Remembering Richard Snyder, Drexel’s Library Director from 1964 - 1989

Remembering Richard Snyder, Drexel’s Library Director from 1964 - 1989
Jenny James Lee
May 7, 2014

Photograph of Richard SnyderFormer Drexel University Libraries director, Richard Snyder passed away on April 9, 2014. He was 87 years old. Snyder was the library director from 1964 – 1989 and made significant contributions to the library organization during his tenure, including helping to design W. W. Hagerty Library and develop the University Archives.

From the time he arrived in 1964 until his retirement 25 years later, Richard Snyder's service as Director of Drexel Libraries was characterized by careful planning to meet the information needs of Drexel’s students and faculty. Snyder earned his Master’s in library science from Indiana University, where he began his career as a science librarian. He then worked at the library of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, becoming Associate Director of Libraries in 1962. Two years later, he moved to another tech school, the Drexel Institute of Technology.

In 1970, Snyder created the Library Building Program Committee to plan for a new facility. At the time, Drexel’s library building (now known as the Korman Center) was only 11 years old, but Snyder recognized that it would not remain sufficient for Drexel’s scholarly needs for six decades, as had the original library in the Main building. Rather, Snyder foresaw the changes that information technology would bring to libraries and determined to plan for the future.

Richard Snyder with President HagertySnyder served as treasurer of Documentation Abstracts, Inc. (DAI), a nonprofit organization dedicated to abstracting the literature of the emerging discipline of information science. DAI published the journal Information Science Abstracts. Snyder also deserves much of the credit for the creation of a university archives, which began in the 1970s, and for the Libraries’ becoming a depository for federal and state government documents. In the era before the quick and inexpensive distribution of government documents on the internet, libraries such as Drexel’s played a key role in providing access to the publications and forms of the federal government, a key component of a successful democracy.

Richard Snyder retired as Director of the Libraries in 1989, having ushered the institution into the new era of information. He was a large part of the design and planning for W. W. Hagerty Library, which opened in 1983. More information about Snyder can be found in the University Archives.

Article by: Rob Sieczkiewicz and Jenny James Lee.