you. 

Mosher: I was pleased at the fact that so many of the members--! didn t 
talk with any members of the legislature that were flat-out for 
censorship. Most of them were enthusiastically against Mrs. 


Smart s ideas and against the bill. There was one bill that 
did get passed by one of the houses--! think by the Assembly on 
a later changed version of the original billand this one we 
were quite worried about. But the Senate--! think it was a 
Senate hearing we went to--and the members of that committee we 
talked with just pooh-poohed the whole idea of censorship. 

What I started out to say was I was proud of the members of 
the legislature and of the procedures of the legislature, and I 
felt that the problem was in safe hands. Nobody there was 
pushing for censorship of any kind of library. 

McCreery: But is it accurate to say you didn t know that until you went 
there and met with them? 

Mosher: Yes, that s true. 

McCreery: Who else went with you representing CLA? 

Mosher: Oh, right now I can t remember. I was representing CLA because 
I was chairman, 1 think, still chairman of the committee- -but 
it could be that if I gave a name, it might not be right. I 
think it might have been Bertha [D. Helium], who was the county 
librarian of Contra Costa County library, and a very effective 
public librarian. She was the best public librarian in the 
area at the time and very forceful in state organizations a 
graduate of our schooland had lots of experience. She knew 
how libraries worked in the public domain because she built up 
Contra Costa County library from almost nothing to a really 
great library. 

More on Teaching Reference; Anecdotes from the Newberry Library 

McCreery: Let s talk a little bit more then about classroom teaching of 

these issues. Now, I know you weren t teaching book selection. 
That was mostly the purview of Mr. Merritt. But as you say, 
these kinds of issues could come up in almost any of the 

Mosher: Yes. 

McCreery: Were there other ethical-type issues aside from censorship that 
entered into your teaching? 

Mosher: I m not sure what you mean by ethical, I guess. In teaching 
reference, I would try to inform students who had never stood 


behind a reference desk what it was like, and what people 
coming to the desk would be like, and the various kinds of-- 
well, I guess any kind of person could come and might have very 
definite opinions about something. The reference librarian had 
to treat everyone the same, regardless of political or 
religious or any other kind of view. 

But this was never a formal part of the course. It was 
something I would just talk about as part of reference work. 
But as far as I was concerned, I can t remember ever having a 
special place for this kind of information. I guess we d talk 
about it in talking about different books and different 
reference situations. 

McCreery: Did you have particular examples from your own experience that 
you always gave to your students? 

Mosher: I think so. Well, what occurs to me right now is a really 
quite funny story, I think, which happened at the Newberry 
Library. The telephone was right at the reference desk, and if 
the telephone rang and a patron was at the desk, you had to 
answer the telephone, of course. The telephone question was, 
"President Truman is being talked about in the press as calling 
somebody an S.O.B. What does that stand for?" [laughter] 
"Well," I said rather low, because I didn t want to say it out 
loud, "son of a bitch." And the obviously little old lady at 
the other end said, "Would you please repeat that? I m a bit 
hard of hearing." [laughter] I thought that was really funny. 

Then another experience at the desk was with a lady who 
came into the reading room with a basket. She was not supposed 
to bring any baggage of any sort up to reading room, which was 
on the second floor. Everything was to be checked at the 
cloakroom downstairs on the first floor, but somehow she 
managed to get by the doorman, the elevator man, and bring this 
basket up to the reading room. 

She said what she wanted was to know where a particular 
place in Michigan was because she was going to go there for a 
vacation starting the next day. She wanted to know where she 
was going because she wasn t sure. So there were maps right 
between the desk and the shelf. So I took the maps out and 
opened to a map and showed her where the place in Michigan was . 
She put her basket up on the shelf and from the basket she took 
out a cat and she said, "Do you mind if I show Pussy where 
we re going to?" [laughter] 

All sorts of things like that did happen, you know, and I 
would often report them to the class. I was trying to make 


clear to them that just anything can happen and any kind of 
question can be asked and you had to be prepared for it. 
That s the sort of thing that I drew from my library experience 
for teaching. 

McCreery: Those are good examples, indeed. [laughs] 
Mosher: The life of a reference librarian is not without humor. 

McCreery: Well, as we were laughing a little more about the cat story 

while turning the tape over, you were remembering another story 
from your time as reference librarian at the Newberry. What 
was that? 

Mosher: The Newberry Library, as I mentioned, was a research library 

and nobody was admitted to the stacks from the public. And we 
assumed that every user of the library was there for scholarly 
purposes, generally speaking. A user of the library would 
submit requests for books, and the book would be brought from 
the stacks to the reading room where the scholar, the user, 
would be seated. 

Some scholars would like to go through a whole area of 
books. Since he wasn t permitted in the stacks, well, it meant 
bringing a lot of bookscarts of booksto the user in the 
reading room, and this took a lot of time and effort. One 
youngish man came to the library and started wanting books on, 
oh, some subject- -Canada. After about three days of bringing 
cartloads of books to himand he didn t supply call slips, he 
just said, "Bring all the books in this particular category to 
me." As the reference librarian I went over to check to see 
whether or not he was qualified, had the proper credentials, 
for going in the stacks. He might as well be permitted to go 
into the stacks and go over books instead of having them all 
brought to him. 

So I approached him and introduced myself and started 
talking with him about what he was doing. I did suggest that 
he might be able to go into the stacks, I think, and then began 
to question him, so he knew what I was doing. Well, he looked 
up at me furtively, sort of, and he said, "If you ask me no 
questions, I ll tell you no lies." 

I immediately stopped the interview and reported him to Mr. 
Pargellis, and it turned out that he was some relative of one 
of the trustees and was not at that time, at any rate in good 
shape mentally, so that he was just spending time at the 


Newberry doing such things as making a dictionary of words used 
by Captain Cook. At any rate, it was a dictionary that 
couldn t possibly be made, and there was no reason for making 

We soon finished bringing books to him, although I think he 
did get permission to go down to the rare book room, even, to 
proceed with his project, which was ridiculous. But that s the 
only time I ve been greeted in a library with a response of, 
"If you ask me no questions, I ll tell you no lies." 

Now most of the questions at the Newberry Library reference 
desk were very sensible questions. I was very glad to be able 
to answer a lot of them because of my knowledge. And I learned 
a great deal about the local Chicago history, too, because so 
many questions that came to the desk from the general public 
were about the history of the area, in which the Newberry was 

Summer Program of the School of Librarianship 

Mosher: Now, where should we go from here? 

McCreery: I thought we might since we ve been talking about your 

teaching duties, I thought we might talk a little bit about 
summer school. Now you mentioned that you worked in the rare 
book room your first two summers after arriving at Berkeley. 
Then the summer program I think got going around 1955, so 
perhaps you could just tell me a little bit about the program 
and your involvement in it . 

Mosher: Until the summer school started, I was responsible for the so- 
called rare books collection. As I said, any book that came 
into the rare books collection I had to approve. That meant 
often going to the catalog section or the order and acquisition 
section and checking books to see whether I thought they ought 
to be in the rare book room or not. We did have some 

At that time I think anything that cost over fifty dollars 
a volume we would put in the rare books collection, but that 
soon got to be much too small [an amount] . But in general what 
constituted a rare book wasthe order department wanted 
somebody to oversee and supervise that part of the process. I 
didn t have anything to do with acquisition other than 


approving the acquisitions for the rare book roomor with the 
cataloging or anything else. I can t single out dates nowI 
didn t realize that summer school didn t begin until 1955, but 
I was concerned with the rare books until then. I don t know 
when this flood moved the rare books out of the place where 
they were. 

McCreery: What did you think of summer school? 

Mosher: Oh, summer school, of course, I was all in favor of because it 
provided me opportunity to make more money. 

In general, I didn t really like the whole business very 
much because, as I recall, you couldn t start during the 
summer. The summer school was only for those finishing up 
courses that they hadn t been able to take during the regular 
year, or people taking courses in library school for more than 
one year. 

It meant, for the teacher, teaching every day of the week, 
except we never taught, I think, on Saturday. I think all the 
classes were two hours in length, so that a two-hour class each 
time I don t remember how many courses I taught, or how many 
sections--! don t think I taught more than one, so that would 
be two hours of teaching a day. But this would be after the 
regular nine-month session of teaching, and it was physically 
hard to take. I would be very tired, and I didn t think that 
the students would learn as much, either, in such a short high- 
pressure time. 

I m trying to remember now about the summer school in later 
years. In later years we gave up summer school and didn t have 
it anymore, probably for most of the reasons that I ve been 
suggesting. Because I don t remember using the reference 
laboratory library for summer school, but I do remember having 
eight o clock classes and finding that a pain in the neck every 

As far as I remember I thought that students were learning 
what they had to learn and that it was all being presented to 
them, but I always wondered about and worried about how much 
they really retained, because everything went so fast and so 
intensely. I can t remember now if I even asked or knew about 
what the students thought. I think I was too busy giving the 
lectures to spend much time with the students. 


The Sisler Book Prize 

McCreery: I want to ask you now about another activity that you were 
involved with starting in the fifties, and that was being 
committee chair for awarding the Sisler Book Prize. Tell me a 
little about that. 

Mosher: Well, let s see. Delia Sisler was one of the first and a long 
time member of the library school faculty, and she was the 
history of the book instructor. That was her field especially. 
And when she died it was decided to set up some kind of 
memorial fund for people who wanted to make a contribution in 
her honor, and it was thought that it ought to have something 
to do with books and book collecting and rare books, in some 

I guess right off the bat, it was decided to have a book 
collecting contest for library school students. Every year, 
any library school student who wanted to submit a collection 
would do so and these collections would be judged, I guess by 
me. I don t remember any committee doing it, but I could be 
just forgetful. I think I was the only one that looked over 
all the collections and then decided that this one was the 

Not too many library school students had book collections 
at the university and it didn t seem to me a very good idea, 
but some of the students, particularly those living in the 
area, would have collections and they d bring them and exhibit 
them in the library school classroom. I d look them over and 
make a decision about what I thought was the best. It didn t 
take much of my time and it was just one particular day. I 
never thought that it amounted to anything. I don t know what 
it rewarded, really, and there wasn t much to choose from. 
You d like a collection for its subject or condition. 

Most of them were rather sorry collections, and so after a 
few years of that I suggested that we give the money from the 
fund to buy rare books or books on the history of the book-- 
that would be good for the rare book room, would be good for 
illustrating the history of the book. That s what happened to 
the fund . 

Then, of course, you d have to be involved with deciding 
what book would be included. But the rare books librarian- -by 
that time, Ken Carpenter, I think--and I usually agreed on 
something that would cost about the amount of money that was 
available. A number of books were added to the collection, 


illustrating the history of the book as a consequence. But the 
book exhibit part of this was not I never thought of it as 
being very useful anything that would properly honor the memory 
of Miss Sisler. In other words, it seemed to me to be a kind 
of waste of money. 

McCreery: Well, once you switched over to the other use of the funds, did 
that work out better? 

Mosher: Oh, yes. Yes. As I said, a number of books were acquired that 
were good for the university library to have and good for 
teaching the course. 

McCreery: Okay. I gather that fund still exists in some form today. 
Mosher: I don t know. I don t know what s happened to it, now. 

McCreery: I think it does still continue along with the other ones 
established at that timethe Coulter lectureship and the 
Mitchell scholarship, I guess it s called. 

Mosher: That s right. Well, I don t know what has happened to it. I 
haven t been asked about it for a long time. I don t recall 
having anything to do the last ten years or so. Something must 
have happened. Maybe The Bancroft Library may have just got 
the money and used it any way they wanted to. I don t know. 

Clark Kerr s Presidency; School of Librarianship s Lack of 

McCreery: We also mentioned last time that in the late fifties, Dr. 

[Clark] Kerr became president of the university, succeeding 
Robert Gordon Sproul, and began decentralizing the University 
of California, so that fewer tasks were held by the president s 
office and more tasks were handled at the campus level. Now I 
don t know if you had any particular interest or involvement in 
that, but can you just tell me a little of what you remember of 
when Dr. Kerr took over the presidency? 

Mosher: When he took over the presidency, I thought he was very 

suitable to become president. I don t think I noticed any 
great change in the way that the university operated. And 
personally I, in fact, had nothing to do with him or with the 
presidency. I think I have had some correspondence with him 
about the book selection study- -that he had to approve it, too 


--but I just don t know anything that I can remember about that 

McCreery: Okay, that s fine. I m interested in a comment you made in a 

previous session though, discussing in general that the library 
school was still small and perhaps not terribly visible to the 
rest of the campus. You said, "Most of the campus didn t know 
it existed." 

Mosher: That s right. That is, I think, the truth. I mean, you would 
meet someone from some other department and exchange 
introductions and say you re from the library school, and nine 
times out of ten the professor, whatever he was, or shethere 
were very few she s in those dayswould say, "Oh, I didn t 
know that there was a library school," or have any idea of what 
a library school is. 

"You work in the library?" they d say. Well, in the 
majority of cases when I said to anyone that I taught in the 
library school, they would think that I worked in the library. 
I think very few people outside the library school faculty knew 
that it existed. 

There were ten, twelve faculty members. The school grew to 
have a great many more students--! think we had over 200 at one 
timeand while we were physically still in the library, we 
were just overlooked. Nobody knew that the library school 

McCreery: How did you feel about that? 

Mosher: It didn t make any difference to me 
what we were. I knew what we were 
performing an important service, I 
to make any difference at the time, 
identified with the library because 
library, and we were working in the 
of it in a way, because so many of 
were teaching in the school, and a 
with every day. 

, actually, because I knew 
doing, and I knew I was 
thought. And it didn t seem 

It was all right to be 
we were located in the 
library, and we felt a part 
the library staff members 
number of them we worked 

So it wasn t until questions of --well, the library wanted 
more room, wanted us to get out because they needed more room. 
I guess the dean s office Dean Swank, by this time thought it 
would be easier to get a better budget and to get the budgets 
through and so on if we had our own building, our own physical 
identity on campus. We also thought that in the matter of 
recruitment from the campus , it would be good to let any 
possible future librarian know that we existed. 


Of course anyone working in the library, any possible 
candidate who had already worked in the university library, 
knew that we were there, but it was felt by the library school 
administration that it would be best to have a physical 
identity of our own. 

The School Moves to South Hall 

Mosher: When South Hall--well, let s see now, there s a long history to 
that. At one point in the school s efforts to get its own 
physical quarters, we were, by a committee of the university, 
granted permission to move into California Hall, which is now 
the campus administration office building. Or it was. Anyway, 
permission was given for the school of librarianship to move 
there. We were planning for that, and that was to happen in 
two years , I think it was . 

Just about this time the 1960s came along and the 
undergraduate library building [Moffitt Library] was built. 
The upper floor, with a magnificent view of the bay, was 
intended for the universitywide administration, I think, or at 
least the administration of the campus. This was going through 
the legislature at the time, as everything had to go through 
the state as far as building was concerned. A lot of people in 
the legislature and at the university, too, decided that this 
was not a good thing to do, to build a building for 
undergraduates and have the administration occupy the best part 
of the building. So it was decided that the administration 
offices should go. 

I don t think California Hall had any administration 
offices, yet. It was mostly standing more or less empty, just 
used for classrooms. It was to become the administration 
building. The library school was kicked out of the plans, and 
the undergraduate library remained unpolluted by the 
administration. So then the question was, where would the 
library school go, because the library really wanted more 

South Hall was being remodeled. It had stood more or less 
empty and unused, for the most part, for a number of years. It 
was remodeled and another university committee agreed that the 
School of Librarianship should take that over, or should move 
to South Hall. And that is what happened. 


I personally did not approve. I remember making a 
statement that I would have to be dragged out physically and 
forcibly from my office in the library. I had an office on the 
fourth floor of the library annex, The Bancroft Library, right 
opposite the Campanile, the northeast corner. It was a large 
office with views on both sides, both north and east, and I was 
very happy there, because it was so convenient to the reference 
collections and to The Bancroft Library. But we moved to South 
Hall. Everybody moved to South Hall, and it proved to be okay. 

I think it did make changes in the relations between the 
library staff and the library school, because we were no longer 
seeing each other all the timemost of us weren t. But as far 
as I was concerned, it really didn t make too much difference. 

I had a nice office in South Hall. I had no view except of 
another buildingits wallsand it was uncomfortably warm in 
the afternoons, but it was a large office, too. I needed a 
large office because 1 had all these books, for example, and 
lots of reference materials and files and files and files. 


Well, I don t know how we started getting on buildings, 

McCreery: Although you opposed the move on a personal level, what did you 
think of it as a change for the school itself? You mentioned 
library relations, but what was the overall picture, do you 

Mosher: It still didn t seem to me to help much in making the library 
school visible. We still, for as long as I canalways, 
whenever I mentioned that I taught in the library school- -"Oh, 
is there a library school? Where is it?" After we moved to 
South Hall we moved there about 1970, I thinkthere was still 
the same reaction. People didn t know there was a library 

McCreery: Even after you had the so-called physical identity, that other 
aspect didn t change? 

Mosher: Not much. Not very much. That s just a specific personal 

thing. I suppose that it did become much more visible. That s 
the word I was trying to search for. More people probably knew 
that there was a School of Librarianship, because the oldest 
building on the campus said "School of Librarianship." They d 
come and visit the building because it s the oldest building, 
but I don t think library work or anything like that really 
connected. I don t think so. 


Later on I think it became a hazard rather than a benefit 
because when things really began to get financially hard, the 
university planners would look at the schoolthe small school 
in the oldest building on campus, right in the center of 
campus. There were lots of other departments and agencies that 
would welcome that building. And the budget of the library 
school, although not very large in most terms, still was a 
sizeable amount. 

Recalling Other Faculty Colleagues of the 1950s and 1960s ## 

McCreery: We re continuing our discussions of the library school s 

history, and we realized while changing tapes that we wanted to 
go back and talk about some other faculty members who joined 
you in the late fifties. Perhaps you can tell me a little bit 
about Louis Sass. 

Mosher: When we began to admit more students and I was the only 

reference teacher, it became necessary to get someone to teach 
reference besides me. I don t remember anything about 
searching for an additional member of the faculty, but Danton 
found Louis Sass as a possibility. 

He had, I think, just recently obtained his doctor s degree 
in philosophy from Columbia, and he d had library work and he 
had teaching experience. He was therefore employed as an 
associate professor to teach in our library school, mainly 
reference with me. 

I admired and liked Louis Sass very much and worked with 
him very happily and pleasantly for the rather brief period of 
time he was with us. He was a good teacher. He had a wife who 
was an Icelander he had met during World War II and two 
children, a boy and a girl. He was a pleasant personal 
addition to the library school faculty. His teaching was, as 
far as I could tell, very good. The students seemed to like 

The problem is that he was offered a position as dean at 
the Pratt [Institute], a library school in Brooklyn [New York], 
and accepted it. He was here only two years, I think. I m not 
sure. Two or three years. But we always corresponded, and I 
think he was a successful dean of the Pratt library school and 
retired from that. He died within the past year or so. 


When he was no longer available, I think [Ray E.] Held came 
in the late fifties--! think to succeed him. 

McCreery: Yes, Ray Held. 1957 it says here. 

Mosher: He was married to a librarian who was employed by the 

university library here as a cataloger, and he began to teach 
reference in the library school. His specialty was library 
history. He studied the history of California libraries and 
published two books on the history of California libraries. He 
was a scholar, a good researcher, and a good teacher, and well 
liked, I think, by the students in general. And we worked very 
closely together for a number of years. 

I don t remember when he left, but he retired early, and 
they moved back to--I think it was Missouri, where his wife had 
some property or family. They lived back in Missouri until he 
died. I m not sure what has happened^to her. 

I have to sort of separate his career here into two parts, 
because at one point he became associate dean toward the end of 
his stay hereunder Swank. Swank chose an associate dean and 
it was Ray Held, and therefore he no longer taught so much 
reference. He continued to teach reference, but he also taught 
a course in the history of libraries and then with the school s 
administrationbesides that we didn t see each other so often. 

Furthermore, I think about this time my office was I m 
trying to think of where his office was. I told you where my 
office was in the library annex, so I was separate from the 
rest of the library school for a number of years before we 
moved to South Hall. I was over in the annex and therefore I 
didn t see as much of him. 

But I had a high regard for his capabilities and for his 
teaching and particularly his scholarship. What I didn t like 
about him was that he was rather a conservative in his well, I 
don t know about politics, but in his public views, he was 
opposed pretty much to the Free Speech Movement and was 
inclined to be rather thumbs down on radicals of any sort. He 
believed that they should be put down and that the university 
should eliminate the troublemakers and the library school 
should, too. 

He was on the side of keeping the status quo and not 

permitting the students so much freedom, and this made him 

unpopular with some members of the faculty. I think he was 

about the only one that expressed this point of view of putting 



down the Free Speech Movement, particularly as it concerned the 
library school. 

He was made associate dean by Dean Swank, and as associate 
dean I think he led or was chairman of the faculty meetings- - 
often, at any rate. At the last one he chaired--one of the 
last of the school year- -he ended the meeting by announcing 
that he was retiring. 

No one knew that he was going to retire. At least, I had 
never heard that he was going to retire. But he just announced 
that this would be his last meeting, and away he went. He 
expressed the fact to me later that he had been glad to have 
worked with me in the reference course. It wasn t that 
relationship that he was sort of fed up with, but he was glad 
to get out of the library school. 

Did he say why? 

No, he didn t say why. But I assumed it was because of what 
was going on in the Free Speech Movement then. And it was the 
beginning of the computer era, really. Swank had employed the 
first computer expert, and you could sort of see the way things 
were going to go. 



The Deanship of Raynard C. Swank, 1963-1970 

McCreery: Let s talk a little bit more about Ray Swank. Tell me how you 
first learned that he was to become dean, starting in 1963. 

Mosher: He of course was Stanford s librarian, and from the very 

beginning I had got to know him. I knew him partly because- - 
and this is another name that you really ought to check on-- 
Carolyn Curtis Mohr--you must have heard that name from Crete 
[Cubie]. She taught cataloging. She was a catalog laboratory 
teacher, but she also taught reference- -she taught government 

I got to know her at the Newberry Library. Carolyn was a 
graduate of the University of Illinois library school, came to 
the Newberry as a cataloger, and worked on the cataloging of 
the papers of the railroads that the Newberry had acquired. 
They acquired the Illinois Central Railroad papers and so on, 
and there was one member of the Newberry Library staff that 
nobody could work with- -she was an old maid, quite old- -and she 
was as unpleasant as an old maid is traditionally supposed to 
be, and it turned out that Carolyn was the only person in the 
library that could work with her. 

They moved Carolyn and this person whose name I don t 
remember up to the fifth floor, the top floor, where these 
railroad papers were housed, uncataloged, and Carolyn and this 
lady worked together up there for some years. 

She took a trip to Europe on a boat and met a former German 
air pilota Luftwaffe pilot, Gerhard Mohr--and they, through 
that experience, became married, and so she then moved out here 
to California because he had a position out here. 


McCreery : 

She became in charge of the transportation library at 
Stanford, which has quite a collection of materials about 
transportation, and therefore knew Swank and had told me about 
Swank . 

She didn t like working under Swank, but I had of course 
met Swank before, as I told you, and he offered me a position 
and I always liked him as a person. The faculty had asked him 
to teach courses in university library administration- -a number 
of times he taught and the students just thought he was great. 
Well, we could tell he was a goodwell, he couldn t help being 
a good teacher because he knew the subject and he was very 
articulate and good at teaching, so the whole faculty thought 
that he would be a good successor to Danton. 

He had a knowledge of university librarianship. He was 
very, very active in all kinds of library associations. The 
problem was that Swank didn t want to come. He had a good 
position at Stanford. Personally I don t think he was a good 
librarian at Stanford, but he had a good position, and he was 
allowed to take off any time he wanted to, and he didn t have 
any responsibilities. He had delegated most of the 
responsibilities at Stanford to his assistant, the associate 
librarian, and I don t know, but I think he also made as much 
money as he could get at teaching. 

But the faculty had decided that they really wanted Swank 
and as I understood itthis is from [Donald] Coney, with whom 
I talked about it specif ically--Coney was opposed to LeRoy 
Merritt remaining dean, because he didn t like LeRoy Merritt s 
table manners or his background- -his table manners, 
particularly, which I didn t think were so bad. At any rate, 
he thought Swank would be goodwell, here s where the 
president comes in, although I had nothing to do with it. 

President Kerr and the president of Stanford got together 
and made a deal. I don t know what Stanford got out of it-- 
maybe getting rid of Swank- -but anyway, they made a deal so 
that Swank would get an offer from the [Berkeley] library 
school that he really could not turn down- -the salary and all 
the perquisites and everything were better than anything 
Stanford could do. I guess the president of Stanford and Kerr 
just made it possible for him to become our dean. 

How do you know those two got together and discussed this? 

I don t know. That s what Coney told me, and he was the head 
university librarian. I think he knew what was going on. I 


think Coney could have made almost anyone the dean of the 
school because nobody knew what to do, really. 

McCreery: Why do you have the view that Swank was not a good university 
librarian at Stanford? 

Mosher: Well, partly through Carolyn Mohr, whom I just talked about. 
She thought he did not do well. And from my observations of 
the operations of the library, and the fact that he was so 
seldom there. His associate librarian was not really a good 
librarian, and he left everything to this not-so-good 
librarian- -lots of things. 

I talked to many members of the staff who were unhappy with 
him. And in general, it was felt that he was not a 
particularly good librarian for Stanford at that particular 
time. He had become librarian at Stanford because he had done 
a review, a survey of the library, and as a result of this 
surveywell, they asked him to become the librarian. 

So he came on the scene here. Most of us were very happy 
that he was going to be the dean, because he was known all over 
the country and he had been so important in so many different 
parts of national library work. He just knew everybody. And 
we knew he was a good teacher, so we thought this would be 

McCreery: So you had all met him from his earlier visiting appointments 
at Berkeley? 

Mosher: Oh, yes, everybody knew him. Well, of course, the Stanford 

librarians and our faculty were well acquainted with him and we 
liked him. I would have been opposed to bringing him in as a 
librarian, but I thought he could be a good dean because I saw 
only the teaching part of it, not the administration part. 

I don t think he did become a good dean. He still did the 
same thing that he did before, by spending a great deal of time 
away from his job. He wasn t here, particularly the first 
couple years or so. He just wasn t here much of the time, and 
he needed to be. He didn t want to do much teaching. I think 
it was about that time that maybe I taught the introduction 
coursethe introduction to librarianship. I m not sure about 
that, but at any rate, he refused to teach it, I think, did not 
teach that course. 

So he was not a good unifying dean. And there were lots of 
problems at the school that needed- -well, the school needed a 


dean who was there to settle problems of all kinds that were 
coming up constantly. 

McCreery: If he wasn t especially interested in teaching, what was he 
doing with his time, do you know? 

Mosher: He was on any number of committees for American Library 

Association. He and Danton together took a trip all over Asia, 
I think, visiting libraries. I ve forgotten what the point of 
this trip was, but both of them were officially gone for quite 
a while. And of course during this time he negotiated the move 
to South Hall. 



He did do many things, you know, when he was here and 
paying attention, but most of them were sort of physical, 
rather than personal. He wasn t--oh, I have a hard time trying 
to be both fair and accurate. 

He was awfully good to the history of the book courses. 
When we moved to South Hall, we got a press, we got a 
papennaking--we got space and we got types, we just had 
unlimited- -he was willing to let us get anything we needed. 
I m saying us--I m thinking of Roger Levenson, particularly. 

Perhaps you can think of examples that might illustrate your 
thoughts about him and his style? 

No, I guess I can t right now, at any rate, can t think of any 
examples. He had a quite laissez-faire policy. 

The Institute of Library Research 

McCreery: I know one of the things he did his first year as dean was to 
establish the Institute of Library Research. Can you tell me 
something about that project? 

Mosher: Yes. I think that s the beginning of the incursion of the 

computer specialist into the faculty. I think the origin of 
this is that there s a group of all the University of 
California librarians that meet I think more or less regularly. 
They as a group decided that the school ought to do something 
about the advent of the computer and its use in libraries . And 
I think that they managed to appropriate money or get a grant-- 
I can t remember the detailsbut the burden of establishing 
such a research agency was placed on Swank s shoulders: What 


needs to be done is the library school needs to start doing 
some real research as a unit. 

McCreery : 


Placed on his shoulders by whom? 

By thiswhat do they call the university librarians? 
a name for it [Library Council] . 

They had 

They, I think, managed to get--I don t know, the University 
of California or some research monies from the federal 
government--! know that it was connected with the federal 
government research grants, somehow. I don t remember how. 
The first job to establish this institute was of course to find 
someone who knew something about computers . Nobody on the 
faculty did, so a search brought out Professor [M. E. "Bill"] 
Maron, who was appointed professor and mainly head of this 
research agency, head of the Institute of Library Research. 

But he was also given professorship in the school, 
otherwise he would have never made it as a professor. We 
thought he would be employed as the director of this research 
institute, not as a teacher. 

Swank spent a lot of time finding someone. We all felt--or 
I did at the timethat it wasn t a very good choice, but of 
course [Maron] didn t know anything about libraries, to speak 

Do you recall where he came from? 

He came from southern California- -UCLA? I can t remember. 

That s okay, I just wondered. 

I used to know, of course, like the back of my hand. But he 
had his doctorate. I remember being toldwarned, I think, 
even- -by Swank, that Maron did not perform well unless he felt 
appreciated and supported, and that he gave up kind of easily. 

I did not like that for establishing a new most of us on 
the faculty, I think, were rather leery and wary of this 
Institute of Library Research. It was something that was being 
forced upon us. We hadn t asked for it. The council of 
university librarians had suggested it and gotten the money for 
it, really, and the universitywide administration was all in 
favor of it, too. 


Computers were just coming in and computers, after all, 
were information, and so that was something the library school 
needed to do something about. The university librarians got 
involved because they felt the need to know more about 
computers and libraries . They needed some actual research on 
the subject, so that they could determine how to introduce the 
computer to their libraries, because everybody saw what was 
coming. The computer was going to do a great many library 
tasks . 

McCreery: You mentioned last time that Mr. Coney, in general, was opposed 
to these kinds of changes in the library itself. 

Mosher: He was opposed to doing it too fast. 
McCreery: Too fast. Okay. Thank you for clarifying. 

Mosher: He knew that it was coming and it had- to be done, but he 
thought it should be introduced much more slowly than a 
computer person would want . 

See, Maron--! think his problem was that he knew nothing 
about libraries to speak of, and he didn t really take the time 
to learn anything about libraries. He just knew about 
computers and the problem of information. What he was 
interested in was how to organize information so that it could 
be retrieved by the computer. And that didn t have anything to 
do with libraries, that just had to do with mathematics and 
machinery and so on. That s all he was interested in. 

He was employed, we thought, primarily as a computer expert 
to come into libraries and see what was going on and what could 
be done, but his research projects were simply how do you 
arrange information so that it can be retrieved. Also, since 
the University of California librarians thought that cataloging 
was one of the most important things involved, he spent a lot 
of time trying to do cataloging by computer, or redoing the 
university catalogs by computer, so we could revise them more 
frequently. Nothing came out of it that was really helpful. 
Maybe historically it was helpful, I don t know, but he never 
did grasp the problems of libraries and how the computer could 
fit in to solve them, I think. 


Fulbright Lectureship to Denmark 
[Interview 6: April 16, 1999] ## 

McCreery: We said we would start off this morning talking about when you 
received a Fulbright that allowed you to travel to Denmark 
[1963-64]. Tell me a little bit about that. 

Mosher: It was a Fulbright that called for someone to come to the Royal 
Library School in Copenhagen and be a lecturer. The problem of 
language seemed not to bother the Royal Library School because 
the students had to know English before they were admitted to 
the library school. I later learned from Preben Kirkegaard, 
who was the rector of the library school, that I was one of 
several candidates and that he chose me because he thought I 
didn t lie about my language abilities. I indicated that I 
could read French and German, but that I couldn t speak any 
foreign language and I didn t know any Danish or Scandinavian 
language . 

He was, I thought, an excellent dean of the library school. 
I thought the library school was an excellent library school. 

My teaching duties were slight. I think I gave a lecture 
once a week to the whole school, and I held some classes in the 
history of the book. At that time, a new library schoolan 
additional library school in Denmark- -was being established at 
Arhus on the mainland-- Jutland--! think that s rightand I was 
asked to go there, oh, I think seven or eight different weeks 
to teach a course on the history of the book. That required me 
taking the overnight ferry each time, and the last time I was 
to go I think I went eight times the last time was my 
birthday, so Evelyn came with me. I always stayed overnight at 
the hotel. 

I gave a lecture and someone had discovered that it was my 
birthday it was my fiftieth birthday, which is a big birthday 
in Scandinavia so I was presented with a bottle of wine and 
had a festive dinner with the head librarian of the university 
library at Arhus. It was a very pleasant affair. 

The library school in Copenhagen had its own building 
across the city from where I was able to find a place to live. 
It was a separate building just for the library school, and the 
faculty had lunch together at noon and a sort of coffee hour or 
tea time in the afternoon right there. In other words they had 
eating and meeting facilities. 


I had an office of my own that was right next to the 
rector s office. One of the chief things they wanted me to do 
at the school was to help one of the faculty members prepare a 
bibliography of material about Scandinavia that he was working 
on. I have a copy of that right here somewhere. I have many 
copies of it, as a matter of fact. 

McCreery: Okay. Perhaps I ll borrow one. 

Mosher: The name of this [library] school professor was Erland Munch- 
Petersen. He was, oh, maybe fifteen years younger than I, but 
we struck up a good friendship. He knew English pretty well 
and could speak and so on, but he needed to learn something 
about English bibliographic vocabulary. I also knew the 
subject field pretty wellnational bibliography and subject 
bibliographyso that I could help him think of things that he 
hadn t thought of before to include in this bibliography. We 
worked on that all year together. 

We went for walks in the woods in the springtime. He and 
his wife, Evelyn and I, and Allan, my son, who accompanied us 
to Copenhagen, as did Evelyn s mother--my mother-in-law, 
Josephine Varland. We went to Munch-Petersen s house for 
dinner, and we went to Kirkegaard s house for a big dinner. 

We had rented a place to live before we went to Copenhagen, 
because someone from Berkeley, and later Davis, had spent two 
sabbatical years in the University of Copenhagen, so we talked 
with him and learned a lot about life in Copenhagen from the 
point of view of a Fulbright fellow, and we rented this place 
that he had lived in. Well, when we got there, we were rather 
disappointed in the space. Generally speaking, it wasn t as 
comfortable as we thought it ought to be, and we wanted it to 
be closer to the library school. Rector Kirkegaard devoted one 
Saturday to showing us places where we might live, and we 
decided that where we were living was better than any of those. 

We were warmly welcomed and very hospitably received all 
during the time we were there, and the lectures every week went 
well. My students all seemed to know what I was talking about, 
and I would speak slowly and deliberately until finally one 
student raised his hand while I was lecturing and said, 
"Professor Mosher, you don t have to go so slowly or articulate 
so carefully, because we re all understanding what you re 
saying," which helped. From then on it was much easier to talk 
with them. 

Every year the library school made a tour of some place. 
The whole class went somewhere. The year I was there Sweden 


was the country, and so Evelyn and I both went with Munch- 
Petersen, who was the faculty guide, to visit libraries in 
Sweden all the way up north. We were feted, of course, at 
every place and toured the libraries and were fascinated by the 
excellent library system that all the Scandinavian countries 

Sweden and Denmark had wonderful public libraries, I 
thought. I was not as impressed by their higher education 
libraries. University libraries were not governed by 
university librarians; they were run pretty much by the 
faculty, and the faculty had done a lot, of course, in the way 
of improving their selection of books, but they had 
concentrated pretty much on their own needs, and the library as 
a whole was less satisfactory as it might have been if it had 
had a librarian who was trained. 

The library school focused mainly on public librarians and 
had just a sort of, oh, I don t know what you d call it, a kind 
of half-hearted program for university librarians, because the 
school felt that university librarians were going to be mostly 
faculty and that they had to concentrate on preparing public 
and school librarians. 

The faculty of the library school had regular meetings, 
too, at which I was nearly always invited to talk or invited to 
answer questions that they had, which meant that very often I d 
be speaking for a good deal of the time during the faculty 
meeting. But they said this is what they wanted. That year 
they were trying to revamp the library school program. 

An interesting fact about the library school was that the 
curriculum was a part of the Danish law, and to change the 
curriculum you had to change the law. Therefore it had to be 
very carefully thought out and approved by the legislature. 
Therefore they were taking a lot of time to make the changes 
they thought were necessary about university librarianship, for 
one thing. 

Then, too, the computer was just beginning to make its 
appearance on the library scene. As a matter of fact, I look 
back at it now and I think most of what I told them, which was 
the description of the Berkeley library school, often, and my 
own opinionsand the computer had hardly entered into our 
thinking or our practice, whereas in just a couple years it 
would be very important- -therefore what I told them became 
quickly obsolete. I felt rather bad about that. But it all 
seemed to have turned out all right. 


I had one problem with the faculty lunches. Many of them 
didn t speak English well enough to talk about familiar 
subjects in English and so they talked in Danish. Someone was 
appointed to sit next to me to explain in English what they 
were talking about, if necessary, or just to talk with me. I 
remember about her that she was going to the university and 
working for her doctorate. She said afterwards that she had 
been reluctant to talk with me and accept this responsibility 
at lunchtime because she was to be graded on her knowledge of 
English and her ability to speak English, and the English that 
she was supposed to speak was English English, not American 
English, and she didn t want to be contaminated by American 
English. [laughter] 

McCreery: It s a very real fear. 

Mosher: Yes. And also, I ll report just because it s kind of funny, I 
think, that the women in Denmark smoke cigars. One of my 
favorite reminiscences of Copenhagen is seeing an elderly lady, 
riding a bicyclethey all rode bicyclessmoking a cigar, 
riding a bicycle down the main streets of Copenhagen. 

This librarian who sat next to me at lunchtime was gone for 
a week or two because she had fallen off her bicycle and 
injured herself. And when she came back she reported that the 
worst thing about it was that it was so embarrassing to have 
any kind of an accident on a bicycle, because as a baby you 
were put on the back of a bicycle in a basket and you used a 
bicycle all the rest of your life. You couldn t ever have an 
accident with a bicycle. 

Automobiles were few and far between because there was 100 
percent import duty on them. Denmark did not manufacture 
automobiles then. They all had to be imported and there was a 
100 percent duty on every new automobile. 

The Royal Library School; "What Americans Can Learn From the 

Mosher: Now, I could go on talking about details like that forever, I 
suppose. I don t think of anything right now that was 
especially important. I learned a great deal about European 
librarianship and European education, and a great deal about 
Denmark and Danish education while I was there. And I wrote an 
article that was published about Danish libraries, published in 


the Wilson Library Bulletin. I have plenty of copies of that 
around, too, which may be worth looking at. 

McCreery: You mentioned that the Danes were considering some changes to 
their curriculum. Do you feel you can comment on the 
differences between their curriculum at the Royal Library 
School and yours here at Berkeley at the time you were there? 

Mosher: It s kind of hard to compare the two, in a sense, because to 
enter the library school in Copenhagen, they had to have a 
credential that would admit them to higher education. They 
graduated from a middle school, passed out of high school, and 
so that they didn t go to a four-year college to have a 
bachelor s degree. Therefore, they had two years less higher 
education than did anyone who entered an American library 
school. Each of them, of course, has a bachelor s degree. So 
the [Danish] library school at that time required something 
like four years, I think, during which time they took a lot of 
subject courses as well as the library school courses. Their 
courses were organized differently, but I suppose the essential 
thing is that most of the courses were geared to public 

They also all had examinations that were prescribed by the 
state, and they had to pass these examinations in each field. 
They didn t have a course system so much as just so many 
lectures on a certainon cataloging, say, and on reference, 
and then they d take an examination in the area. So it s 
rather hard to- -I gather they were trying to make the 
Copenhagen library school, at any rate, more similar to 
American library schools. 

McCreery: It sounds as if the library schools themselves there were not 
affiliated with universities or within universities, is that 

Mosher: That s true. The Royal Library School in Denmark was a 
separate organization. That s why it had that separate 
building. It had its own separate Danish laws governing it. 
It was completely separate from the university except that a 
lot of people that taught at the university would help teach at 
the library school. 

McCreery: And the one being established at Arhus that you mentioned? 

Mosher: That was just being established. It went on and became a full- 
fledged library school, but at that time it was just a sort of 
branch of the Copenhagen library school. 


McCreery: Was there any content to your lectures or other teaching that 
seemed brand new to your students? 

Mosher: What I presented to them? 

McCreery: Yes, in other words outside the areas they normally studied in 
the library school? Again, I m just trying to seek contrast 
between the two systems. 

Mosher: I guess I can t answer that question right now. I haven t 

thought about it. This article that I was talking about, "What 
Americans can learn from the Danes," goes into detail, sort of, 
on what the differences were. 

McCreery: So I guess what I was asking was more what the Danes could 
learn from us, I suppose. 

Mosher: Yes, I don t know what that was because the history of the 

book, of course, they knew. That s what I was giving lectures 
on. Well, that isn t true. Just part of the lectures I gave 
were on the history of the book, but then each week the lecture 
was on some subjectmost of them, I think, knew what I was 
talking about. Our system, of course, is quite different from 
their system, so they were interested in that. 

McCreery: Did you feel strongly then, after this experience, that 

Americans did have a lot to learn from the Danish system? 

Mosher: Yes, I did. 
McCreery: In what way? 

Mosher: There are several different things involved here. One of them 
is that after I came back from Denmark, I was constantly asked 
by Danish librarians to indicate to the American Library 
Association that the Danish library school was equivalent to an 
American library school, and so I would have almost a form 
letter that said, "Yes, they re the equivalent," and pointed 
out the differences in what courses they took and how much time 
they d spent at the university or at the library school. 

I thought that the public librarians in Denmark were much 
better prepared for working in a public library than the 
students from our library school, at any rate. We rather 
slighted public libraries. We nearly always had someone 
teaching public libraries and being involved with public 
libraries in the state, but most of our students were preparing 
for university library work, whereas most of the students in 
the Danish library school were preparing for public libraries 


or special libraries. The Danish library school prepared 
students for any kind of library but they emphasized public 
libraries, whereas the American library school emphasized 
university libraries, mainly. So it s kind of hard to compare. 

McCreery: Yes, I see. 

Mosher: But I thought that the American library schools could learn 
from Denmark the importance of public libraries and of 
preparing students to become public librarians. 

I don t know anything else I can think of right now to talk 
about. I could say a lot of things about the experience, but-- 
oh, I went to a library conference, an annual conference of the 
Danish Library Association. I ve forgotten what it was called. 
I was at that the year I was there. I went to the conference. 
I didn t participate in it, but I observed what was going on. 
And they have an excellent associationthey did have. They 
were talking about the same sorts of things that the American 
librarians were talking about . 

McCreery: Was censorship a similar issue for them? 

Mosher: No. They weren t interested in censorship because there wasn t 
any- -nothing overt, at any rate. 

I remember the year I was there was the year that President 
Kennedy was assassinated. And at a faculty lunch the same day 
or the day after we heard about it, I wondered whether this 
wasn t going to be a problem in Denmark. Was assassination 
ever a problem in Denmark? I hadn t heard anything about it. 
Of course you know about the king and the queen and so on, but 
the real government operators, I hadn t heard about anything 
like an assassination. One of the faculty members spoke up and 
said, "No, there are no assassinations. Nobody cares enough 
about the government." [laughs] 

Everything is so prescribed. Everything would be indicated 
by the law or the curriculum of the library school. I can t 
imagine that in the United States, but there it was in Denmark. 
Everything is regulated and prescribed by the government. So 
many of them at the library school, at any rate, thought there 
wasn t any point in being too much concerned about the 
government. They just expected it to do what it was supposed 
to doprovide everyone in this country with what they got. 



McCreery: To finish up then about your time as a Fulbright lecturer in 
Denmark, we were talking a moment ago about the article you 
wrote upon returning to the U.S., "What Americans can learn 
from the Danes." What response did that article get from 

Mosher: Well, Palle Birkelund, who was the national librarian of the 
Royal Library of Denmark in Copenhagen, and who had been very 
kind to me while I was in Copenhagen and gave me the 
opportunity to use his library more or less at pleasure and do 
a lot of xeroxing and anyway helped me a great deal, decided 
that my article, "What Americans can learn from the Danes," was 
unduly critical of the scholarly or university libraries in 
Denmark. He responded with a letter that covered about three 
pages in the Wilson Library Bulletin in 1970, and this was 

I did not respond to his letter in print because I 
corresponded with the rector, Preben Kirkegaard, instead and he 
said, "Most of us agree with your article, and Herr Birkelund 
is unduly sensitive about scholarly libraries in Denmark. 
Although he s the royal librarian, he realizes their 
limitations and he tries to do something about them. He s just 
been frustrated for years and it s hard for him to take any 
criticism, partly because he knows that the criticism is 
justified." That s what Kirkegaard said. I decided I d better 
drop it and not get involved in any kind of discussion of the 
problems of scholarly libraries, and that s what I did. 

I don t profess that everything in my article was accurate, 
and I realize that I was there for only one year and it s not 
easy to learn about anything in a country as different as 
Denmark and their library system. But the criticism of the 
scholarly libraries in Denmark seemed to me to be a rather 
universal oneand it certainly was at the library school. 
Everyone I talked with at the library school felt that the 
university scholarly libraries in Denmark were not well run and 
not as useful and not as easy to use as they ought to be, that 
there were lots of gaps in collections because they weren t 
directed by properly prepared librarians. 

However, there are things to say about the opposite of 
that. Certainly it is true that the libraries obtain the 
materials and that there probably isn t anything ever printed 
in Denmark that isn t in one of the libraries, and probably in 
the Royal Library. 


Research in Denmark; Thoughts From Abroad on the Kennedy 

Mosher: That brings me to my research in the history of the book while 
I was in Denmark. You will remember that I talked about the 
project that I ve been involved in ever since coming to 
Berkeley: the printers of the sixteenth century. There seemed 
to me to be an ideal opportunity to learn about the printers of 
Denmark, and so I rather quickly got acquainted with the Royal 
Library and with what had been done on the history of printing 
in the sixteenth century- -sixteenth and seventeenth century. 
Because there was so little printing in Denmark from the 
sixteenth century, I extended it to the seventeenth century. 

There were rather few printers, but scholars had prepared 
bibliographies of every book printed in Denmark from the 
beginning of printing on to the present. There were scholars 
who had been very much involved in, and written and prepared 
books on, the history of printing in Denmark in the earlier 
periods so that, actually, I discovered eventually that a 
dictionary of Danish printers would involve mainly just 
referring to books that already had been printed in Danish. 

Mr. Birkelund, the royal librarian, when I presented what I 
was going to do to him was skeptical about it because, he said, 
everything s been done. But, he said, maybe it would be 
worthwhile for someone to go all over it and prepare a 
dictionary in English. Everything was in Danish, which made it 
unavailable to most people, so he gave me permission to use his 
library and helped me every way he could to learn about Danish 
printers of the sixteenth century. And I spent many days at 
the Royal Library collecting material, because there was 
material that had not been available when the bibliographies I 
speak of that the Danes had prepared were published. 

There s a big pile of xeroxes that I haven t been able to 
go through. The first year I was back, a library school 
student who knew Swedish very well became my research 
assistant, and she went through a lot of this material and 
organized it, but I never got back to it. So that pretty well 
covers what I did in Denmark as far as library school. 

McCreery: Let s talk about your return to Berkeley, then, in 1964. I 
wonder, though, before we do that, do you have any further 
thoughts on the assassination of President Kennedy? It s 
interesting that you were abroad at the time, and I m just 
curious what effect that had on you personally and what kind of 
discussions you saw around you at the time in fall of 63. 


Mosher: There was relatively little discussion with actual Danes, but 

Evelyn and her mother, particularly, wanted to be involved with 
a church while we were in Copenhagen. There was a church that 
met at a local YMCA in downtown Copenhagen, and we went there. 
There was also an English language service at the embassy, but 
I don t think we ever got to that because it was over by the 
first Sunday we tried to go to church, and we heard about the 
YMCA one and we went there. 

The pastor was a man by the name of William Hansen, and he 
was from the United States, of course, a Lutheran minister, and 
he d been there for almost a year at the time, I think. He had 
a church service that we thought was excellent every Sunday and 
church activities on other days, too, that both Evelyn and her 
mother were interested in, and Allan, too. Allan, I think, 
even sang in a choir that was organized. I learned about the 
assassination at a meeting of the congregation, an annual 
meeting for considering the budget and so on. The church was 
composed of people from all over, not just from America, and 
many of them were government officials or people from the 
United States embassy. One or two of them were rather 
important embassy officials. We were at this dinner when the 
news came to the dinner that the president had been 
assassinated, and several of these people left immediately for 
the embassy. 

Well, 1 don t know. I was, of course, very unhappy about 
it and very much disturbed by the loss of Kennedy because I had 
come to think of him as a really great president. I was 
impressed by him as a speaker and an explainer of what was 
going on. And of course I had voted for him and was, well, 
really delighted with a young president who was a Democrat and 
who pushed all the things I believed in. I wasn t too happy 
with some of the things he did, but I admired- -at that time I 
didn t know anything about his sex life and was just concerned 
with what he did publicly. 

I remember that we had, you know, the Danish radio. We 
didn t have any TV. The Danish radio had very little about the 
assassination and there was no report in the newspapersof 
course the reports would be in Danish, anywaybut we got the 
Herald Tribunethe European edition. I waited in line down at 
the railway station. There was a long line of people waiting 
to get the paper that reported his death and gave all the 
details. And as I said the church had a service later. 

It was hard to find out just what the reaction in the 
United States was and how things were going. Well, anything 


could have been happening, we thought, but we soon learned that 
Johnson had managed to take over more or less permanently. 

I don t remember talking with Danes about the problem. 
Most of them didn t have any idea of what it was all about. 

Returning to Berkeley and the Free Speech Movement, 1964 

McCreery: When you returned to Berkeleywas it the summer of 1964? 
Mosher: Yes. 
McCreery: What happened? 

Mosher: We flew back. We had taken the Gripsholm, a steamship, from 

New York to Copenhagen in the previous fall, in September, but 
we flew back because I had engaged to teach in the summer 
school, the summer of 1964. So the first thing to do was to 
fly to London and spend a few days in London. Then we flew to 
New York and spent some time with Evelyn s relatives in the New 
York area, and then we flew back to San Francisco. I think in 
about two days I was teaching summer school. 

This is the summer then of 1964--spring and summerjust 
before the Free Speech Movement. Also I think it was just the 
time when the University of California librarians had persuaded 
our dean, Ray Swank, to organize a library research institute. 

He was involved in that, organization and preparation of 
research on library problems that could be helped by the use of 
computers. As I recall, it involved how best to introduce the 
computer into library work. 

I don t remember much about the teaching that summer. 
I ve reported, it was always a hectic time. 


I think during the summer or early fall- -I can t remember 
datesthe beginning episodes of the Free Speech Movement 
occurred. I remember being at the Sproul Hall Plaza when Jack 
Weinberg was inside the car surrounded by students and 
everything was lots of talking going on, police around but 
there Mario Savio was talking about the freedom of speech and 
how you ought to be able to say anything on campus that you 
wanted to say. 


On the whole I agreed with what he was saying. It didn t 
seem to me right not to be able to say anything you wanted to 
say anywhere, especially on the university campus. But I 
remember being cautioned by emeriti professors, some of whom 
had offices up on the fourth floor of the library where mine 
was, that this would only lead to problems for the university, 
because if the university got involved in politics it would be 
wide open to influence from California politicians. 

I marched with the students as a great many of the faculty 
did and supported the students cause and thought that the 
administration really used the wrong methods to work with the 
students. They should not have had such a hard line against 
the students. The governor, of course, was at that time 
[Edmund G.] Pat Brown. It was the beginning of the attempt to 
sort of quell the Free Speech Movement by force, and I didn t 
approve of that at all. 

I didn t approve of the way things were going on campus. 
We could hardly operate an orderly and organized classroom 
situation and teaching situation with all the interruptions 
from police and helicopters. Shall I go on talking about that? 

McCreery: Yes, please. 

Mosher: Well, I don t know whether I did talk about any of it. I think 
I ve said I ve taught in nearly every building on campus that 
was there when I was teaching. One classroom I taught in 
frequently was overlooking Dwinelle Plaza, and in the warm 
weather you had to have the windows open. The buildings are 
not air conditioned, so there d be rioting crowd of students 
and I don t know what all out in that plaza while I was trying 
to teach. It made it extremely difficult to do so. 

But then things just got worse. Two times I particularly 
remember. One was a time I was--I can t remember teaching 
evening classes, but I must have taught in the evening, because 
I had a class in the evening and it was in the history of the 
book, some special subject of the course in the history of the 
book. We were over in the library building and the librarians 
and library of f icials--there were several of us in the group- 
asked us to go to the rare book room and stand guard because 
throngs of students were ransacking the campus, and the library 
officials were afraid that they might come to the rare book 
room which was on the first floor of the main library building 
at that time, and they would be able to come in and damage its 
contents. So of course we agreed and guarded the rare books 
until, oh, for some reason or other, it seemed to be all right. 


The library seemed to be free of possible damage and so we were 

But we didn t want to go out into the crowd. We didn t 
want to go from the campus anywhere, because it was just 
surrounded by rampaging students. One of the students had an 
apartment near the campus, and we adjourned our class meeting 
to that apartment building and stayed there until we felt that 
it was safe to go home. It was that serious. And I don t 
think any of us were easily frightened, but we didn t want to 
be out in that rioting group of students. 

The other incident I referred to was after they decided to 
disperse any group of students that seemed to be out of hand by 
tear-gassing from helicopters. On one particular day we had a 
regular faculty meeting at The Faculty Club. We had lunch 
there and we came out to go back to South Hall from The Faculty 
Club, and helicopters were going over and we got gassed by the 
helicopternot a particularly dangerous, but a very unpleasant 
experience to be tear-gassed. 

McCreery: Can you just tell me a little more about what that was like 
before you go on--the experience of being tear-gassed? 

Mosher: Well, your eyes watered and stung and you didn t want to get 
any more involved in it than you had to. It was a fairly 
localized thing. 

McCreery: How many of you were-- 

Mosher: The whole faculty of the library school were involved. We d 
just came out of The Faculty Club and met the tear gas, and I 
think went on back to South Hall without incident . And there 
wasn t anyone on the ground doing anything. 

I had something else I was going to mention and it s 
escaped my memory now. That s all a long time ago. 

McCreery: Was it another anecdote about the time of the Free Speech 

Mosher: Yes, it was. I can t pull it out of my memory right now. 

McCreery: Well, perhaps it will come back to you. Do you recall how your 
colleagues on the library school faculty received all of this 

Mosher: We all were very unhappy about its effect on our teaching and 
the conduct of the school. Everything was disrupted. 


I remember now what I was going to talk about is that I did 
from time to time have visitors to the class. Sometimes I had 
regular visitors who would come for the whole course; they just 
wanted the course. This was I think the reference course. One 
day things were so bad that classes were being canceled. It 
seemed to be a reasonable thing to do to just not bring any 
more students on campus, and there wasn t any place to teach 
properly either. I think calls were being made by students for 
canceling all classes and really disrupting the university. 

This particular day was especially a day for not holding 
class meetings, because many people thought it was too 
dangerous and also many people felt that maybe we shouldn t be 
trying to proceed normally when we could not. At any rate, I 
didn t think there d be anybody at the class, but I met the 
class anyway, and then I said that considering the conditions 
and all the problems that were going on, it seemed to me better 
to dismiss the class right away, which I did. But one of the 
people who came regularly, and she happened to come from Walnut 
Creekquite a distancewrote a very dissatisfied and unhappy 
letter, a copy of which she sent to the president or chancellor 
or somebody, complaining about my not holding that class. I 
never heard anything more about it . 


McCreery: We ve been talking on the last tape about when the Free Speech 
Movement began in the fall of 1964 after you returned from 
Denmark. Can you tell me more about meetings that the 
university community had about this issue? You mentioned 
something in the Greek Theatre? 

Mosher: While I ve been waiting to talk again, I realized that it 

probably wasn t a Free Speech Movement meeting, it probably was 
another meeting that Mario Savio invaded in a way [on December 
8, 1964]. He got to the microphone and started talking and 
police took him away from the microphone and hustled him off 
the platform. I remember that vividly because I was seated 
with the rest of the faculty. We d marched inprocessed in- 
together. I was seated not very far away, right on the 
platform and he was oh, not roughly, but simply forcibly and 
definitely taken away from the microphone and off the platform. 
That s all I can remember about that. I don t remember any 
meeting at the Greek Theatre about the Free Speech Movement . 
It doesn t come to my mind now. 

McCreery: What about other faculty meetings? 








I don t remember them. There must have been a senate meeting, 
but I don t remember it. 

That s all right. You mentioned that you marched on a number 
of occasions with the students in support of this issue. Can 
you tell me more about those events? 

There were any number of different parades through the campus, 
marches . 

Where would they start? 

I can t remember that, I just remember being a definite 
participant in marching with the students. My sympathies were 
always with students, and I thought that the administration was 
altogether wrong in the way things were being handled. 

You mentioned a moment ago that you thought that the 
administration should have handled the students differently. 
What do you think might have been more effective? 

It was autocratically handled: "This is the law. You ve got to 
obey it. Get off the campus. Don t have any meetings. Don t 
do any marches. This is all wrong and we won t allow it. 
We ll call for the troops instead." 

Which university officials were saying that, do you recall? 

The chancellor at the time was I think [Edward W. ] Strong, 
Chancellor Strong, whom I admired very much. He was a member 
of the philosophy department as I recall. Well, I liked him 
and I had heard him talk, but he hadn t been chancellor very 
long, I think, or he was brought back as chancellor as an 
interim sort of thing. 

At this time I was a member of the board of a church- 
related group, the Wesley Foundation of the Trinity United 
Methodist Church. They had their own building right next to 
Trinity, and I had been a member of that board for a long time. 
I got to know the pastor in charge and he and a group of the 
students were very much involved and indeed wrote- -well, I 
can t remember all that they were doing, but they were very 
much involved with the Free Speech Movement. I think that they 
insisted on having a table on Sproul Hall Plaza and doing 
everything that they weren t supposed to do to object to the 
way the administration was handling the situationthat is 
simply arbitrarily, making everybody stop the Free Speech 
Movement. I remember walking with the Wesley Foundation pastor 


in a march with other students, all over that area the south 
campus area--in support of the Free Speech Movement. 

There were other marches through the campus that were not 
connected with the Wesley Foundation that I participated in, 
too. It was as a result of being in one of these marches that 
the older professors cautioned me that it was going to be bad 
for the university if politics entered the campus. 

McCreery: Did you feel that you had missed a lot by being gone the 
previous year? 

Mosher: No, I hadn t thought about that. I didn t realize that much 

was going on. Well, nothing had been going on the year before 
I left, and it was, I suppose, partly one of the results of the 
political situation involving the assassination of Kennedy. We 
were really out of the picture [while in Denmark]. We didn t 
know what was going on on the campus at all, but nothing had 
been reported to me about the university being involved. 

McCreery: Just to return to the idea of what the administration might 
have done dif ferently-- 

Mosher: I think that the administration should have immediately 

realized that the university campus is not a place where you 
can t speak freely about anything. It should have immediately 
said, "Well, you can do what you want to on campus," and that 
would have sure taken the steam out of things. 

But when they started arguing about whether the sidewalk 
was free speech territory, and one step farther on campus was 
not free speech territory, and objecting to students having 
tables on the university campus distributing stuff --politics or 
no politics, it seemed to me that that was--if the university 
had simply given right away, as it seemed to me then any 
reasonable person should agree- -the university campus should be 
one place where you can speak freely. 

The only reason for the rules against it were to keep the 
university out of politics. Well, the Free Speech Movement 
made that absurd. Then to go ahead and stubbornly insist that 
the campus was no place for political meetings or political 
propaganda of any sort would seem to me to be absurd. And it 
could have been stopped if someone at the top had simply said, 
"Well, that s the situation and you can do anything you want to 
on campus except disturb the conduct of the university 
routines. " 

McCreery: How was Mario Savio as a spokesman for this cause? 


Mosher: I don t believe that I ever attended a meeting at which he was 
the featured speaker. He wasn t allowed to talk at the Greek 
Theatre, so I didn t really ever get a chance to be influenced 
by him. It wasn t Savio I was interested in. I didn t really 
care what he was saying. It was simply that he was being 
forbidden to say something that I was concerned about. 

I thought he and the nuclear physics Free Speech Movement 
students were also at fault for having used an illegitimate and 
forceful means of making their cases when they could have met 
with the administration and worked out some method that would 
enable the Free Speech Movement to gain its objectives and also 
the university. 

McCreery: Which of their tactics did you find excessive? 

Mosher: The students? Oh, well, their disruption of the university was 
certainly unacceptable and unnecessary. It wouldn t have been 
necessary for the National Guard to come into the campus and 
all that rigmarole. That, I think, the students pushed too 
far, and unnecessarily so. It just gave the state 
administration the opportunity to come in and sort of take over 
the campus, unnecessarily. 

We didn t need National Guard, we didn t need tear gas, we 
didn t need any of this stuff if the two parties had simply 
talked with each other and if the administration had given in 
to what seemed to me to be a very reasonable request. Seemed 
to me, most people thought that: "Why shouldn t the university 
campus be open for political discussion or religious discussion 
or any kind of discussion?" But both sides were adamant about 
it- -students were going to invade the campus for their 
political purposes and the administration, backed by the state 
government, was going to keep them off the campus. And it was 
completely unnecessary, I think. 

McCreery: Once the National Guard was brought it, specifically what 
effect did that have? 

Mosher: You know, I don t know. I think that probably it stopped the 
violent parts of the students objection. From the point of 
view of quelling disorder and disruption of the campus, it 
worked, particularly since they didn t, as at other 
universities, fire at the students. 

Well, anyway, it was all very, very much disruptive, and we 
really couldn t teach effectively or well. You could hardly 


make grades for students. You didn t know whether they 
couldn t come to campus to take exams or whether they couldn t 
do this or that in the library. And you, yourself--!, at any 
rate, was disturbed and unhappy about the whole thing and found 
it very hard to concentrate on what I was supposed to be doing. 

McCreery: Let s talk about the resolution of this issue, as you saw it. 

Mosher: I don t know what the resolution was. I just saw how it all 
just evaporated. I don t know why or how. I can t remember 

McCreery: But then the precedent for free speech was set. 

Mosher: Yes. Finally the students just refused to give up. Part of it 
was I think that they did establish that the sidewalk there on 
Bancroft [Way] was open for public use and the university could 
not prevent students from having tables there, so they began to 
have tables there. Gradually we discovered that this wasn t 
such a horrible thing. 

And thenlet s see, I ve forgotten what chancellor it was 
who came in with a more reasonable approach. I don t think 
there was any abrupt change, it was just a gradual change. 
[Albert C.] Bowker, I think, was the chancellor who decided 
that, "Well, we better get along with the students rather than 
fight them." 

The Firing of President Kerr 

McCreery: Was Dr. Kerr, as university president, visible on this issue to 
your knowledge? 

Mosher: Of course he was--he didn t seem to be as much involved as the 
chancellors, but he I think supported what the chancellors were 
doing. I never could quite understand that. I thought Kerr 
ought to have seen the possibilities and worked more with the 
students, but I don t know, I didn t ever talk with him about 
it. I didn t know what his position was except as it was 
reported in the papers. And it seemed to me, as a member of 
the administration that I m complaining about, he was certainly 
the top man. 

Of course he had a real problem because the business of 
state politics coming into the campus was made very clear by 


the fact that he was fired by the board of regents on the 
behest more or less, I think, of Governor Reagan. 

McCreery: Yes. That happened a little later-- 1967--but why don t you 
talk a little bit about of how you learned of his firing and 
what you thought. 

Mosher: I thought it was a very bad thing for the university for the 
board of regents to fire a president for nothing except 
political purposes, really. It was a very bad step in the 
wrong direction. Everybody I knew thought that Kerr was a good 
president and that he was being fired simply because he had 
interfered with the state administration wanting to control the 

Of course, we knew at that time that Reagan was gaining a 
lot of good publicity with a lot of citizens of the state who 
thought that the campus was being disrupted by Communists and 
violence. This was good publicity for him and resulted in his 
winning elections. He gained the favor of the state by the way 
he quelled the Communist violence on the campus. It was all 
Communist, of course, from the point of view of a lot of 
people: Most university faculty were Communists, or Communist 
sympathizers anyway, and it took strong measures like Reagan s 
to stop it. 

McCreery: Do you feel the public really held that view at the time? 

Mosher: A lot of them did, yes. I don t see any other reason for the 
popularity of Reagan in the state. I have never seen any 
reason for his popularity at all, not even on the screen, 
[laughter] But his stand against Communists was important in 
his popularity with the average citizen voter who was afraid of 
Communism taking over all our institutions. It always seemed 
to me such an unhappy and difficult thing. What the anti- 
Communists were doing was exactly what-- [phone ringstape 

McCreery: Go ahead. 

Mosher: They were making the United States more Communistic, in my 

point of view, by denying people freedom to do almost anything 
for fear of being called Communistic. They were using 
Communist methods to "fight Communism," but really to disrupt 
the democratic way of life. 

McCreery: There s an irony there, isn t there? 


Mosher: Yes, there sure is. In fact, it s a good thing things worked 
out the way they did. 

McCreery: Did Dr. Kerr s firing come as a surprise? 

Mosher: Oh, yes, I was surprised. I think most people were surprised 

that he had been dismissed. And I personally didn t think that 
the board of regents would dare to dismiss the presidentif he 
had been an ardent supporter of the Free Speech Movement, that 
would have been one thing, but he wasn t very much involved 
either way, publicly. It was simply that he was the president 
of a university, particlarly Berkeley, that was being made an 
impossible place for students to learn, and therefore he was 
"incompetent," and somebody should replace him who knew how to 
handle the situation better. Well, we probably should have put 
in a general of the army instead of a university person. 

However, the Berkeley campus settled down. The Free Speech 
Movement had won out. Nobody paid any attention to that, and 
Governor Brown had failed to quiet the university, except for 
quelling the violence that he mainly was responsible for. And 
I think there was only one yearone or two years therethat 
was really bad. I guess that was 64, or 65. After that, 
everything seemed to return pretty much to normal. 

Civil Rights and Other Concerns of the 1960s 

McCreery: That was the same year, 1964, that President Johnson was 

reelected. Can you comment on how you think the turmoil on 
campus might have related to larger events in the country? 

Mosher: No, I can t because I don t have any thoughts about it. I do 
know, of course, that it wasn t just a local situation. 
Campuses all over the country were involved in what they called 
the Free Speech Movement, which led to at Kent State 
particularly what I would call a murder of students. In my 
opinion, it s all involved with the anti-Communist movement. 

I don t think it was involved with the Vietnam War and with 
President Johnson s it was too early for the Vietnam War and 
Johnson was acting as president in a way that seemed to me to 
be good. He managed to put through Congress a great deal of 
legislation that needed to be acted upon. 

McCreery: Yes, "The Great Society" and so on. 


Mosher: Yes, well, and all the civil rights. 
McCreery: Yes, the Voting Rights Act, 1965, for example. 

Mosher: Yes. But that seemed to have little effect. They paid no more 
attention to that here in Berkeley than any other presidential 
--although it was beginning, of course, to affect what soon 
became a very important and active concern about civil rights 
in this country. 

The fact that black men had been denied full citizenship 
for a century was beginning to make itself felt all over, 
especially on university campuses, I think. Lots of students 
became involved in the civil rights. I m not sure the year 
that the civil rights demonstrations in the South were going on 
and the lady refused to sit in the back of the streetcar. 

McCreery: Rosa Parks? 

Mosher: Yes. Well, when that happened, I m not sure what year it was, 
but there were a lot of students and people associated with the 
university who went down there and marched. But that didn t 
have a campus problemit didn t seem to, at any rate. It 
didn t interfere with any of my teaching or research 
activities. I knew people who went, and I was all for giving 
everybody in the United States all the civil rights anyone else 
had, but it didn t affect my teaching. 

More on Dean Swank and the Institute of Library Research 

[Interview 7: April 23, 1999] ## 

McCreery: When we were talking, I think two times ago, about when Mr. 
Swank became the new dean of the library school, I know that 
you had some pretty clear thoughts on the effects of his 
deanship and changes he was interested in making at the school. 
We were talking, in particular, about the Institute of Library 
Research, which he inaugurated during the first year he was 
dean, and I wonder if you could tell me a little bit about what 
you know on how that institute came into being. 

Mosher: The [head] librarians of the University of California 

[campuses] had an association [Library Council] and met at 
least annually, probably. They decided that they were all 
facing the same problem as far as the advent of the computer 
was concerned and that they needed some facts on how they might 


include the computer and its use into their libraries. They 
felt that the library school ought to do some research on using 
computers in libraries to teach them how best to incorporate 
it. They suggested that an Institute of Library Research be 
established by the library school or in the library school to 
conduct this research that would enable them to make the right 
decisions about using the computer in library work. 

Therefore they contacted Dean Swank and asked him to set up 
this institute. The faculty and Swank agreed that this was a 
good idea, that very little was known about the use of the 
computer in libraries, and it seemed to all of us that it was 
going to be very important to libraries. So we agreed to set 
up this institute and gained permission to do so, and looked 
for a director of the institute who would be able to help the 
library school conduct the right research and to understand 
more about the computer and its use. 

Dean Swank conducted the search and came up with the name 
of Professor Maron, who was then somewhere in southern 
California and who had been on a research project concerning 
the use of the computer to store and provide information. Dean 
Swank decided finally that he was the right man, and the 
faculty approved his selection. He was made not only the 
director of this new institute but also a full professor in the 
school of librarianship. 

He proceeded to prepare proposals for grants for the 
institute, to help the institute conduct the research that the 
university librarians would like to have. He did make several, 
I think, proposals and was granted money which was available 
through the federal government at that time and proceeded to 
set up research studies that I never fully understood and also 
employed a small staff to help him with doing what he needed to 

Now the faculty of the school and I, in particular, thought 
that what we wanted from Mr. Maron was information on how to 
incorporate the computer- -a study of the computer and its use 
in libraries from a computer expert. I think we did not 
realize how little Professor Maron knew about libraries and 
were rather appalled at how little he wanted to learn about 
libraries. He simply wanted, it seemed to me, to conduct 
research on how to store and retrieve information without 
paying attention to the use of computer in libraries. 

But I wasn t in on the inner thoughts of this research 
institute at all. Its operation and its research subjects and 


so on were never approved or discussed by the faculty as a 
whole. What we wanted was someone who knew about computers to 
tell us how computers could be used in librarieswhat the best 
way was to teach about computer use in libraries. We got very 
little of that because Mr. Maron was uninterested, it seemed to 
me, in that problem. He couldn t very well tell us about the 
use of the computer in libraries because he didn t know enough 
about libraries. 

Well, the institute went on. It had millions of dollars in 
grants, it seems to me. It helped the University of California 
at Berkeley library do something to the catalogput it on 
computer or something- -which didn t seem to help matters 
anywhere, except that the library catalog was on computer. The 
details of all this are very vague to me. I m not sure exactly 
what was happening except that no one seemed very much pleased 
or no one seemed to think that millions of dollars had been 
spent for any worthy purpose, as far as I could gather. 

Gradually everyone lost interest in and hope for the 
Institute of Library Research, and eventually it was disbanded. 
Professor Maron became not the director of the Institute of 
Library Research but a full professor on the School of 
Librarianship faculty, where he was not of much use, it seemed 
to me, because he didn t know enough about libraries to teach 
about them. But he did teach courses in computers for 
librarians . 

The most important course, I gather, that he taughtthe 
one that had the most enrollment --was a course for 
undergraduates outside the library school on how to use a 
computer or something of that sort. And of course he was 
conducting research, again on storage and retrieval of 
information. I never did understand what it was all about and 
I don t know whether he ever solved any problems or whether he 
had advanced knowledge in that field or not. 

It seemed to me that he became just an extra position on 
the faculty that didn t really contribute much to the purpose 
of the school, but he stayed on until he retired, not really 
contributing much of anything and certainly not giving the 
School of Librarianship much information about how to educate 
or prepare librarians for the computer s use in libraries. 

Oh, I can t think of their names, even, nowof two or 
three people who were full-time assistants to him. I never 
understood exactly what their purpose was either. I think most 
of the regular faculty felt the same way I did, that this was 


just something that was not going to be useful to anybody and 
the sooner we got rid of it, the better. 

McCreery: Were any of the other regular faculty directly involved in the 
institute s work? 

Mosher: No, not that I know of. But then Maron was the only member of 
the faculty who knew anything about computers, really. 

McCreery: Do you know if the UC librarians whose idea this was continued 
to be involved at all after the institute was established? 

Mosher: Yes. I don t know the details of the arrangement, but I know 
that the Institute of Library Research was responsible to the 
whole university administration, not just to the library 
school. It was organized in the library school. 

Of course, at this time there was also a UCLA library 
school, which was represented on a committee which oversaw the 
Institute of Library Research. But as far as I can tell, it 
never made any contribution of importance, and everyone seemed 
eventually to agree that this wasn t going to go anywhere, was 
not going to do what the university librarians wantedwhich 
was probably something that couldn t be done by so-called 
research; it was just something that had to gradually be worked 

But I don t know. I don t think that the School of 
Librarianship made any important contribution to making the 
computer more available and more useful to libraries. Nor did 
we find a good way--at least not immediately- -a good way of 
teaching about computers in libraries. But this also gradually 
changed, and although the Institute of Library Research was 
discontinued, new faculty members were brought in who knew 
about computers, and courses were established about storage and 
retrieval of information using the computer. 

Faculty and Student Interest in Computers for Librarianship 

Mosher: William Cooper came for about a year, I think, from somewhere 
else and taught--he also was supposed to help us decide how to 
merge computers and libraries. After that initial period, he 
was brought permanently to the faculty as a professor in 
storage and retrieval of information, and he taught courses and 
was doing research, again on storage and retrieval of 
information, rather than the use of the computer in libraries. 


McCreery : 

Mosher : 

Again, I never did understand what he was doing, although I 
listened to his explanations. I just didn t know enough, 
evidently, to understand what his research was. But something 
must have been important, because he got grant after grant to 
continue what he was doing and special grants so that he could 
spend a whole year just on his research, which as far as I 
know, never gotwell, it was published, but it had precious 
little, if anything, to do with the use of the computers in 

But some students came into the school to study computer 
use in libraries. One of them was Michael Cooper, who was 
awarded a doctorate by the school under Maron and William 
Cooper. He started organizing courses for the first-year 
library school students on the use of computers and became very 
effective, it seemed like, in getting a program going of 
courses that students could take that would teach them more 
about how computers could best be used in libraries. 

Gradually, too, we began to incorporate the use of 
computers in our teaching. The cataloging courses, for 
example. Crete Fruge [Cubie] learned how to use the computer 
for cataloging and had special sections of the cataloging 
courses on how to catalog by means of the computer. By this 
time, of course, the computer, internationally and certainly 
nationally, was beginning to be used for cataloging books, and 
so the cataloging departments had to have computers. Reference 
courses didn t pay much attention to the computer because so 
very few libraries would have any computer that you could use 
for reference purposes. We, of course, paid attention to the 
fact that the computer was being used to update and publish 
reference materials, but it didn t seem to be particularly 
important, so we in the reference courses stuck to books pretty 
much and paid little attention to computers. 

Going back to the institute for just a moment, was Dean Swank 
aware of the concerns of you and other faculty members about 
the institute s work? 

Oh, I think he was, although he was never as negative about it 
as most of the rest of us were. He once said to me--or to a 
group of usthat his success as dean would depend largely on 
the success of the Institute of Library Research, because he 
had set it up, and he had got Professor Maron, and he had 
thought he had arranged for it to be what it was intended to 

So I think this was one of the reasons why he didn t want 
to be dean any longer. Eventually he resigned as dean, which 


is just unheard of, partly because the Institute of Library 
Research failed. It really did fail. It just dropped out. 
There seemed to be no reason for continuing it. It had to have 
a lot of money, and it had to have the right people. I don t 
think the right people ever came along, and the money began to 
disappear. The federal government is never a very good source 
of steady income. And at one point it had lots of money for 
storage and retrieval of information and the next year it 
didn t have any, so I think most of us were glad it 

However, in nameand perhaps part of Maron s appointment 
and somebody else, tooit hung on for quite a while. Some 
people, particularly Dean [Michael K.] Buckland when he came 
inhe always has wanted to keep that institute alive so that 
it could be reformed and begin to carry out its original 
purpose. But I think he felt that the reason for its failure 
was that there weren t any people on the regular faculty, or 
enough people on the regular faculty, interested in the 
Institute of Library Research. So it just was sort of a 
sideline and left these people who didn t know anything about 
libraries and were not really considered a very permanent part 
of the faculty. 

A Split Faculty at the School; Changes to the Curriculum, 1960s 

Mosher: This is when a real split in the faculty of the library school 
began, I think: Those who were in favor of emphasizing 
computers and those who felt that not enough was known yet 
about the use of computers in libraries to emphasize them more 
than we were. We were very gradually incorporating the 
computer into our courses, but we weren t in favor of just 
throwing everything out and teaching about the computer and its 
potential for eliminating many library materials and much of 
library work, perhaps. 

I know that Professor Maron, right from the beginning--! 
said he didn t know much about libraries. As soon as he became 
a faculty member he retired from the institute and became a 
full-time professor he would keep predicting that in ten 
years this was twenty or more years ago libraries would 
disappear and the computer would take over. He wasn t at all 
interested in preparing libraries for the computer; he just 
thought the computer was going to make such a difference that 
libraries wouldn t exist any longer, which most of us didn t 
believe thought it was a pretty poor belief for a library 


school, anyway, because we were trying to prepare people to 
work in libraries as they existed. And libraries as they 
existed were not very dependent on computers, yet. 

McCreery: Was this issue much discussed at your faculty meetings in the 
sixties when Mr. Swank was dean? 

Mosher: No, it s strange, this particular problem never became a matter 
of debate, because it was clearly obvious that there were 
several who felt this way--Maron, particularly. He was the one 
who had been brought in to tell us what was to be done. The 
rest of the faculty all objected to it--or many of them did 
and nobody ever brought it up in faculty meetings. We never 
discussed it. It was just--there it was. 

So many people thought that library education should 
continue as it was, and others who thought it ought to be 
completely changed never completely discussed it and debated 
it, or brought it out in the open. It was in the matter of 
appointing new faculty and adding new courses that this 
division came out in the open. Some people, you could count on 
their voting one way and other people would definitely vote the 
other way on these things . It usually was enough so that the 
faculty really was split and unable to get togetherreally 
formally enough- -to accomplish much of anything. 

I might as well go back and mention Dean Swank again. I 
worried about his being an effective dean because he had not, I 
thought, been a good administrator of the Stanford Library. I 
think my fears were justified, because he acted as dean just 
the way he acted as the librarian at Stanford. He was gone 
most of the time. He just wasn t there when you needed him. 
During the Free Speech Movement, for example, he was more often 
gone than present. He was traveling all over the world and 
going to Washington frequently and spending large portions of 
his time in perfectly justifiablehe had a lot of 
responsibilities to the profession as a whole, but he shirked 
his responsibility, it seems to me, as dean of the library 
school. He wasn t there to direct and organize and handle such 
problems as we ve just been talking about. 

We needed a dean right there making- -well, I m not sure 
whether he had a definite idea as to just what ought to be done 
in the school, anyway. He came to the deanship of the school 
from a library, not a library school. He had not had any 
experience at a library school as a regular library school 
faculty member. I don t think he realized how necessary it was 
to have a guide and a leader and someone who was personally 
involved in the everyday events of the library school, not only 



Mo she r: 

events but plans and discussions and problems of the library 

As a teacher I still thought he was very, very good, but as 
a dean I thought he neglected the school. That s what I m 
trying to say. He was not there on the spot when he was needed 
a great deal of the time. 

Now, I think he could have also had a firmer grip on the 
Institute of Library Research problems. I think that he did 
not make Maron understand just what the school needed from him. 
But this is sheer speculation on my part; I don t really know 
what happened between Maron and Swank. I do know that he told 
me, or somebody did, but I think it was he who told me that he 
had been told before Maron was appointed that Maron liked to 
feel appreciated and liked to be respected by his colleagues, 
and if he weren t appreciated and admired and respected, he d 
be likely not to do well. He needed a group in support of him. 

This he did not have in the library school. He just did 
not have that kind of support, and I think it was his own 
fault. But if that s the problemone of his problems it 
certainly made a difference in the success of the institute. I 
would have thought that since the faculty wasn t consulted 
about most of the institute s problems and proposals and so on, 
that at least Swank would be. I don t know how much 
consultation there was. I don t think that Swank kept Maron on 
the right track of doing what the university librarians wanted 
the institute to do. This is all just my opinion from having 
served on the faculty at that time. 

I wasn t unhappy to see the institute go, because it seemed 
to me to be taking a lot of time and effort and money that the 
school might have been used more wisely. 


We were just talking about the time when all this discussion of 
computerization and so on was becoming widespread and having 
quite an effect on the faculty at Berkeley. I wonder, what do 
you think was the effect of this split you ve described on 

I m not sure. I don t think it had too much effect on 
students. Of course, that s talking as though every student 
were the same as every other student. Some students came to 
the library school anxious and eager and wanting to learn as 
much as they could about computers and wanted to learn about 


using them for library work, and others were completely 
uninterested in the advent of the computer. 

But one of the first evidences of the computer s influence 
on our library school was that before, say, 1964 or whenever it 
was Maron was appointed, we had a fixed regular curriculum- - 
required curriculum- -everybody had to take. We knew exactly 
what everyone was to take before he finished library school. 
And the faculty was agreed that these were the required 
courses. They had to know this before they should be graduated 
from the library school. 

But shortly thereafter, very soon, we began to eliminate 
one required course after another: "Oh, these aren t necessary 
or this isn t necessary. The computer s going to change all 
this or maybe it will." 

We just all began to realize that we weren t at all sure 
about the future of libraries, what kind of person the next 
generation librarian ought to be--what kind of training he 
should have had, or education. And so we continued to offer 
the courses, but we always decided, well, this person is coming 
in for a purpose that may have nothing to do with reference or 
with cataloging or with the history of the book or selection of 
books, all the required courses. We couldn t see any reason 
for requiring them all to everyone because there were so many 
different institutions they might be going into. Or the basic 
library might change so much that these courses would not be 

I never agreed with that myself, but I could see the point 
was brought up by other members of the faculty that this is 
true. There could be people who wouldn t need this required 
course. For example, they wouldn t have to have a knowledge of 
the history of the book or the history of libraries. 

But I felt that one of the most important contributions of 
a library school was to inculcate in the students a knowledge 
of the history of libraries and librarianship and an 
understanding of the importance of the profession- -to make them 
proud of being librarians rather than sort of abashed about it. 
So many librarians felt hesitant to admit they were librarians 
and I thought, particularly, that if the students knew the 
history of libraries and librarianship, they would feel much 
better about their professionfeel much better about 
themselves and also feel much better about their position in 
the community. 


Stereotypes About Librarians and Library Work; Gender and 

Mosher: This came about partly because of the knowledge that very often 
in community struggles about freedom of the library, 
intellectual freedom, librarians would hesitate because they 
felt that to express their views and be forceful about 
demanding the rights because they thought well, the rest of the 
community thought librarians were just unimportant clerks. 

As a matter of fact, one of the most difficult problems 
that a library school student had to face, in a sense, was that 
whenever they were asked what they were doing and saying going 
to library school, "Well, why do you have to go to school in 
order to check books in and out?" That was standard. 

We felt that a knowledge of the history of libraries and of 
librariansand the fact that it was a profession of importance 
and libraries couldn t get along without professional 
librariansneeded to be brought to the attention of library 
school students, at any rate. So I was particularly reluctant 
to let courses like the introduction to librarianship, as well 
as the history of libraries courses, just be eliminated. 

I started out talking about that because these courses that 
emphasized the importance of libraries and librarainship 
gradually were eliminated from the required curriculum, or the 
recommended curriculum, even. No one needed to feel ashamed of 
being a librarian but rather they should be proud of it. That 
was one of the reasons that kept me in library school. 

Another reason that made me think library schools were an 
essential part of this whole thing was the importance of 
belonging to associations of librarians and encouraging 
librarians to make themselves professionally important in the 
scholarly world. That doesn t really jive with the fact that I 
did notin my later career at any rate pay much attention to 
library associations, but I always in teaching, every year, 
would recommend and urge students to join library associations. 
Don t do what I do, but do what I say, I guess. [laughter] 

McCreery: Just to explore this theme a little further, what do you think 
is the source of this idea that librarianship is not a very 
deep profession and that the people in it are not forceful, 
opinionated, active people? 

Mosher: Well, I think there s a lot of truth in it, of course. What 
the source is, I don t know. I think that the public in 



Mosher : 

general sees librarians only when they get a book. Very few of 
them ever go into a library and ask a question, as a matter of 
fact. They don t see what goes on in cataloging, they don t 
see what goes on in ordering and book selection. They don t 
see all the inner operations of the library that are required 
in order for that collection of books to be there. All they 
see is someone stamping books in and out. And of course those 
people are not librarians, generally. 

Then librarians probably tendwell, there s no probably 
about it--anyone attracted to librarianship, in former years, 
at any rate, was probably attracted to libraries by books. 
They were interested in books, they liked books, they weren t 
interested in football or music or medicine or anything else. 
They were interested in books. That s why they wanted to be 
librarians. And I think that in our American tradition, at any 
rate, this is not something the general public looks up to-- 
"Oh, he s a bookish person." 

Very often, too, I think that librarians have been mostly 
of the female sex. And the female sex--it s very unfortunate 
that women have been looked down upon, in general, by 
Americans. There were very few professions dominated by women, 
and librarianship was one of them. Both teachers and 
librarians are sort of looked down upon by the general public 
because they re mostly female, and therefore- -we know what the 
general public thinks about women, because women weren t even 
given the vote until 1920. 

So that s part of it. You re identifying with a 
professionI m thinking, of course, particularly of the men- 
identifying with a profession that is largely inhabited by and 
governed by women and what they do. Therefore, it s a 
profession that is not one to be looked up to particularly and 
not one that we want to get into. 

Do you know, was the profession of librarianship making any 
active attempts to educate the public more about what it does? 

I don t know of any. Probably there ought to be. Of course, 
the founders of the profession and the professional 
organizations and so on were all men, mostly, which brings up 
another problem that I can t solve and don t understand very 
well, but it is certainly gradually improving. Again, I m not 
sure about it, because it s still, I think, thought in lots of 
places that a [head] librarian ought to be a man, not a woman 
just because the profession is considered to be female. Also 
because it s still part of the tradition, I think, that only a 
man can administer an institution properly. 


McCreery: I know we have a lot of discussions today about gender issues, 
and our ways of thinking about these things are quite different 
now. As you think upon your teaching at the library school in 
the fifties and the sixties, let s say, were gender issues 
discussed much at that time? 

Mosher: No, I don t think so. It didn t come up in my courses, at any 
rate. I don t know what someone teaching public library 
administration, for example, might have said about this, but it 
didn t seem to be a particularly important problem. 

Back at the time of the fifties and sixties, the library 
school and library profession was interested in getting as many 
people into the profession as possibleget them to the point 
where they could work in libraries. People weren t really 
clamoring to become librarians, and yet we always had a great 
many applications for students in the school. We had maybe 500 
applications and we could take only 100. We always had 
hundreds more than we could accept . 

I don t know, I don t think there were any guidelines about 
how many of them ought to be women or how many men, however I 
think that, likely enough, being male was an advantage in 
getting admitted to the school, because there were so few men 
in the profession and any man who wanted to become a librarian 
we would probably admit, although admission requirements and 
standards and so on were widely different from year to year. 

I don t think that we made a conscious effort to restrict 
student body to any sex or any background of any sort. For 
example, a young man who had a Ph.D. in chemistry decided he d 
like to become a librarian and applied late, after most people 
had been accepted. Because he was a Ph.D. in chemistry and 
wanted to become a librarian and was a personable young man, we 
admitted him. I think probably a personable young woman with 
the same qualifications also would have been admitted. I don t 
think there ever was any feeling, "Well, that s a woman and we 
won t admit her," but I think there was a feeling, here was a 
man, we probably need more men, so we will admit this person. 
Again, I didn t see most of the applications for admission to 
the school. 


Dean Swank and His Programs ; More on the Faculty Split Over 

McCreery: Let s talk some more about Mr. Swank s tenure as dean. You 

suggested that he was measuring his success by the success of 
the Institute for Library Research. 

Mosher: That s what he said pretty much. 

McCreery: Or that was mentioned in any event. Do you think of other 
major changes to the school and its operation that you 
associate with his time as dean? 

Mosher: Yes, of course the move to South Hall was one of them. I think 
I may have discussed that before. We were going to California 
Hall, that had been assigned to us, and then South Hall became 
available while Dean Swank was about 1970, I think it was, and 
it seemed he put a great deal of time and effort into making 
sure that we were granted South Hall as the library school 
building and achieved that. I think South Hall was clearly an 
achievement: Dean Swank gave us a visible separate identity on 
campus. I think we discussed the fact that most people on 
campus didn t even know there was a library school. If you 
were in the university library you were a librarian, not a 
faculty member. So it was important, I think, for the school. 

I mentioned this before, that it was also bad for the 
school because it removed us from the scenes of the library 
activity. But I presume that on the whole it certainly did 
establish more of an identity for the library school on campus. 
And we had a great deal more room to work with. And of course 
the library got rid of us and had more room for library 

McCreery: Did that change the school s relations with the library staff? 

Mosher: It didn t as far as I was concerned. I was working with the 
staff constantly, and everything was the same as before. 

McCreery: Then aside from the move to South Hall, other things that you 
particularly associate with Mr. Swank and his leadership? 

Mosher: He was very sympathetic toward the history of the book and our 
needs for space for our program. He was all in favor of our 
laboratory courses and making paper and printing and assembling 
books and so on, and provided us with the necessary funds to 
get the kind of laboratory equipment that we needed. 


I think on the whole the last three or four years of his 
tenure he was at the library school much more steadily and 
regularly and began to, I think, understand. 

He also changed the curriculum. He wanted to develop a new 
curriculum with definite divisions and definite courses. And 
he did propose it and I think we did adopt it, but it was 
something that just went by the way very quickly because 
everything was changing. But he did consider and work with the 
faculty in developing a really standard curriculum of courses 
in all areas of the school. He also divided the school s 
curriculum into areas, and it all was very logical and made a 
great deal of sense, and we approved it, as part of the 
elimination of required courses, however. I don t know whether 
eventually it made much difference at all, but he spent quite a 
bit of time on curriculum development. 

McCreery: I d like to return to this idea of a split among the faculty 
once computerization became such a presence in the school and 
its curriculum. I m thinking about the morale and the sense of 
a common purpose. What were the effects among the faculty 
members, both the existing ones and the new ones? 

Mosher: I thought it was pretty bad because, I mean, the division was 
there and it was felt and while hardly ever expressed, it was 
constantly in the thinking of and in the decision-making of the 
faculty. We almost never reached unanimous agreement on 
anything. There would always be two or three opposed to 
whatever we wanted to do or whatever was proposed to be done. 
At first, of course, it would be just two or three interested 
in information and the rest of the faculty would be opposed, 
but still, two or three could prevent a unanimous decision on 
anything . 

It was just unhappy feeling on everyone s part that, well, 
this is not a united faculty. It s a faculty that doesn t know 
what it wants, doesn t know where it s going, can t decide what 
the curriculum ought to be, and they can t make up their minds 
about a new faculty member. Every time a problem of a new 
faculty member came up, it was a real- -never expressed, but 
very firm determination on one side or the other: well, not 
this person. 

McCreery: How long did this division last? 

Mosher: Well, as long as I was there. I don t know. It became 

increasinglyat first it was very one-sided. The old faculty 
members, my group, were overwhelmingly more numerous, but by 
the time I retired in 1981, I guess it was, there were more and 


more on the side of computerization, of disregarding libraries 
as the purpose of the school. Preparing people to work in 
libraries was the original purpose of the school, but it became 
less and less important the longer I was on the faculty. More 
and more of the faculty members thought that it didn t matter 
whether a faculty member had library experience or not. "What 
we want is someone who knows something about how to use 
computers and how to store and retrieve information. And what 
the school ought to be doing is pushing the research in this 
field, how to store and retrieve information. That s what we 
need, not librarians." 

So again, it wouldn t be expressed in faculty meetings. I 
suppose that is a condemnation of the dean- -various deans of 
the time. But none of the deans felt very secure. They had a 
certain group that supported them and they had a certain group 
that was definitely against them. I m thinking of [Patrick G.] 
Wilson and [Michael K.] Buckland and [Robert D.) Harlan. None 
of them felt confident in their leadership role. None of them 
felt that the entire faculty was behind them, and so they 
didn t feel confident and they couldn t bring everything out 
into the open and discuss it, for some reason. They didn t 
want to make this difference of opinion so obvious or make it 
so definite that it would start--! think the faculty never 
really interfered with each other s courses or anything of that 
sort. It s simply that they wanted to make sure that what they 
believed in was going to be represented on the faculty and in 
the course structure more than it had been traditionally. 

The whole thing was going on nationwide and internationally 
as far as that is concerned, because I know about Denmark. 
Nobody was sure as to just what library schools ought to be 
teaching. Libraries weren t sure just what they ought to be 
doing about introducing the computer into libraries and what 
books they should be buying and how they should be buying and 
cataloging. Nobody knew and so everybody was up in the air. 

As far as I know, they still continue to be up in the air, 
and they don t really know what a library school education 
ought to present to future librarians, as far as I can tell. 
That makes for a pretty unhappy and difficult faculty 
relations, particularly in a small group like the library 
school. If three or four people are definitely on one side of 
an issue and three or four are on the other side, it s hard to 
come to an agreement . 

McCreery: Do you know if similar problems at other library schools were 
just as divisive on their faculties? 


Mosher: I don t know about that, except that about this time library 
schools began to close. One I think, if I can remember, was 
the University of Chicago Library School. 

Leading a Team of Reference Teachers ## 

McCreery: We ve been talking today some more about different changes 
coming to the school in the sixties and the seventies. I 
wanted to back up just a little bit and ask you about when you 
returned from Denmark. Professor Robert Harlan had joined the 
staff and was working closely with you in the reference area, 
and I just wonder if you could talk a little bit about that. 

Mosher: Yes. Harlan was not only a teacher of the reference courses, 
but also he was a scholar in the history of the book and he 
taught history of the book courses. And the two of us almost 
immediately, I think, felt very friendly toward each other. I 
think we recognized that we were kindred spirits or something 
of that sort. We enjoyed being together and enjoyed discussing 
the courses and we agreed on most of what we were doing. Any 
decisions that had to be made we pretty much had the same 
opinion on and we always were of the same mind, I think, when 
it came to voting in faculty meetings. 

It was very fortunate, 1 thoughtfortuitous and a happy 
thing for me- -to have Harlan join the faculty. He had his 
doctorate in the history of the book and he was very 
knowledgeable, particularly about the history of the American 
book, so we proceeded together to develop the program for the 
doctorate in the history of the book- -more than it had been 
and to develop courses for the doctoral students to take. We 
agreed on the division of labor, we agreed on the laboratory 
courses and on employing Roger Levenson to set up the 

I think he had different ideas about teaching reference 
from minewell, he didand we just agreed to let that be. I 
taught the way I wanted to, and he taught the way he wanted to. 
I think we had to agree on what books to include in the weekly 
assignments and what books to lecture about, and so on. We 
didn t want the courses to be so different. But his method of 
teaching and his organization of the course would be his and 
mine would be mine, and this worked out all right. 

We didn t ever disagree about developing a reference 
laboratory library, for example. In South Hall we got space in 






a large room for a reference collection and we agreed on what 
was to go into it, and I don t remember how he used it, but I 
already mentioned how I used it, even having examinations in 
the room. I don t know what more, really, to say about it. As 
far as I was concerned, we never had any disagreements of any 
importance, and we enjoyed being with each other. 

At first I think we both had offices up in the annex to the 
library up on the fourth floor, contiguous offices, and so we 
were sort of thrown together very closely at first. We had 
other people coming in to teach referencemostly former 
students. Their names escape me now, while I m talking about 
it, but Mary Whouley was one of them. She has died. 

She graduated from the school and then went to work at 
Davis as a reference librarian. She thought she might want to 
take courses in the Ph.D. program, and so she came to Berkeley 
and was offered a position teaching reference because we needed 
reference teachers. She had an office not far away from the 
two of us. 

Pat Wilson had an office in the same area. I don t think 
he ever taught a reference course, but he was involved in a 
way, and he attended some of our- -we had reference teachers 
group meetings every so often. We d go over the list of books 
and discuss our problems and the assignments and tests and so 
on. It was all very convenient when we were all together 
before we moved to South Hall. 

At any rate, Harlan knew how to teach and he was well liked 
by the students. He knew reference works and he certainlly 
knew the history of the book. One problem he had was his lack 
of ability to use German. Foreign languages, in general, he 
wasn t very good at, so he liked to steer clear of the history 
of European printing and concentrate on American printing. 

Well, you were head of this group of reference professors for 
quite a long time. 

Well, as long as I was teaching at the library school, I felt 
at any rate that I was the top reference faculty member, 

Yes. I m interested about these group meetings that you just 
mentioned, where you would discuss the courses and so on. 

We had to decide on what books to include in the course list, 
and so we d get together and make suggestions. We were all, I 
think, apt to approve an addition of a book for the collection 


Mosher : 



of some sort for reference, or we would agree to eliminate it 
as not being necessary. But it also had something to do with 
the reference library school collection, what would we include. 
We tried to get everything in our library that we had on our 
lists of books for the reference courses. Then we also paid 
some attention to the assignments as a group. 

Portia Hawley [Griswold] , who had been a member of the 
class of 1953 and had been at Reno, Nevada, as head of the 
[county] library there, came to the library school to work for 
a doctorate and she began to teach a reference course, I guess. 
I m not sure whether she taught reference or not, or maybe it 
was simply public library administration. She was going to 
work for a Ph.D. but she never did. She finally married Dean 
Swank, of course. That was when he retired. I m not sure that 
she was included in the reference group. 

It sounds as if you ran the group very democratically. 

Oh, yes. There was nothing autocratic about it. Of course 
there weren t any very strong feelings it was generally known 
what the important works were. Some might have a favorite that 
wasn t there, and a new one might have come up that others 
didn t know about and was suggested. 


you change very often, or add new titles? 

Oh, yes, every year this would be changed. Most of the time 
most of them stayed the same. There was general agreement that 
these bibliographies and these general reference books had to 
be included. I don t know how many meetings we had, actually. 
We would have them at least once a year before we made out the 

But what I was talking about a little while ago, was we did 
have assistants who prepared questions for the assignments. I 
can t remember now whether the assistant would prepare 
questions for all the sections of the reference course or not, 
I don t recall that. Nearly always they prepared the questions 
for my courses . It reminds me that I found some of the 
assignments that I made when I first came to the library school 
in a folder. 

Oh, I ll have to look at those. Thank you. 

I ll pull them out for you. I think it worked out pretty well. 
Mary Whouley was a good teacher. She was a very personable and 
intelligent woman. She had had a lot of reference experience 
at Davis, and she liked to teach, and was a good teacher, so 


she made a good addition to the reference faculty, 
course Harlan did, too, make a good addition. 

And of 

I think that the person I mentioned once before, Carolyn 
Mohr--she did teach the government documents course, but I 
don t remember that she taught a general reference course or 
not. She was brought in to teach reference in documents, and 
also she taught in the cataloging courses, cataloging lab. We 
sort of used some of these positions to enable students to 
enter the doctoral program. The doctoral program had very few 
scholarships, and teaching a course would enable some of the 
doctoral students to come to the school and enter the doctoral 

Then we had others I can t remember right now who taught 
reference, but basically it was Bob Harlan and 1 who taught the 
reference courses, and we got along together very well. We 
always could manage some kind of humor about what was going on. 
We had many a laugh together. 

McCreery: Are you thinking of something in particular? 

Mosher: No, it just was any time there d be some little problem about 
the library school faculty or about the library- -Harlan s ears 
were wide open all the time. He heard everything that was 
going on, and he made it his business to learn what was 
happening and often reported it to me. Or I may have known it, 
too, and we d discuss it and laugh about it. But most of it 
was kind of funny, I thought. I can t remember anything 
specific, but it was always a pleasure to associate with him. 

McCreery: You mentioned Professor Wilson a few minutes ago when we were 

talking about the reference group getting together, that he had 
an office nearby back in the main library building. 

Mosher: He was right in the library annex. One time, he was very much 
disturbed because there was a restroom not too far away from 
his office. He d gone to the restroom and left his coat on his 
office chair and when he came back it had disappeared. 
Somebody had stolen it. Well, from then on we were very 
careful to lock our doors. It was on the fourth floor of the 
annex, there was very little traffic up there, just nobody 
would go there except to see a particular person. But this 
particular time his coat disappeared. 

I ve forgotten what his involvement was. He was basically, 
of course, teaching cataloging. This was all part of that 
revamping of the curriculum that I mentioned that Dean Swank 
inaugurated, rearranging everything into groups. There were 


general courses instead of introduction to librarianship, say, 
there d be a course in general on bibliography and how to find 
out about books, say. I think that Wilson had to teach such a 
course when it was first inaugurated, and he wanted to know 
what we were teaching in the reference course. I don t think 
he ever taught a reference course, but I think that s why he 
came to see how we were deciding what books to include. 

I liked Pat Wilson. He had been my student, and I had been 
very much interested in his --really, I think I was the one 
responsible for getting him on the faculty. When I would be 
discouraged about the reference course I would suggest, well, 
teaching reference doesn t really make any difference anyway. 
Nobody really learns anything from it that helps them in 

McCreery : 

He would tell me that he knew a lot of librarians because 
he had worked in the university library, and also he had known 
a lot of them because he had been a student in the library 
school. He said, "You know, Fred, a lot of the reference 
librarians working in the library now say your providing lists 
of books and talking about them in the reference course is the 
only thing that they remember when they re standing behind the 
reference desk and being faced with a question. They think of 
the reference course and it gives them a start, so I think you 
ought to continue teaching reference books." 

Although in general, he was not in favor of being that 
specific. In general, he would like to have a more general 
approach to library school courses, but he thought that 
teaching about reference books was important, or at least a lot 
of former library school students had told him that. 

How did that make you feel? 

Well, it made me feel maybe it was worth going on with. It was 
hard toI d never had a course like that in library school 
that meant anything. Of course, I was working in the library 
and not much interested in reference courses, so I never had 
the experience of having had a reference course that went into 
detail on specific reference books. That experience I d never 
had, and I didn t know just what effect it had on a student or 
their future careers, so it was hard to imagine. 

But I also had another student who was influential in this 
respect. Joseph Rubenstein was an older student who had been 
around in the history department for a long time at Berkeley 
and after he left library school, he went to Lawrence, Kansas-- 
the University of Kansas- -and started working in the library 


there. He wrote to me, and I had quite a bit of correspondence 
with him because of one reason or another. He said that I 
should keep the course book-oriented, emphasis on the source of 
reference materials and on the books, because that s really 
what stayed with the student and what they needed to know. 
Well, that inspired me to continue having a book-oriented 

I had great respect and admiration for him. He did well at 
Kansas, but he decided to quit librarianship and open an 
antiquarian bookstore and book service, and he became very 
successful at it. 

McCreery: In general, do you think your methods of teaching reference 
changed much over the years? 

Mosher: Well, not basically. I ve told you about the reference 

laboratory library, the kind of examination, the overhead 
projector and the transparencies that I used for teaching. 
Those weren t really basic changes, they were just tools of 
teaching what I wanted to teach. I didn t know about 
audiovisual materials when I first started teaching reference 
courses, and of course we had no idea-- 

The reference laboratory library was another thing that 
Swank supported. He provided the funds for it. He would 
provide just about everything that I wantedhistory of the 
book materials and the reference course materials. He was very 
good at this. 

Poetry for Reference Students; Miss Coulter s "Trick" Question 

Mosher: I was so unhappy with my own library school experience that one 
of the reasons I decided to teach in the library school, accept 
the position, was that somebody ought to do something about 
library school. It ought to be an important, interesting, and 
educational institution that really prepares librarians for 
what they are going to have to do. Therefore, I felt that it 
ought to be a happier place, a more interesting place, and I 
would try to make the experience of learning about reference 
books and reference services as interesting as possible so that 
they would listen and learn. 

I didn t want library school to be dull. I wanted it to be 
more interesting and that s why I would--! guess I didn t start 
out doing this by any means , but once a week I would have a 


McCreery : 
Mo she r: 

poetry time. I thought that most library school students 
seemed to know nothing about poetry and that they ought to know 
something about poets and poetry. 

The way it all started, I recall now, was that I was a great 
admirer of A. E. Housman, and there was a tree between Wheeler 
Hall and the university library and I taught in the classroom 
right beside it. The first year I taught in this classroom, it 
bloomed--it was a big tree, it s still thereand it bloomed. I 
thought it was a cherry tree, and it reminded me of Housman s 
poem, "Loveliest of trees, the cherry now is hung with bloom 
along the bough." It s funny, I can remember the rest of it. 
"Hung with bloom along the bough. It stands about the woodland 
ride, wearing white for Eastertide. Now of my threescore years 
and ten, twenty will not come again. Since to look at things in 
bloom, fifty years is little room. About the woodland I will go, 
to see the cherry hung with snow." That was the first time I 
recited a poem, and it caught the attention of the students. 

You can always tell when you re a teacher and students are 
listening and when they aren t, and so I set up every Friday or 
every Thursday or whenever it was to have a poem. I have a 
collection that I used, poems and anecdotes and jokes. Here is 
one from Ogden Nash, I think it was. "The codfish lays ten 
thousand eggs, the homely hen lays one. The codfish never 
cackles to tell you what she s done. And so we scorn the 
codfish while the humble hen we prize, which only goes to show 
you that it pays to advertise." 1 [laughter] I would read that 
talking about the necessity for publicizing library services. 
A good librarian really needs to inform the public that the 
library is there. 

There are a bunch of others. There are various articles and 
stories. Here are some of the assignments that I first used. 

You ve handed me something on encyclopedias, I see, a 202 course. 

Oh, 202 is the reference number. It changed, of course. Oh, I 
know that one, too. Another Housman poem: "Yonder see the 
morning blink, the sun is up and up must I to wash and dress 
and eat and drink and look at things and talk and think and 
work and God knows why. Oh, often have I washed and dressed 
and less to show for all my pain, let me lie abed and rest, ten 
thousand times I ve done my best, and all s to do again." You 
know how Housman wrote. 

poem, "The Codfish and the Hen," is an anonymous American rhyme, 
not penned by Ogden Nash. Nash did compose a different poem called "The 
Codfish." --ed. 


I tried to get a different poet every week and read a poem 
that would make them listen and introduce them to the fact that 
there are poems that they mightthey didn t seem to think that 
poetry was of any consequence at all, and having had my 
doctorate in English literature, I thought I ll do something 
about that. 

I think most students sort of looked forward to it. Most 
of the jokes, of course, I would throw in, showing some insight 
into the various problems of library work. The Antiquarian 
Bookman was a good source of a lot of this, of the anecdotes or 
the jokes. 

McCreery: Let s have a joke, shall we? 

Mosher: I m trying to find one here. Well, this poem by E. B. White on 
the breeding of the bee, which has always been handicapped by 
the fact that bees breed in mid-air. This was a poem I read 
every year. I was a very great admirer of E. B. White. 

Song of the Queen Bee [excerpt] 

"The breeding of the bee," says a United 
States Department of Agriculture bulletin 
on artificial insemination, "has always 
been handicapped by the fact that the queen 
mates in the air with whatever drone she 
encounters . " 

When the air is wine and the wind is free 
And the morning sits on the lovely lea 
And sunlight ripples on every tree, 
Then love-in-air is the thing for me 

I m a bee, 

I m a ravishing, rollicking, young queen bee, 

That s me . 

[Interview 8: April 30, 1999] ## 

McCreery: We finished our last session a week ago talking a lot about 

your classroom teaching and some of the things you used to talk 
with students about, and you remembered after we stopped taping 
a little anecdote about Edith Coulter and a little question she 
used to pose to her classes about a certain painting. Would 
you mind repeating that for me? 

Mosher: The library school, when Miss Coulter was teaching, had its 
quarters on the second floor of the main library. On the 
stairway as you go down to the main floor of the library a 


painting was hung up above on the wall so that you couldn t 
help seeing it as you went down the stairs . Edith Coulter 
would--! don t know how regularly, but she occasionally to a 
class would ask the question, "The painting by such-and-such an 
artist and on such-and-such a subject --where is it now?" 
Nearly always nobody could answer that question, but it turned 
out to be the same painting that they saw every day several 
times as they went down from the second floor to the first 
floor. I thought it was a good question because it made 
students aware of the fact that what they need to know is often 
right in front of them, if they look for it. 

The Rare Book Room Joins The Bancroft Library 

McCreery: You were also telling me just a few minutes ago that you looked 
through some old correspondence and recalled a couple details 
about the rare book room becoming part of The Bancroft Library. 
I wonder if you could tell me what you remember on that event . 

Mosher: I think that Leslie Clarke was in charge of the rare book 
department of the main library, and it was outgrowing its 
quarters. It had room in the stacks--in the locked stacksfor 
some of its books and it actually was a separate rare book room 
from The Bancroft Library. The Bancroft Library existed as a 
separate kind of library and was concerned only with history of 
the west coast, or mainly of the history of the west coast. It 
seemed to a number of us that instead of strengthening and 
changing and making better the rare books department, that it 
could better be combined with The Bancroft Library. All the 
rare books in the rare book department could simply be 
transferred to Bancroft and put under the care of the 
librarians there. 

They had space for it, so eventually after one review and 
report and another--! think the basic problem was that the 
history department of the university, particularly, liked to 
have The Bancroft Library under its control- -didn t want this 
to be changed by having anything other than historical 
material, but eventually we persevered and did manage to get 
the rare books department transferred to the Bancroft. 

The Bancroft Library provided quarters for a printing press 
for demonstration purposes and a classroom where I could hold 
exhibits, and everything worked out just very well as far as 
history of the book courses were concerned. 


I think that it certainly saved the main library a lot of 
expense in not having to duplicate another rare book collection 
or services to take care of the books that weren t in The 
Bancroft Library. Nobody was appointed the rare books 
librarian on the Bancroft staff in general, but they were the 
supervisors and controllers of the collection. Everything else 
about The Bancroft Library went on just the same as ever. 

McCreery: Were people happy with the change after it was made? 

Mosher: As far as I could--! was happy with it. I think it didn t 

matter to most people, but it was very convenient to have all 
the rare materials in one place. And the Bancroft had a 
cataloging staff that was accustomed to cataloging rare 
materials, or any kind of materials in the special ways, so 
that worked out very well, too. And it s still functioning. 

McCreery: Do you know of other instances where separate collections were 
folded into the Bancroft? 

Mosher: No, I don t know of any other. Bancroft has acquired 

collections all the time; 1 don t know that any particular 
group of books or materials in the main library were 
transferred to Bancroft except this collection of rare 
materials mostly on the history of printing. 1 

Swank s Resignation and the Deanship of Patrick Wilson, 


McCreery: I ll turn now to some of the other things that I d hoped to 
talk about a little bit today. We spoke a little bit about 
Patrick Wilson in another session, about when he was a young 
colleague and had an office near you and so on, but I d like to 
turn now to the time when he was chosen to be the new acting 
dean in 1970, and I wonder, do you recall how all that came to 

Mosher: Yes, I do. Dean Swank resigned rather unexpectedly and there 
was nobody. I don t know who might have been considered the 
logical successor to him, but there didn t seem to be anybody. 
A search committee was appointed to find a replacement for him. 

Both the University Archives and the Mark Twain Papers we:;e also 
transferred to The Bancroft Library. --Ed. 


I think that John [T.] Wheeler of the business school was 
chairman of this committee to find a new dean. 

In the meantime, I remember a faculty meeting of all the 
associate and full professors trying to determine what we could 
do to get a new dean. We needed one right away and I think 
that Wilson volunteered to take over the duties of being the 
administrative head of the school and succeeded Swank, then, in 
conducting the business affairs of the school. 

It seemed to most of us he was doing very well. The search 
for a dean was still not producing any names, and nobody was 
evidently volunteering for the job. I remember another meeting 
of associate and full professors in which we agreed that Wilson 
would make a good permanent dean. I knew John Wheeler fairly 
well personally, and I volunteered to call him and tell him 
that the faculty felt that he should be continued as permanent 
dean. I did this and Wheeler said that was fine, they didn t 
have any other suggestion, and that they would consider making 
him a permanent dean, which they did. 

Wilson then acted very satisfactorily, most of us thought, 
as a dean for a number of years until he, too, got interested 
in resigning because of all kinds of problems. 

There were lots of problems, not only between the so-called 
new computer people and the older, more library-oriented 
people, but also there were numbers of personality clashes and 
difficulties between members of the faculty who d been there 
for a long time. Wilson offended some of them and had sort of 
little vendettas with people, and it all got to be so much that 
he grew tired of it. As far as I know, at any rate, he decided 
not to continue as dean. Well, that s how it happened, to the 
best of my recollection. 

I think that he represented the school and did 
administrative work of the school very well. I think he chose 
as his vice chairman or assistant dean or whatever it was 
called then, Ray Held, who was then teaching reference on the 
faculty and was a professor in library history. He had 
published books on California library history. He was the 
associate dean, I think is what it was called, for Wilson, 
which worked out very well. 

Oh, at some point, Bob Harlan was involved, too, in the 
administration. I don t know exactly how that worked out. 
Harlan and Wilson were close friends and agreed pretty much on 
everything, and they often handled administrative problems 
together, as I recall. 



Mosher : 

Let me back up just a moment, 
resigned so suddenly? 

Do you know why Dean Swank 



No, I don t know. I think he resigned just at the time he was 
going to marry again. He and his wife of many years standing 
were divorced and Swank and Portia- -Griswold was her name then 
--her maiden name was Portia Hawley and she was a graduate of 
our school and had worked in Nevada as head of the county 
library that Reno was in [Washoe County Library] . She decided 
to come to Berkeley. I guess her marriage was breaking up, and 
she decided to come to Berkeley and enter the doctoral program 
and wondered if there was any possibility of teaching while she 
was working for her doctorate. 

She was encouraged to come and given a position teaching 
and proved to be very satisfactory. Ray Swank and she began 
getting interested in each other and decided to marry. And it 
was just as he retired as dean, they were married. I have no 
way of knowing whether this played any part in Swank s decision 
to retire or not, but he was, I think, weary of all the 
problems of the administration. I don t think he ever really 
liked being dean of the library school, so he was glad to just 
leave it, and he could. 

He resigned from the school as well as the deanship? 

Oh, no. No, he kept his full professorship, but he resigned 
from the deanship. 

Okay, thank you. Back to Professor Wilson as dean, 
you characterize his style as an administrator? 

How would 

That s hard to say. I think he tried hard to get and keep a 
good faculty. He was, I think, perhaps too personal in his 
relations. Let s see, that isn t the right way to put it. He 
tended to dislike somebody or like somebody and let his like or 
dislike affect that person s relationship with him as the 
administrator. So he had a number--! think I mentioned before 
--of vendettas with various members of the faculty. 

One newer member of the faculty, whose name I can t even 
remember now--I can find it easily enoughbut Wilson and he 
did not get along at all, and finally this new professor just 
left because it was such an unpleasant set of circumstances. 

Wilson and the teacher of children s literature, Mae Durham 
Roger, didn t see eye to eye on anything and they were 
constantly battling each other over everything. There were a 
number of incidents in which the members of the faculty would 


have an unpleasant time with Wilson. He wasn t the easiest 
person to get along with. He clearly let his personal--! guess 
I just finished saying that--his personal likes and dislikes 
interfere with his job, I think. 

I don t know whether I should mention this or not, but I 
think that he is gay, and that this influenced some of the 
faculty against him and perhaps made him more sensitive or 
aware of the displeasure of members of the faculty. But I 
don t know any of this for sure; I m just speculating. I think 
it s pretty clear, though, that he is gay. 

McCreery: I know that Mr. Wilson was trained as a philosopher, and I 
wonder, how do you think that came to bear on his work as 
administrator of the school? 

Mosher: I don t know. I have never thought that it had any effect on 
it at all because I don t even know what his dissertation was. 
He did think clearly, and he had a good knowledge of libraries 
and librarianship and all parts of it. His teaching assignment 
was mainly in the cataloging courses. As I understand it, he 
gave excellent lectures on cataloging which were often, 
perhaps, above the heads of the beginning cataloging students. 
They couldn t appreciate them or understand them very well. 

He didn t think he should be talking about the details of 
how to catalog a book. He thought, as I understand it, that 
the general idea of cataloging--! suppose you might call it the 
philosophy of cataloging- -was what was important. But again, I 
shouldn t say anything about this, because I don t know 
anything about it first hand. I never heard him lecture in the 
cataloging course. 

McCreery: I ll just let you keep to your own experience. I know it gets 
speculative when you re going beyond your own firsthand 
knowledge. In your view, though, was he accessible to the 
faculty as a leader of the school? 

Mosher: Yes, I think he was accessible, and I think he usually had very 
firm ideas on what he thought about any subject, about any 
person, and he wasn t hesitant to express them. I always 
thought that he was mostly successful as dean. I thought that 
it was very unfortunate that he allowed some of his 
relationships with members of the faculty to develop into very 
unpleasant problems. But on the whole I thought he represented 
the school well, and he kept in mind what was happening in 
librarianship and in library education and was doing the best 
he could. 


Nobody was doing very well at that time. We were trying to 
decide what kind of education, training and so on, librarians 
needed for the future. 

McCreery: When you say nobody was doing too well at that time, what do 
you mean? 

Mosher: I mean, library schools and libraries in general. Nobody 
really understood, I think, what was happening, that the 
computer was going to change everything about libraries. Part 
of the problem there was that those who were enthusiastic about 
computers often would say, "Forget about libraries. The 
computer s going to just take over, and there won t be any 
libraries any more," instead of paying some attention to how 
you work with the existing institutions of the libraries and 
how can you introduce computers into them most successfully, 
which is what we really needed. Because the libraries were 
there and needed librarians, and we could not very well just 
exclude libraries, we thought, from consideration. 

I don t think anybody really knew what the future was going 
to hold and how the library was going to continue or how to 
prepare libraries for the computer futureat least, I had 
never read or heard any very sound proposition about what to 
do, and I certainly don t know what should have happened. 

McCreery: Mr. Wilson was dean from 1970 to 1975, the first time. I 
gather he was pressed into service again, later, but I m 
thinking of his original time period in that role. Just 
drawing again from your general memory, was that a time of 
plenty for the school in terms of budget and enough resources 
in the way of faculty and so on to do what you wanted in your 
teaching and educating librarians? 

Mosher: I can t pinpoint the periods. It seems to me that there were 

no particular problems under Wilson. We seemed to get the kind 
of budget we needed for most purposes. I certainly had help in 
many ways. The reference laboratory library and the printing 
laboratory and all the other special needs of my courses were 
funded all right. I think this was a time when, in general, 
the university was suffering from budget woes, but I think that 
the library school, in general, escaped and was funded pretty 
well, financially. But I didn t really have any specific 
knowledge about it. 

McCreery: Okay, that s fine. We talked last time about- -perhaps it was 
two times agoabout the Free Speech Movement and some of the 
time periods that changed the atmosphere on the campus in 
general. Now during this period we re talking about today, 


starting in 1970, of course, the Vietnam War was going on and 
was quite a presence in the minds of everyone . Do you have 
specific thoughts on how that affected what you were doing in 
the school and the lives of students and faculty? 

Mosher: First, the Free Speech Movement and the reaction against the 

Vietnam War are sort of linked together and contributed to the 
general unrest among students and the problem of teaching 
because so many students were upset and unhappy, and so were 
many of the faculty. 

Dean Wilson was very much in favor of the Free Speech 
Movement and opposed to the Vietnam War and on the side of 
intellectual freedom and liberty and so on, all the way 
through. He felt certain that no leader of the library school 
should be in favor of the repressive methods of the 
administration or of the government, so from my point of view 
he was very good in allowing or helping the school to maintain 
its opposition to whatever seemed to be repressive or--unfree, 
I guess, is a way to put it. 

Not that there were any incidents, or any particular things 
that the school was involved in, certainly not as a school. 
Although there were- -we could make some decisions about 
students and their activities. I can t remember exactly what; 
however, whenever the question came up we would side with the 
students in opposition to the war and in favor of freedom of 
speech. Wilson was always in favor of that, so I might say 
politically he was just perfectly okay, as far as I was 

I don t have any idea why he decided to retire as dean. He 
got entangled into too many problems with members of the 

The Post-Master s Certificate; Doctoral Recruitment ## 

McCreery: I noticed in my background research that in 1973 the school 

authorized the post-master s certificate for students. [phone 
rings; tape interruption] Do you have much recollection of 
what you thought when those were authorized as part of the 
total curriculum? 

Mosher: I had mixed feelings about them, I know that, and was in 

general opposed to them because I didn t think we had enough 
faculty to take care of them. And it seemed to me that they 


Mosher : 

were rather unimportant professionally. I didn t think that 
they amounted to much in the way of indicating how much better 
prepared the student was who had such a certificate or not. I 
didn t think that the profession in general regarded them as 
being very important pieces of evidence. 

I thought that the courses for this certification were 
generally not especially well prepared or well taught. It 
seemed to me a lot of unnecessary and additional emphasis on 
just taking courses. Of course I never was all that much in 
favor of the doctoral program as far as that goes, and the 
certificate problem was even less appealing to me, so I didn t 
like them. 

Why did the school start up that program? 

Because they were hoping, I think, that it would induce 
students to go into the doctoral program. I think it was sort 
of, oh, what do you call it, a recruitment device. I think it 
did lead a number of students eventually into the doctoral 
program. It seemed to me that we were very much concerned at 
that time, and maybe all the time from the beginning of the 
doctoral program on, with recruiting for the doctoral program, 
because there weren t enough students to establish really good 
doctoral programs in the fields that we wanted to offer them 

I thought for the history of the book we had a good 
programhistory of books and libraries. I couldn t feel that 
there were enough courses or enough faculty- -but that s all 
beside the point in other fields to offer good doctoral 
programs. But anyway, we needed more students to make such 
programs particularly useful. You needed students that would 
help each other in learning about library administration and 
the problems of libraries on a higher level than the first year 
of library school. But again, I didn t teach any of these 
courses, I didn t have any of the students involved in these 
courses and I don t know how successful or unsuccessful it was. 

I do know though that we tried to encourage students to 
enter the doctoral program, because there was a feeling that 
the library school ought to be educating more doctoral students 
than first-year students, actually. For the University of 
California, our school ought to be a school for advanced 
degrees beyond just a first-year degree in librarianship. 
That s, I think, as I recall it, the main reason why the 
certificate program was introduced, was to encourage students 
to take advanced courses. 


McCreery: Whose idea was it, do you recall? 
Mosher: I can t say whose idea it was. 

McCreery: Do you know if other graduate schools of librarianship were 
offering anything like that? 

Mosher: No, I don t. They undoubtedly were, something like that. 

McCreery: Do you know if they had similar recruitment problems at other 
schools at that time? 

Mosher: No, I don t, but it definitely was a problem for us to recruit, 
for the doctoral program especially. The history of the book 
doctoral program didn t seem to have any difficulty in 
recruitment. Students who got interested in the history of the 
book got interested, and they were rather special type of 
student anyway. If they wanted to go ahead for the doctoral 
program, well, that was fine, but we never tried to encourage 
them because we didn t feel that we needed more students; we 
had as many as we could take care of. That would be Bob Harlan 
and I and Ray Held in the history of libraries. 

Danton, of course, was interested, too, in more doctoral 
students, but his doctoral students were mainly administrative, 
not library history oriented. I have no other thoughts, I 
think, on that. I don t think it was a very successful idea, 
and I think it took up a lot of time and energy that we could 
have better spent on something else, probably. But that s all 

ALA Accreditation 

McCreery: One of the other things I wanted to talk about a little bit 
today- -perhaps more than once--is accreditation. I was 
reminded of it because I was reading that there was an ALA 
accreditation in process in 1974 and "75--so towards the end of 
the time that Mr. Wilson was dean. Now I know that these 
accreditations coming every five years are always either 
happening or about to happen or just happened, but I m 
wondering, what recollections do you have of ALA 
accreditations, and what role did the general faculty play in 
preparing for them? 

Mosher: Very little, I d say, in answer to your last question. The 

dean and the administrative part of the school would naturally 


be very much involved with accreditation. They had to provide 
documentation and so on. But most of us on the faculty were 
hardly aware that it was going on, and if we were aware, we 
thought we would think, well, if they wouldn t give the 
University of California Berkeley library school accreditation, 
well, they might as well go out of business, because we re 
considered to be one of the best library schools. There didn t 
seem to be any possibility for us not to be accredited. I don t 
think there ever was any, so it just seemed to be a matter of 
form, something you had to go through every little while and 
something that the dean should take care of. We shouldn t have 
to be bothered with it, because there wasn t anything that we 
could do differently, it seemed to us, from what we were doing 
to make us a better school for preparing librarians. We met 
all the formal demandswe had budget and faculty and a great 
universityand so it all seemed unnecessary to go through this 

McCreery: You may have already answered this, but to your knowledge, were 
there ever any recommendations by ALA for significant changes 
that you thought were pertinent? 

Mosher: I know that there were recommendations recommendations that, 
as I recall, the faculty had already considered and discussed 
and decided one way or the other. We didn t need to have 
anyone else tell us what we needed to do. And the only 
recommendation really they could make would be to get more 
faculty, more money, and so on. We were doing as well as we 

McCreery: Part of what I m trying to get at is changes to curriculum. I 
know that the curriculum always was a big issue in all of these 
time periods, partly, as you say, because of the advent of 
computerization in librarianship. 

Mosher: Yes, the curriculum was changing. I think I mentioned before 
that at one point, say 1964 or so, the curriculum was pretty 
much fixed and most of it was required for the master s degree. 
Then during the next ten years or so, that all changed until 
hardly anything was required anymore. Under Swank, I mentioned 
earlier, a very thorough revision of the curriculum took place. 
The curriculum was divided into certain main subject categories 
or categories of one sort or another. Courses listed had to be 
taught at certain time periods, so that students could get them 
during their year they were here. 


Quarter System Versus Semester System 

Mosher: Another problem, as far as curriculum was concerned that hasn t 
been mentioned, I think, is that sometime around this period 
the university went from a semester system to a quarter system. 
This required, of course, changing all of the courses, and 
revision of the curriculum was taking place as a result. It 
makes quite a bit of difference whether you have a quarter or a 

McCreery: Yes, that s a good point. My notes say that the university 
switched to the quarter system in 1966. 

Mosher: Yes. Then we switched back again. And it was a tremendous 

amount of work to revise courses. It was particularly bad for 
the courses I taught in history of th book and any of the 
history courses that required a term paper. You had only a 
quarter, you could hardly do a term paper in that quarter. 
Most history courses felt that problem. And so it meant that 
you had to take two courses in order to--it was just 
horrendous , I thought . 

I was very happy to get back to the semester system, but on 
the other hand, the quarter system worked rather well, for some 
courses. We could organize reference courses for the quarter 
system without any difficulty, really- -not that I ever thought 
it was any better. What I didn t like about the semester 
system was going so far and then having Christmas vacation and 
then coming back and having exams and so on. That I thought 
was very poor, ineffective teaching. The way it is now, 
starting the semester earlier and ending before Christmas, 
seems to me to be an ideal setup, but I never taught under that 
system, so I don t know. 



The Deanship of Michael K. Buckland. From 1976 

McCreery: Moving through the seventies, then, after Mr. Wilson resigned 

from the deanship, after a little lag, Michael Buckland came in 
January of 1976 to take over as dean of the library school. 
How was he chosen to head the school, do you know? 

Mosher: There was a nationwide search for a dean. I don t know who was 
on the committee. He was one of the people brought in to--I 
think there was more than one candidate. He came and talked, 
and we met him and we liked him. Most of the faculty did at 
any rate, because we all voted for him. 

McCreery: Did any of you know him prior to meeting him in this regard? 

Mosher: I certainly had never heard of him before. I think that was 
true of most of us. He was really from England and had 
relatively little experiencethere would be few opportunities 
to know anything about him because he had been in the United 
States only, I don t know, ten years, something like that. But 
we liked the way he talked, we liked what he said, and he 
seemed to us--seemed to me, at any rateto be a very good 

The problem was he wasn t sure he wanted to come, partly 
because his wife didn t want to leave their home in--I think it 
was Indiana. They had children and they were comfortably 
settled there and they had their own house. But she was 
persuaded. She toured the Bay Area and so on and was persuaded 
that maybe life around San Francisco might not be so bad. So 
he became a definite candidate and was willing to come. I 
think the whole faculty voted pretty unanimously in favor of 
his coming. 


McCreery: You said you liked the way he talked upon meeting him at the 
time of his candidacy. What are you thinking of when you say 

Mosher: When I said that I was thinking just generally of his 

appearance and his speech and how the subject matter made sense 
to me. He was talking about library schools and what they 
could do and what theywell, I don t know whether I really 
meant the way he talked orwhat I liked was the impression I 
got: here was someone who knew what library education was about 
and who had definite ideas about what it should be like and who 
would be a good leader of our faculty. 

He was acceptable to both sides of the facultythe 
computer side and the library side, and especially to the 
library side, I think, because he was a librarian; he wasn t a 
computer specialist. He had a history degree, I think, in his 
background, so at any rate, I was very much predisposed in his 

McCreery: Thinking back again, to the time of first meeting him and so 
on, do you recall what he said he wanted to accomplish at the 

Mosher: No, I don t. Maybe he didn t have anything he said he wanted 
to do. It was just that I thought that he would be a leader 
who would find out what the school needed and would proceed to 
do it. I thought he was very effective in gaining the trust of 
people. He would be a good person to deal with the 
administration and with the librarians in California. He had, 
I think, given evidence of this in Indiana. He d been on some 
committees, and not only just local committees, but other 
committees and had worked with other librarians effectively in 
trying to solve some of the problems of computerization and so 
on. It all sounded good. 

McCreery: Your support of him was shared by the other faculty members? 

Mosher: Well, we all voted for him. As I said, the only problem was 
making sure he would come. His wife was the problem there. 

McCreery: What happened next? 

Mosher: He, of course, came to the school and became dean. I think he 
ran pretty quickly into the problem of the two sides of the 
faculty, what to do about computerization of libraries, and how 
to teach for the library of the future. 


McCreery : 
Mo she r: 



It s hard for me, I never could quite figure out why he 
wasn t morewell, I don t want to say aggressive, but I guess 
that s the word, in promoting what he thought the library 
school ought to do. But that really isn t his style. He would 
wait and see. 

After all, he was younger than most of the faculty, it 
seems to me, and had not had a position of this kind before, so 
he was hesitant to assert deanly authority, I thinkwhich I 
think was a mistake. Well, I shouldn t say that, but I think 
it would have been better for the faculty if he had a definite 
plan in mind and presented and argued for it. But he didn t; 
he just let the faculty sort of continue to grope for the right 
answer. It may very well be that he didn t have any better 
solution than any of the rest of us, but it seemed to us to be 
his job to find out, to lead us in some direction or other. 

I think he did it mostly indirectly and I m sure he knew 
he got to know the faculty very well and tried to help each 
member of the faculty accomplish what he thought that member of 
the faculty should accomplish, or was able to accomplish. And 
I think he was as well, he was a very good dean too good a 
dean, actually, because the higher authorities saw how good he 
was at working with people and administration and took him away 
from the library school. 

Yes, he went to the UC president s office, is that right? 

Yes, that s right, as sort of the head librarian of all the 
university libraries in a way. That is, he was supposed to set 
the plans and organize all the university libraries under one 
office. In essence, he would be the top librarian of the 
University of California library system. But I don t think it 
ever was like that, but he-- [phone interruption] 

So Mr. Buckland was dean until 1984 and was hired away by the 
president s office. But returning to the early years of his 
deanship, you said that he tuned in quickly to the fact that 
there was a certain split in the faculty. Did that split stay 
the same in your opinion? 

It just got worse. It was always there and increasingly nearly 
all new members of the faculty were for the computer side. I 
don t remember any- -well, that isn t true- -some special faculty 
members but most of the new faculty members would be 
experienced with and educated for computerization and were 
almost, I think, pretty close to becoming a majority of the 
faculty, certainly not at the beginning of the time, but that s 



what happened over the next ten years . He spent a lot of time 
just figuring out what would be best for each faculty member. 

I don t know that he- -he never explained to me, at any 
rate, in faculty meetings or otherwise, exactly what he 
envisioned the library school would become. I didn t have any 
clear picture of that. 

The goals and emphasis were more individual than for the whole 

Mosher: I think that s partly because he felt the whole school would 
not ever adopt any plan that he thought might be the best . 

Name Change; School of Library and Information Studies 

Mosher: I suppose a good example of the problems might be the change of 
the name of the school. 

McCreery: Oh, yes. One of my next questions. 

Mosher: Yes, it was always the School of Librarianship, and a lot of us 
thought that was what it ought to be, but he felt that there 
ought to be something in therewhat did we come up with? 
School of Library and Information Studies, I think, something 
like that. 

There was quite a debate in more than one faculty meeting 
about the change in name, which I thought was kind of silly, 
myself. But it didn t make too much different what the name 
was, and Library and Information Studies was fine, but that 
seemed to be a victory for--Buckland thought it was the best 
idea. He would say, this is part of gradually changing the 
whole traditional librarianship to the new librarianship for 
the computer age. 

He realized that that was important and necessary and I 
think was trying to do his best to get the faculty to support 
whatever- -but I never felt that he had a very definite plan as 
to whathe ran into enough opposition just changing the name, 
so that I can understand that if he d begun to really revise 
the curriculum, there d be a great deal more opposition to 
changing anything about the old school. 


McCreery: Do you feel then, that the name change was primarily symbolic, 
rather than indicating a change of direction? I don t want to 

Mosher: No, I think it was --well, it was symbolic, but it also was 
indicating a change in direction, a change that Buckland 
wanted, and the change that was happening regardless of who 
wanted it or what the cause was. Libraries were changing and 
the whole process of cataloging, particularly. 

McCreery: Was this change of direction well articulated among the 

Mosher: I don t think so, no. I didn t feel that it was. We never 
really debated or discussed what was happening, because it 
usually would get into, oh, sort of heated languagenot 
necessarily heated, but it tended to become unfriendly, and 
that didn t seem to be the right way to approach it. 

Everyone felt rather strongly about it and none of us older 
members of the faculty wanted to give in so precipitously, I 
guess, or so quickly. We were constantly urged by librarians 
we knew from the field not to rush into computerizing courses. 
The same old courses are fine and the computer will gradually 
come in, and you can gradually learn about the computer after 
you ve finished library school. They said don t change things 
too much. 

McCreery: Yet there was enormous pressure to bear on bringing computers 
in very quickly. 

Mosher: Yes, there was. There are so many different kinds of libraries 
and to each different kind of library the computer means 
something different. 


McCreery: Continuing our session from a moment ago, we were talking about 
changes in the school s name and in the curriculum while Mr. 
Buckland was dean. Just returning to the name change for a 
moment, I know that many other schools who made similar name 
changes used the word information science rather than 
information studies. What do you think of librarianship 
associating itself with science? 

Mosher: Library studies was a very definite compromise. Some members 
of the faculty thought it ought to be library science. Others 
of us, including me, thought that it was not a science and that 
library science was a misnomer and that we would much prefer 


not to have it in the name of the school. Studies was a 
compromise, I think suggested by Buckland, and it met with 
everybody s approval, so that s what we accepted. 

It took a lot of argument and discussion over this name 
change, but most of us agreed that it was necessary considering 
what was happening in the library world and that it better 
reflected what we were going to have to be doing, preparing 
students for working in the institutions that were undergoing 
these changes, just as we were trying to make changes as a 
result of what was happening in the library world. 

It was a difficult time. It still is a difficult time. 
And I wasn t aware that anyone knew the right answers. I 
certainly didn t, and I m still not at all sure what way things 
are going and how they should go. 

McCreery: An association with science has a flip side, which is an 

association with art. Is librarianship art or science, both, 

Mosher: Oh, I guess I never concerned myself with what it was, as far 

as trying to name it. In some respects it s a science, in some 
respects it s an art; in some respects it s neither, perhaps. 

I never felt it important to decide, so I don t know. 
Names are something that can be changed any time. They do help 
determine somewhat the direction and philosophy of the school, 
I suppose, and it certainly was considered by the computer 
scientist group to be a victory for them to have the name 

McCreery: Now, not long after that, the names of the degrees awarded were 
also changed to reflect that same terminology- -information 
studies. Was there any controversy about that? 

Mosher: No, see, I think that was the university policy. It had to be 
changed. The name of the school had to be reflected in the 
degrees awarded, I think. I don t know. 

McCreery: In any event, it was not a separate issue in your recollection? 
Mosher: No, it wasn t. 

McCreery: All right. Well, in this time period we re talking about, I 

noted that 1979 was the start of major changes in the master s 
curriculum, specifically to incorporate computers, databases, 
and online searching into the courses . Do you remember much 


discussion of that separate from the other things we ve been 
talking about? 

Mosher: This was what year, now? 
McCreery: 1979. 

Mosher: That was just two years before I retired, and it was happening 
in other courses. It didn t concern my courses at all. We 
didn t have any capability for doing any online searching in 
the reference courses. I would have liked to have been able 
to, but there wasn t any possibility. We didn t have any way 
of doing it. 

Certainly it was unnecessary, it seemed to me, and far 
fetched to introduce the computer into the history of the book 
courses. However, in the history of the book courses, we 
always included the computer and the early history of the 
computer in the course because what had happened is part of the 
history of communication--and I really liked that title better 
than history of the book. We d start that course by going all 
the way back to the beginning of language on through to the 
computer. Of course, we spent very little time on history of 
language and not very much time on the history of the computer. 

Then after that, after retiring in 1981, I guess it is, I 
don t know what s happened. 

Effect of Proposition 13 on Libraries 

McCreery: On another subject, but in the same period of time, I d like to 
ask what you recall about the California ballot initiative, 
Proposition 13, which passed in 1978, and specifically what was 
thought at the time about its effects on libraries. 

Mosher: Yes. It was a very important proposition. We haven t yet 
discussed the fact that I was on sabbatical 1977 to 78 in 
England. I think it was in "78 that Proposition 13 was passed, 
so we were not here during all the furor about this 

I think I voted for it because it meant the taxes on this 
place had been going up very steadily and at least seemed to me 
to reach a height that I wasn t prepared to manage. What I got 
out of the material for Proposition 13 was that it would be 



Mosher : 

concerned only with residential property, and it would prevent 
the loss of homes by reason of the high valuation on property. 
It all seemed very reasonable to me. When I discovered that it 
referred to all property and then realized that it was going to 
affect all public institutions, I don t know whether I would 
have voted for it or not. 

But certainly it made a great deal of difference to us. We 
were able to live here. Well, I guess maybe we could have 
continued to live here, I don t know, but taxes of similar 
properties all over are very, very high. 

But I don t like what it did to libraries or other local 
institutions, and I don t think that was originally ever 
intended. It didn t seem to have any effect really on the 
university. I couldn t tell any difference, at any rate. But 
it certainly made a difference in local libraries. 

Was Prop. 13 much discussed among California librarians at 
meetings and so on, do you recall? 

No. See, I was gone during that time when it was being 
debated. Of course it was being discussed in meetings and 
faculty meetings everywhere after it became clear that this was 
going to mean a severe cut in funds for all civic and county 
institutions. It meant fewer jobs and poorer libraries all 
over the state. But since I was gone that critical year, I 
don t have any recollections of what the faculty would say 
about it . 

Sabbatical to the British Library, 1977-1978 

McCreery: I do want to ask you about your sabbatical to the British 

Mosher: The first year was the anniversary of a coronation of some 
sort. We remembered it because everything was so tight in 
London. We couldn t find a place to live in London. 
Fortunately we were able to find out about a place that we 
could rent from here before we went to London. It was in 
Sutton, the southernmost part of London, and it meant a train 
ride to the city all the time. 

McCreery: How did you get the invitation to go to the British Library? 


Mosher: I guess I didn t get an invitation. Dean Buckland, after all, 
knew the British scene very well. I was having a sabbatical 
and the question was what I should do with it. He thought it 
would be a good idea for me to go to England. Originally he 
thought of my going to Liverpool and learn about--! can t think 
of its name, an important rare books library there. Then I 
thought I d rather be in London. There was a possibility that 
our younger son Allan might go there. He had money for a 
fellowship to go anywhere he wanted to study voice, and he 
thought he might go to London. But it turned out he went to 
Rochester, New York instead, so we went away by ourselves. 

I think that Buckland had corresponded with the head keeper 
of printed books at the British Library and told him about me 
and that I was coming and what could they do for me, or words 
to that effect, at any rate. It turned out that the Eighteenth 
Century Short Title Catalogue was just being begun and all the 
eighteenth-century books in the British Library were being 

The British Library people thought I might be useful in 
that project. I agreed to be of service as much as I could be, 
although the eighteenth century was not my field. Bob Harlan s 
field was eighteenth century and so I had pushed it aside, 
pretty much. 

Anyway, I got there, I went to see the head keeper, and I 
had various projects in mind besides the Eighteenth Century 
Short Title Catalogue. I wanted to work on a supplement to the 
bibliography of Anonyma and Pseudonyma, and I wanted to use 
whatever resources the British Library had in the history of 
printing. I was given a desk in the library, a table, and a 
key that would admit me to the stacks--! could go anywhere in 
the stacks. 

I did what the eighteenth-century people wanted me to do, 
make suggestions or- -they had regular meetings and I d go to 
the meetings and we d discuss the importance of the project to 
the history of printing, especially. I did some work for them 
indexing newspapers for printers and booksellers, and the rest 
of the time I could spend on my own. 

I did use it advantageously. It was wonderful to have keys 
to the library. I could just go anywhere in the stacks, and I 
made good use of that. 

I got interested in, oh, the problem of early bibliography 
entry. For example, when did bibliographies begin to carry 
size designation by means of format designationwhether a book 


was octavo or folio or not would be included. It was not 
included in manuscript bibliographies because it didn t mean 
anything, but for book bibliographiesthese would have to be 
the printed booksit meant a great deal to know whether the 
book was a folio or an octavo or a quarto. It identified the 
book, so rather quickly it became part of the standard 
bibliography entry and I wanted to know when and more about it. 

The thing that occurred to me was that the very first 
bibliographies of printed books or practically the first ones 
at any rate, were the printers themselves lists by the 
printers themselves of the books they had for sale, that they 
had published or printed, same thing in those days. I began to 
search for the first catalogs by printers of their books. The 
British Library had a number of them, and I found out about 
others, and it went on from there. I spent a lot of time on 
that project. 

Well, I don t know really what else to say about it. It 
was a very informative and interesting time, and I found a lot 
of material about the early catalogs and early bibliographies 
and wrote several articles on it. I think I identified the 
very first printer s catalog that did include format 

year did that go back to, do you recall? 
Right offhand, I don t. The very early 1500s. 

McCreery: What 

Mosher : 

McCreery: How did you like living in London? 

Mosher: I don t know. Sutton was a small suburb of London and nothing 
very much had ever happened there, I guess. We just lived 
there. Evelyn, of course, spent quite a bit of time there, but 
I took the train every other morning to downtown London and 
went to the British Library- -what was then called the British 
Museum Library. 

I just think that London is a marvelous place to visit. 
And I went to a meeting of the Bibliographical Society. I went 
to most of the important libraries besides the British Library 
and just had a really good professional experience, I would 

The Eighteenth Century Short Title Catalogue group were 
young librarians from all over England, and it was good to get 
to know them. 



Also, it was the first experience I d had seeing how the 
computer was used. They were putting their records on the 
computer and this was the first bibliography, important 
bibliography at any rate, ever to be computerized from the 
beginning. I enjoyed learning all about that. 

Sounds like a wonderful sabbatical. 
It was a good year. 

Promotion to Full Professor. 1979 

McCreery: After you returned in 1979--well, you returned in 78, but I m 
saying, a little bit later you attained the rank of full 
professor. Now we ve talked about the whole publish and perish 
state of affairs and how that affected you. How did you 
finally pass the test? 

Mosher: I wrote a long statementDean Buckland told me to write as 
immodest a statement as I could about my experience at the 
school just brag about myself as much as I could, which I then 
proceeded to do. Also, several publications resulted from this 
study of the early catalogs. He put it all together and got 
approval from the necessary faculty and submitted it to the 
higher administration and it was granted. The promotion was 
granted. I doubt that I would have made full professor if that 
hadn t happened, so I owe Dean Buckland that. 

He was concerned that I hadn t had any promotion for I 
don t know how many years, twenty years or so. Both Harlan and 
Wilson and others who came on the faculty after I did had been 
promoted to full professor and I wasn t. 

I still thought I was doing what I should be doing, so I 
wasn t too unhappy about it, but it did make a difference 
particularly in retirement, financially, so I was willing to 
argue that I should be promoted. 

McCreery: How did it go preparing your immodest statement? 

Mosher: I even have some of that here. I can show it to you. It went 
all right. I just, I thought, stated the facts. Well, I 
pointed out why I had been employed in the first place to 
strengthen and build up a program in the history of the book-- 
and that, plus building up the reference course and so on, I 
just spent all this time improving teaching. I thought that was 


the most important part of my job, rather than research, so I 
emphasized that I spent most of my time on it. 

But of course under the publish or perish theory, that 
didn t do any good. I can see the university s point of view, 
too, that I should have been able to do better than I did. I 
think I may have mentioned that I had two or three projects 
that were almost completed and somebody else preempted them, 
which made it difficult. But everyone agreed eventually that 
maybe I should be promoted to full professor, and as I said, it 
did make a difference in retirement. 

McCreery: How actively were you pursuing a promotion before Dean Buckland 
took up your case? 

Mosher: Oh, I never did pursue it. I probably should have. I have a 
letter here from Dean Wilson, saying that he would like to 
recommend me for a promotion, but there weren t any 
publications and what could I do about it? What should he do 
about it? I don t think I ever even answered him. It seemed 
to me that it was perfectly obvious what my situation was and 
what I was doing. I now see that if I had wanted to be 
promotedand I certainly did want to be promoted because it 
meant a lot of difference in money--! should have been more 
aggressive about it and asked for it. 

But also, there had been upper echelon authorities who had 
--well, not various, but at least one who said, "No further 
promotion for Mosher unless he produces, unless he publishes 
something." That was the problem, I just hadn t published 
anything . 

McCreery: Well, when the promotion finally came, how did that feel? 

Mosher: It felt good, of course. It was so near the end of everything 
that it didn t really make any difference in general. But it 
was good to--see, I think it was Edith Coulter who had never 
got promoted- -partly, I suppose, because she was a woman. I 
don t think she ever made full professor even. She did get, I 
think, associate professor, but toward the very end of her 
career. It just seemed to be part of the job. 

McCreery: You had seen it happen to others, in other words? 

Mosher: Yes, although on the faculty I was on everyone got promoted 

before I did, and their publications were well, I didn t think 
that they were so extra good. But I had not published and I 
just didn t publish. I hate to publish something that isn t 
important and really worth publishing. I didn t want to 



publish anything that wasn t ready to be published, and so I 
was stuck. 

Are you a perfectionist? 

I suppose I am. There are too many publications in the world 
and I don t think anything should be published that doesn t 
need to be published. 

McCreery: Okay, well, thank you for talking about that. 

Retirement. 1981 



Let s move on to 1981 when you retired, 

Tell me how that came 

Well, in February of 1981 I became sixty-seven years of age. 
The policy of the university then was to retire anyone that 
reached that age of sixty-seven. I could have stayed on 
without retiring for a year or two maybe. I ve forgotten all 
the details. I might have been able to stay on, but I would 
have soon been working for nothing if I had. 

Buckland was, of course, dean and we discussed retirement, 
what the alternatives were, and he thought that I ought to 
retire, I guess. He thought maybe I could spend more time on 
research. I had all kinds of research questions and problems 
and projects going. 

McCreery: You were talking about retirement and how you might have stayed 
on without retiring. 

Mosher: I might have. It was just at this time that there was national 
concern over forced retirement anywhere. Age should not force 
people to retire, but the university still maintained its 
special exception for some reason or other that everyone had to 
retire at sixty-seven. But Buckland said that I could stay on 
to teach one course or something. We discussed the options, 
none of which seemed to be very good, and I decided, well, I d 
just retire. 

McCreery: Did you want to retire? 


Mosher: No, I didn t want to retire. But it seemed to me that- -the 

problem was that you had to have the faculty continue you, and 
I don t know whether anyone ever voted for or against my 
retiring from the faculty. Buckland also said that he thought 
I could be called back to teach courses, but nobody s ever 
suggested that and I never was called back. I ve never taught 
since June of 1981. 

McCreery: Would you have gone back if you had been asked? 

Mosher: Probably. During the first ten years or so, certainly, but 

it s too late now. There would be just too much for me to go 
back now. But what I miss, you see, is the association with 
students. I didn t think I would. I didn t think that would 
be a problem at all, but it s the one thing that I find 
lacking. It was constantly sort of rejuvenating and exciting 
to be associated with these students and teaching them. I 
found I really- -well, I knew I liked to do it and I d been 
doing it. I really missed teaching. I didn t miss any of the 
rest of it, but I did miss teaching. 

But be that as it may, I never was asked again to teach a 
course, even though there were times when they needed a teacher 
in the history of the book course. 

McCreery: Did you ever make a move to suggest it yourself? 

Mosher: No, I didn t, and of course I had plenty to do to keep myself 
occupied. One of the good things about being a university 
professor is that, you know, you never retire; you always have 
the research part of it. It keeps going. And I had more than 
I could possibly do just in research trying to do some of the 
projects that I d not managed to complete. 

I was working very hard on the early catalogs of printed 
books. I had all of the material that I d got from the British 
Library and from other sources and had a research assistance 
grant to book those catalogs on the UNIX computer. But I 
couldn t read the results at all. It would have been so much 
simpler now. But anyway, that s what I was going to do first, 
was to get that publication out on the early history of 
bibliography entry of printed books . 


Writing for the German Lexikon, From 1984 

Mosher: But then about the same time the Lexikon des Gesamten 

Buchwesens editors approached me and wanted me to start writing 
articles for them. It seemed to me to be a good thing to do 
and I started it. Well, I didn t realize how rapidly it would 
become a full-time job, which it did, and so I ve been too busy 
to do anything else. All I ve done is prepare these 
bibliography entries, which seems to me to be more useful, 
perhaps, than these research projects I ve been working with 
off and on for so many years. 

I discovered when I was teaching and working with the 
students in history of the book that the Lexikon des Gesamten 
Buchwesens entries were very useful, even though you couldn t 
read German. You know, the student can t read German, but 
every entry has a bibliography at the end of the entry that 
leads you on to further information. And this Lexikon was so 
helpful and useful I thought it would be worth spending time 
on, so I did. 

They began to ask me to make suggestions for entries and 
gave me more and more and more to do, so I just continued to do 
them, expecting that--well, I don t know what I was expecting-- 
somehow or other I would get back to my research projects. 

Right now it would be so much easier to do the study of 
bibliography entry because I can use the computer myself and 
put things just the way I want. I spent so much time 
correcting and revising and changing the UNIX production that 
it discouraged me, but now I could get that done really 
rapidly, I think, if I could spend as much time at the computer 
as I want to. 

McCreery: I notice you ve been working on the German project since 1984. 
That s fifteen years. How many entries have you completed, 
would you say? 

Mosher: Oh, I don t know. I was doing about 100 a year for a number of 
years. I did a lot of them. They d give me the title of an 
entry, and I d make a folder for it and start researching in 
the library and bibliographies and get all the information 
xeroxed that I can find. Then I write an entry in English and 
send it to them to translate into German. Then they set that 
up in proof and send me the proof, and I have to correct that, 
proofread it, and send it back. It takes a lot of work, time. 

McCreery: Do you have any favorite entries that you ve worked on? 


Mosher: Not necessarily favorite ones. The one on New York took an 
awful lot of energy and time. No, I don t think I had any 
favorite ones. They were all really interesting. I think I 
had the ability to compress the important information. 

As I said earlier, the really useful part of it is the 
bibliography that s added to each entry. I spent a lot of time 
trying to find the best sources to lead people on to additional 
information. It s very broad in scope because everything was 
to do with the production and distribution of printed material, 
mainly, but also of manuscripts and anything to do with 

Contact With the School Since Retiring; The Advent of SIMS 

McCreery: Well, I m curious. What kind of relationship did you maintain 
with the library school after retiring? 

Mosher: Oh, for a while I went to library school faculty meetings, but 

it didn t seem to me to be worth going to them. Nobody needed 

my knowledge or experience, I guess. I was just there 

Oh, I should say that right about this time the university 
passed a general resolution of some sort that said that emeriti 
professors were a part of the faculty and they could attend 
faculty meetings, but they couldn t vote on anything. So what 
you do is attend a meeting that you can t vote on. 

Also, gradually, the questions that were being discussed 
were not anything I was particularly interested in or knew 
anything about, I guess, and this stirred this feeling of 
division in the faculty. Most of the time there was no real 
dean and the interim deans were just that, pretty much interim, 
and it was not very interesting to me to see what was going on. 

I felt that, speaking for just one retired professor, that 
I just am totally eliminated. Nobody ever inquired about what 
I thought or what I was doing, officially. Although I was 
given a part of an officepart of a desk in part of an office 
--and I could use the xerox machine and the mailing services, 
that was about all there was to it. 

McCreery: Do other emeriti feel the same, do you know? 


Mosher: I think so. I don t know about Wilson and Harlan, how they 

feel now. Swank felt this way pretty much. After he retired 
he quit going to faculty meetings. I don t know about Harlan 
and Wilson. 

McCreery: Do you think there could be a stronger role for emeriti at all? 

Mosher: Oh, yes. Certainly they could have used me for teaching at 
least one course every term. I could have kept on teaching 
reference courses, but, well, I wasn t asked to. Of course, I 
also might say, I m not sure that I would have accepted it if 
I d been asked. [laughs] 

McCreery: Okay. Well, let me ask you quickly, as we ve touched on before 
and has been much discussed among everyone, the school closed 
and then reopened as the School of Information Management and 
Systems . What are your views of this to the extent that you 
know about it? 

Mosher: To the extent of what I know about it, I think it s a calamity. 
I think that if you go back a little farther, the school was 
reviewed more than once to see whether or notwell, not 
whether it should be continued perhaps, but just what was 
happening to it . And every review has always been in favor of 
the schooldespite pointing out various problems like the 
disagreements among the faculty. 

These reviews often happened in connection with looking for 
a new dean. When the review would be favorable and they d 
start looking for a dean, then some higher authority, I guess, 
would cancelsay the review had to be done over again or 
something of the sort. 

It was when the university was suffering severe budget 
restrictions, and the library school was an almost perfect 
example of a school that could be eliminated entirely without 
causing too much trouble. It would save the whole budget of 
the school and provide a building right in the center of campus 
for some other more important school, in the opinion of a lot 
of people. 

It was a school that was having difficulties finding a 
dean, presumably, and there were disagreements among the 
faculty. It seemed to be a ripe candidate for just being 
abolished, so I don t know. I wasn t in on so much of it that 
I hesitate to say anything about it, but as I understand it, 
the present dean [Hal R. Varian] was one of a number that were 
being considered for the dean of the school--! don t think 


necessarily a new school, just a dean of the schooland the 
faculty voted against him but the administration employed him. 

He, I think, as I understand it, was avowedly opposed to 
libraries and had never worked in libraries, didn t know 
anything about them. Yet he was made dean. The administration 
committee, or whoever was deciding all this, decided it had to 
be a new schoolnot a library schooland changed its name to 
what it is. This is what I understand or I hear. 

What s happened is, of course, that it doesn t have any 
basic constituency now. The libraries were the organizations 
for which the school existed, and now that the school doesn t 
admit the existence of libraries, there s nothing much for the 
school to well, it has to do something entirely different. 
I m not sure that anyone has articulated what it is, or knows 
what it is. I don t know much about the new dean. I don t see 
him as having a very clear picture of what he wants the school 
to be. 

McCreery: The new school has decided not to seek ALA accreditation at 
this time. What are your views on that? 

Mosher: It probably wouldn t be granted because they hardly have a- -I 
guess I don t know enough about it, but they don t have a 
program for educating librarians, and that s what the ALA is 
all about. The ALA is concerned with educating librarians, not 
with information specialists of various sorts. 

I think it would be tragic, of course--! think it is tragic 
that the university here at Berkeley doesn t have a school 
concerned with libraries. But that s the way it s happened. 

McCreery: I know that many library schools have faced similar crises; 
many have closed and/or changed their names. 

Mosher: Yes. 

McCreery: Now UCLA in our own UC system made a different decision by 

incorporating its library school into the school of education 
rather than closing it completely. Any thoughts on what kind 
of a solution that is? 

Mosher: I ve heard nobody talk about what has actually happened. I 
would not approve of its becoming part of a School of 
Education. One reason is I have a real prejudice against 
schools of education. Well, I suppose it s better than being 
closed to have it continue under some other school, but I don t 
know how it s working out. I haven t talked with anybody from 


UCLA about it at all. I gather from what I ve heard, it s not 
doing particularly well. I think that- -well, I don t have any 
thoughts about it really. 

Thoughts on Retirement 

McCreery: I was interested to hear you say you missed students so much 
after you were so reluctant to go into teaching in the 

Mosher: Well, yes. [laughter] I was reluctant because of my 
experience teaching freshman English. 

McCreery: Which is quite a different, thing, yes. 

Mosher: Yes. Like I said, I liked the students here. Obviously I 

continued to enjoy teaching or I wouldn t have stayed on in the 
library school. My folders are full of offers of doing 
something else in library work, but I chose--well, I must say 
perhaps partly because of the location. I enjoyed teaching and 
what I was doing. On the whole, I was able to do what I wanted 
to do and teach how I wanted to teach, and I always felt 
appreciated by the students, and they probably contributed a 
lot to my life and experience. 

McCreery: Well, I congratulate you on your career. It must be nice to 
know that the effects of your teaching are still being played 
out in all of these libraries today. 

Mosher: Well, yes. I certainly don t dwell on it at all. I have not 
tried to keep in touch with students . There are too many of 
them and I have too much else to do, I guess. 

McCreery: What else are you doing with your retirement? 

Mosher: I don t know- -just daily living, I guess, absorbs most of my 

time. I have tried to correspond with my family as often as I 
can and with good old friends who need, I think, to be kept in 
touch with. Both Evelyn and I are very much involved in 
Trinity Church here in Berkeley, and that takes a lot of time. 

For example, tomorrow is an all-day meeting about the 
future of the church--it s the Methodist church right across 
the street from the Congregational church- -and what should be 
done with the sanctuary building, because we meet in the 
chapel. It s a very small congregation now. It used to be one 


of the large ones in Berkeley, but it no longer is, so the 
whole day tomorrow is to be devoted to what you should do with 
a building that can t be changed because it s a historical 
landmark, can t be demolished and so on, that sort of thing. 

Then we re also involved in a local earthquake group that 
meets at least once a month. One Saturday we spent the whole 
day on what various people have been doing to prepare for the 
next earthquake and what we should be doing. 

But otherwise, the Lexikon takes up most of my time. Then 
of course I do all my own income taxes, you know. 

McCreery: That s rightduring the course of our interviews. 

Mosher: Yes. I find I don t have the time and- energy to do very much 
beyond just keeping going. 

I am surprised, when we ve been going over this, at how 
much time I spent on intellectual freedom at the beginning of 
my career here in the library school. I didn t realize that 
I d spent quite so much time and energy and effort. On the 
whole, I think that was good. 

But I don t have anything to do with libraries or the 
library school any more at all, just my so-called successor, 
Mary Kay Duggan. You know, she taught history of the book, and 
she has been just ousted from the faculty. 

McCreery: She s over at the music department, now, isn t she? 

Mosher: Yes, and not even allowed an office in South Hall. She s the 
one I get most- -we communicate with each other and I find out 
what s going on through her. 

I occasionally have talked with Bob Harlan, but not very 
often because he lives in San Francisco. I seldom have got to 
campus since I broke my hip. 

McCreery: Is there anything else I should have asked you about your 
library school career? 

Mosher: Oh, millions of things, I suppose, but I don t know what they 
would be. I just don t know. 

McCreery: I have enjoyed so much hearing all the details of your teaching 
and research careers at Berkeley. 

Mosher: Thank you. 


McCreery: And your thoughts on these issues of passion, like intellectual 
freedom. I really enjoyed it very much. I appreciate your 
candor and willingness to answer questions that came out of the 
blue many times, I know. 

Mosher: Well, it s hard to organize something like this, too, and to 
say the things that ought to be said. There are, I m sure, a 
number of things, if I stop to think about it, that are 
important in the history of the school that I know about, but I 
can t think of them with a tape recorder. [laughter] 

McCreery: Yes. Well, you ve done a great job. Thank you very much. 
Mosher: Thank you. 

Transcribed by Amelia Archer 
Final Typed by Shannon Page 

TAPE GUIDE- -Fredric J. Mosher 

Interview 1: March 15, 1999 

Tape 1, Side A 1 

Tape 1, Side B 9 

Tape 2, Side A 17 

Tape 2, Side B not recorded 

Interview 2: March 19, 1999 

Tape 3, Side A 25 

Tape 3, Side B 33 

Tape 4, Side A 42 

Tape 4, Side B not recorded 

Interview 3: April 2, 1999 

Tape 5, Side A 50 

Tape 5, Side B 58 

Tape 6, Side A 66 

Tape 6, Side B not recorded 

Interview 4: April 5, 1999 

Tape 7, Side A 76 

Tape 7, Side B 83 

Tape 8, Side A 91 

Tape 8, Side B not recorded 

Interview 5: April 9, 1999 

Tape 9, Side A 99 

Tape 9, Side B 106 

Tape 10, Side A 114 

Tape 10, Side B not recorded 

Interview 6: April 16, 1999 

Tape 11, Side A 123 

Tape 11, Side B 129 

Tape 12, Side A 136 

Tape 12, Side B not recorded 

Interview 7: April 23, 1999 

Tape 13, Side A 143 

Tape 13, Side B 150 

Tape 14, Side A 158 

Tape 14, Side B not recorded 

Interview 8: April 30, 1999 

Tape 15, Side A 165 

Tape 15, Side B 172 

Tape 16, Side A 181 

Tape 16, Side B 189 

INDEX- -Fredric J. Mosher 


accreditation of library schools, 

174-175, 194 
admissions. See School of 

Librarianship . 
American Library Association, 38, 

40, 51, 76, 82, 120, 128, 174- 

175, 194 

Bancroft Library, The, 40, 54-55, 

91, 166-167 
bibliography, courses in, 96. 

See also Coulter, Edith M. 
Birkelund, Palle, 130, 131 
Black, Donald V., 56-57 
Bowman, Ben, 21-22, 27, 33, 34, 

35, 36, 38 
British Library, London, 184-187, 


Brown, Edmund G. "Pat," 134 
Bryant, Douglas W. , 40, 42, 75 
Buckland, Michael K. 148, 157, 

177-183, 185, 187, 189-190 
Butler, Gibbon, 18 
Butler, Pierce, 32, 36-37, 39-40 
Butler, Ruth, 32, 34 

California Library Association, 

65, 71, 76, 77, 78, 100 
California State Library, 65. 

See also Fruge, August K. ; 

Gillis, Mabel; Leigh, Carma 

card catalog, computerization of, 

122, 181 

Carpenter, Ken, 86-87, 109 
censorship, 76-82, 99-104 
Chandra, Lila, 72 
Chicago Public Library, 37 
children s librarianship, 169 
Clarke, Leslie, 86, 166 
Clement, Frank, 9, 11 

computers in libraries, 122, 156- 

157, 181 
Coney, Donald, 71, 72-75, 118, 


Cooper, Michael D., 147 
Cooper, William S., 146 
Coolidge, Coit, 65-66, 69-70 
Coulter, Edith M. , 50-51, 165- 

166, 188; Coulter Lectureship, 


Coulter, Mabel, 51 
Crerar Library, John 30 
Cubie, Crete (Fruge), 47, 50, 

117, 147 

Danton, J. Periam, 39-41, 42, 44, 
49-50, 58-59, 62-63, 71, 72, 
80, 100, 101, 118, 120, 174 

depression, effects of, 1930s, 7, 

Dial, The, 28-29, 38, 83 

doctoral programs. See School of 
Librarianship . 

Doe Library, 71-75. See also 
Coney, Donald. 

Duggan, Mary Kay, 196 

Farquar, Patricia Anderson, 56 
Finn, Bess, 33-34 
Fiske, Marjorie, 80, 99-103 
Flanagan, John T., 28, 38 
foreign language requirements. 

See School of Librarianship. 
Free Speech Movement, 115, 133- 

140, 142, 149, 171-172 
Fruge, August K. , 60 

gender, issues of in 

librarianship, 152-154 
G.I. Bill of Rights, 20-21, 27 
Gillis, Mabel, 65, 68 


Goodwin, Annette, 49 
Griswold, Portia Hawley, 57, 86, 
160, 169 

Harlan, Robert D., 157, 158-159, 
161, 168, 174, 187, 193, 196 

Hawley, Portia. See Griswold. 

Held, Ray E., 115-116, 168, 174 

Helium, Bertha D., 104 

history of the book, courses in, 
54-55, 87-90, 120, 128, 155 

Institute of Library Research. 

See School of Librarianship. 
intellectual freedom, 76-82, 99- 

104, 152, 196 
Ireland, John (maternal 

grandfather), 2, 6 

Joeckel, Carleton B., 48 

Keller, Dorothy, 72-73 
Kennedy, John F., assassination 

of, 129, 131-133 
Kerr, Clark, 53-54, 110, 118, 


Kirkegaard, Preben, 123, 124, 130 
Kruger, Bill, 9, 11, 13, 15 

Larson, Henning, 20, 21 
Leigh, Carma Zimmerman, 68-69 
Levenson, Roger, 87-90, 91, 120, 

librarianship; stereotypes of, 

Librarianship, School of. See 

School of Librarianship. 
Library and Information Studies, 

School of. See School of 

Librarianship . 
Library Council, 121, 143 
Lowenthal, Leo, 80, 100 
loyalty oath, 42-43, 63-64 

Markley, Anne Ethelyn, 47, 50, 

63, 72 
Maron, M. E. "Bill," 121-122, 


Martin, Carolyn, (sister), 5 
Merritt, LeRoy C., 45, 46, 47, 

49, 63, 70, 71, 77, 82, 104, 


Milczewski, Marion, 44, 71, 74-75 
Mitchell, Sydney B., 20, 22; 

Mitchell Scholarship, 110 
Mohr, Carolyn Curtis, 117, 161 
Mosher, Albert (paternal 

grandfather), 2 
Mosher, Allan Robert (son), 124, 

132, 185 
Mosher, Evelyn Varland (wife), 

11, 14, 15-16, 22-23, 24, 25, 

26, 45-46, 47, 51, 123, 124, 

125, 132, 133, 195 
Mosher, John Randolph (Randy) 

(son), 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 

32, 45 
Mosher, Fred Smith (father), 2-3, 

6, 7, 
Mosher, Georgie Ireland (mother), 

3-4, 6, 8 
Mosher, Roy George (brother), 4- 

5, 6, 7 
Munch-Petersen, Erland, 124 

Newberry Library, 20-21, 26, 77, 
83, 105-107, 117 

Pargellis, Stanley, 20-21, 26-27, 

28, 35, 47, 51, 74 
Peiss, Reuben, 41, 45, 48 
Pietsch, Eliza Hart (later Chugg), 

public libraries, state aid for, 


rare books, 54, 86-87, 134, 166- 

Ready, William B., 41, 45, 48, 

50, 52 


Reagan, Ronald, 141 

reference service, courses in, 
51-52, 92-96, 158-166. See 
also Coulter, Edith M. ; Held, 
Ray E.; Ready, William B. 

Roger, Mae Durham, 169 

Royal Library, Copenhagen, 84-85 

Royal School of Librarianship, 
Copenhagen, 123-130 

School of Information Management 
and Systems (SIMS), 193-194 

School of Librarianship, Berkeley: 
admissions, 57-58; curriculum, 
156; doctoral programs, 59-61, 
90-91, 173; foreign language 
requirements, 96-97; Institute 
of Library Research, 120-122, 
133, 143-148, 150, 155; 
location of, See South Hall; 
summer program, 107-108 

School of Library and Information 
Studies. See School of 
Librarianship . 

Sisler, Delia J., 51; Sisler Book 
Prize, 109-110 

Smart, Anne, 81-82, 103-104 

South Hall, 89, 92, 112-114, 120, 
135, 155, 159 

Sproul, Robert Gordon, 110 

Stanford University, 52, 117, 
118-119, 149 

Strong, Edward W. 137 

Swank, Raynard Coe, 52, 63, 74, 
111, 115, 116, 117-121, 133, 
143-144, 147-150, 155, 160, 
161, 163, 167, 169 

University of California, 

Berkeley; campus atmosphere, 

University of California, Los 

Angeles, 52, 146, 194-195 
University of California Press, 

University of Chicago, 21, 27-39, 

65, 158 
University of Illinois, 8, 13, 

16-20, 65 
University of North Dakota, 10, 

12, 14, 16 

Varian, Hal R. , 193-194 
Vietnam War, 172 
Vosper, Robert, 52, 54 

Wheeler, John T., 168 

Whouley, Mary, 159, 160 

Wight, Edward A., 76 

Wilson, Adrian, 89-90 

Wilson, Louis Round, 36 

Wilson, Patrick G., 56, 157, 159, 

161-162, 167-172, 174, 177, 

187, 188, 193 
Windle, John, 33-34 
Woodward, Gertrude, 32, 34, 83 
World War II, 8 

Zimmerman, Carma. See Leigh. 

Taylor, Archer, 29-30, 84, 85 
Tompkins, John Barr, 40, 46, 51- 

52, 71 
Trinity United Methodist Church, 

137, 195-196 

Laura McCreery 

Laura McCreery is a writer and oral history consultant whose 
interests include California social and political history, 
history of libraries, public policy, higher education, and 
journalism. She has been a consulting interviewer/editor at 
ROHO since the inception of the Library School Oral History 
Series in 1998. She has also done oral history consulting, 
project management, training, interviewing, and editing for 
such clients as the East Bay Regional Park District, 
Prytanean Alumnae, Inc., and the Berkeley Historical 
Society. She holds a B.A. in Speech Communication from San 
Diego State University and an M.S. in Mass Communications 
from San Jose State University. 




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