Campus & Community

University librarian Foster McCrum Palmer dies at 87

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Foster McCrum Palmer, associate University librarian from 1966 until 1974, died on Feb. 2 at his home in Watertown. He was 87 years old. Palmer’s career in the Harvard libraries began in 1938 under the late Keyes Metcalf. In 1941, Palmer began his long service as senior reference librarian in Widener Library. He is acknowledged as an early proponent of the application of computers to libraries. Following his retirement in 1974, Palmer was called back into Harvard service from 1975 to 1977 as acting director of the Countway Library of Medicine.

In The Harvard Librarian (Winter 1974/75), the late Douglas W. Bryant – then director of the University Library – commented on Palmer’s retirement: “All of us who have known Foster Palmer and have worked with him through the years will miss so many things in his retirement: abiding concern for the Library and all that it means, friendly collaboration with his colleagues throughout the University Library system, a judicious approach to questions that led to his being called Judge Palmer, and – most of all – a friend whom it has been good to know was always here.”

Palmer was born in 1914 in Kansas City, Mo. He attended Washington and Lee University, from which he held bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He attended the University of Michigan’s library school for one year, after which he began his work at Harvard.

A memorial service is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 22, at 11 a.m. in the Memorial Church in Harvard Yard. Gifts in his memory may be made to the Harvard College Library or to the “Sioux City Car 46 Fund” of the Seashore Trolley Museum, in Kennebunkport, Maine [04046], where Palmer served as a trustee for more than 25 years.