Arthur Monke

Arthur Monke, head librarian at Hawthorne-Longfellow Library for 24 years, died on January 27, 2010, in Topsham, Maine.

He was born on March 30, 1925, in Regent, N.D., and grew up in North Dakota and Minnesota. He served as an Army artilleryman in the European Theater during World War II. After the war, he studied at Gustavus Adolphus College and earned his bachelor’s degree in 1950. It was there that he met his future wife, Jytte Petersen, an exchange student from Varde, Denmark. He continued his education at Columbia University, where he earned a master of library science degree at in 1958. He served as a school librarian in Winthrop, Minn., and South Fallsburg, N.Y., before taking a position as reference librarian at Colgate University. He came to Bowdoin as assistant librarian in l963 when Hawthorne-Longfellow Library was under construction. As the 17th librarian in the College’s history, he continued the legacies of John Abbot, Calvin Stowe, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and George T. Little. He was appointed acting librarian in 1966 and head librarian in l968. He was elected librarian emeritus upon his retirement in 1992. During his tenure, he oversaw many improvements to the library, including construction of the underground connector between Hawthorne-Longfellow Library and Hubbard Hall in 1980, renovation of the Hubbard stacks, and the establishment of the Abrahamson Room on the top floor. He also oversaw the construction of the Hatch Science Library, which opened in 1991. Motivated by a passionate belief in the role of books in research, he developed broad collections that deeply enhanced Bowdoin’s library. He recognized the potential of computer technology to transform library operations and to enhance accessibility to library collections. Under his direction, in the early 1970s, the library became one of the first members of OCLC, the computer library service organization that brought the first computers into the library. He oversaw the 10-year project to convert the library’s vast card catalog to machine-readable format, which culminated in the introduction of the library’s first online catalog in 1989. Under his leadership, the library also introduced online interlibrary loan services and online database searching. From 1969 through 1991, he compiled annual benchmark statistics for college libraries nationwide, a survey that was known as the “The Bowdoin Library Statistics.” He was a founder of the Nathaniel Hawthorne Society and served as the society’s treasurer for many years. He also served as vice president of the Maine Library Association and as president of the directors of the Brunswick Public Library Association. He was a member of the public relations committee of the New England Library Association, as well as a member of the American Library Association and the American Association of University Professors. He is survived by his wife of 58 years; daughter Kirsten Monke; sisters Edna Mittelsteadt and Norma Pommeranz; brother Leonard Monke; and two grandchildren. His son, Eric, and daughter, Ingrid, predeceased him.