Evan Ira Farber

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Evan Ira Farber (b. circa 1922 – February 12, 2009) was Faculty Emeritus and former Head Librarian at Earlham College. Throughout his career, he has been active with the American Library Association (ALA) and the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), holding positions that included Chair of the ACRL College Library Section from 1968-69[1] and President of the ACRL from 1978-79.[2] He has also been active with the ACRL College Leadership Committee and the ACRL College Libraries Mentor Program.[3]

Bibliographic Instruction[edit]

Farber was highly regarded as a leader and authority on the subject of bibliographic instruction, he began hosting conferences at Earlham College in 1977.[4] By this time, he had developed a successful bibliographic instruction program tailored to Earlham College in its specific context.[5] This mainly entailed integrating the instruction into specific college courses within the college’s curriculum.[6] His five defining points of the college’s bibliographic instruction program in 1974 included flexibility and variety in the methods of instruction, the use of structured examples and illustrations in the instruction process, personalized reference services, the perception of librarians as educators, and the extension of the library’s resources to include those materials presented as much as possible.[7] The central objectives of the program at that time were to indicate to students the differences between high school and academic libraries, to show that resources relevant to nearly any topic exist and the importance of choosing the most important and pertinent ones, to illustrate basic search strategy principles transferable to any topic, to emphasize the amount of resources that exist and the usefulness of working with a reference librarian, and to develop a readiness to search outside of the library if necessary.[8] This approach to bibliographic instruction arose from his observations that colleges provide a particularly suitable context for both librarians and faculty to emphasize undergraduate education more than research.[9]

Faculty-Librarian Cooperation[edit]

To support effective bibliographic instruction, he has also emphasized the necessity of developing faculty-librarian cooperation.[10] By working together with faculty, librarians were involved in specific courses at Earlham College and were thus able to structure their instruction towards specific assignments, with the result that the instruction became directly relevant to students’ interests.[11] Regarding the benefits of an ideal cooperative relationship between faculty and librarians, he stated: “When that cooperative relationship works well, it can result in assignments that approach, if not reach, what I consider the ideal: where both the teacher’s objectives and the librarian’s objectives are not only achieved, but are mutually reinforcing – the teacher’s objectives being those that help students attain a better understanding of the course’s subject matter, and the librarian’s objectives being those that enhance the students’ ability to find and evaluate information.”[12]



  1. ^ "Section Manual."
  2. ^ "Chapter 15 History."
  3. ^ Hardesty, “College Library Directors."
  4. ^ Ibid., Preface, v.
  5. ^ Farber, “Library Instruction,” 145.
  6. ^ Ibid., 160.
  7. ^ Ibid., 155-8.
  8. ^ Ibid., 158.
  9. ^ Ibid., “College Librarians.”
  10. ^ Ibid., “College Libraries.”
  11. ^ Ibid., “Bibliographic Instruction.”
  12. ^ Ibid., “Faculty-Librarian Cooperation.”


1. "Chapter 15 History." American Library Association. 2006. https://www.ala.org/ala/acrl/aboutacrl/resourcesforwork/guidetopolicies/chapter15history.htm

2. Farber, Evan. “Bibliographic Instruction at Earlham College.” In Bibliographic Instruction in Practice: A Tribute to the Legacy of Evan Ira Farber, edited by Larry Hardesty, Jamie Hastreiter, and David Henderson, 1-25. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Pierian Press, 1993.

3. –––. “College Librarians and the University-Library Syndrome.” In The Academic Library: Essays in Honor of Guy R. Lyle, edited by Evan Ira Farber and Ruth Walling, 12-23. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1974.

4. –––. "College Libraries and the Teaching/Learning Process: A 25-Year Reflection." The Journal of Academic Librarianship 25, no. 3 (1999): 171-77. http://vnweb.hwwilsonweb.com/hww/jumpstart.jhtml?recid=0bc05f7a67b1790e361922cccebcceb31d333130cdccb4439307a338c2341865450fefca4032a262&fmt=H.

5. –––. “Faculty-Librarian Cooperation: A Personal Retrospective.” Reference Services Review 27, no. 3 (1999): 229-34. http://newfirstsearch.oclc.org/.

6. –––. "Library Instruction Throughout the Curriculum: Earlham College Program." In Educating the Library User, edited by John Lubans, Jr., 145-62. New York: R. R. Bowker, 1974. [1]

7. Hardesty, Larry. “College Library Directors Mentor Program: `Passing It On:' A Personal Reflection.” Journal of Academic Librarianship 23, no. 4 (1997): 281-90. http://vnweb.hwwilsonweb.com/hww/jumpstart.jhtml?recid=0bc05f7a67b1790e361922cccebcceb31d333130cdccb44347d5c1968d376a146bfe011e4e950203&fmt=H.

8. –––. Preface to Bibliographic Instruction in Practice: A Tribute to the Legacy of Evan Ira Farber, edited by Larry Hardesty, Jamie Hastreiter, and David Henderson, v-vi. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Pierian Press, 1993.

9. "Section Manual." American Library Association. 2006. http://www.ala.org/ala/acrl/aboutacrl/acrlsections/collegelibraries/aboutcoll/sectionmanual.htm.