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Warren B. Kuhn papers

Identifier: RS 25/1/21

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content

This collection contains records from Kuhn's time as Dean of the Library at Iowa State University. Types of materials include budgets, personnel records, notes, meeting agendas, reports, memos, correspondence, financial reports, photographs, surveys, speeches, biographical information, and salary information. It also contains information on building projects, annual reports, and departmental statistics.


  • 1924-2018, undated

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Open for research; unprocessed collection. Materials have not been arranged or reviewed, and additional restrictions may apply.

This collection is stored offsite. Please contact the Special Collections and University Archives at least 3 working days in advance.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives. You must seek permission from Special Collections & University Staff before making any reproductions.


Warren Boehm Kuhn was born on February 12, 1924 in Jersey City, New Jersey. He earned a B.A. in English and Radio Broadcasting from New York University in 1948 and earned an M. L. S. in 1950 from Columbia University.

Prior to his appointment at Iowa State, Dean Kuhn worked as a Reference Assistant (1946-1950) at the New York Public Library. From 1950-1955 he was Head of the Circulation Department at the University of New Mexico Library and in 1955 he moved to the position of Associate Head Librarian (1955-1956) at Arizona State University. He accepted a position of Assistant University Librarian (1956-1965) at Princeton while concurrently holding the rank of Associate Professor as well as a Visiting Lecturer (1962) at the Drexel Institute of Technology. From 1965-1967 he was the Assistant Director of University Libraries at Stanford, where in his position he implemented the opening of the Meyer Undergraduate Library.

His tenure at Iowa State began in 1967 as Director of the Library (1967-1971), and was promoted to the position of Dean of Library Sciences in 1971. He held that position for 22 years until his retirement in 1989.

His major accomplishments while at Iowa State included; major growth in the areas of services, building size, bound volumes and a well rounded representation of material in humanities and social sciences that were previously lacking. He incorporated a computerized cataloging system which he dubbed SCHOLAR, (System for the Scholarly Learning and Research) and the reference and circulation departments were automated. He also established the microform, map, and multimedia centers.

He started the government publication collections, a rare book collection plus created a conservation and preservationdepartment. The special collections department, now known as Special Collections and University Archives, was also created during his tenure. Film and video productions were begun to promote outreach programs, initiate public relations, generate fundraising, and to bring into being the American Archives of Factual Films.

He was the major leader in the reorganization of administrative and staff structure, sought to hire bibliographers on staff for collection development, pushed for funding for renovation and expansion of the main library, and oversaw numerous remodeling projects and building additions to create a research library geared for the technological 21st century.

Dean Kuhn’s professional involvements include; Board of Directors (1972-1975) for the Association of Research Libraries, Councilor of the American Library Association (1971-1975), a member of the Research Libraries Advisory Committee for Online Computer Library Center (1983-1988), and on the Board of Trustees (1988-1990) for the Bibliographical Center for Research. He was also on the task force of the National Commission on the Future of Drake University (1987-1988), President (1981-1982) of Midwest Region Library Network, President and Board Chairman (1975-1977) for Universal Serials and Book Exchange and appointed to the Governor’s Advisory Council on Library Services (1971-1975). For the Iowa Library Association he was on the Executive Board and President of the New Jersey Library Association (1958-1961).

Along with his professional activities, Warren Kuhn was an accomplished writer of numerous professional articles, served in both World War II and the Korean War, winning a Bronze Star and a Korean Service Medal.

Kuhn died in 2018.


88.82 Linear Feet (68 record cartons, 1 document box)


This collection is open for research but has not been arranged or reviewed. The information presented in this record is accurate to the best of our knowledge, but may contain errors.

Materials in this collection may be discarded during processing, and additional care or restrictions may be required during use. Staff may at any time restrict materials in this collection if it violates legal statutes, professional ethics, or donor stipulations.

Physical Location

This collection is unproccessed and stored offsite. Please contact the Special Collections and University Archives at least 3 working days in advance.

Items in related collections

RS 25/1. Iowa State University. Library records

Processing Information

Released on 2020-03-19.

RS 25/1/21. Warren B. Kuhn papers, 1924-2018, undated
July 1, 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672