Office of the Librarian

Carol Ishimoto (1926 - 2010)

Carol Fumiye Ishimoto, former Associate Librarian of Harvard College for Cataloging and Processing, passed away August 18, 2010.

Carol was born on February 6, 1926 in San Jose, Calif. During a portion of World War II, she and her family were placed in an internment camp for residents of Japanese ancestry. Subsequently, Carol entered Simmons College, where she first earned a Bachelor of Science in Library Science, and then served as an assistant instructor in Simmon’s Library School.

In 1950, Carol began working as an administrative assistant in Widener Library’s Cataloging Department. In 1955 she transferred to Lamont Library, where she took on the position of Reference Librarian. Between 1958 and 1960, Carol held the position of Cataloger at the University of Pennsylvania Library, returning to HCL in that same role in 1960. In 1971, she was awarded a fellowship by the Council on Library Resources.

In 1973, Carol was promoted and became the Head of the Cataloging and Processing Department, replacing Susan M. Haskins. In 1980, she also took on the role of Head of the Union Catalog Services Office.

When Carol left her position of Associate Librarian for Cataloging and Processing in 1991 to take on a pre-retirement assignment as HCL’s part-time RECON Coordinator, her words published in Harvard University Library Notes indicate the historic nature of the changes she had overseen as Associate Librarian:

“My association with the Widener Cataloging and Processing Department has been both challenging and rewarding as we progressed from manual to computer-based cataloging; from local, somewhat idiosyncratic cataloging practices to the Library of Congress national cataloging and classification standards; and from card catalogs to the present-day online catalog.”

It seems fitting that the next stage of her career involved overseeing the filming of Harvard’s Union Catalog and planning for the retrospective conversion (RECON) of Harvard’s card catalogs to machine-readable records.

Outside of Harvard, Carol took on leadership roles nationally in the field of library technical services. She served as chair of the American Library Association’s Technical Services Directors of Large Research Libraries Interest Group (1976-1977), and as chair of the Cataloging Code Revision Committee (1974-1976) during the development of the second edition of the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules (AACR2). Carol is therefore acknowledged in the text of AACR2 as one of its contributing authors. She served on the editorial board of the Journal of Academic Librarianship. For many years, she was a member of the Council on Library Resources’ Bibliographic Services Development Program Committee. In 1976, she authored the annual review of “Cataloging and Classification” included in the ALA Yearbook.

After her retirement from Harvard, one of Carol’s primary involvements was as a benefactor and volunteer for the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

At a reception in 1991 to mark her retirement as Associate Librarian, Carol announced that she intended to endow a fund that recognized distinguished service by HCL staff. Richard De Gennaro, the Roy E. Larsen Librarian of Harvard College at that time, remarked:

“It is particularly appropriate that Carol, as distinguished member of the Library staff, chose to create this fund on the occasion of her retirement after four decades of dedicated service to the Harvard Library. She has set a standard for all of us to emulate.”
--Prepared by Steven Riel and Kathleen Rutter, with information gathered from The Boston Globe, Harvard University Library Notes, Who’s Who in Library and Information Services, and Report of the President of Harvard College and Reports of Departments.