More than 250 people come to work every day in one of Duke’s libraries. And in spite of our numbers, we are a close-knit staff because our work connects us to each other. Collection development librarians select books that are ordered by the staff of the Acquisitions Department and later prepared for the shelves by the catalogers. Those same books then pass into the care of the employees of Access and Delivery Services, and perhaps Preservation as well. These and the many other interlocking relationships of people working together are the spirit of the Duke University Libraries.
So, the deaths of three of our colleagues over the past year have left us feeling diminished. Joyce Farris and Gertrude Merritt were long retired but not forgotten—remembered for the pleasure it gave us to know them and for the contributions they made to the Libraries during their long careers. The third, Helene Baumann was still working with us when she died in July 2006.
Helene came to the Libraries in1979 as a library assistant and copy cataloger. For most of her career, she was the subject librarian for Africa and Western European Studies and a reference librarian. Helene was also active in professional organizations. She won honors and awards, organized international conferences, and was appointed or elected to leadership positions of Western Europeanists and Africanists alike.
Joyce Farris, who died in December 2006, was a catalog librarian at Duke’s Perkins Library, where she put to good use her knowledge of seven languages. She came to the Libraries in 1978 and retired in 1992. Her husband, Donn Michael Farris, the director of the Divinity School Library for over forty years, preceded her in death.
Gertrude Merritt retired from the Libraries in 1979, having served the University for 43 years. During her career she was Head of Serials, Chief of Technical Processes, Assistant Librarian for Technical Services, and Associate University Librarian for Collection Development. She helped build the Libraries’ collections to more than a million items before her retirement. Miss Merritt was our living memory, and we continued to rely on her until her death in October at age 97.