College & Research Libraries News

“Curmudgeon” Madden remembered at CSU Fresno

“Curmudgeon,” “Bibliophile,” and “Scholar.”

Henry Miller Madden was remembered at a gathering held on August 27 at California State University, Fresno, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his arrival at the library that now bears his name. The celebration recognized the central role Madden played in the library and in the profession in California. In September 1949, Madden joined what was then Fresno State College as college librarian; he retired in 1979. In 1981, the library was named for him, a great honor requiring an exception to CSU policy. He died the following year.

Madden became a recognized leader in the library profession, particularly in the area of intellectual freedom, but his most important accomplishment was the development of a library collection that, for its size, is unparalleled in diversity, quality, and depth. He believed that an “academic librarian [has an] obligation to bequeath a living institution that will be a mainstay for generations unto generations.”

Madden valued his staff and proclaimed them as “unmatched in competence.” He issued unique memoranda written in an idiosyncratic style (“Do not… conclude calls with ‘Bye-Bye,’ ‘mmmbye,’ or other mush.”).

In accepting the position of college librarian 50 years ago, Madden answered a true calling for librarianship. He cherished the importance of the written word. Madden closed his last annual report with, “The things that are most with me are tilings that I have read, for they both open and store the mind. Reading is the means and the measure of intellectual life.”—-Janet Bancroft, Henry Madden Library, California State University, Fresno

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