Irene Jones was associate director and then director of the Mooney Memorial Library at the University of Tennessee from 1949 through 1970. She was a source of inspiration for the first Medical Library Association Handbook and served on the Board of Directors from 1960-1963. Irene is also known for her expertise in cataloging and says, “the catalog is a source of information and the contents of a library....”
Irene received a certificate in librarianship from the University of Wisconsin in 1925 and became a cataloger at the Medical and Science Department of the Detroit Public Library, a collection that later became the Wayne State Medical School Library. In 1941 she moved to the Burton Historical Collection, and from 1945 -1948 was the head of subject cataloging at the Army Medical Library. In spite of the poor physical facility there, “everyone was trying so hard to get Colonel Jones' dream on its feet and actually working.”
In 1949 she became the associate director at the University of Tennessee under Emily McCurdy and was responsible for instruction and the library's research associate training program. In 1959 she became the library director and was a lecturer in the post-graduate training program for science librarians until her retirement in 1970.
Irene joined the Medical Library Association in the late 1930's. Back then “only the [chief] librarians went to meetings...very rarely did the staff members come.” Since becoming a librarian she had kept extensive notes and tips and “I decided in 1936 to put it in written form with the idea that it might be of some help to others...both as a manual of procedure and a reservoir of useful data.” Her manuscript became the basis for the first Medical Library Association Handbook, edited by Janet Doe and published by the American Library Association in 1943. In addition to the Handbook, Irene served as the public relations officer, and chaired the Internship, Awards and Refresher Courses Committees.
She sums up that “I don't think there's been a time in all these years that I've been disappointed [that I was a librarian].”