Oral Histories

Interview of Miriam Dudley

UCLA Library bibliographic checker and reference librarian.
Interviews not in a series, part two
UCLA and University of California History
UCLA Librarians
Biographical Note:
UCLA Library bibliographic checker and reference librarian.
Grassian, Esther
Dudley, Miriam
Persons Present:
Dudley and Grassian.
Place Conducted:
Dudley's apartment in Sherman Oaks, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Esther Grassian, Information Literacy Librarian, UCLA College Library; B.A., Hebrew, UCLA 1967; M.L.S., UCLA, 1969.Grassian prepared for the interview by reviewing the Sadleir Collection and other pertinent materials held by UCLA libraries.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. Dudley was then given an opportunity to review the transcript and made a number of corrections and additions. Those corrections were entered into the text without further editing or review on the part of the Center for Oral History Research staff.
5.25 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Mimi's birth, Minot, North Dakota, 12/25/1924--Mother's family's (7 children) immigration from Estonia--Move to Los Angeles, 1926--Parents' education--Mother's work as secretary and with Wobblies, Minneapolis--Father's public library self-education regarding food chemistry, vitamin production--Father’s Vitamin Flour and Milling Company, Los Angeles and record pressing, Mercury Records--Mother's secret first marriage and half-brother--Family focus on libraries and books--Clark Library as storehouse for print copies of Los Angeles Times newspapers--Mimi as UCLA graduate student in English under Hugh Dick--Interest in bibliography sparked by descriptive bibliography of poetry in Olive Percival collection--Dean, University of Southern California (USC) Library School convinced her to become a librarian-- Bob Vosper, UCLA, held bibliographic checker position for her--Description, Powell Library Building--Lawrence Clark Powell's trip to Europe with Library of Congress book catalog, hundreds of volumes, for bibliographic checking--Early jobs in soda and sandwich shop and waitressing compared to library reference positions--Meeting and marrying Norman Dudley--Norman's employment by Mimi's father as West Coast Distributor for Mercury Records--Norman's interest in librarianship and work with Lawrence Clark Powell, Andrew Horn, Robert Vosper, and Page Ackerman--Evolution of Library administrators from scholars to managers--Norman most proud of positive relationships with library staff and faculty.
Grandfather emigrated to Minot, traded furs with Indians, established Hide and Fur Company--Father's younger sister, T.V. Moss, well known in the book business--Mother’s secret first marriage--Review: Move to L.A. with her family and poor financial circumstances during Depression--Father's interest in food processing and flour mill, and later, vitamins--Vitamin and Flour Mill he built in L.A., 1932--Also built record processing plants in Chicago and L.A., based on vitamin pressing experience--Mother's secretarial work, Wobblies, and first husband, Howard Guilford, yellow journalist, killed by gangsters, Minneapolis--Father's self-study, University of Chicago's Crerar Library--Founding of Mercury Records and pressing plant in L.A., and Indiana, on Star Piano Company site-- Mimi's efforts to preserve company records through Lawrence Clark Powell's contacts--Family's return to L.A.--Description of UCLA campus in early 1940s, including Powell Library--UCLA English Department faculty, including Lily Bess Campbell, who strongly discouraged other women from being on the faculty or getting advanced degrees--Irony of naming Campbell Hall after her, with its focus on "Rainbow Coalition" of ethnic groups--UCLA English grad school--Michael Sadleir collection of Victorian publications--Introduction to UCLA Library and Clark Library by Hugh Dick, UCLA English Professor--Going to library school--Desire to be like Ardis Lodge, UCLA reference librarian.
Role of religion in Dudley's life--Depression era worries--Half-brother and his real father--Mimi’s father one of Mercury Records founders--Mother’s secret first marriage meant Wobblies work kept secret--Father’s Indiana pressing plant--Undergraduate years, English--Interest in bibliography--Library school at USC--Admiration of Ardis Lodge--Getting a job in UCLA Library--5 years as bibliographic checker--Resignation to raise sons for ten years--Work on subject index for UCLA Sadleir Collection, 19th Century Fiction, under Bradford Booth (UCLA English Professor)--Discussion of Vosper raising funds to purchase Sadleir Collection--Description of items and process used in creating the index--Return to work as reference librarian in UCLA College Library--Memory of University Research Library's (URL) [now Young Research Library] 1965 opening and Norman Dudley's work on move from Powell Library--1960s-1970s political unrest, when police requested College Library [Powell Library building] doors be locked during campus sweep for Vietnam War protestors--Description of police chasing two students into URL and Bob Vosper, University Librarian, protecting them, declaring the Library a sanctuary--Heads of College Library, including Norah Jones, and College Library colleagues--Recollection of outside consultant addressing problems with Jim Davis, and his transfer to Library Administration--Mission of College Library to help undergraduates, different from URL’s.
Her role and process in creating Sadleir subject index and descriptions--Collection of mint first editions of 19th century novels, Yellowbacks, and items similar to Classics Illustrated--Return to UCLA as College Library reference librarian--"Library tours," library lectures, always offered--Campus “Rainbow Program” orientation for Chicana/o, Black, Asian, and American Indian groups--Chicano group’s teaching assistant wanted reference treasure hunt--Mimi's idea, looking up facts in reference books without student copying--Hands-on, active learning through her self-paced workbook--Visits to colleges and universities--Fear workbook would eliminate reference, but it brought people into the library--eveloping/updating questions and answers a huge job--Initially, a librarian spent 10 minutes in classes talking about it--UCLA Freshmen required to take Subject A [remedial English], had to complete Workbook successfully--Other faculty also required it--Other countries interested in Workbook--Getting students into library for instruction was new approach--Changing UCLA Library administrators' attitudes, and analogy to how reference work began--Just entering library alleviated library anxiety, as did smiling at reference librarian--Mimi's name always listed as author, but Jim Davis wanted College Library as author--Look back at Workbook Program, highly successful--Difficulty establishing library organization on instruction--Establishment of California Clearinghouse on Library Instruction (CCLI), through California Library Association--National organizations under ALA, ACRL’s Bibliographic Instruction Section (BIS), and LIRT (Library Instruction Round Table).
Workbook program, University of Arizona, where David Laird, University Librarian, said if successful, no need for reference librarians--Library tours and lectures constituted all library instruction--New approach, introducing students to reference books--UCLA copyrighted Workbook, but many asked for permission to use or adapt it--Her role in establishing CCLI, ACRL BIS, and ALA LIRT--ACRL BIS, focused on university libraries--LIRT addresses instruction in all kinds of libraries--Threat to reference and newness meant more difficulty in establishing these organizations--Her elected/appointed activities, BIS and LIRT--Mentoring new librarians--Thoughts on future of organizations and library instruction--Meaning of terms library instruction, information literacy, information competency, and more--Her Research Strategies essay on need for library instruction--Role of reference in teaching-Miriam Dudley Instruction Librarian Award--Invitations to speak about library instruction, including Oxford and Cambridge--Memory of many libraries fighting to establish library instruction programs--Overall thoughts on how libraries and librarianship have changed--She glories for those just starting library school, as she cannot think of a better way to serve society--Final thoughts regarding Norman Dudley and a quick review of his career as a librarian in the UCLA Library--Final thoughts about library instruction and information literacy instruction and basic belief in value of her work.