Our final woman of the month is one who made a major impact on student research at Cornell. Mary Byerly worked as a librarian at Cornell College for twenty-eight years, maintaining an impeccable card catalog and serving as assistant director and interim director of the library during her time at Cornell.
Byerly graduated from Cornell in 1941 with a BA in English and moved to Chicago, where she worked for Encyclopedia Britannica. She returned to Cornell in 1949 as a Recorder, and this time stayed through 1953. After leaving Cornell again, she attended the University of Illinois and graduated with a Master’s in Library Science in 1956. Three years later Byerly returned to Cornell, this time as the catalog librarian. As the catalog librarian, Byerly was responsible for maintaining the card catalog–which was the key to finding materials for students and faculty. Byerly kept the whole catalog up to date as terminology–and the world at large–changed. Byerly also set the stage for the online catalog we use today when she began converting records to machine readable format retrospectively in the late 1970′s. Her worked maintained equal access to materials for all students to library materials and reflected the changing times in which she worked.
Byerly was appointed Assistant Director in 1973 and began serving as the interim director of the library in 1975. The next year she was honored with an Award of Merit, an award for alumni who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in their careers or professions, and whose work has contributed to the betterment of their community and its citizens, and whose commitment to the college has remained strong for many years. Mary Byerly retired from Cornell in 1988, having spent parts of six decades at the school.