Librarian of the College Will Bridegam
By Jisoo Lee
Will Bridegam has retired after 29 years of service as Librarian of the College and one year as interim Librarian. Bryn Geffert, previously director of the West Point library, has since filled his position.

How did you come to work at the College?

In 1975 I left my position as Director of Libraries at SUNY Binghamton to accept President William Ward’s offer to serve as Amherst’s Librarian of the College. I retired in 2004, but returned in 2008, first as Acting Head of the Library’s Archives and Special Collections, then in 2009 as interim Librarian of the College.

How would you describe your 29 years at the College?

If you count the past year in which I served as interim Librarian, I had the privilege of being Amherst’s Librarian for 30 years. I think every member of the library staff can take pride in the way the library supported the educational needs of the students and the research requirements of the faculty during those years. I realize this is a biased statement, but I think the Amherst library is among the very best of the liberal arts college libraries.

What major changes took place in the library during your tenure?

One of the most important accomplishments of the library staff during the ’70s and ’80s was converting the card catalog into a digital online catalog. Another was expanding access to online digital information resources. In the ’90s, we renovated portions of the Frost and Science Libraries and created the Five College Library Depository for less-used books at the bunker.

What were the best parts of your job?

Encouraging the development of the Archives and Special Collections as a research collection that is genuinely useful to students and faculty has been one of my greatest pleasures. Our literary and historical manuscripts and our rare book collections attract not only local researchers but also scholars from around the world. The Friends of the Library and other alumni have played a major role in building those collections.

Do you have any post-retirement plans?

Retirement will give me time to return to an early interest — composing music. I have set several poems by Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost for soprano and piano, but now I’d like to branch out by composing for instrumental groups. This spring my wife and I look forward to a trip to northern Italy. I also have been asked to serve as a board member and consultant to the Organ Historical Society in Princeton, N.J. on the future of its library and archives.

What advice do you have for the new librarian?

Amherst was extremely fortunate to have been able to appoint Bryn Geffert as its new Librarian. Bryn did not need my advice, but I was pleased to have had an opportunity to give him a substantial briefing on the state of the library before leaving. I have no doubt that the Amherst College Library will continue to prosper under his dynamic leadership.

Issue 14, Submitted 2010-02-10 03:51:12