A Pictorial History: The University of Iowa Libraries – Ralph E. Ellsworth

Ralph EllsworthRALPH E. ELLSWORTH 

Director of Libraries

1943 – 1958

Ralph Ellsworth was previously director of libraries and professor of bibliography at the University of Colorado, and prior to that, a librarian at Adams State College, Alamosa, Colorado.  At Colorado, he had planned and built a library that was designed to function as a teaching instrument, and he came to Iowa with the promise that he could design their new library building.

Ellsworth’s ideal blueprint for the new library would include, besides stack space, three reading rooms for lower division undergraduates, the School of Letters, and for the social studies.  Conference rooms, small classrooms, carrels for graduate students, and offices for faculty and staff would be located nearby, along with the academic counseling service, graduate seminar rooms, and a bookstore, newspaper room, and a soda fountain in the basement.

Though completed in 1951, the building was less than third of the projected size.  Ellsworth returned to Colorado, frustrated in his attempts to achieve his plan of integrating academic departments into the new building, as well as the lack of support from liberal arts faculty to create professor-librarian partnerships.

Ellsworth received a B.S. in library science from Western Reserve University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.