Home >  Dartmouth College Library Bulletin > November 2000 >

Dartmouth College Library Bulletin


James Wright

This issue of the Dartmouth College Library Bulletin celebrates the notable career of Margaret Otto as Librarian of the College and, equally important, as a member of the Dartmouth community for more than two decades.

Margaret Otto received her B. . .A. in English Literature from Boston University and her M. . .A. in English and her M.S. in Library Science from Simmons College.She joined the staff of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries in 1963 as Assistant Science Librarian.From that point, she rose quickly to become Science Librarian, then Assistant Director and Associate Director for Library Services, and finally Associate Director of the Institute Libraries in 1976. In 1979, Dartmouth wisely selected Margaret as the sixteenth Librarian of the College following in the succession from Bezaleel Woodward.

As Librarian of the College, Margaret was responsible for the construction and renovation of facilities.Beginning with the Storage Library in 1981, she provided leadership for the development of the expanded Paddock Music Library in 1986, Matthews-Fuller Health Sciences Library in 1993, Feldberg Library in 1997, Rauner Special Collections Library in 1999, and the Berry Library this year.If we were to judge Margaret's career at Dartmouth on this record alone, it would be remarkable.However, 'bricks and mortar' are not Margaret's most consequential and enduring legacy.It is, rather, the growth of collections and the development of access tools for which her career will be best remembered.

Charles Haskins, professor of mathematics and chair of the Baker Library Building Committee, observed in 1925 that the Library's collections tend to double once every twenty-five years.In 1970, the Library acquired its millionth title with a nearly perfect copy of Anne Bradstreet's The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America (1650).Under Margaret's leadership, the Library celebrated its two- millionth acquisition in 1994 with the splendid collection of British illustrated books created by Edward Sine of the Class of 1951.This collection consists of over 3,000 books with 6,000 original drawings and watercolors.This is but one example of the growth of the collections.We could also point to the growth of the print collections, serials, maps, microforms, audiovisual materials, manuscripts, and recordings.

As Librarian of the College, Margaret Otto also vastly increased the quality of access to the very rich collections within the Library. When Margaret arrived at Dartmouth in 1979, the Library had a manual catalog. Within two years of her arrival, the Library's catalog was automated, one of the first in the nation.Under Margaret's leadership, the Dartmouth College Library has continued to be in the forefront of adapting new technology to improve the quality of access and service provided by the Library.Her commitment to the best possible collections and the best possible access service has brought the Library literally and figuratively into the twenty-first century.

Margaret Otto's stature within the profession has been recognized many times over.She has served in a variety of offices within the Research Libraries Group, an organization of over 160 research libraries throughout the world, including membership on its Board of Governors and service as the chair of that board. . .As Dartmouth's representative to the Association of Research Libraries, the body of 130 of the largest research libraries in the United States and Canada, Margaret has been a director, chair of the Preservation Committee, chair of the Committee on Membership, and on the Committee on Nominations.Her service on the OCLC Research Library Advisory Board has been marked by the steady growth of that portion of the OCLC membership.Margaret has also served on the visiting committees of the Brown University Library and the University of Rochester Library and has been a member of the Howe Library Board of Trustees here in Hanover.

The eminent American historian Jeremy Belknap wrote in 1774: 'The college library is kept at Mr. Woodward's.It is not large, but there are some very good books in it.' While Belknap's statement regarding quantity is no longer applicable, his comment on quality remains true to this day.Due in large measure to the stewardship of Margaret Otto, there are a great many very good books in the Library.

Jeremy Belknap, Journey to Dartmouth in 1774, ed. Edward C. Lathem (Hanover:Dartmouth Publications, [1950]), 19.