Genevieve M. Walton
Above: Genevieve M. Walton. This image is from the Eastern Michigan University Archives and may only be used with permission.
This post was submitted by Michael V. Barnes (Assisant Professor, Cataloging/Metadata, at Eastern Michigan University).
Genevieve Walton was one of the first librarians at the MichiganState Normal School (now Eastern Michigan University). She began her tenure atthe Normal in 1892 and was the head librarian for the next 40 years. Professional training for librarians was limited in those days and Ms. Walton’s formal education came in the shape of a six week course at the Fletcher School in Amherst, MA. Later, she received a Master of Arts from St. Mary’s College in South Bend.
When Ms. Walton started at the library, the stacks were only open to library personnel and student assistants, the collection consisted of 12,000 volumes, and was in rough order by broad topic (history, art, science, literature, etc.). By the end of her run at the Normal School, the library was open to all students, had grown to 70,000 volumes, and was classified in good subject order using the Dewey Decimal System. When use of Cuttering became commonplace, Ms. Walton rejected it entirely. She believed that the role of library personnel was to become intimately acquainted with the titles and that the only way to do this was to have a sense of each piece and know its home within the larger collection. She maintained that “a librarian must be constant in reading, both professional and general, to worthily fulfill his work.
Ms. Walton was well liked on campus. Daily, she brought home three students and faculty for lunch. She made a habit of bringing coffee from home during cold winter evenings to give out to students in the library. The library profession in Michigan also greatly benefited from Ms. Walton’s involvement. Her house was a center for visiting librarians and was said to have had round table discussions on librarianship. She was a co-founder of the Michigan Library Association and was its first female president.
Ms. Walton’s career culminated in the construction of the first separate Library building on campus. It had seating for 400 students and shelving space for 150,000 volumes as well as special chairs and tables “for short people.” She passed away two years after the dedication and is remembered on campus by the dormitory that bears her name.
(This image is from the Eastern Michigan University Archives and may only be used with permission.)