BOOK COLLECTION FROM RUSSEL SHANK
Towards the end of last year, IPM received a number of cartons of books related to puppetry from a lady named Susan Twist. She told us that her father had been a librarian at U.C.L.A. He was very interested in books on puppetry and had amassed quite a few volumes, some of them quite old and rare. Her family was removing his possessions from his home as he had passed away. She did not want to give the books to the Good Will and thought they would be of use to IPM. As we started to catalog the books, it became clear that we did not have the name of the collector. Although we looked through many of the volumes, there was no clue about who he was.
Recently, Steve Golden was sorting through the books and came across one that was a gift from Mel Helstein (head of the puppetry program at U.C.L.A.) It was inscribed to Russell Shank. He was indeed a librarian at U.C.L.A. Not only was he a librarian, he was the chief librarian from 1977 until 1989.
Shank had an interesting career. Before his tenure at U.C.L.A., he spent a decade (1968-1977) as the first director of libraries at the Smithsonian Institution, where he began to automate operations and created the first centralized catalog for its more than 80 separate libraries.
Many of the books in this collection are rare copies and first editions. Quite a few were written by Paul McPharlin. Some will need careful handling because they are delicate. All of them are well selected and many of them are unique. Once catalogued, they will be available for viewing at IPM.
We are delighted with this wonderful gift. It is so rewarding to receive this special collection from such a prestigious gentleman. It will enhance the book collection and be of great use to researchers of puppetry arts.