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Drew University Assistant Librarian 1889-1896; Librarian 1896-1911. Drew Alumnus.


From The Teachers of Drew, 1867-1942, A Commemorative Volume issued on the occasion of the 75th Anniversary of the Founding of Drew Theological Seminary, October 15, 1942. Edited by James Richard Joy. (Drew University, Madison, N.J., 1942, p. 26-28):

"... a young alumnus, Samuel Gardner Ayres, who displayed such aptitude that he was eventually given full sway. Almost immediately the library entered upon an era of growth such as few libraries have ever known. In 1895 he issued his first printed report. The collection then numbered 32,139 volumes and 17,415 pamphlets, and it had doubled since 1888. Seven years later he reported 71,922 volumes and 57,578 pamphlets-- doubled again! Another septenium carried it past the 100,000 mark and rated it among the first four theological libraries in America. [As of 1942, the Library had] 191,500 volumes and ranks third. Many of the accessions were gifts or bequests; and some were of unique interest and value. The Osborne Collection of British Methodistica, the private collections of McClintock, Strong, and Foster, the choice David Creamer collection of Hymnology, the Luke Tyerman collection of 2500 English pamphlets relating to the Wesleyan Movement, the Hartzell Collection on Africa and Slavery, many books from the libraries of Bishops Newman, and Neely, Professor Faulkner, Professor Rogers, Robert Crook (Ireland), Dr. J. M. Freeman, Dr. J. M. Buckley, and numerous others. A department which grew rapidly was that of Methodist History. To it came the Abel Stevens papers, the Robert Emory papers, the Freeborn Garrettson papers, the diaries of George Coles, and similar source materials. In later years by the will of Mrs. Edna White Tipple the rarities of Wesleyana in book, tract, MS., print, paint, and Staffordshire, collected at large expense and with a sportsman's ardor by President Tipple, came to the new Rose Memorial Library, for which a Treasure Room was set apart. Thus the Drew collections of autograph letters of Wesley, Asbury and other Methodist leaders were enormously enriched. Through the persistent efforts of Mr. Ayres and his successors up to the present time Drew has become the richest depository in America of source-material for the study of every phase of Methodism. Mr. Ayres' magic wand touched perennial springs of annual reports, conference journals, minutes, etc., which are still flowing. The library was long recognized by the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church as the depository of all General Conference archives. Its files of this material run back as far as 1800, and include the handwritten journals of General Conference from that date to 1840.

Not all of this acquisitive achievement is directly due to Dr. Ayres, though he set the pace and enjoyed special and unique opportunities, as when Joseph C. Thomas, of the New York Methodist Historical Society, left him more than 6000 volumes, and 14,000 pamphlets, and Dr. Homer Eaton, publishing agent of the Methodist Book Concern at New York, gave him a free hand with the "Editor's Library," which had been built up to thousands of volumes in the course of a century, and for which there was no longer space in the Book Concern Building. Among several thousand items from this source Mr. Ayres took over several hundred bound volumes of religious periodicals, British and American, raising the Drew collection in this field to the top rank in the United States, if not in the world. Librarian Ayres was called away to practise his magic in Garrett Biblical Institute in 1912...."