Claudia Horn (MFA ’01) is Chapman University’s longest-serving librarian, so naturally the stories and accolades that flowed at a retirement reception honoring her 30-year career at Chapman could have filled an entire library shelf.
Faculty shared how she helped students embrace research and built a significant collection of book art. Administrators and her fellow librarians praised her skills at building The Frank Mt. Pleasant Library of Special Collections and Archives. But perhaps the most moving was that by Charlene Baldwin, dean of the Leatherby Libraries. Baldwin described how she and Horn stood in the darkened mezzanine of the old Thurmond Clarke Memorial Library on the day of its closure before being torn down to make room for the new Leatherby Libraries.
“We stopped for a minute and we stood up there and look around and we looked at each almost in disbelief that we weren’t sure that this was ever going to happen. We took a deep breath and we left the building. And we closed the doors and the rest is history,” Baldwin said.
That history would soon include, under Horn’s coordination, the creation of The Frank Mt. Pleasant Library of Special Collections and Archives. Under Horn’s direction, the special collections have grown to include a number of first editions of literature and books on Orange County and California history and California Indian tribes, as well as book art and book plates.
“No great university can exist without a great library. No great library can exist without a strong, vibrant, growing and responsive special collections and archives. And from the beginning, Claudia’s work and focus was on building a special archives and collection department,” Baldwin said.
Horn’s contributions supported the library in other arenas as well, especially on programs and events that required both management and diplomacy, said Sheryl A. Bourgeois, Ph.D., executive vice president of University Advancement.
“There was never a time that Claudia didn’t rise to the occasion. In fact, she raised it,” Bourgeois said. “Claudia does everything with style and grace and always does whatever is needed to put Chapman in its best possible light. She’s a pro, an absolute pro.”
Since arriving in 1984, Horn has held a variety of librarian positions, including senior assistant reference librarian, librarian, acting library director (1999), head of reference, chair of public services before serving as coordinator of the special collections and archives. She also served as the vice chair of the faculty for academic year 1994/1995. She created the Department of Special Collections in 1997 in the former Thurmond Clarke Memorial Library and initiated the annual John and Margaret Class Student Book Collection Contest in 2011.
In recognition of her contributions, Horn was named Librarian Emerita, an honor bestowed on only two other librarians in university history.