Biography and History

William S. Dix served as Princeton's University Librarian from 1953 until his retirement in 1975, at which time he was named Librarian Emeritus. Despite the demands of directing one of the nation's leading research libraries for over 20 years, Dix remained an active figure in the world of libraries up until his death in 1978.

Born in 1910 in Winchester, VA, William S. Dix received Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the University of Virginia, and in 1946, a PhD in American literature from the University of Chicago. Prior to his appointment as Princeton's University Librarian in 1953, he had been a professor and librarian at the Rice Institute (now known as Rice University).

William S. Dix's dedication to his field was manifested in the astounding number of professional activities in which he took part outside of his position at Princeton. Dix was a lifetime member of the American Library Association, serving as chairman of the Intellectual Freedom Committee (1951-1953), chairman of the International Relations Committee (1955-1960), First Vice-President (1968), and President-Elect (1969). Dix's commitment to the Association of Research Libraries was equally weighty, including terms as Executive Secretary (1957-1959) and President (1962-1963). Dix was also chairman of the Association of Research Libraries' Shared Cataloging Committee, where he was instrumental in shaping the Library of Congress' international program of centralized cataloguing, going so far as to testify before congressional committees in 1965 and 1967 on the benefits of such a program.

William S. Dix's involvement in library affairs was not limited by national borders. From 1955 to 1961 he was a member of the United States National Commission for the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and during this time he acted as a delegate to a number of international library conferences. Later, in 1967-1969, Dix was called upon by Secretary of State Dean Rusk to serve on the U.S. State Department's Advisory Committee on International Book and Library Programs.

As Princeton's University Librarian, Dix was often called upon as a consultant by other institutions and organizations. Among those to whom Dix acted as an advisor were Rutgers Library School, Duke University Library, Harvard University Library, the New Jersey Library Association, and the Academic Freedom Committee of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Dix died in 1978 while still a member of the Library of Congress' National Commission on New Technological Uses of Copyrighted Works (CONTU), a forward thinking organization whose mission was to explore the impact of photocopying, software, and electronic access upon copyrighted works. The CONTU final report, published shortly after Dix's death, became the basis for section 117 of the United States Copyright Act governing computer programs and software.

Source: From the finding aid for AC236

  • Princeton University Library Records. 1734-2015 (inclusive), 1952-1995 (bulk).

    Call Number: AC123

    The Princeton University Library is one of the foremost university libraries in the world. With collections totaling over 12 million volumes, manuscripts, and nonprint items spread across fifteen buildings, the Princeton University Library system serves not only the Princeton University community but the world at large. The Princeton University Library Records consist of the files of the University Librarian and other Library administrators and departments, as well as of the Friends of the Princeton University Library. Materials in the record group include correspondence, reports, publications, clippings, minutes, press releases, proposals, statistics, photographs and other audiovisual materials, and microfilm. The records document the Library's day-to-day operations as well as its involvement with other departments on campus, other college and university libraries, and library users.

  • Consortium for Assistance to the University of Petroleum and Minerals records. 1972-1985 (inclusive).

    Call Number: AC232

    The Consortium for Assistance to the University of Petroleum and Minerals was organized in 1971 by Princeton University. The records consist of financial materials, reports, meeting agendas and minutes, correspondence, and a copy of the Consortium agreement.

  • William S. Dix Papers. 1955-1978 (inclusive).

    Call Number: AC236

    William S. Dix was Princeton's University Librarian (1953-1975) and a prominent spokesperson for librarians worldwide. The William S. Dix papers contain correspondence, reports, articles, and other materials documenting Dix's many professional interests and activities outside of his position at Princeton.

  • William S. Dix Papers. 1955-1978 (inclusive).

    Call Number: AC236

    William S. Dix was Princeton's University Librarian (1953-1975) and a prominent spokesperson for librarians worldwide. The William S. Dix papers contain correspondence, reports, articles, and other materials documenting Dix's many professional interests and activities outside of his position at Princeton.