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McGowan, John P., 1926-2006



  • Existence: 1926 - 2006


John Patrick McGowan was born May 11, 1926 in New York City, and raised by his mother. McGowan was Northwestern University Library's first Associate Librarian. He went on to be head librarian, a position he held for 20 years. Under McGowan's leadership, NUL developed NOTIS, an online library system which revolutionalized creation and presentation of catalog records for research materials. McGowan retired from NUL in 1992. He died on February 4, 2006.

McGowan attended Rice High School, and after graduating in 1944, was drafted into the United States Army to fight in World War II. In 1946 he returned to school, and earned his B.A. in English from Hunter's College in 1950. A year later, in 1951, he received a Masters in Library Science from Columbia University. McGowan worked as Librarian for the New York University College of Engineering until June 15, 1956, when he assumed the position of the Technological Institution Librarian at Northwestern University. Leaving in 1959 to work as the Library Director at Philadelphia's Franklin Institute, he returned to Northwestern to become the first ever Associate Librarian in 1966, this time with a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from New York University. In 1971, John P. McGowan became the University Librarian.

During his time as both the Associate librarian and head librarian at Northwestern, John P. McGowan oversaw the development of NOTIS, or the Northwestern Online Total Integrated System, an innovation that changed the way Universities across the country presented their research materials; the card catalogue was replaced with an online system. Many of his papers and lectures, presented between 1971 and 1983, concerned library technology and research.

McGowan's many accomplishments include being named the Charles Deering McCormick Distinguished Chair of Research Librarianship in 1987, the first ever recipient of this award. He was also named the 1989 Academic Librarian of the Year by the Association of College and Research Libraries particularly for his work with NOTIS. He retired in 1992, after a 20 year career as main Librarian. He left behind a legacy of transforming the Northwestern University into a technologically advanced research facility that influenced research Universities around the country.

John P. McGowan married Eileen Durkin on November 4, 1950. They had five children: Carol McGowan (Mrs. Carol Place), born September 12, 1951; Joanne McGowan, born July 4, 1956; John McGowan, born October 21, 1958; Deirdre McGowan (Mrs. Deirdre McKechnie), born February 4, 1960; and Malcolm McGowan, born September 12, 1963. John P. McGowan died on February 4, 2006.

Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

John McGowan Papers

 Unprocessed Material — Box 1
Identifier: 97-176-9-Addition
Dates: 1980 - 1989

John P. McGowan (1926-2006) Papers

Identifier: 9/4/3

John Patrick McGowan was was Northwestern University Library's (NUL) first Associate Librarian, and held the position of head librarian for 20 years. Under McGowan's leadership, NUL developed NOTIS, an online library system which revolutionized the creation and presentation of catalog records for library materials. McGowan retired from NUL in 1992. His papers span the years 1956 to 2006. The collection is divided into biographical information, general correspondence, papers, and speeches.

Dates: 1956-2006

Records of the Northwestern University Librarian, John McGowan, ca. 1969-1988 Subject Files

Identifier: 9/1/11
Abstract The Subject Files fill thirty-two boxes and cover a time of significant growth and change in the University Library. The bulk of the records date between 1971, when John McGowan assumed the post of University Librarian (shortly after the completion of the new main Library building), and 1988. A few records from the mid- to late-1960s predate McGowan's tenure. This series documents the day-to-day administration of a major research library, with an emphasis on the important change to a...
Dates: 1964-1988

Additional filters:

Collection 2
Unprocessed Material 1
Academic librarians 2
Academic library directors 1
Science and technology librarians 1