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Irene Evers


Forestry Pioneer

Irene EversIrene Evers served as the much-loved forestry librarian at The University of Montana from 1959-1997. She began her library career with the School of Forestry in 1959. When Ms. Evers and the school's collection moved to the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library in 1976, she was named Assistant Science Librarian. Ms. Evers' love for students and faculty kept her working long past the age that most have stopped. Upon her retirement in 1997, she held the distinction of being the University's longest-serving staff employee. Cards and letters poured in from across the country celebrating her contributions to the University community. For nearly two years following her retirement, she continued to volunteer her time doing what she loved best -- helping others.

During her life, two honors were created at UM in Evers' name: the library's Irene Evers Award for Outstanding Staff Member, in 1993; and the Irene Evers Endowment for Forestry, established on her 80th birthday in 1995. The endowment was started with the contributions of faculty, staff and former students.

"Her guide in life was caring for her patrons," remembers Karen Hatcher, retired dean of library services. "Not all patrons come to the library knowing exactly what they are looking for. Her skill was in eliciting what a person really wanted. People wrote to her from all over the country with reference questions." Evers' colleagues at the library honored her diligence and persistence when they made her the first recipient of the annual Irene Evers Award for Outstanding Staff Member in 1993.

Two years later the Irene Evers Endowment for Forestry was established by the library, forestry school and friends of Irene Evers to celebrate her 80th birthday. It began with contributions from the faculty, staff and alumni who had known her best. One couple who had sought Evers' help as undergraduates in the 1970s wrote, "Your librarianship was not your greatest gift. Your honest regard for each of your students is what we remember." A graduate from the 1960s wrote, "Happy birthday and congratulations to a guiding light that enabled us to do our best."

Irene EversMany of the older faculty and alumni speak warmly of Irene Evers, whom they knew personally and was the woman who served as the forestry librarian for 38 years. She devoted her life to helping forestry students and faculty find answers to their questions. She was the longest serving faculty member retiring at age 81 in 1997. Once, asked by her friends why she did not retire and do what she liked to do, she responded, “Well, this is what I like to do.”  Mrs. Evers was described as a “walking inventory of forestry-related material,” who always found reference questions an enjoyable challenge. “I really don’t like not being able to find the answers. It can be frustrating, because you know it’s out there. And if you don’t find the answer, you’re apt to get the question again.” Before the library moved in 1976, it held 6,000 books, 33,000 bulletins, and 312 journal subscriptions, with a world-wide weekly coverage of forestry literature prepared on cards by Oxford University. It was open 71 hours a week. The Forestry Library was significantly different from other collections in the Mansfield Library as it contained thousands of unbound pamphlets catalogued in the Oxford System.   In 1957, the library was reorganized as a cooperative effort under the Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station and grew to include the library of Region 1 of the USFS, and could be used by their employees as well as the Forestry Division of the Montana Department of Natural Resources.

Irene Evers died in 1999 leaving a large bequest to the Mansfield Library and the College of Forestry and Conservation to increase the Evers Library Endowment for Forestry, which enables the Mansfield Library to subscribe to journals, to purchase books and to acquire other priority resources needed by natural resource students and scholars. Undergraduate research scholarships were also established in her name by the College of Forestry and Conservation.

 

 

 

 

 

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