Joseph Selwyn Ibbotson was appointed college librarian in July 1931. He was a graduate of Phillips Andover Academy and Hamilton College (class of 1929). He studied at Wormgerode-an-Marze in Germany and received a degree from the Columbia University School of Library Service. Before coming to Colby, he worked in the reference department of New York Public Library.
In his first report as librarian (1931-1932), Ibbotson credited Librarian Ernest Marriner with bringing the library into the center of intellectual activity on campus and Librarian Robert Downs with making significant improvements during his two-year tenure. Ibbotson’s goals included greater organization of the library’s collections to increase access and storage efficiency. He In 1934, he worked with the Library Committee of the Faculty to gain approval to move from the Dewey classification scheme to Library of Congress protocols. He advocated for a Library Committee within the Board of Trustees and contributed an article to the March 1934 issue of the Colby Alumnus to promote the newly-formed Friends of the Colby Library.
Ibbotson continued Downs’ efforts to identify and segregate rare and unique materials, advocating for a fireproof storage area to house these irreplaceable items. His reports note the continued growth of the Thomas Hardy Collection due to the efforts of Professor Carl Weber. In the summer of 1934, he enlisted the help of his wife in sorting through cartons and bundles of neglected Colbiana materials, thus creating the first filing system for the college’s institutional records. He welcomed the formation of the Colby Library Associates in 1935, led by Frederick A Pottle ’17, seeing promise in this additional support for library collections. He left Colby to pursue advanced studies in 1935 and was succeeded by J. Periam Danton.
Annual Report of the Librarian, 1931-1935. Colbiana Collection. Colby College Special Collections.
The Colby Echo. Waterville, ME: Colby University/Colby College. 27 May 1931. Web. 4 March 2015.
The Colby Echo. Waterville, ME: Colby University/Colby College. 21 February 1934. Web. 4 March 2015.
The Colby Echo. Waterville, ME: Colby University/Colby College. 2 October 1935. Web. 4 March 2015.