[Libs-Or] Women of Library History - Camilla Leach

Diedre Conkling diedre08 at gmail.com
Wed Mar 27 14:11:56 PDT 2019

 Camilla Leach


Ultimately known for her role as the founding librarian-manager of the
Design (formerly Architecture and Allied Arts) Library at the University of
Oregon, Miss Camilla Leach left a legacy of caring for student success and
ambition throughout her long career. Only in the last third of her life did
she find a role in the library, with the majority of her time spent in the
classroom or dormitory, supervising and guiding the lives of young adults,
especially girls. Miss Leach constantly updated her position during a long
career trajectory, never losing her love of the arts and French culture and
design. She travelled to Paris in her 30s, was committed to the plight of
French orphans during WWI, and translated Auguste Racinet’s *L’Ornement
Polychrome* (Paris, 1869-73) for the benefit of the students of the
University of Oregon.  This fascination with French culture and artistry
bestowed an air of sophistication to Miss Leach. Combined with her
“go-getter” determination that impressed the administration and faculty,
Miss Leach’s keen observational skills and broad knowledge let her
anticipate the needs and interests of her loyal colleagues and patrons.
This unique mix allowed Miss Leach to win over those who doubted she could
take an active role in organizing a new library and departmental
administration office at the age of 79. Even though she “retired” twice
from the libraries at the University, Miss Leach remained active in the
community and social circles, giving talks on the relation of art to
library work to civic groups into her 90s. Piecing together her history, as
well as reflecting on her legacy, is a worthy exercise that re-emphasizes a
lifelong commitment to arts education and wisdom born from the strength of
Much more may be found at

*Diedre Conkling*
*diedre08 at gmail.com* <diedre08 at gmail.com>

“If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change
your attitude.”―Maya Angelou
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