User Tools

Site Tools


lq:volume-1-issue-3

LQ Volume 1 Issue 3

Reading notes for the first volume and third issue of The Library Quarterly.

To return to the list of notes in this volume: volume-1

Article 1

This entry is about:

Bishop, William Warner. (1931). University Libraries: Some Reflections on the Dedication of the Sterling Memorial Library of Yale University. The Library Quarterly, 1(3), 243-254. url:http://www.jstor.org/stable/40039656

Note: The first article of the third issue of The Library Quarterly is titled “University Libraries: Some Reflections on the Dedication of the Sterling Memorial Library of Yale University.”

It was written by William Warner Bishop, who was affiliated with:

Affiliation: University of Michigan Library

Note: Interesting note about undergraduate work, from a historical perspective:

The age of the textbook has not passed; witness the steady stream issuing from the presses of the country. But the age of a single textbook to a course has gone. Books to be used in even undergraduate instruction are legion, and materials for research are being published in a volume unsensed by anyone who fails to keep close watch on the yearly output of the world's printing presses (p. 246).

After this study is completed, I'll have to read issues of LQ after WWII, just to see how the sentiment and the orientation has changed.

Note: On the university:

This past century has seen also the rise of the academy from its early eighteenth-century state of amiable curiosity to the position of a powerful agency for promoting research and publishing its results (p. 247).

Note: Another, on scholarly publishing, written in 1931:

The Surgeon-General's Library in Washington now receives 1,887 medical journals from all over the world. Journals and yet more journals! No branch of science is so limited, no industry so small, no specialty so narrow as to have *no* periodical devoted to its progress. The past fifty years have seen the rise of the specialized periodical. Most university professors would part with all the monographs on their subjects rather than give up their files of journals. It is a day of serial publication, and serials are both bulky and costly–yet we must have them (pp. 247-248).

Note: Remarkable passage on page 249 that questions whether, given all this publishing output, libraries are justified, given their costs.

Note: On what is essentially a proposal for off-site facilities for book storage and whether it would be a good idea to have them:

Perhaps, if communication is speeded tenfold so that readers or books may be hurled through the air from New Haven to Washington or New York in a few minutes, or if by television or some further wonder a book in a central storehouse may be shown instantly page by page in a receiving room in a library thousands of miles away, we shall come to the central storage idea (p. 250).

Note: Is this still true? If so, then how. If not, then what's next?

Starving the library hurts–not the librarian–but the scholar (p. 251)?

Note: Nice few passages about librarian education and librarianship beginning on page 252.

In fact, library automation helped solve this problem–liberate librarians from that drudgery:

The pressure of work, of size, of numbers, in our university libraries has kept their employees so burdened with routine duties that in general those who have the ability have had no time or strength for productive work or for advancing knowledge (p. 253).

Note: This article is an amazing piece.

Article 2

This entry is about:

Prostov, Eugene Victor. (1931). Origins of Russian Printing. The Library Quarterly, 1(3), 255-277. url:http://www.jstor.org/stable/40039657

Note: The second article of the third issue of The Library Quarterly is titled “Origins of Russian Printing.”

It was written by Eugene Victor Prostov, who was affiliated with:

Affiliation: Graduate Library School, University of Chicago

Note: Based on the topic of this article and the affiliation with GLS, I think it's safe to say that GLS's first set of faculty included a scholar of book history. I find that to be interesting.

Note: Even when book making was automated (via printing), it was still hands-on work:

Skorina cut his own type, … (p. 258).

Note: This is simply a fascinating story. It's also a reminder that early printing was fueled by religious and political motivations. Information as power, as commodity, etc.

Note: I'm not really targeting the point of this article with these notes – just finding a number of interesting tidbits:

and a much later historian of the books and libraries of Russia, Bakhtiarov, mentions, in connection with his description of the book-losses sustained by the Russians in the course of the French invasion of 1812, that leather-bound books from Bause's collection were used by the French soldiers to cover the muddy street in front of the house so that carriages could enter the yard (p. 265).

You can't do that with information! Only with books. Wait, what?

Note: I'd have to read this again to get a better gist of the story – to keep track of all the characters involved.

Article 3

This entry is about:

Borden, Arnold K. (1931). The Sociological Beginnings of the Library Movement. The Library Quarterly, 1(3), 278-282. url:http://www.jstor.org/stable/40039658

Note: The third article of the third issue of The Library Quarterly is titled “The Sociological Beginnings of the Library Movement.”

It was written by Arnold K. Borden, who was affiliated with:

Affiliation: Dartmouth College

Note: This is the kind of article I'm really interested in reading. First off, though, is a citation to a book that I have read about and have seen references to in past studies and in this one. It happens to be available from archive.org. It is:

William S. Learned. (1924). The American Public Library and the Diffusion of Knowledge. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.

Borden has this to say about the Learned book:

From a strictly contemporary point of view the sociological study by W. S. Learned is illuminating but does not aim to be retrospective (p. 278).

Note: Borden begins by noting the failure, up to that time, of librarians or others in studying the beginnings of public libraries. He writes:

Although next to the public-school system and the press the library exercises the greatest educative influence in the state, it rarely appears to be given much weight in the deliberation of sociologists and political scientists (p. 278).

I believe Andrew Abbott has made that same criticism in regards to his own field's lack of attention on libraries.

Also, I believe the development of library science was partially a response to the lack of inquiry that existed in this area. Under this view, library science is interpreted as a kind of political science or sociology of libraries.

Note: This is true and a very important point:

In 1850 there were about 100 libraries of 5,000 or more volumes or more aggregating something like 1,000,000 volumes. In 1890 there were 4,000 libraries containing 27,000,000 volumes. In this period the first library convention was held (1853), and the American Library Association, the State School at Albany, and the Library Journal were founded. Surely the causes for this phenomenal growth must lie sufficiently deep to call for more than superficial investigation (pp. 278-279).

I wonder if library science, as a field, can support a sort of library history as well as a cliometric-style library history in the form of specific departments dedicated to this area of inquiry.

Regarding the 1853 conference, this is an important book (I read about a year ago):

Utley, George Burwell. The librarians' conference of 1853, a chapter in American library history. Chicago: American Library Association, 1951. url:http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1370309

The cliometric link above refers to (I've read parts of this):

McMullen, Haynes. (2000). American Libraries before 1876. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2000.

Note: An explanation has been sought. While I have an understanding of what has been researched in this area, I'll just note that this is one of the most highly cited articles in my study so far.

But when one has reviewed all the accomplishments of government and individuals, the reasons behind the rapid library expansion in the latter half of the nineteenth century remain unexplained (p . 280).

Reflection: When I begin analyzing my data for this study (using these field note entries), I should make note of which articles I've commented on the most and classify those articles by whatever type emerges. I think this will say something about what I am trying to discover in this study. (Wow, a lot of reflexivity!)

Note: Important note about the relationship between public schools and public libraries, and the view of public libraries as an extension of public schools:

In the first place the library movement was intimately associated with the establishment of free public schools. Logically, it would seem that the public school was a necessary prelude to the library, that a body of people capable of reading must be created before the library could perform a significant function in the community (p. 280).

Imagine closely reading these LQ issues at the times they were published and received by the readers. This article, followed by the article on *The Public Library under the City-Manager Form of Government*, pair well. That is, together they lead to a broader understanding of, for example, why some early public libraries were attached to school districts rather than to city governments. I commented on that article here.

Note: Here the library is seen not necessary as a mechanism to advance democracy by the government but as a mechanism to advance democracy by an already democratic people. The view, seems to be, that creating public libraries can be understood as a type of survival and growth mechanism. (I'm aware that my use of the term mechanism may not be the most appropriate.):

Another antecedent condition favoring the growth of public libraries was the increased voting strength of the people (p. 281).

Note: Leisure and libraries. Here we have the problem that there are now many ways to go about leisure. Thus the public library, today, is in competition with other leisurely providing entities:

Attendant upon the increase of wealth resulting from the establishment of the factory system and the exploitation of the natural resources of the country was the increase of leisure demanded by labor (p. 281).

Note: This is a great line:

Students of library history, therefore, must not look upon the library as an isolated phenomenon or as something which has been struck off the brains of individuals in moments of philanthropic zeal (p. 282).

He ends the article with:

From the point of view of history as well as from that of contemporary conditions the library needs to be studied in the light of sociology, economics, and other branches of human knowledge (p. 282).

Reflection: I really enjoyed this article. It provides questions that still need answers today.

Reflection: Competition is still key, I think, for understanding libraries today:

  • public libraries vs. other leisurely activities
  • academic libraries vs. information seeking behaviours + information use (my dissertation)

Article 4

This entry is about:

Howe, Harriet E. (1931). The Library School Curriculum. The Library Quarterly, 1(3), 283-290. url:http://www.jstor.org/stable/40039659

Note: The fourth article of the third issue of The Library Quarterly is titled “The Library School Curriculum.”

It was written by Harriet E. Howe, who was affiliated with:

Affiliation: Graduate Library School, University of Chicago

Note: Wow, this is a great opening line:

In discussing education for librarianship, the assumption is made that librarianship is a profession (p. 283).

And the following passage explains why library school is not (and should not be) a technical school:

There are data now available that serve to distinguish clerical duties from professional duties in the cataloging department. By means of such data it becomes possible to omit from the library-school course all purely clerical operations as such. However, it is still desirable to retain such emphasis on clerical duties as will enable the professional cataloguer to supervise the clerical work intelligently (p. 283).

The question is, then, how much of a separation of clerical duties from professional duties has there been since this was published in 1931, over 80 years ago? Out of interest of defining the profession as a profession, this would be nice to map.

Note: On the need to be adaptable:

A second principle governing the curriculum requires that the best current practice be taught with sufficient allowance for future improvements and expansions (p. 283).

Note: This is great:

Librarianship is rapidly shifting its attention from the mechanics of administration to the needs of the reader (p. 284).

And I think this explains quite a bit about library reference courses, as they are taught today:

In all the library schools there are courses called “reference,” or “reference and bibliography.” Usually these courses are devoted to the study of reference books–not, as one teacher wishes that they might be, to reference work. “We use no reference book as a final source for information for the reader. We use any source, whether it is a circulation or a reference book, a library catalogue, correspondence, or the picture file. Another teacher has advocated the teaching of the courses now called “book selection” and “reference” as one course, discussing books by subject from the standpoint of their potential readers” (pp. 284-285).

Reflection: The next couple paragraphs address questions and issues related to courses teaching in a way that will allow students to generalize to their specific interests. This is an important development in the thinking about librarianship, and based on my readings so far, it is easy to see the effect that this type of position, many of which seem to be held by faculty at the Graduate Library School at the time, had on the development of library science and library science education.

Reflection: The use of the term *book* in this article strikes me in a certain way. There does not seem to be an attachment to the object other than for its ability to disseminate information, which is a term the author explicitly uses (see previous quote). If this same author were writing today, I think she could be writing about other formats and media as easily as she writes about the book. It's here, I think, that I see some of the first moves toward the abstraction of content away from the object that holds or contains that content. If I'm reading this correctly, this article is an extremely forward-thinking piece.

Note: Already, the focus on the user:

Can cataloging, for example, be taught from the standpoint of the user of the catalogue, not from the standpoint of the maker of the catalogue (p. 286)?

The rest of the paragraph is genius. Consider the following, in which the stress on the defense of the decision-making of cataloguers highlights the importance of such decisions–this is essentially about the application of a rational framework, a science, to the work:

As a further illustration, could the prospective administrator study cataloguing with the problem of administration in mind, asking the cataloguers to defend the cataloguing decisions that they are making … (p. 286)?

Note: Just an historical note about the trends in “library architecture” (a term the author uses to describe a type of social architecture regarding the division of the library) and about the topic of subject specialists:

If, as present trends indicate, the future library is to be subdivided by subject rather than by department, is it not the task of the library school to prepare librarians who can become specialists in the subjects (p. 287)?

Note: How does this change the meaning, when substituting information for book:

Original:

The readers want book aid from those who know books (p. 287).

Revised:

The readers want *information* aid from those who know information (p. 287).

Reflection: It is important for this author that librarians have subject knowledge related to an area where they assist readers. Secondary graduate degrees are not mentioned (so far) but undergraduate education is, and thus the quality of undergraduate education will have a substantial impact on the quality of librarianship. Our field, therefore, should be very concerned with the quality of higher education in general, above and beyond the normal amount of attention that might be directed toward it.

The author seems to make this point in the next paragraph:

The library school attached to a university or college [not all were at the time] has an opportunity to direct students in the same institution before they enter the professional school and can accomplish something by correspondence with those prospective students in other institutions (pp. 287-288).

Reflection: My one problem with this attention to subject specialization rests on my argument that the methods used by librarians (or information professionals in general) should be generalized enough that subject knowledge is necessary in mostly a trivial way. Such generalized skills of the librarian should help that librarian switch to different subject matters if necessary. That kind of flexibility seems to me to be a necessary condition of being a professional–for librarians at least, whose subject matter is largely the methods they need. For example, the signals that highlight the quality of an article or book in philosophy should be comparable to the signals that highlight the quality of an article or book in biology. Understanding those signals, and how to use and manipulate them to retrieve good information, seems to me to be the important matter.

Note: Interesting this list on the requirements of the librarian:

Common sense, tact, courtesy, poise, administrative ability, speed, accuracy, reliability, initiative, are all essential; but the greatest of all is good judgment in relating books to readers (p. 289).

Article 5

This entry is about:

Waples, Douglas. (1931). Reading Studies Contributory to Social Sciences. The Library Quarterly, 1(3), 291-300. url:http://www.jstor.org/stable/40039660

Note: The fifth article of the third issue of The Library Quarterly is titled “Reading Studies Contributory to Social Sciences.”

It was written by Douglas Waples, who was affiliated with:

Affiliation: Graduate Library School, University of Chicago

Note: Just based on the title, I'm beginning to see an agenda here. I've long known that the Graduate Library School sought to make a social science of library studies (thus, library science). This seems fairly evident in the articles the GLS faculty are publishing in this first volume of LQ.

Reflection: In many ways, reading these early issues sometimes doesn't feel like I'm reading articles that were published more than 80 years ago. For example, this article is about the interdisciplinary nature of library science as well as cooperative research. I've been reading about this topic recently and the arguments are much the same.

Should I be expecting change? Should things be very different than they were 80 years ago?

Part of the answer lies in the fact that these articles were written in a time that I believe introduces the age that library science functions today, in a paradigmatic kind of way. So that, we're simply still operating under the same assumptions and frameworks and with many of the same problems as they were in 1931. Despite all the change, it really hasn't changed all that much.

Also, and in this particular paper, what I'm reading about is reflective of what Robert K. Merton writes about. That is, problems of cooperative research are very much problems with the entire ethos of science, which hasn't changed either.

Note: The next part of the paper illustrates examples that involve what could be useful to both sociology and library science, and the specific examples concern the public and reading. A good amount of research has been done in this area, in subsequent years, but the questions Waples raises are still relevant.

Note: Example of cooperative research Waples proposes:

Since no reliable evidence on the status of reading within any given adult publication has yet been produced, we have here a field of investigation in which the student of reading and the sociologist should co-operate to mutual advantage (p. 296).

Note: Waples mentions pre-testing and post-testing in research (he doesn't use those terms though). I just find that interesting, since it makes me aware that I don't know how long (social) scientists have pre and post-tested:

The Thurstone scales for the measurement of attitudes toward various current issues might be readily applied before and after the reading of a given book or article to secure such evidence (p. 297).

Note: Waples ends the article with an outline of the four types of reading studies that he just illustrated and discussed in the article. The outline includes the research problems that need to be addressed and a brief description of how to measure those problems, where appropriate. It's a nice list.

Article 6

This entry is about:

Joeckel, Carleton B. (1931). The Public Library under the City-Manager Form of Government (Continued). The Library Quarterly, 1(3), 301-337. url:http://www.jstor.org/stable/40039661

Note: The sixth article of the third issue of The Library Quarterly is titled “The Public Library under the City-Manager Form of Government (Continued).”

It was written by Carleton B. Joeckel, who was affiliated with:

Affiliation: University of Michigan

Note: The first part of this article was published in the second issue of this volume. My notes on that article are here:

https://cseanburns.net/wiki/lq/volume-1-issue-2#article-1

Note: Joeckel begins to write more in depth about the various sorts of public library governance. The article has the following sections:

  • “CORPORATE LIBRARIES UNDER SELF-PERPETUATING BOARDS” (p. 301).
  • “LIBRARIES CONTROLLED BY ASSOCIATIONS AND CLUBS” (p. 302).
  • “MUNICIPAL PUBLIC LIBRARIES UNDER CONTROL OF THE CITY MANAGER” (p. 304).

Note About corporate (public) libraries. Legally, they are corporations. In practice, they are not much different than libraries governed by city councils:

The important point, of course, is that the governing boards of these libraries are created by special state statutes and that their members appoint their own successors. They are thus completely independent, legally, of the municipal government and are responsible only to themselves for their own acts. However, this separateness is somewhat fictitious, since the city council has the power of the purse and can alter its appropriations to the library as it sees fit (p. 301).

Note: About libraries controlled by associations and clubs. This form of management had been common. The two libraries under investigation here are the Portsmouth Public Library, which

is controlled by the Ladies' Library Association of that city, which elects a board of twelve members to manage the library. Even here, however, there is a certain amount of supervision by the director of public welfare, who is a city official; and the annual report of the library is forwarded to the city manager and city council (p. 303).

And the Flagler Memorial Library of Miami in Miami, Florida. This is an interesting set up:

The Flagler Memorial Library of Miami seems almost to defy classification. It has been placed in this group, because it is actually managed by the Miami Woman's Club through its library committee. This unusual arrangement is due to the fact that Henry Flagler originally donated to the Woman's Club a piece of ground, stipulating that the club should maintain a free reading-room. For over twenty-five years the library thus established served as the only public library of Miami, a membership fee of $1.00 a year being charged. It has received financial support from the city only since 1924, at which time it assumed the functions of a free public library. Curiously enough, the present annual appropriation of $30,000 is paid from the publicity fund of the city (p. 303).

Note: About public libraries controlled by the city manager:

Interesting tidbit about “newest type of municipal executive”:

We now turn to a group of cities in which this tradition of independence has been broken down, in which the newest type of municipal executive, the city manager, has been definitely given authority over the destinies of the public library (p. 304).

Note: Joeckel divides this group into two subgroups:

  • “those in which the library is merely a municipal department headed by a single executive, the librarian, who is directly under the city manager;”
  • “second, those libraries in which the library board has been retained as an intermediate authority between the manager and the librarian” (p. 305).

Note: There's a lot of detail in the following pages, and it's not important for me (for this project) to note it all, but the details reveal a fascinating history of early 20th century public libraries.

However, one of the important points to be made is that libraries (at this time) that did not have boards but that operated under a city-manager seemed sometimes to be highly dependent on the city-manager's level of attention on the library. That is, this form of governance seems to result in an unpredictable situation for the library as it not only depends on whether the city manager cares but also on whether the city manager is involved. Ah, so Joeckel says as much here:

The whole matter may well be summed up by saying the success of the library under the direct supervision of the manager depends very largely on the attitude of the individual manager toward the library. Librarians working under managers are practically a unit on this point, regardless of whether their personal experience has been favorable or unfavorable. If the manager believes thoroughly in the importance of libraries, he usually has it in his power to see that the library in his city receives adequate support and is efficiently administered. If he is indifferent, or worse, there is little hope for progress in library service (p. 313).

Note: This could be used to explain or as an example of why a profession is important for the administration of libraries: Joeckel notes that many of the problems with the city manager set up is that many of the city managers (at least at the time) were engineers, who, the author argues, may be more interested in their own projects than they are in libraries. See top of p. 314.

Note: Interesting note, hypothetical back and forth, between what a city manager would want and what a librarian would want in the form of oversight. See pp. 319-320.

Note: This is good. He lists the “principal arguments in favor of separate library organization” beginning on page 321. They are:

  1. They have been successful, historical.
  2. Library boards are made up by those in the community. Nice quote: “The great value of the board is not that it will actually devise ways and means for administering the library–that a wise board leaves to the librarian it appoints–but rather that it is able to interpret the community and its needs and …” (p. 322). Also: “Or, as stated by another librarian, 'a board is needed to interpret the library to the community and the community to the library'” (pp. 322-3).
  3. “Continuity of policy” (p. 323). And: “Continuity in policy is important for a library, for it can ill adapt itself to violent and sudden changes in income, in management, or in service” (p. 323).
  4. “Separate library administration will probably permit the library to be considered a part of the educational system of the community, which is not likely to be the case when it is entirely absorbed into the general municipal organization” (p. 324).
  5. Regarding the profession: “the library staff is more likely to receive the special professional treatment which it requires under separate control than as a part of the general municipal personnel” (p. 324).

Note: Joeckel then provides the arguments that have favored a city manager administration. I won't list them, but they're interesting.

However, there are some important remarks on taxation – including whether there should be a separate library tax or whether funds for libraries should come out of a single tax.

Note: I really enjoy reading Carleton Joeckel. This is a nice final line:

The age of experiment is not over in American municipal government, and we are certainly not yet ready to abandon completely the idea of the independence of the public library (p. 329).
lq/volume-1-issue-3.txt · Last modified: 2017/02/07 08:45 by seanburns