Virginia Elwood-Akers, retired Library facultySeptember 30th, 2008
Ok, I’m sitting in my original office which I just think is fascinating, because lots of people have been here since. I was hired in August of 1972, just out of library school (Oregon is where I went to library school). But I wasn’t young, I mean I wasn’t a brand new “baby” librarian because I had had other careers first, which was the reason they hired me, because I worked in public relations. And they wanted somebody who had a background in public relations because Norman Tanis — who was the director of the library at the time — was starting a development program. And he founded a group called the Bibliographic Society, which was kind of the precursor of the Friends of the Library. So it was called the Bibliographic Society and the first president of that group was the head of the Southwest Museum [Carl Dentzel], so it was very prestigious. And they needed somebody who could write press releases and newsletters and brochures, and that was me, so they hired me.
Anyway, so they had programs they invited poets and writers and famous scientists, like Francis Crick. They invited people to come and speak and they had — we had, I should say — a publishing program called the Santa Susana Press, which published gorgeous books. And everything was swell and fine as long as there was money. And then the money began to get tighter and tighter, and I know one person who used to say that the state university used to be supported by the state, and now it is acknowledged by the state. Probably in the early 80s the money just started to dry up. It was probably connected to Proposition 13, when education money dried up all over the state. And so the Bibliographic Society gracefully died, but not totally. The press went on and they still published beautiful books.
Well there was the great library party of — I can’t remember what year — when Ward Ritchie, the publisher — do you know Ward Ritchie? Well, Los Angeles used to be very famous for fine press books. Glen Dawson did one, Ward Ritchie was a printer who did one. Anyway. . . they did an exhibit of Ward Ritchie press books, and his girlfriend, — using the word “girl” very, very loosely — was Gloria Stewart, that was in Titanic. They were already in their eighties, I believe. Anyway they had this party out in the lobby that was just wonderful. It had music, it had dancing, it had drinking, it had raucous wonderfulness, it was a great party.