President-elect Franklin Johnson announced, in April 1929, that Robert Bingham Downs had been selected to replace Ernest Marriner as the college librarian. Marriner was recently elected to the newly-created position of Dean of the men’s division. Downs was the first professionally-trained librarian at Colby, having completed the B.S. program at the Columbia School of Library Services and finishing the M.S. program. Downs assisted in the Main Reading Room at the New York Public Library before his appointment at Colby.
Under the direction of Librarian Downs, changes were made in library facilities and operations to improve access and services. He was faced with maintaining two library spaces within Memorial Hall (the Old Library and the Seaverns Reading Room), insufficient staffing, a cataloguing backlog and library holdings scattered between several campus buildings. He created a unified system for administering books and periodicals and began the identification of rare, fragile and unique items that merited preservation.
Downs left Colby in May 1931, accepting a position at the University of North Carolina, his alma mater. His successor, Joseph Selwyn Ibbotson, became college librarian in July 1931.
The Colby Echo. Waterville, ME: Colby University/Colby College. 17 April 1929. Web. 4 March 2015.
The Colby Echo. Waterville, ME: Colby University/Colby College. 25 September 1929. Web. 4 March 2015.
The Colby Echo. Waterville, ME: Colby University/Colby College. 5 February 1930. Web. 4 March 2015.
The Colby Echo. Waterville, ME: Colby University/Colby College. 27 May 1931. Web. 4 March 2015.
Marriner, Ernest Cummings. The History of Colby College. Waterville, ME: Colby College Press, 1963. Print and web.