FW: Announcement from Harvard
Joyce M. Shaw
jshaw at seahorse.ims.usm.edu
Tue Dec 1 09:59:46 PST 1998
From: Eva Jonas[SMTP:ejonas at oeb.harvard.edu]
Sent: Tuesday, December 01, 1998 11:02 AM
To: iamslic at ucsd.edu
Subject: Announcement from Harvard
Librarian of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, to Retire After
Eva Jonas, Librarian of the Museum of Comparative Zoology since 1978,
has announced that she will retire in the spring of 1999 after 30 years of service.
Nancy M. Cline, Roy E. Larsen Librarian of Harvard College, commented,
"Eva Jonas has been responsible for developing many of the programs and
services that now exist in the Ernst Mayr Library. She has a deep appreciation
for the collections and their exceptional importance to researchers, and
she will leave an indelible print on the organization."
The story of how Eva Jonas came to Harvard in the first place is
convoluted, reflecting the troubled times in her native Czechoslovakia
during the Cold War. She graduated from the English Grammar School in
Prague in 1951, but could not directly enter the university. "My family
was persecuted by the Communists," she remembers, "and my father was
imprisoned." Having learned several languages in school, including
English, French, German, Russian, and Latin she went to work for the
Director of the Institute of Entomology of the Czechoslovak Academy of
Sciences at Charles University in Prague, translating and doing
library research. She also married and started a family.
In 1963, she was finally admitted to study in the Faculty of Biology
at Charles University. Notes Ms. Jonas, "My great-grandfather had founded
the Botanical Department and the Botanical Garden and my personal
qualifications and background were also good. They would have been too
embarrassed not to accept me." She began her university studies while
continuing to work full-time and raising two children.
In 1968, the renowned Prague Spring was crushed by Russian tanks. "I
had finished all my degree work," Ms. Jonas recalls, "but we left the
country in such a hurry that I never received my diploma." (Twenty-two years
later she visited Prague and made inquiries at the University. In 1992, she
finally received her doctorate from Charles University.)
In 1969, Eva Jonas arrived in America with her husband, two children,
and no degree. "I owe a deep debt of gratitude to the late Professor
Carroll Milton Williams, '38, Bussey Professor of Biology, and his wife,
Muriel, who sponsored my family and helped us get started in America. I had
done some translating for Professor Williams at a conference held at the
Academy in Prague. He happened to be at a dinner party at the home of a
mutual friend in England on the day that my family fled Czechoslovakia. I
called my friend to tell her our situation and she put Carroll on the line.
He remembered me and invited us to his home in Lexington. He and Muriel
took us under their wing and introduced us to Harvard."
She started her Harvard career in 1969 as a Lab Assistant and Teaching
Fellow in the basement of the Biological Laboratories, preparing food
for Cecropia moths under the direction of Professors Williams and
>From this subterranean beginning, Eva steadily rose, serving as a
Bunting Fellow at Radcliffe in 1970-1971 and 1971-1972, and earning her A.M.
in Cellular and Developmental Biology in 1972. "The fellowship from the
Bunting Institute allowed me to conduct part-time research for my
advisor Professor Fotis Kafatos, entitled me to take a reduced course load at
Harvard, and paid my tuition. This was very helpful as I was
teaching several biology courses as well as raising a family," said Ms. Jonas.
Ms. Jonas became a Teaching Assistant in Biology in the Summer School
in 1972, and a Teaching Assistant/Tutor in General Education and Biology
for the 1972-73 school year. In 1973 she was named Head Teaching Assistant
in Biology in the Summer School, and was also appointed Reference
Librarian in Cabot Science Library. In 1975 she became an Associate of Adams House,
beginning a mutually rewarding relationship that culminated in Ms. Jonas
being named Acting Master of Adams House in 1990. She was the first
librarian since Philip Hofer to serve as Acting Master of a Harvard
In 1978, Ms. Jonas was appointed Librarian of the Museum of
Comparative Zoology (In 1994, the name of the library was changed to the Ernst
Mayr Library of the MCZ). "This library looked very different then," she
says. "It was overcrowded, and had security and staffing problems. My first
assignment was to propose a reorganization and remodeling plan that
included a significant library security system and security procedures.
With the Director of the MCZ providing a budget, the library expanded,
added the needed security system, and upgraded the staff."
Since that time, the number of professional staff increased from two
to four, and support staff from five to six. "We also have 10 students
who are a very valuable and loyal part of our operation, permitting us to
offer more services and longer hours. Our staff is qualified and capable,
stable and very loyal. This is a great asset to a library with such a
complex collection," said Ms. Jonas
According to James J. McCarthy,Director and Alexander Agassiz
Professor of BiologicalOceanography in the Museum of Comparative
Zoology, "Over the last two decades Eva Jonas has overseen the
modernization of the Ernst Mayr Libraryin the Museum of Comparative
Zoology with extraordinary vision, dedication and resourcefulness.
Under her leadership the physical space was
transformed to enhance security and provide contemporary library user
services. Today this library is clearly recognized as one of the
world's premier natural history libraries. Eva's leadership in this endeavor
is greatly appreciated, and she will be missed by all users of the Ernst
According to Ms. Jonas, "The strength of this library is our
outstanding serials collections comprising over 3,000 titles, including classics,
from all over the world. We seem to have them all. We are also strong in
antiquarian natural history books, from the 16th, 17th, and 18th
centuries and our archives are a landmark. With the addition this year of the
personal library of Ernst Mayr, the most prominent evolutionary
biologist of the century, and that of George W. Cottrell, Jr., '26, former
Honorary Curator of the Ornithological Collections in the MCZ Library, the MCZ
has become the foremost library in the country in our discipline."
The Ernst Mayr Library of the MCZ, a resource for Harvard's academic
and research programs, is used by faculty, graduate students, and
researchers associated with the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
(OEB), Cell and Developmental Biology Department, and all the
departments in related fields such as anthropology and geology. It is an archival
resource for the history of science and is used by researchers from
all over the world.
If Ms. Jonas has a regret about her career, it is that she did not do
more teaching. "I loved teaching so much. Had I arrived in the U.S. 20
years earlier, I might have become a university teacher." When she taught
Natural Sciences 5 at Harvard, she was the highest-rated Teaching
Fellow in the course. "My reference position at Cabot Science Library also
involved teaching; I served as head of the bibliographic instruction program."
She remembers her position as Acting Master of Adams House as a
highlight of her Harvard experience. "It was a great honor. I was in charge of a
house of 400 undergraduates, 60 Associates and Tutors, and employees in
the kitchen, custodial services, and security; there was a lot of
management work. My contact with the students was very rewarding, but very time
and sleep-consuming! The likelihood of someone having a serious problem at
any given time was very high and I fielded many phone calls from worried
parents. It was a very significant experience for me, and, indeed, a
Says Sid Verba, Carl H. Pforzheimer University professor and Director
of the Harvard University Library, "Eva has been a Harvard institution, a
dedicated librarian, and a committed member of the Harvard library
community. It is hard to imagine the library at the MCZ without her.
We all wish her well in her retirement."
A committee has been formed to undertake a national search for Ms.
Jonas' successor as Librarian of the Ernst Mayr Library of the MCZ.
Communications and Public Information Officer
Harvard College Library
Widener Library, Room 193
Tel: 617.495.8415 / Fax: 617.496.4750
E-mail: brainard at fas.harvard.edu
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