Featuring Villanova's librarians from the past: Rev. Francis E. Tourscher, O.S.A.
Rev. Francis E. Tourscher, O.S.A., Villanova’s second librarian, served from 1923 to 1939. At this time, the Villanova College library was housed in the east wing of Austin Hall. The library was completed in 1924, but proved to be too small almost as soon as it was finished. In 1934, an iron fence that separated the readers from the books was removed and the collection was opened to all!
At this time, Father Tourscher oversaw the reorganization of the library collection, installing a dictionary card catalog. Books were reclassified according to the Library of Congress system. These changes made materials easier to find and use, and the library became a popular place to research and study. The library grew at a rapid rate, and, by 1937, housed over 35,000 books and 150 journal subscriptions on literature, philosophy, engineering and education.
Father Tourscher was a well known figure on campus as well as in the library, where he spent much of his free time. He was interested in people regardless of their station in life and recognized students, their fathers and grandfathers before them. A familiar figure, he was often seen strolling the campus with his cane; he chose his clothing for practicality and comfort rather than appearance. Anyone who damaged a tree or harmed a bird could expect a scolding from Father Tourscher, and he frequently reprimanded litterbugs and chased golfers and ball players off the lawns.
He was born May 10, 1870, at Dushore, Pa. In his early years he had decided to become a carpenter. However, influenced by his local parish priest, he received his calling to the priesthood at the age of 20
Two years later, in September 1892, Father Tourscher arrived at Villanova, where he took up residence at the old Saint Rita’s Hall. Father Tourscher was stationed at Villanova for his entire religious life. His first appointment was as a teacher in the College and House of Studies where he taught theology, scripture, church history, homiletics, patrology and Latin.
He was known as a scholar, translator, historian and poet, and numerous books in the current library collection bear his name. Over the years he also served as secretary and archivist of the Province of Saint Thomas of Villanova. At the time of his death, January 30, 1939, Father Tourscher was secretary of the Board of Trustees of Villanova College, as well as college librarian.
Contributed by Rev. Dennis Gallagher, O.S.A., and Laura Hutelmyer
( For more information see The Tagastan, Memorial Issue, v.2, no. 4, August, 1939.)