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Saying Farewell to a Dear Friend

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Librarian Tom Mann was a private investigator before joining the Library of Congress as a reference librarian. He retires in January 2015. Photo by Travis Hensley.
Librarian Tom Mann was a private investigator before joining the Library of Congress as a reference librarian. He retires in January 2015 after 33 years. Photo by Travis Hensley.

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.

Comments (6)

  1. Sad to hear this news, Mary-Lou, and glad to have been lucky enough to have encountered Tom during my Kluge fellowship in 2012. He already knows how his guidance contributed to the archival find of my life. To paraphrase the Irish writer Tomás Ó Criomhthain from the Great Blasket Island, Co. Kerry: “Ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann” – We’ll never see his like again!

  2. I remember Dr. Mann as the writer of Library Research Models and Library Research Methods, two indispensable paperbacks. Before I had read any of his tomes or saw him on duty in the main reading room, LC required its librarians to do double duty in the employment office in the Madison Building — he gave me a few pointers before I knew who he was. Good luck and God Bless on your retirement.

  3. Mary Lou,

    Thank you very much for the piece. I benefited greatly from Thomas Mann’s good work based on his experiences and sharp mind. He was also kind enough to respond to my email inquiries off and on over the years. I would love to get in contact with him again. Would you be willing to send him my email address ([email protected]) and let him know I would like to get in touch with him?

    If so I would be greatly appreciative. Thank you.

    Nathan Rinne

  4. Mr Mann
    If you graduated in 9166 as valedictorian from Loyola Academy, I’d be interested in getting in touch with you.
    John Chamberlin
    Falls Church VA

  5. I met Tom Mann when I was was an intern working at the National Archives in the fall of 1982 while a senior with Rosary now Dominican University in Illinois. I have his two books on Library researching. I worked with at the Archives with a man who worked with Native American Records associated with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. This man (whos name now slips by mind) introduced me to Thomas Mann as I was going to prusue a MLS degree. Now some 20+ years later am thinking of him as I hold his book in my hand. Would like to touch base with Mr. Mann.
    Kevin Davis

  6. Love his book “Oxford Guide to Library Research.” It’s the best book I’ve found on the topic. His work is very much appreciated!

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