Columbia Library columns (v.2(1952Nov-1953May))

(New York :  Friends of the Columbia Libraries.  )



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  v.2,no.1(1952:Nov): Page 2  

A Librarian's Creed:
James Hulme Canfield


BEFORE coming to Columbia at the turn of the century, my
Vermont-and-New York father had long and variously
served the life of the intelligence in our nation. He had
been for many years professor of history and economics (he
always said that there he occupied a settee, not a Chair) at the
State University of Kansas; from there he went to be Chancellor
of the University of Nebraska; thence to be President of the Ohio
State University; and then—even his fabulous vitality beginning
to show signs of wear—he returned, at the invitation of President
Seth Low who was a lifetime friend of his, to spend the last decade
of his Ufe in his boyhood home town of New York.

Of his years in Nebraska, Alvin Johnson (of the New School
for Social Research) speaks thus in his recently published auto¬
biography: "At the top was the Chancellor. A mighty man was
he, drawing a salary said to be the largest in the state. We adored
Chancellor Canfield. We regarded him not only as a shining
representative of the world of culture, but as a true democrat,
who used all his influence to abate the snobbishness of the stu¬
dents from the families composing the rising middle-class—that
the university might not be cursed with caste formation."

That passage gave me joy. Exactly so would my father wish
to be remembered by one of his old students. He was a Vermonter,
and an intensely democratic spirit has been part of the tradition of
Vermont ever since the settlement of the state in 1764, when my
father's Canfield forebears came into the Green Mountains.

But in Vermont, as everywhere else, there are many kinds of
personalities. Some have enough passivity in their make-up to feel
  v.2,no.1(1952:Nov): Page 2