Heads of the Library, 1894-2017

From 1876 until 1894, the Library of the Iowa State Normal School, now the University of Northern Iowa, was run by students on a part-time basis. Until 1886, the students received occasional assistance and guidance from several members of the faculty, notably Professors David Sands Wright and Moses W. Bartlett. President Seerley, after his appointment in 1886, took a more direct and consistent interest in library matters. The primary duties of the student librarians seem to have been checking out and re-shelving books. It is not clear exactly who was responsible for the selection of library material, though it seems likely that the faculty took a hand in that. The student librarians developed a rudimentary catalogue of the collection, though it was not developed to professional standards. For a single school year, 1882-1883, Sara M. Riggs, later a long-time member of the history faculty, was employed as "Librarian and Secretary of the Faculty", but the scope of her duties is not now clear.

It was not until 1894 that the Normal School Board appointed a librarian, Anna M. Baker, in a regular, continuing staff position. Even Miss Baker did not have professional library training before she took the position.


Anna M. Baker


The title of the person who headed the library has changed over the years. (For a more detailed look at library administrative structure, see this related page.) During her tenure, from 1894 until 1907, Anna M. Baker held the title Librarian. Subordinates bore the title of Assistant Librarian or functional titles such as Loan Desk Attendant or Cataloguer. Anna Baker's successors, Ellen Biscoe (1907-1910) and Mary Dunham (1911-1913) also held the title Librarian.


Mary Dunham


Anne Stuart Duncan, who succeeded Mary Dunham, bore the title Librarian from 1913 until 1929. She became Head Librarian in 1929 and retained that title until she retired in 1943.


Anne Stuart Duncan


Marybelle McClelland succeeded Anne Stuart Duncan in 1943 and held the title Head Librarian until she resigned in 1953.


Marybelle McClelland


Marybelle McClelland had taken leave for the 1951-1952 school year, received an extension on the leave, and chose not to return to her position.




A triumvirate of librarians, Mary Dieterich, Margaret "Peg" Fullerton, and Lauretta McCusker administered the Library for the two years that Marybelle McClelland was away.

Donald Olaf Rod was named Head Librarian in 1953. He retained that title until 1965 when he became Director of Library Services. He retained that title until he retired in 1986.


Donald O. Rod


Assistant Director of Technical Services H. Wendell Alford served as Acting Director of Library Services from July 1 until August 31, 1986, when he retired. Assistant Director of Public Services Donald Gray served as Acting Director of Library Services from September 1, 1986, until Barbara Jones became Director of Library Services on October 13, 1986. Barbara Jones retained that title until she resigned in September 1988.


Barbara Jones


Assistant Director of Public Services Donald Gray served as Director of Library Services on an interim basis from September 1988 until Herbert D. Safford arrived on July 31, 1989.


Donald W. Gray


Herbert Safford held the title Director of Library Services from July 31, 1989, until September 23, 1998, when he became Dean of Library Services. He served as Dean of Library Services until he resigned effective June 30, 2000, to take another position on the Library staff.


Herbert D. Safford


Associate Dean of Library Services Marilyn Mercado was named Interim Dean of Library Services as of July 1, 2000, and Dean of Library Services as of July 1, 2002. She retired in 2012.


Marilyn J. Mercado



Chistopher Cox became the Dean of Library Services in 2012. He continues to serve in that capacity.



Chris Cox Staff Portrait


Developed by Gerald L. Peterson, with scanning by Gail Briddle, June 2004. Updated by Library Associate Dave Hoing, October 2017.

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