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Friends of the Library at Sewanee: The University of the South: About Friends of the Library

Friends of the Library

      The Friends of the Library of the University of the South exists to support the Library as an intellectual, cultural, and social center for Sewanee and beyond.
      Our purpose is to:

  • Enrich the cultural life of the community by sponsoring lectures, programs, and activities
  • Encourage gifts for the enrichment of the Library
  • Increase public awareness of the Library’s resources and services
  • Attract others to become involved in the Friends of the Library

The Friends of the Library of the University of the South has supported the Library in many ways since its inception in 1983.

  • Supporting summer internships for Archives and Special Collections and for Digital Projects
  • Providing funding for the video collection
  • Buying comfortable leather furniture for patron use
  • Honoring an exemplary work-study student with the annual Derek Waller Award
  • Purchasing an outdoor book drop

History of the Friends of the Library



Tom Watson


During my first four years as University Librarian during the latter part of the 1970’s, I became aware that there were very many alumni and other friends of Sewanee who loved books and themselves had amassed sizeable private book collections over the course of their lifetime.  In many cases, as these people become older and face the challenge of needing to downsize their homes, they are unsure about how appropriately to dispose of these private libraries; in other instances they have friends who have such collections that they do not know how to dispose of.


            Having “inherited” a friends of the library organization when I became Director of the Library at Newberry College, I had experienced first hand how important such an organization could be in helping the director of the library to identify potential gift collections which could greatly enrich the holdings of the college library.  When I arrived at Sewanee, I was impressed with the size and depth of the library collection for an institution our size.  I was even more impressed when I learned that more than half of the holdings had come to the University as gifts of alumni and friends.


            In 1980, I approached the Vice-Chancellor and the Vice-President for Development and successfully made the case for our organizing a Friends group at Sewanee primarily to serve as the eyes and ears of the University Library in identifying gift collections which support our educational mission.  Working with Arthur Chitty, I identified several key alumni likely to be interested in such an organization and invited them to Sewanee for a weekend to discuss the feasibility of establishing a Friends of duPont Library.  Among that group were three who became charter members of the board:  Franklin Gilliam, owner of the Brick Row Book Shop in San Antonio; Frederic Beil, owner and president of SandStone Press in New York City; and Edmund Berkeley, rare books librarian at the University of Virginia.  Everyone who attended this exploratory meeting was enthusiastic about moving forward with the project.


            Unfortunately, before the project could get actively underway, I left the library and went into the Vice-Chancellor’s office.  Thus, the project had to wait until my successor, David Kearley, had been hired to move forward, which it did in the fall of 1982.




            When I left the library in October of 1981 to go into the VC’s office, Ed Camp, who was my Associate University Librarian, was named acting director, and in January, 1982, a formal search for my successor was launched.  David Kearley, then the librarian at Peabody College in Nashville, was named and assumed his duties in July, 1982.  He and I had a series of meetings in late summer and early fall in which I brought him up to speed on a number of matters, including the first steps I had taken to get a friends group organized.


            He called a meeting for November 19, 1982, which included essentially the same persons I had been working with initially to explore starting a friends group.  Those present, which included some key alumni such as Franklin Gilliam, Edmund Berkeley, and Frederic Beil.  Those present unanimously favored forming a friends group and the following committee was appointed to draft a constitution:  Frederic Beil, John Gessell, Franklin Gilliam, David Kearley, Edith McCrady, Gerald Smith, and Edward Watson (University Legal Counsel).


            The original purpose of the FOL as stated in the proposed constitution was three-fold:  to stimulate interest in the collections and facilities of the library of the University of the South; to provide an opportunity for those interested in the library to participate in exhibits, programs, and publications; and to attract gifts of books, manuscripts, and other materials for enrichment of the resources of the library.


Governance Structure


            The proposed constitution envisioned a two-board structure:


The Board of Governors:

9 members elected by the entire friends membership for 3 year staggered terms; there was also a provision for honorary members who had no vote.  The role of this Board was to establish policies and plans for the Friends consistent with its purposes, and encourage and aid in achieving these purposes.


The Board of Directors:

5 members elected by the friends membership for one year terms, to be augmented by the President of the Board of Governors and the University Librarian, ex officio.  Its role was to conduct affairs of the friends between general annual meetings of the group.,


Anyone was eligible to belong to the friends group who so desired and paid the dues.


The original working group which David had brought together for the November 19, 1982 meeting approved the proposed constitution and the first general meeting of the newly organized Friends of the Library of the University of the South met on April 23, 1983, with the stated purpose of electing the first Board of Directors, approving and adopting the proposed constitution and suggesting possible members for the soon to be constituted Board of Governors.  Thad Lockard presented the first program.


Edith McCrady was elected the first president of the friends group.  The first meeting of the full friends group after the organizational structure was put in place was held on November 19, 1983.  The speaker was Andrew Lytle.  This was followed by a meeting on April 24, 1984, at which Alan Cheuse was the speaker.  At the point, having completed its first full year, the organization was off and running.  A complete list of FOL presidents and FOL speakers follows, which will be periodically updated.




1982-83                      Edith McCrady

1983-84                      Edith McCrady

1984-85                      Edith McCrady

1985-86           Jack Gessell

1986-87                      Scott Bates

1987-88                      Peggy Haines

1988-89                      Eugene Ham

1989-90                      Eugene Ham

1990-91                      Don DuPree

1991-92                      Don DuPree

1992-93                      Don DuPree

1993-94                      Don DuPree

1994-95                      Don Armentrout

1995-96                      Don Armentrout

1996-97                      Don Armentrout

1997-98                      Jack Carter

1998-99                      Charles & Ruth DuBois

1999-2000        Charles & Ruth DuBois

2000-01                      Ned & Sally McCrady

2001-02                      Ned & Sally McCrady

2002-03                      Allan & Carol Parrent

2003-04                      Allan & Carol Parrent

2004-05                      Bob & Karen Keele

2005-06                      Bob & Karen Keele

2006-07           Tom & Gail Watson

2007-08           Tom & Gail Watson

2008-09           Tom & Gail Watson

2009-10           Phil Loney and Pat Wiser

2010-11           Inactive

2011-12           Jim Dunkly and Vicki Sells, Interim

2012-13            Tom Kandul and Rick Sommer

2013-14            Tom Kandul and Rick Sommer

2014-15            Tom Kandul

2015-16            Florence Wilson

2016-17            Florence Wilson



Updated 3.10.17

Jessie Ball duPont Library, University of the South
178 Georgia Avenue, Sewanee, TN 37383