One for the books


After adding 2.5 million books to Chicago’s stacks over 24 years, Martin Runkle, AM’73, steps down as library director October 1. Photographs, articles, and a timeline highlight his tenure in the Special Collections Research Center exhibit Catalyst for Change: On the Occasion of Martin Runkle’s Retirement as Library Director. The exhibit, which opened Monday in Regenstein Library, focuses on themes such as donors and friends, evolution of technology, staff development, library outreach, Regenstein reconfiguration, and the construction of Crerar.

A believer in “digitization as a means of preservation,” Runkle oversaw the Library’s user-interface overhaul. Personal computing terminals—beginning with the green-text-on-black-screen systems and progressing to today’s Windows, Mac, and Linux machines—replaced the old card catalog in 1989. More recently Special Collections began digitizing its photo files, a continuing project.

Even as computers made the need for a massive card catalog obsolete, the expanding science collection led to the 1984 addition of a new library, Crerar, which in part replaced the old Chemistry Library. The Library system’s continued growth forced a massive reorganization in 1990, including more compact, motorized stacks on the B level.

The exhibit will outlast Runkle’s time at the University by a week, running through October 7.

Sean I. Ahmed, ’06

September 1, 2004