The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 22, Number 6

Obituary: Frazer G. Poole

The following obituary is reprinted from the February 19, 1999 Gazette of the Library of Congress. It was originally entitled "Retired Preservation Officer Frazer G. Poole Dies." Brackets enclose information corrected or updated by the Abbey Newsletter editor.

Frazer G. Poole, 83, who spearheaded the Library's preservation program and was instrumental in the interior design of the James Madison Memorial Building, died of renal failure Feb. 3 at his home in Alexandria, Va. Poole, who retired in 1978, had cancer.

Funeral services were held at Demaine Funeral Home in Alexandria on Feb. 13.

Poole was a native of Federalsburg, Md. He received his bachelor's degree from Catawba College in North Carolina in 1937 and a library degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1949. He served in the Navy in Okinawa during World War II and in Korea during the Korean War.

In 1956, Poole became assistant librarian at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Three years later, he began to direct the Library Technology Project at the American Library Association headquarters in Chicago, Ill., and subsequently taught library administration at the University of Illinois in Chicago.

He joined the Library in 1967 as assistant director for preservation, a position he held until his retirement on Jan. 27, 1978. Upon his retirement, he received a Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his extraordinary achievement in the establishment and development of the Library's preservation program, which is viewed, nationally and internationally, as a model.

"Frazer was truly a pioneer in the field of library preservation, and a major force behind the paper conservation movement," said Lawrence Robinson, who retired from the preservation office in 1989. "He was first my supervisor, then a lifelong friend." Robinson, who retired from the Library in 1989, left his home in Boulder, Colo., last December to spend time with his friend during the last months of his life.

In addition to his duties in the preservation office, Poole represented the Library's interests in the construction of the James Madison Memorial Building.

"Frazer's concepts led to the establishment of a Restoration Office, a precursor to the Conservation Division complete with a research and testing laboratory," said Thomas Albro, head of the Book and Paper Section, Conservation Division. "He forged the Conservation Division into an international leader in the area of library and archival conservation," added Albro. "He recruited international leaders in the field of library preservation who [had] provided conservation assistance in the aftermath of the 1966 floods in Florence, Italy."

These experts included Peter Waters, former head of the Conservation Division, who retired in 1995; Donald Etherington, former training officer in the Conservation Division, now head of Etherington Conservation in Greensboro, N.C.; and Christopher Clarkson, former head of the Rare Book Conservation Section at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, England, now an independent consultant and book conservator for libraries and private collections in the UK.

After his retirement, Poole continued to contribute to the field of conservation as chief of library materials and preservation for UNESCO, with assignments in the Middle East and [Latin] America.

Poole was a member of the International Institute for Conservation of [Historic and Artistic Works], American Institute for Conservation, Sierra Club, and Cosmos Club.

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