A Librarian Who Goes Far Beyond the Book

It was a pleasure to see William Ready’s name in “Elvish Is Studied Here” (March 24), concerning the J.R.R. Tolkien papers at Marquette University library. It rightly notes that it was Ready who, in the 1950s, was able to acquire Tolkien’s archive for Marquette, where it has become a shining beacon for Tolkien admirers everywhere.

Ready’s greatest coup, in a library life full of such coups, was not Tolkien, however. From Marquette, Ready moved on to McMaster University library in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, where he carried off the amazing trick of bringing the Bertrand Russell papers to that institution in the 1960s.

Ready’s autobiography, “Files on Parade,” tells the story in detail. Although cultural export laws now frequently prevent such material as the Tolkien or Russell papers from leaving Britain, Ready managed in his day deeply to enrich the holdings of more than one North American research library.

Bruce Whiteman


Head Librarian

William Andrews Clark

Memorial Library, UCLA