The Faculty History Project documents faculty members who have been associated with the University of Michigan since 1837, and the history of the University's schools and colleges. This project is part of a larger effort to prepare resources for the University's bicentennial in 2017. Find out more.

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Classroom Profile

Rudolph H. Gjelsness
The Michigan Alumnus 6


Rudolph H. Gjelsness, g'25-28, 
 Professor of Library Science and Chair
man of the Department, spent the Summer of 1942 serving as Co-Direc
tor of a Summer Library School in 
the National Library at Bogota, Co
lumbia. He was also away from the
 Campus during 1943-44 to be Director
 of the Union Catalog Project and Di
rector of Benjamin Franklin Library
 in Mexico, at the same time teaching
 an introductory course in library sci
ence in the National School of An
thropology in Mexico. About a year 
ago, he was a member of a three-man
 committee studying problems of library cooperation in the college li
braries of Bryn Mawr, Haverford and
 Swarthmore colleges.

Professor Gjels
ness was born at Reynolds, N. D., and
 after attending high school there, he
 entered North Dakota University, re
ceiving an A.B. in 1916. After the 
first World War, when he had served 
in the U.S. Army Air Corps, he was
 Assistant Librarian, at the AEF Uni

versity at Beaune, France. He later
 was in American Library Association
 war service in Germany. He completed
 the two-year graduate course in Li
brary Science at the. University of Il
linois in 1920 and spent the next two
 years as head of the order department 
at the University of Oregon Library.


From 1922 until 1924 he was Senior
 Bibliographer at the University of Cal
ifornia Library, and the following year
 was a Fellow of the American-Scan
dinavian Foundation at the University
 of Oslo. He did a translation of Lisbeth of Jarnfjeld, by Johan Falkber
get, a Norwegian novelist, after his 
work at Oslo.

His first connection
 with the University of Michigan staff
 came in 1925, when he began a three-
year service as Assistant Librarian and 
Chief Classifier. In addition, Mr. 
Gjelsness taught library science for 
part of this time. In 1928, he left the
 University and for four years was 
Chief of the Preparation Division of 
the New York Public Library before 
taking the position of Librarian of 
the University of Arizona, where he 
remained until returning to Ann Arbor 
in 1937. At this time he was ap
pointed Professor of Library Science,
 and three years later was also named
 Chairman of the Department.

Be
sides being a member of Phi Beta 
Kappa and Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Professor Gjelsness is a member of many 
professional organizations, including 
the American Library Association, of
 which he is Treasurer, Bibliographical
 Society of America, Michigan Academy
 of Science, Arts and Letters, and Fel
low of the American Library Institute. 
He served as Editor-in-Chief of A.L.A.
 Catalog Rules in 1941, and has contributed various articles to profes
sional journals. Professor Gjelsness 
married Ruth Weaver, '28, and they 
have two children, Elizabeth, 15, and
 Barent, 10.