Meet the ACRL Presidents: Robert W. Orr

Over the course of ACRL’s 75th anniversary celebration, we’ll highlight the association’s history by profiling our past presidents.Orr

Robert W. Orr (1905-1972) was the 19th president of ACRL, serving from 1956-1957. During that time he was the library director at Iowa State College (now Iowa State University) in Ames. Under his leadership he guided ACRL through the reorganization of ALA which changed some of the functions of ACRL and saw some ACRL committees reassigned to new sections that were created by ALA. While he was in office, the ACRL Board of Directors voted to change the name of the organization from “Association of College and Reference Libraries” to “Association of College and Research Libraries” and the association approved a new constitution to reflect the changes from the ALA reorganization.

Orr received a B.S. degree in Chemical Technology from Iowa State College in 1930, where he worked in the library as a student. He accepted a job as a library assistant after graduation.  He enrolled in the School of Library Service at Columbia University in 1938 and completed his M.S. degree in 1939. Prior to serving as library director he served as the head of the Reference Department at Iowa State College. Orr wrote many articles related to his experiences at Iowa State College including “A Decade of Book Storage at Iowa State College” (1951) and “Television and the Library at Iowa State” (1952). Orr also co-authored surveys of the libraries at Texas A&M University (1950) and Alabama Polytechnic Institute (1949).