Dr. Thomas (Tom) Mann is our colleague here at the Library of Congress and recently he announced that, after thirty-three years, he will retire in January 2015. All the former researchers whom he has helped as well as this blogger and the rest of the Kluge Center staff will miss him dearly.
Most days you will find Tom Mann working in the Main Reading Room, which is right down the hall from the Kluge Center. Tom has been a Reference Librarian in the Main Reading Room since shortly after he came to work at the Library in 1981. Since the Kluge Center opened its doors in 2001, he has always taken a personal interest in helping our scholars-in-residence. For the last few years Tom has also given a monthly “Research Orientation to the Library of Congress” to every incoming group of Kluge Center residents.
Tom received his Ph.D. from Loyola University of Chicago and his M.L.S. from Louisiana State University. He is the author of The Oxford Guide to Library Research published by Oxford University Press. (The fourth edition will be available soon.)
Tom was also a private investigator before he came to the Library. All those sleuthing skills that Tom brought with him have been applied to assisting Kluge Center scholars in their efforts to snoop out otherwise undetectable bits of information from the Library’s collections. Of course, he has done the same for countless others, who have come to the Library’s Main Reading Room in search of answers and serendipitous snippets of information.
Recently Tom said to me, “It has been great fun to work with the Kluge Center researchers, who are here for months at a time. Unlike the transient researcher they’re here long enough to give the librarian sustained feedback about their research and the collections. After our initial interview, if I come across additional material that may be helpful to their work, I can still get it to them.” Tom not infrequently walks down the hall to the Kluge Center and leaves a packet of resource material on the chair of a Fellow-in-Residence.
I asked Tom what he had observed about researchers who come to the Library and he had an interesting answer. “People don’t ask for what they want but for what they think they can get.” He encourages all researchers to be clear as to their goals and “ask for what they want.” A good librarian, and Tom and many others at the Library of Congress are that, can help you find where that material is within the Library’s vast collection of 158 million items.
Tom, the Kluge Center and all of us who have benefited from your knowledge and concern, wish you well.