Archibald MacLeish appoints Arthur A. Houghton, Jr., former vice president of Corning Glass Works and a major American collector of rare books, curator of the Library’s Rare Book Collection.
With administrative reorganization as one of his chief concerns, Librarian Archibald MacLeish issues General Order No. 964, directing the establishment of the Reference Department. The department’s functions include reference assistance, book selection, book service, and custodial duties. The many demands of the war, however, delay the effective formation of the Reference Department until 1944.
In the 1940 Annual Report of the Librarian of Congress, Archibald MacLeish states objectives for the Library of Congress and provides a general survey of the institution for which he is now responsible. The report lists the Library’s new “Canons of Selection and Service.” The “selection canons” stipulate that the Library of Congress/Library Services should acquire all material needed by members of the Congress and government officials to carry out their duties; the Library should possess all books and other materials which record the life of the American people; and the Library should possess the records of other societies, past, and present. The “service canons” require that the Library carry out research and reference for the Congress and government officials and that the Library’s collections are made available to the public, universities, learned societies, and other libraries.
Arthur A. Houghton, Jr., suggests to Librarian Archibald MacLeish "steps for a more active program of soliciting gifts to the Library."
With General Order No. 992, Archibald MacLeish appoints Luther Harris Evans Chief Assistant Librarian. Evans, former director of the Historical Records Survey, a project of the Works Progress Administration, came to the Library in 1939 as head of the Library’s Legislative Reference Service.
Mindful of the Library’s responsibility to the Congress, the Librarian writes to Majority Floor Leader, Senator J. W. McCormack, suggesting a series of orientation sessions for new members of Congress.