Friday, November 11, 2011
Tribute to a Veteran and to a Library Historian on 11-11-11
As a Veteran myself, I take note when I come across information about another librarian who has served in the Armed Forces. In reading David Kaser's Books and Libraries in Camp and Battle: The Civil War Experience (Greenwood Press, 1984), I was taken with his reminisces about his reading experiences during World War II. Kaser served with a tank battalion in the European theater. He writes in part: "I recalled purchasing forty years ago a copy of Street & Smith's pulp Western Stories magazine in the bus station in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to carry with me on maneuvers at Camp Shelby. I remember reading the Stars and Stripes by the light of a candle in a stable in Alsace and trying to use my schoolboy German to puzzle out the cartoons in an issue of Simplicissimus that I had 'liberated' from a chalet in the Tyrol.... I remembered the copy of the Pocket Book of English Verse that I carried in the turret of my tank until the volume literally fell apart, but by then it did not matter because I had learned all of the poems by heart anyway." Kaser would have been in the European theater at the same time as my father who served in a artillery battalion. After his military service Kaser completed his education and became an academic library administrator. He served as the Director of the Joint University Libraries in Nashville, TN which served Vanderbilt University and George Peabody College from 1960 to 1967. His tenure overlapped my undergraduate years at Peabody where he also taught. He joined the faculty of the School of Library and Information Science at Indiana University-Bloomington in 1973 where he became Distinguished Professor in 1986. He retired in 1991 and was designated Distinguished Professor Emeritus. Kaser is responsible for some excellent library history research and publication including his book A Book For A Sixpence: The Circulating Library in America (Beta Phi Mu, 1980). There have been many tributes to Kaser and his scholarship by those who have known him including this one by Haynes McMullen. He has been honored with an endowed lectureship at Indiana University-Bloomington.