Rutgers University. Office of University Librarian

Hide Profile

Born out of a small collection of theology books beginning the late eighteenth century, the Rutgers University Libraries have grown to comprise twenty-four libraries, collections, and reading rooms holding over 2.4 million books, 640,000 bound periodicals, 4 million government documents, and 5 million manuscripts. This growth can be attributed to a number of people, not the least of whom includes Donald F. Cameron.

The transition began in 1944, when Donald Cameron assumed the role of university librarian, succeeding the retiring George Osborne. At that time, the University Library's collection, housed in the Voorhees Library, numbered approximately 400,000 volumes. It had long been recognized that the collection, the staff, and the library building itself would need to be expanded to sufficiently provide for Rutgers' growing community. As University historian Richard P. McCormick wrote in 1966: "Adequate for the purposes of undergraduate instruction, the library was housed in a building that had long since become crowded to capacity and was handicapped by inadequate staff and a minuscule book fund. The growing emphasis on graduate instruction and research would require facilities and resources vastly larger than those available." (1) These were the challenges Donald Cameron took on during his twenty-two year tenure as university librarian.

Cameron came to Rutgers as an associate professor of English in 1929. It was fifteen years later when he became university librarian. Though he had no working experience as a librarian when he was appointed, he was actively involved in library issues and helped to found the Associated Friends of the Library of Rutgers University in 1937. This group initiated the publication of The Journal of the Rutgers University Libraries, which featured excellent articles based on library materials and generally constituted a vocal constituency in behalf of the library's needs. (2) Cameron also championed faculty research as a co-founder (and later editor) of the Rutgers University Press and organizer of the University Research Council. In fact, Cameron was active throughout his career at Rutgers, contributing to university governance through his service on numerous committees.

Cameron's appointment to the position of university librarian came at a time of great change at Rutgers. Prompted by World War II, new attitudes were being taken toward life in general and higher education in particular. According to University historian Richard McCormick: "As the war entered its final stage, with the promise of a victorious peace seemingly assured, the American people were conscious, even determined, that a different and better world must follow the holocaust . . . . A host of Governmental planning groups were at work . . . [developing among other things] daring proposals for a vast expansion of higher education." (3)

Set into motion by this widespread initiative for expansion, the state legislature moved to clarify the status of Rutgers as the state university. By 1945, the declaration was made; Rutgers was designated the State University of New Jersey. With this official designation and eventually, the end of the war, came several internal organizational reforms, a merger with the Newark Colleges, a new corps of faculty, and the appointment of several new key administrators, including Cameron.

The atmosphere of change was reinforced by an influx of returning veterans entering college on the GI Bill. Enrollments soared from a prewar high of 7,000 to 16,000 by early 1948. The explosive expansion witnessed after the war forever changed Rutgers. From this point on, the university would continue to expand its constituency, which would require the provision of more and larger library buildings, collections, and services.

As the library acquired new collections in the early years of Cameron's tenure, space issues that were always recognized became desperate. The remedy to this problem, a new University Library was finally constructed under Cameron's direction. The carefully planned building, designed to hold over 1,500,000 volumes and to seat 1,200 students, was formally dedicated in November 1956. (4) Four million dollars in the making, the University Library, which was eventually renamed the Archibald S. Alexander Library, was a tremendous feat and is the accomplishment for which Donald Cameron is perhaps most remembered.

Library construction was a hallmark theme of Cameron's term as university librarian. In total, he was instrumental in the planning of over fourteen million dollars worth of library buildings on the various campuses. In a 1966 article reporting his retirement, Cameron's record of building was summarized: "He was consultant for the new library built at Douglass College in 1958, the library the went up on Rutgers Camden campus in 1959, the library for Rutgers Newark finished in January [1966], and is involved in planning for the new library of science and medicine for which ground will be broken in the fall. He's also helping to plan a new addition to the Camden library." (5)

Cameron filled these new buildings with thousands of acquisitions. The records reflect hundreds of gifts and purchases. During his twenty-two years as university librarian, holdings increased from 400,000 volumes to 1.2 million.

Donald Cameron retired from Rutgers in 1966. Robert Kriendler expressed a common sentiment in a letter to Cameron dated May 26, 1966, writing: "Something seems out of joint here. Your retiring from Rutgers is something like Billy the Silent uprooted from his observation post at the foot of Bleecker Place. It's like Old Queens without the ivy." (6)

For a total of thirty-seven years at Rutgers, Donald Cameron presence was significant. One thing is for sure, Cameron left his mark in the library system he helped to build.

After leaving Rutgers, Cameron remained active in the library community, acting as a consultant to New Jersey and New York state college and university libraries and to the American Library Association until his death in 1974 at the age of seventy-three.

(1) McCormick, R. P. (1966). Rutgers: A Bicentennial History. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 241.

(2) Ibid.

(3) Ibid. 262.

(4) Ibid. 297.

(5) "Rutgers Librarian Comes Out for Air." (1966, June 5). New Brunswick Home News .

(6) This personal correspondence and selected others may be found in the Donald Cameron Rutgers faculty biographical file (R-Bio: Faculty), held in Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University.

From the guide to the Inventory to the Records of the Rutger University Office of University Librarian (Donald F. Cameron), 1925-1971, (Rutgers University Libraries. Special Collections and University Archives.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Inventory to the Records of the Rutger University Office of University Librarian (Donald F. Cameron), 1925-1971 Rutgers Special Collections and University Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith 21 (Restaurant : New York) corporateBody
associatedWith Adams, Ruth M. person
associatedWith American Library Association corporateBody
associatedWith Army Specialized Training Program (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Association of College and Reference Libraries (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Beck, Lewis C. (Lewis Caleb), 1798-1853 person
associatedWith Bentley, Arthur Fisher, 1870-1957 person
associatedWith Blaustein, Albert P., 1921- person
associatedWith Board of Proprietors of the Eastern Division of New Jersey corporateBody
associatedWith Boyd, Julian P. (Julian Parks), 1903- person
associatedWith Brown University. Library corporateBody
associatedWith Cameron, Donald F. person
associatedWith Case, Clarence Edwards, 1877-1961 person
associatedWith Clothier, Robert C. (Robert Clarkson), 1885-1970 person
associatedWith Cole, William Harder, 1892-1967 person
associatedWith Committee on Library Education corporateBody
associatedWith Cornell University. Library corporateBody
associatedWith Corwin, Margaret Trumbull person
associatedWith Council of Proprietors of the Western Division of New Jersey corporateBody
associatedWith Dartmouth College. Library corporateBody
associatedWith Davidson, Carter, 1905-1965 person
associatedWith Demarest, G. S. person
associatedWith Dix, William S. person
associatedWith Doak, Lowell C. person
associatedWith Douglass College. Library corporateBody
associatedWith Drury, Francis K. W. (Francis Keese Wynkoop), 1878-1954 person
associatedWith Duke University. Library corporateBody
associatedWith Eagleton Institute of Politics. Library corporateBody
associatedWith Easton, Elmer Charles, 1909- person
associatedWith Edmonds, Anne C. (Anne Carey), 1924- person
associatedWith Erftt, Kenneth person
associatedWith Fiordalisi, Vincent E. person
associatedWith Friends of the Rutgers University Libraries corporateBody
associatedWith Grolier Club corporateBody
associatedWith Gross, Mason W. person
associatedWith Hartley, O. G. person
associatedWith Harvard University. Library corporateBody
associatedWith Hurley, Francis K. person
associatedWith International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Technical, Salaried & Machine Workers, AFL-CIO corporateBody
associatedWith John Marshall College corporateBody
associatedWith Jones, Lewis Webster person
associatedWith Kriendler, I. Robert (Irving Robert), 1914-1974 person
associatedWith Lafayette College. Library corporateBody
associatedWith Lamont, William person
associatedWith Lewis, Fred person
associatedWith MacCarter, Beatrice person
associatedWith Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Library corporateBody
associatedWith McCormick, Richard Patrick, 1916- person
associatedWith McDonough, Roger H. person
associatedWith Meder, Albert E. person
associatedWith Melvil Dui Association corporateBody
associatedWith Merritt, Catherine person
associatedWith Metzger, Karl E. person
associatedWith Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools corporateBody
associatedWith Miers, Earl Schenck, 1910-1972 person
associatedWith Molnar, August J. person
associatedWith Moreland, Wallace S. (Wallace Sheldon) person
associatedWith Muhlenberg College. Library corporateBody
associatedWith National Interfraternity Council corporateBody
associatedWith Nelson, Thurlow C. (Thurlow Christian), 1890-1960 person
associatedWith Newark Public Library corporateBody
associatedWith New Brunswick Historical Club corporateBody
associatedWith New Jersey College for Women corporateBody
associatedWith New Jersey Historical Society corporateBody
associatedWith New Jersey Library Association corporateBody
associatedWith New Jersey Press Association corporateBody
associatedWith Nichols, Roy F. (Roy Franklin), 1896-1973 person
associatedWith Northwestern University. Library corporateBody
associatedWith Princeton University. Library corporateBody
associatedWith Purdue University. Library corporateBody
associatedWith Reynarowych, Roman person
associatedWith Robeson, Paul, 1898-1976 person
associatedWith Rutgers College. Alumni and alumnae corporateBody
associatedWith Rutgers, Henry, 1745-1830 person
associatedWith Rutgers University corporateBody
associatedWith Rutgers University. College of Pharmacy. Library corporateBody
associatedWith Rutgers University. Committee on Naming New Buildings corporateBody
associatedWith Rutgers University. Committee on Research corporateBody
associatedWith Rutgers University. Dept. of English corporateBody
associatedWith Rutgers University. Dept. of Mathematics corporateBody
associatedWith Rutgers University. Dept. of Physics. Library corporateBody
associatedWith Rutgers University. Dept. of Psychology corporateBody
associatedWith Rutgers University. Dept. of Public Relations corporateBody
associatedWith Rutgers University. Graduate School of Library Service corporateBody
associatedWith Rutgers University. Institute of Management and Labor Relations. Library corporateBody
associatedWith Rutgers University. Library corporateBody
associatedWith Rutgers University. Library Advisory Board corporateBody
associatedWith Rutgers University. Library. Special Collections and University Archives corporateBody
associatedWith Rutgers University. Newark Law Library corporateBody
associatedWith Rutgers University. Newark Law School corporateBody
associatedWith Rutgers University. Office of the University Librarian corporateBody
associatedWith Rutgers University. Publications Committee corporateBody
associatedWith Rutgers University. Research Council corporateBody
associatedWith Rutgers University. School of Journalism corporateBody
associatedWith Rutgers University. Trustees corporateBody
associatedWith Ryan, Donald person
associatedWith Schlatter, Richard, 1912-1987 person
associatedWith Shoemaker, Richard H. person
associatedWith Sinclair, Donald A. person
associatedWith Sloane, William, 1906- person
associatedWith Swink, John L., 1914- person
associatedWith Syracuse University. Library corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Army. Reserve Officers' Training Corps. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Library of Congress corporateBody
associatedWith University of Chicago. Library corporateBody
associatedWith University of Illinois. Library corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. Library corporateBody
associatedWith University of North Carolina. Library corporateBody
associatedWith University of Pennsylvania. Graduate School corporateBody
associatedWith University of Pennsylvania. Library corporateBody
associatedWith University of Rochester. Library corporateBody
associatedWith University of Virginia. Library corporateBody
associatedWith University of Wisconsin. Library corporateBody
associatedWith Wilhelm, C. W. person
associatedWith Williams, Harrison A. person
associatedWith Worley, Parker person
associatedWith Zing, Wherry person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Annual reports

Corporate Body

Related Descriptions


Ark ID: w68q99z7

SNAC ID: 58308898