Herman H. Fussler

Herman Howe Fussler (May 15, 1914 – March 2, 1997)[2] was an American librarian, library administrator, teacher, writer and editor, who was a pioneer in the use of microphotography.[3] Fussler was ranked as one of the "100 of the Most Important Leaders we had in the 20th Century" by American Libraries.[4] Fussler served as director of the University of Chicago libraries from 1948 to 1971, was Dean of the University of Chicago's Library school, from 1961 to 1963, and was instrumental in the founding of the Regenstein Library.[2] He helped create the Center for Research Libraries.[2] He was an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.[2]

Herman H. Fussler
Herman Howe Fussler

(1914-05-15)May 15, 1914
DiedMarch 2, 1997(1997-03-02) (aged 82)
EducationUniversity of North Carolina, University of Chicago
OccupationAdministrator, librarian, writer, editor
EmployerNew York Public Library, University of Chicago Libraries
Known for"New Technologies" i.e. microphotography, New "Service Concepts", "Conception and Design of the Joseph Regenstein Library of the University of Chicago"[1]
Spouse(s)Gladys Otten (Died in 1991)
ChildrenBarbara Lynn Padgett
Parent(s)Karl Hartley and Irene (Howe) Fussler
RelativesJulia Lunsford (Sister)

Early yearsEdit

Born in Philadelphia, Fussler moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina as a child, where his father became a physics professor at the University of North Carolina. As a high school student, Fussler developed an interest in microphotography while working in the university's physics department; an interest which stayed with him throughout his life.[2]

Education and careerEdit

University of North CarolinaEdit

Fussler decided to attend the University of North Carolina, and in 1935 received his A.B. degree in Mathematics. Louis Round Wilson, who was a friend of the Fussler family, encouraged Fussler to become a Librarian.[2] In 1936, Fussler received his bachelor's degree in Library Science. During his schooling, Fussler's social world flourished as well; a year later, Fussler married Gladys Foster Otten. They had one child, a daughter, named Barbara Lynn.[2] The summer after Fussler graduated from the University of North Carolina, he accepted a position with the New York Public Library (NYPL).[2] He worked in the Science and Technology Division in the library and was noticed by Harry Miller Lydenberg, the then Director of NYPL, and Keyes Metcalf, who was currently the head of the Reference Department.[2] Even though Fussler was offered a full-time position with the NYPL, he decided to accept an offer from Director M. Llewellyn Raney to work for the libraries at the University of Chicago.[2]

University of ChicagoEdit

While at the University of Chicago, Fussler continued his education, receiving his M.A. in 1941 and eventually his PhD in 1948. When he arrived from New York, Fussler was asked to start up the Department of Photographic Reproduction.[1] Fussler ran the Department for ten years from 1936–1946, while concurrently working as a Science Librarian for the University for the last three years.[1] As the Science Librarian, he was expected to "oversee the collection development and administration of the departmental libraries."[2] Fussler was very ambitious; he worked his way up from Assistant Director to Associate Director, and finally became the Director of the university libraries.[1] He held that title from 1948–1971. In 1971, Fussler decided to step down, so that he could pursue his other passion full-time, teaching.[1] He had the same sense of enthusiasm while teaching graduate students that he did for working in the university libraries.[1] He began as an instructor in 1942, became an Assistant Professor in 1944, a Professor in 1948, and acting Dean of the Library School in 1961.[1]

During his term as Library Director, Fussler published several articles in scholarly publications such as Library Quarterly and American Documentation. In these articles he wrote about problems that face academic libraries and what he expected to see in happen in these libraries the future.

The importance of teaching, research, study, and investigation of sound, well-supported and well-managed scholarly libraries will be far more widely understood. The bases of support for libraries will be broadened, but we are unlikely to be rich or, perhaps, even well supported. The role of the library as an auxiliary to teaching, research, and study will continue to be complex. It is likely that some officers and faculty members of institutions of higher education will still not have a thorough grasp of the relation of the library to the objectives of the university.[5]

Center for Research Libraries (CRL)Edit

In the 1940s, Fussler and some of his colleagues began considering how they could create a storage facility for important, expensive, and underused texts, mainly those for research purposes.[2] Following the example set forth by the New England Deposit Library, librarians from the Midwestern schools known as the Big Ten, as well as Fussler came together to make this dream a reality.[2] The Carnegie Corporation and the Rockefeller Foundation provided much needed grants to open the Midwest Inter-Library Center (MILC).[2] The MILC is known today as the CRL or Center for Research Libraries.

Regenstein LibraryEdit

Fussler was asked to help with the planning of a new Library for the University of Chicago.[2] He was genuinely frustrated that there were certain school departments that housed their libraries' collections in several buildings.[2] He believed that these departments should join forces and house their materials together under one roof in this new construction.[2] In 1965, the Joseph and Helen Regenstein Foundation granted ten million dollars to be put to use to create the new university library that would incorporate several departments' materials.[2] Fussler worked closely with the architect Ralph Youngren to plan a library that would utilize the space well for patrons and collections alike.[2] Groundbreaking for the Regenstein Library began in 1967 and three years later the library was completed and opened. Herman Fussler died thirty years later, in March 1997.

Publications as editorEdit

  • Journal of Documentary Reproduction, Associate Editor, (1938–1942)[1]
  • Library Quarterly, Associate Editor, (1949)[1]
  • American Documentation, (now known as The Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology), Associate Editor, (1950–1952)[6]

Selected published worksEdit

  • "Photographic Reproduction for Libraries: A Study of Administrative Problems", Author, (1942)[1]
  • "Library Buildings for Library Service", Editor, (1947)[1]
  • "Characteristics of the Research Literature Used by Chemists and Physicists in the United States", Author, (1949)[1]
  • "The Function of the Library in the Modern College", Editor, (1954)[1]
  • "The Research Library in Transition", Editor, (1957)[1]
  • Patterns in the Use of Books in Large Libraries, Co-Author, (1969)[1]
  • "Management Implications for Libraries and Library Schools", Editor, (1973)[1]
  • "Research Libraries and Technology", Editor, (1973)[1]


  • Melvil Dewey Award, American Library Association, (1954)[1]
  • Board of Regents of the National Library of Medicine, (1963)[2]
  • National Advisory Commission on Libraries, (1966)[1]
  • Martin A. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor, University of Chicago, (1974)[2]
  • Ralph R. Shaw Award for library literature, (1976)[1]
  • Distinguished Career Citation, Association of Career and Research Libraries, (1989)[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Wedgeworth, Robert (1980). ALA Encyclopedia of Library and Information Services. American Library Association. p. 212.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Davis, Donald G. (January 30, 2003). Dictionary of American Library Biography. Libraries Unlimited. pp. 98–102. ISBN 1-56308-868-1.
  3. ^ Hahn, Trudi; Buckland, Michael (October 1998). Historical Studies in Information Science. Information Today. p. 256. ISBN 1-57387-062-5.
  4. ^ Leonard, Kniffel; Sullivan, Peggy; McCormick, Edith (December 1999). 100 of the Most Important Leaders we had in the 20th Century. American Libraries. p. 42.
  5. ^ Fussler, Herman (July 1953). Readjustments by the Librarian. Library Quarterly. pp. 216–229.
  6. ^ Vanasco, Jennifer (April–May 1997). Obituary: Herman H. Fussler. Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science.


Davis, D. G. (2003). Fussler, Herman Howe (1914–1997). In Dictionary of American Library Biography. (Vol. 3, pp. 98–102). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. Retrieved January 22, 2011, from Google Books https://books.google.com/books?id=91UjM6TLRJgC&pg=PA102

Fussler, H.H. (1953). Readjustments by the librarian. Library Quarterly. 23(3), 216–229. Retrieved January 22, 2011, from JSTOR 4304233 database

Hahn, T., & Buckland, M. (1998). Historical studies in information science. Medford, NJ: Information Today.

Kniffel, L., Sullivan, P., & McCormick, E. (1999). 100 of the most important leaders we had in the 20th Century. American Libraries. 30(11), 42.

Vanasco, J. (1997). Obituary: Herman H. Fussler. Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science. Retrieved from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3633/is_199704/ai_n8771842/.

Wedgeworth, R. (1980). Fussler, Herman Howe (1914– ). In ALA Encyclopedia of Library and Information Services. (pp. 212). American Library Association.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit