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Thomas G. Kirk, Jr.: Memories and Wishes for Tom

Memories and Wishes

Use this link to share your memories and send best wishes to Tom upon his retirement.


As a science student in the 1970's, I was blessed to be taught scientific literature search techniques by Tom. Beginning with an Eco Bio paper in 1976 and continuing for a few years in a variety of chemistry and biology classes, I and my cohort were the best trained undergraduates in the nation. Tom and Betsy were an important part of my family when I was young. Tom was an assistant coach/ JV coach with my father. My father admired Tom very much, as do I.
Best wishes Tom,
David Matlack (1981)

It is stunning to remember parallel lives that span so many years! We began careers at Earlham and were welcomed by the Earlham community. In those years we shared gourmet dinners at our homes. At Tom and Betsy's home I especially remember that Bob and I in a group of eight enjoyed Betsy's Pennsylvania Dutch cooking and recipes which made us share stories about Pennsylvania. We welcomed babies during the same years and shared joys and concerns. We thrilled at the births of all the babies but especially of the child who thrived though born too early and the children who arrived by adoption. In those years, the Earlham community shared celebrations and we talked about the children's growth and development. We exchanged children's outgrown clothes and toys. Betsy was especially skilled at sewing wonderful stuffed animals and our sons were the recipients of a still-treasured kangaroo and joey in the pouch which led to dreams of Australia. The children grew up and the stories continued. We grew in our careers but worked together on many occasions. Bob especially respected working with Tom and would have had more eloquent words now than I can offer. Bob spoke about their work together on potential donors and remembered their day trip to Bloomington to see a collection of books owned by an IU history professor and now offered to Earlham by his widow. Taking the time to make those kinds of bonds across campus and to other people for Earlham's benefit is the kind of thing that Tom and Bob did so well.
All best wishes,
Edna C. Southard

My senior year at Earlham, I approached Tom to see about possibly job-shadowing, as I was getting interested in librarianship. He was more than willing to help, and even worked with me to set up a semester-long internship where I worked with him and a few others to learn more about academic libraries. It was such a generous offer, and I learned so much. Today I'm in library school, and working at an academic library. I feel very grateful that Tom was willing to take the time out of what I'm sure was a very busy schedule to mentor an aspiring librarian---
Thanks Tom! I'll always remember this.
Karla Fribley '99

Thank you so very much for your many years of devotion to the College. Clerk of the Faculty, FAC, Head of the Library and Coordinator of Information Services and so much more I am sure I do not know about. Your career has been inspirational for me -- success in so many venues and at so many levels. Best wishes for many fun and rewarding adventures in the future.
I will miss you.
Amy Mulnix

Tom, you've been a great library director and colleague. I appreciate that YOU are interested in myriad details of library work and that you can work magic with the budget.  You've gently pushed us forward into new territory. But most of all, you are interested in everyone, patient with everyone, and seemingly always happy! Thanks so much!
Sara Penhale

Tom, You have been a terrific and very understanding boss. I appreciate all the help that you have given me and projects that furthered my understanding of the library operations, surveys, website maintenance, Photoshop projects, and so much more! You made me feel like a full member fo the staff at Lilly from day one. I will miss you, but also wish you well in all of your future endeavors.
Jeanette Wilson

As I look back on fifteen years of working with Tom, I wonder if there is anything in the library that he hasn't done. He's been very visible in tasks that many library directors, particularly ACRL Librarians of the Year, would have relegated to subordinates, such as working the reference desk on weekends. Yet I've also seen him carrying boxes of books, shifting shelving, dealing with leaky bathrooms and clogged toilets, and hauling trash to dumpsters. Nothing was ever too insignificant for his attention if it helped the library in some way.
Tom Hamm

My favorite Tom Kirk moment came when the College's Emergency Readiness and Response Planning group ran its first tabletop disaster simulation. According to the simulation clock, we were quite a number of hours into our simulated earthquake which decimated campus. Cathy Anthofer, leading us through the exercise, says to Incident Commander Nelson Bingham, that we should probably think about making sure the students had something to eat. "Yes," said Nelson, "you're right." Nelson then turned to the disaster's logistics coordinator. "Tom! Feed the students!" Tom whipped around in his seat; eyes wide. He grabbed his chest, as if the question so shocked him that it physically hurt. "ME?" he cried. And almost under his breath, Tom said, "But I'm a librarian." Still, as ever, Tom was game. He straightened up in his chair, pointed grandly upward and commanded "Feed the students!" And it was done. Thank you, Tom, for sharing your wit, wisdom and kindness with us all -- and for not letting anything as trivial as a natural disaster get in the way of always getting the job done.
Mark Blackmon

Happy Retirement Tom!! It's been a pleasure working with you. Earlham won't be the same without you!
Betsy Ward

Tom, As you move into this next phase of what we know as life, we wish both you and Betsy the best in your retirement. May you find the time to do things that you weren't able to with a full time job. Enjoy every day. We will miss you around campus and the library will not be the same without your smiling face.
Cathy Grimme

I can hardly believe that this time has come.  We've had so many great timesl  I especially cherish memories of our trip to Japan when you and  Betsy joined Gail and me for a delightful day trip to Nikko.  Best wishes for a rich and full retirement!
Nelson Bingham

Thanks so much for all you've done!  We all will miss your wisdom and gentle leadership.  Enjoy a well earned retirement!
Carol Hunter

Tom, an amazing, yet appropriate, tribute put together by your Earlham colleagues. Best LibGuide I've ever seen! It was a joy to get to know you through our PALNI relationship. You have been a mentor for many of us and you will be missed. I trust you will enjoy retirement - you've certainly earned it!
Ken Gibson

What a joy and a genuine gift to have worked with Tom over the past few years. Tom...enjoy your retirement and keep in touch. I'll bring the limes...
Rick Provine

Tom, You and Evan before you have made Earlham and its library programs FAMOUS among U.S. colleges and universities, and not just among librarians. Since I've known you both just a bit, I can see why. Your QUESTIONS are far better at bringing insight, inspiration, and momentum to a person, a group, or an institution than any answers could possibly be. Hallmarks that come to mind are your professionalism, reliability, hard work, and, most of all, humanity. Thank you and all best wishes,
Scottie Cochrane, Director of Libraries, Denison University

Thanks for all your help and advise. I hope you enjoy your retirement. It is a pleasure to know you. Best of Luck!
Emily Warner Hoover

I don't have any silly stories that sum up my memories of Tom or that will make everyone chuckle. Instead, I have a warm feeling of affection and appreciation for Tom's presence in my life and on campus. Tom and I went through faculty orientation the same year, 1994, when I particularly bonded with Betsy as she anticipated her return to graduate school. I knew that Tom and Betsy had been at Earlham before, but I also saw them as part of my cohort of entering faculty members. I can't believe it's time for Tom's retirement, and I am quite happy for him and for Betsy, too, but I also wish he'd stay! I hope to see him around as I often saw Evan, and maybe even end up in a book group together, as I did with Evan I have always felt that the library was here to serve me and my students, and I knew that Tom and his staff had time to work with me when I wanted help. That has been a great feeling. My first outstanding experience of consensus was on a committee that Tom convened, and I don't think that's an accident. As I started to pay more and more attention to how committees are run, I noticed that Tom planned a meeting so that the key questions were ready to be asked, and he left room for others to do the answering. I am trying to emulate that now, to be organized enough to plan a good meeting and to be open enough to others' perspectives that I don't shape the answer in advance. Tom is an outstanding leader because he listens well to others, he thinks carefully about different perspectives on any issue, and he acts decisively but not unilaterally. Tom has taken the already excellent Earlham library to new heights, and he has done it while smiling warmly at colleagues, making time for us, and adding to the joy of being at Earlham. I'll miss you, Tom!
Kari Kalve

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Tom Kirk even if only for a year. He has given me leadership opportunities and guidance in several situations without telling me what to do, thus allowing me to learn from his experience while also letting me figure things out on my own. I thank Tom for sharing his wisdom with me and wish him a wonderful retirement!
Anne Thomason

Tom Kirk was one of the first people I met when I began employment at Earlham, at the age of 19. He was the science librarian when the library was located on the 4th floor of Dennis Hall. My office was next to the library. Although Tom was ill on the first day I started work, he was a constant presence after that, until the Science Annex was added and the science library moved. Having come from a very structured parochial background, the atmosphere at Earlham was very different to me. Tom was so kind and patient with the "new kid" and always made me feel welcome and appreciated. I will always remember his friendly smile and sense of humor. One thing I remember most about Tom was that he could type faster with two fingers than most people could with both hands! He was amazing to watch! Though we both left Earlham, we found our ways back. Our paths have not crossed as frequently as I would have liked, but my memories of Tom always bring me joy. He will be missed. Tom, I wish you and Betsy much happiness as you begin this next chapter in you lives. Blessings to you both. Susie
Susan Cosgrove Snyder

Tom, I love the story you shared with me about stepping off the train in Richmond in 1962 and making your way to campus to start school without ever having visited. That courage has served you well throughout your professional career, too, as you have courageously made the move from cards, paper, and manual typewriters to sophisticated databases and elegant computers. Always present has been the curiosity with which you have approached life and the grace you have extended to people. You are a treasure to me and to Earlham. Continue to live life well, my friend.
Jeff Rickey

There once was a Friend known as Kirk,
Whose duty to books would not shirk!
We love him at Earlham
And for sure we'll miss 'im
Unless he should happen to lurk ;-)
Welling Hall

Well, Tom, we go back more than thirty years, and you have been a great conference roommate for probably twenty-five years or so [more years than I can count anyway]. We still have the mentor program togther for a few more years, but already I missed our staying together at ALA Annual and through ALA Midwinter. Not only have you been a great library director but I counted on you to give me a sane and reasonable pulse of the profession and how new things and events impacted college libraries. It has been my pleasure to know and work with you over the years. It has been a great run for you, and it is not over yet. I am here to tell you that there is life after retirement!! Enjoy this new chapter in your life.
Larry Hardesty (retired college librarian)   

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