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Our Lady's Librarian

By Henry Handley

July 6 marks the 100th birthday of the Marian Library’s first librarian, Brother Stanley Mathews, S.M. He was appointed a librarian in 1952 but had begun volunteering for the library after his graduation from the University nine years earlier in 1943, when it was founded in October of the same year.

Mathews continued to volunteer for the library while teaching in a Marianist school in Cleveland, compiling lists of Marian books in nearby collections. He earned master’s degrees in education and library and information sciences from (then) Western Reserve University, writing a thesis for the latter on the Marian Library. While a master’s student, he spent summers from 1948 to 1951 organizing the Marian Library’s collection. 

Known by many as “Brother Stan,” Mathews had training in library cataloging, acquisitions and reference services, as well as a strong working partnership with theologian and administrator Father Lawrence Monheim, S.M., the Marian Library’s first and third director.

Mathews was knowledgeable and enthusiastic about librarianship, as well as innovative. When prevailing systems of cataloging didn’t account for the many subcategories of Marian topics, he undertook a novel organization scheme for the Marian Library. He also analyzed reference questions long before the library’s annual statistics reporting began.

Mathews apparently delighted in helping a variety of library users and envisioned the library as “a dynamic Marian instrument,” per a 1956 library brochure. His work included writing articles in Catholic magazines, most notably The Marianist, and chairing the committees that organized the first Marian Institutes — seminars that laid the foundation for the International Marian Research Institute two decades later.

Mathews left the Marian Library in 1958 and worked as an educator and a Marianist in a variety of settings throughout the next 40 years. At UD, he was appointed the University’s first rector in 1987 and served on the Board of Trustees multiple times between 1972 and his death in 1998. As his 2008 obituary noted, Mathews had a strong vocation as a Marianist and an educator, a listener, a reader and a teacher. His life and work in part illustrate the importance of librarianship to the Marian Library and prefigure the work of the present-day library faculty, who pursue paths in scholarship and service.

You can learn more about the Marianist legacy of the Marian Library and how it impacts the library today in the exhibit “A Living Library: Marian Acquisitions Through 2022,” slated for Sept. 6–Oct. 28 in the Marian Library Gallery. You can also read about Mathews’ other contributions to the Marian Library and Marianist life in the collections, including on eCommons, where The Marian Library Newsletter documents some of his contributions to the library.

— Henry Handley stewards the Marian Library’s reference, circulating, and rare book collections, periodicals, and pamphlets.

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