LC Luminary William J. Welsh Dies
William J. Welsh graced the December 1984 cover of American Libraries. Art by Mary Phelan
William Joseph Welsh, 92, Deputy Librarian of Congress from 1976 to 1988, and a preservation and digitization proponent several decades ahead of his time, died July 13. In his 41 years at LC, he played a major role in the renovation of the historic Jefferson Building, the development of a deacidification process, and a pilot project on the use of optical disk technology to store text and graphics in compact formats.
Recipient of such professional honors as ALA’s Melvil Dewey Medal (1971) and the Library of Congress’s Distinguished Service Award (1983), Welsh began his career in librarianship in 1947 by using his knowledge of German to secure a job in a post–World War II cooperative acquisitions project at LC. Over the years, Welsh took on various roles shepherding LC’s acquisitions, cataloging, and human resources management until he became director of the vast Processing Department in 1976.
In a 1984 interview with American Libraries, Welsh said his most exhilarating experience was leading the first US delegation of librarians to China in 1979. Read more about Welsh’s remarkable career as an American library leader who helped pave the way for greater national and international library cooperation here (PDF file).