You are here: American University University Library Archives Finding Aids Donald Dennis Papers

VOLUME: 3 linear feet

ACCESS: This collection is open to the public upon request

COPYRIGHT: Please consult the archivist for information about duplication or publishing of any materials from this collection.

RELATED COLLECTIONS: Records of the American University Library

Biographical Note

Donald D. Dennis was born on December 21, 1928 in Paris, France. He was educated at Bowdoin College and received his Master of Library Science degree from University of California, Berkeley. Dennis served in various positions throughout his career, including an assistant at the Free Library of Philadelphia, an instructor in Library Administration, Head of Serials Department, and Library School Librarian at Drexel Institute of Technology. He also served as Head Librarian, Associate Professor, and Department Head at Cedar Crest College. Additionally, he held positions at the University of Michigan and the National Library of Medicine before accepting a position as the University Librarian at American University in 1971.

During his time at Drexel Institute of Technology and continuing into his time at Cedar Crest College, Dennis worked on a book entitled Simplifying Work in Small Public Libraries. The book addresses principles of work simplification relating to routine library operations. In 1964, Dennis was involved in the planning and opening of Cedar Crest College’s new 100,000 volume library.

Dennis is known for his leadership contributions to American University in three areas: the Bender Library construction plan, the introduction of information technology in the library, and the founding of the Washington Research Library Consortium (WRLC).

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains correspondence, articles, reports and other official documents pertaining to Dennis’ graduate education, military service, and various university and library positions, and range in date from 1951 – 1990. The majority of the collection relates to Dennis’ time at American University. It details his involvement in the three-year construction plan for the new Bender Library, opened in 1979, and the implementation of OCLC, an international bibliographic database that enables library catalog sharing and interlibrary loan exchange requests. Additionally, his papers include information about the introduction of the library’s first automated circulation system and Dennis’ involvement in the creation of WRLC. This collection also includes other correspondence and documents relating to Dennis’ personal life. Other files relating to Dennis’ tenure as American University Librarian are located in the University Library Records in American University Archives. Arrangement of this collection is chronological and organized by job positions held by Donald Dennis.


This collection was donated to American University Archives by Mary Lou Dennis in 2008.

Box and Folder Listing

Box 1

University of California, Berkeley (BA, Graduate)
1951 – 1955 US Naval Service
1957 – 1960 Free Library of Philadelphia
Drexel Institute of Technology
        1960 – 1962
        1963 – 1965
Cedar Crest College
        1961 – 1964
        1965 – 1966
        Simplifying Work in Small Public Libraries
        Simplifying Work in Small Public Libraries
        Simplifying Work in Small Public Libraries – Correspondence
University of Michigan
        1965 – 1967
        1968 – 1969
National Library of Medicine
        1967 – 1968
        1971, No Date

Box 2

American University
        1968 – 1975
        1976 – 1979
        1980 – 1982
        1983 – 1986
        1987 – 1990
        Clippings about AU, 1970 – 1990
        Cataloging Cost Summary, 1972
        Simplifying Work in Small Public Libraries, 1974
        Computers in Libraries Seminar, 1981
        No Date
1979 – 1980 Muhlenberg College (consultation)
1980 – 1981 University of Maryland classes
1982 – 1983 University of Maryland classes
Miscellaneous Personal Papers