Ruth Ellen Scarborough was the first director of the Taylor Memorial Library after it opened in 1954. She worked at Centenary College from 1946 to 1982, nearly four decades! Her planning and guidance helped shape the library into what it is today.

Ruth Ellen Scarborough

Ruth Ellen Scarborough

Ruth Scarborough came to Centenary College in 1946, when it was an all-girls school called Centenary Junior College. She brought with her a B.S. in Education from Marywood College and a B.L.S. from Syracuse University, and earned her M.L.S. from Rutgers University while at Centenary.

Before Taylor Memorial Library was built, the college library was located in the Main Building, what is now called the Seay Administration Building. Shortly after Scarborough joined the staff at Centenary, the college administrators decided to update the library. Preliminary plans called for an addition to the existing library, but that idea evolved into the decision to build a new library, separate from the main building.

The college chose New York architect Jan Hird Pokorny to design the new building. After the initial plans were proposed, dozens of blueprints were suggested, altered, and discarded in favor of newer and better designs. Scarborough and Pokorny corresponded for over three years, exchanging letters filled with ideas and suggestions about the most suitable library design for Centenary Junior College. Miss Scarborough had well-defined ideas for the library and offered the architect input on everything from the building’s layout to the materials used for library furnishings. Her diligence ensured that the new library would meet Centenary’s needs.


Ruth Scarborough left her mark on the college through more than just the new library. Thanks to Miss Scarborough, Centenary Junior College’s library had its shelf list published in 1953 as an example of a model collection in the “Standard Catalogue for Junior College Libraries” (Remembering…). This was quite an achievement; only three libraries in the country were chosen for the catalogue. Ruth Scarborough was also class advisor for the classes of 1959 and 1966, and the 1959 Yearbook was dedicated to her.

Outside of Centenary College, she was an active member of statewide and national library committees and educational evaluation teams. The following is a partial list of her accomplishments:

  • The American Library Association (ALA): Secretary (1949-50), Vice Chairman (1951-52), Chairman (1952-53), and Director (1954-57) of the Junior College Libraries Section
  • The Association of College & Research Libraries: Executive Board (1964-68)
  • The New Jersey Library Association: two-time President (1951-52 and 1962-63) for the College and University section
  • Junior College Library Standards: member of an ad hoc committee which prepared guidelines for two-year college libraries
  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools: served on numerous evaluating teams
  • consultant to several two-year colleges and the American Library Association

ruth posed2

Miss Scarborough remained at the college thirty-six years, retiring in 1982 as director of the Taylor Memorial Library Learning Resource Center. She was honored as Professor Emerita in library science upon retirement. She received the Van Winkle Award for her service to the college in 1991 and an honorary doctor of letters degree in 1996.

Ruth Scarborough with her nephew, journalist and author Chuck Scarborough.

Ruth Scarborough with her nephew, journalist and author Chuck Scarborough.

Scarborough was also active in the Hackettstown community. She “held prominent roles in several civic groups in the Hackettstown area” (Remembering…). She was also a volunteer librarian at the Hackettstown Community Hospital, a member of the hospital auxiliary, a founder of the Hackettstown Historical Society, and a member of the Panther Valley Ecumenical Ministry. In 1988 she was inducted into the Hackettstown Senior Hall of Fame, an organization established by the Hackettstown Regional Medical Center to recognize senior citizens who have made a “significant impact on the lives of others…through volunteerism” (HRMC Seniors).

She loved reading and traveling, and took a world tour by airplane in 1960. She visited “Hawaii, Japan, Formosa (Taiwan), Hong Kong, the Philippines, South Vietnam (Vietnam), Cambodia, Thailand, Bali, Singapore, Burma (Myanmar), India, Pakistan, Egypt, Syria, Israel, Turkey, Greece, and Italy”(Returns). Ruth Scarborough passed away on December 12, 2001, but will always be in the “hearts and minds of the members of the Centenary community who were fortunate enough to know her” (Remembering…).


“HRMC Seniors.” Hackettstown Regional Medical Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Jan 2015.<    


“Remembering Librarian and Professor Emerita Ruth Ellen Scarborough.” Centenary College AlumniUpdate Spring 2002: 7.


“Returns From World Tour.” Tribune [Scranton, PA] 21 Sept. 1960, sec. D: 34. Print.


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