Saturday, January 3, 2009
Vernon Dale Tate (1909-1989)
One of the most useful and interesting set of publications to a library history buff is the Dictionary of American Library Biography and its two supplements. I was browsing through the Second Supplement in this set for significant birth anniversaries and I came across Vernon Dale Tate who was born on January 3, 1909. Tate made a major contribution to libraries and archives by researching, promoting, and utilizing microfilm media and technology. The entry in the DALB was written by Ellen Swain, an archivist at the University of Illinois Archives, and is very thorough. Tate was already an "expert" on microfilm when he was employed by the Library of Congress at age 21 to assist them in photostating documents relating to U.S. history in Mexico. He was hired in 1935 as chief of the Division of Photographic Reproduction and Research at the National Archives. In 1947 he became head librarian of MIT, a position he used to promote the use of microfilm to support academic learning. Tate became excecutive secretary and editor of publications for the National Microfilm Association in 1952. He became Librarian and Archivist of the Naval Academy in 1956. In 1966 he left the Naval Academy to accept full-time employment with the National Microfilm Association. He retired in 1973 but continued to care for the NMA archives. Ellen Swain writes: "Tate's contributions to his field are substantial. He challenged librarians to think beyond the printed book or document by adopting and adapting new media formats that would preserve, enhance access, and reduce the bulk of archival and printed records." To see an image of Tate at work at the Naval Academy click here.