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Clark Kerr

Listserv members may be interested in the following remarks by Clark Kerr
in The Gold and the Blue (U Cal, 2000), Vol. I of his two-volume memoir.
The passage deals with his effort, as UC president, to prepare an
integrated plan for the libraries in the multi-campus university system in
the pre-Internet era. For innocent young members who do not know: Kerr,
one of the great contemporary figures in higher education, was Chancellor
at Berkeley, 1952-58; UC President, 1958-67; and (after being removed by
Governor Ronald Reagan), Chairman of the Carnegie Commission on Higher
Education and the Carnegie Council on Policy Studies in Higher Education,

"I subscribed to the view of Thomas Carlyle (1841) that 'the true
university of these days is [first of all] a collection of books.'
Immediately after I became president I set out to improve the university's
library resources....Improving the libraries...was one very important
action that could be taken to encourage the humanities and social sciences
at a time when the federal government was doing so much to encourage the

"I started out with great enthusiasm for the project but soon learned that
no welcomed solutions were easily attainable. Everybody wanted every
library resource on every campus--and yesterday. No compromises! I had
looked on librarians as quiet, meek individuals. I learned, instead, that
they are rapacious and belligerent and devious, beyond even deans of
medical schools....

"I went first to the librarians of the several campuses. Each wanted, as a
minimum, a Library of Congress on their individual campus. No concessions;
not even that it would take a long time. Their agreed way to a solution
was clear--there was no agreeable solution. So I went to the council of
chancellors but with the same result.

"So, one weekend in early 1960, I sat down at my desk and worked out a new
plan on my own."

Harold Orlans
Bethesda, MD