A tribute to Librarian, Esther Ralph (1918-2011), by Margaret Schaus, Lead Research and Instruction Librarian at Haverford College:
Esther Ralph, long-time librarian at Haverford College, passed away October 21. Esther worked at Magill Library from 1941 through 1984. She began as an assistant cataloger while still enrolled in Drexel University’s Library School. She later worked in the Bindery, managed circulation, became head of cataloging, and Associate Librarian. She oversaw the building and the collection move during the massive addition made in 1964-1967 and introduced computerized cataloging to the library. Her notes in books bear witness to her care and appreciation of research materials both for scholarship and for the college’s history.
In her 40-year career at Haverford, Esther witnessed many changes to the Library’s building, collections, and services. When she arrived, she and other staff returned books to the stacks using a dumb waiter operated by rope and pulley. She saw U. S. Army units exercise on the College fields during World War II; she heard Eleanor Roosevelt speak to students and faculty in the College chapel. In 1941 the Library held around 150, 000 volumes. When Esther retired the Library had doubled its floor space and tripled its collection size.
In 2008 in honor of her service, her family dedicated a bench and garden area on the north side of Magill Library outside Special Collections. It is a fitting memorial near the library, offering students a place to read or talk between classes.
Learn more about Esther’s career and experiences at Haverford from her oral interview: hdl.handle.net/10066/1636