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LQ Volume 1 Issue 4

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

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

Article 1

This entry is about:

Carnovsky, Leon. (1931). Suggestions regarding an Evaluation of Methods in Current Adult-Education Practices. The Library Quarterly, 1(4), 377-393. url:

Note: The first article of the fourth issue of The Library Quarterly is titled “Suggestions regarding an Evaluation of Methods in Current Adult-Education Practices.”

It was written by Leon Carvovsky, who was affiliated with:

Affiliation: Graduate Library School, University of Chicago

Note: Seems there will be some criticism of adult education, at least as it was represented as a movement at the time. Also mentions, off the bat, education psychology.

Note: I've read about the use of forums in American history before and have a general idea where the article I read is located, but this bit connecting adult education and forums is interesting and new to me, when presented in this way:

One of the best-known forms of adult education in America is the forum. The forum goes back a considerable distance in American history, and it has achieved some prominence in recent times through being linked up with the adult-education movement. Indeed, owing to this connection, it is probable that the public forum is more extensive today in American than it has ever been in the past. The main features of the forum are three. There is an address, usually by a fluent-speaker, often one who has achieved some distinction in his field, sometimes one who has become popular through his facility of expression rather than his scholarship. Sometimes a debate between two prominent persons is substituted for the address. Following the address the meeting is open to the audience, and questions relating to the topic of the evening are asked of the speaker. Sometimes these are written, more often oral (p. 378).

Note: Carnovsky has the following bit on learning, and I think given the relationship between public libraries and learning, the following list should be considered in any in-depth discussion of that relationship. He writes:

It remains now to ask what evidence is at hand for an evaluation of the aims and method of the forum as described. One type of such evidence consists in the principles that are known to operate in the learning process. It is both possible and convenient to consider these principles as representing at least eight types of learning, which are of course by no means discrete:
1. Acquisition of acts of skill
2. Developing adequate perceptions and habits of observation
3. Acquiring associations and memorizing
4. Acquiring ideas or knowledge
5. Gaining understanding and problem-solving
6. Developing appreciations
7. Developing attitudes
8. Developing character (p. 379).

He then relates forums to item 4 on the list, at least that is what they predominantly seem to be about. Then he uses “psychological evidence” to support this claim. Interesting.

Note: There may be an exception or two, but I don't think I'll report more details about this article any further in this post. But, a few things to note:

  • There is a very real purpose in this article, and that is to get researchers to know more, to measure more, and so forth, what is going on in adult learning. The beginning of this article is focused on forums, but I imagine (I'm still reading) that Carnovsky will address other types of learning formats.
  • The idea of a forum, as described in this article, is relevant in today's context. This is because his description of forums and their purpose has a conceptual relationship, although obviously antecedent, to how MOOCs are presented today.

Note: On the “university extension movement” and distance education over 80 years ago:

In general, the purpose of university extension is to take, in so far as possible, the university to the student who is unable to attend in person (p. 387).

Note: Description of correspondence instruction:

The method of instruction is correspondence. In general, the procedure is as follows: definitely organized lesson sheets are sent to the student at certain intervals. Assignments consist of required reading and suggested readings, and exercises which are mailed back to the university for correction or criticism, after which they are returned to the student. There is, of course, no personal supervision in the sense of a face-to-face relationship, but it would be a mistake to assume that personal direction is lacking. On the contrary such direction is very much a part of the system (p. 388).

I wonder if that's the first instance of the phrase face-to-face–especially in nearly the same context we use it today.

Note: Carnovsky finally describes how libraries and librarians have been involved in adult education. This was largely through reader advisory, or the personalized reading list for the patron. There is some criticism of this as a way of instruction. Here Carnovsky quotes a “Professor L. J. Richardson, director of the University of California Extension Division,” who concludes after providing a list of reasons why readers advisory is not a good instructional program:

It is evidence that a course of reading, however carefully planned, cannot meet all the needs involved in adult education (p. 392).

Note: One last note about the article and especially its method. Carnovsky's method is to describe the thing under question, or the *data* as he terms it, and then tie the description to a psychological statement or principle about learning. This makes his *preface* intelligible (that is, I didn't understand what he was doing when I first read it):

NOTE ON SOURCES:–Data concerning practices in adult education are found in the “Studies in adult education,” sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation, as indicated in the footnotes. The psychological principles employed were taken from the unpublished “Official record of the Commonwealth Teacher Training Study,” by Charters and Waples. The principles were selected from over one hundred texts in educational psychology by \[\ldots\], as supported by experimental evidence (p. 377).

From the perspective of an up and coming social scientist who works at the Graduate Library School, i.e., Carnovsky, this method is a really interesting tactic.

Article 2

This entry is about:

Akers, Susan Grey. (1931). To What Extent Do the Students of the Liberal-Arts Colleges Use the Bibliographic Items Given on the Catalogue Card? The Library Quarterly, 1(4), 394-408. url:

Note: The second article of the fourth issue of The Library Quarterly is titled “To What Extend Do the Students of the Liberal-Arts Colleges Use the Bibliographic Items Given on the Catalogue Card?”

It was written by Susan Grey Akers, who was affiliated with:

Affiliation: University of North Carolina

Note: It's long been about service and users:

The implication of the foregoing quotation is that in order to make a good catalogue it is necessary to know the needs of the users of that catalogue […] (p. 394).

The “foregoing quotation” is from the following source (quoted from the first endnote on page 394 of this article):

W. M. Randall, “The Uses of library catalogs,” *Catalogers' and classifiers' yearbook, II (1930), 26-27.

Since the above comment and quote are so interesting, given the time, I just did a quick search for W. M. Randall's article and I came across a piece I remember reading quite a while ago:

Connaway, Lynn S., Johnson, Debra W., & Searing, Susan E. (1997). Online Catalogs from the Users' Perspective: The Use of Focus Group Interviews. College & Research Libraries, 58(5), 403-420.

In the Connaway, Johnson, and Searing article, they write:

The origin of catalog use studies is credited to a 1930 paper written by William M. Randall. Randall contended that catalogs cannot be improved by studying catalog rules or the catalogs themselves but, rather, by studying catalog users needs, backgrounds, and mental capabilities (p. 404).

Note: This is a really interesting piece. The author is describing the use of pilot studies, collecting data by interviewing students or asking the students to maintain diaries. The decided way to collect data involved students completing checklists about their interaction with the catalog.

Two hundred and fifty-seven students completed checklists.

Note: Akers suggests that her study should be generalizable to all liberal arts college students. How she tests this is really interesting:

The reliability of these students as a sample of the students in liberal-arts colleges was tested by correlating the votes of one-half the students from each college with the votes of the other half of the students from each college in order to see if the group was homogeneous (p. 397).

Note: The research involved asking students what part of the card they used. Akers then ranked the results. One finding, for example, is that students ranked the Date of book information as the most important information on the card, and the Series notes for all series information as the least important (see Table II, p. 399).

Note: Akers now reports student comments. I like this one:

2. I should like to see a card system arranged so that an average individual not having been in the library before could find a book …. without having to bother the librarian for the required information. As for the cards, I do not believe that the thousand-and-one abbreviations used can be understood by anyone but a librarian. Why not simplify the entire system? It can be done \[emphasis added\] (p. 405).

Emphasis added because it just shows that students have never wanted to go to the librarian. This is a universal law!

Reflection: UNIVERSAL LAW OF LIBRARIES I: Students dislike requesting assistance from librarians.

Note: More wish list for the card catalog:

11. I should like to suggest that in the case of books of reference the position of the author be stated so that one might infer what authority the book carries if one is not acquainted with the author (p. 406).

Note: All librarians will nod their heads at this request:

34. Color of the book (p. 407).

Reflection: A really interesting piece–background, methods, data collection, findings, conclusion (not described here). The article involved a very short literature review because there was only one article on the topic before this one (the Randall piece, see above).

Article 3

Scribner, B. W. (1931). Report of Bureau of Standards Research on Preservation of Records. The Library Quarterly, 1(4), 409-420. url:

Note: The third article of the fourth issue of The Library Quarterly is titled “Report of Bureau of Standards Research on Preservation of Records.”

It was written by B. W. Scribner, who was affiliated with:

Affiliation: Washington, D.C.

Note: The article begins by describing the concern about preserving records due to paper quality, which became a concern around the early to later part of the 19th century.

Note: What's interesting, as a side note, is that the author's description of the problem is insightful and almost mathematical. Or maybe it's just my reading of it. Anyhow, the author's description can be stated more generally. Caveat: this is not what the author writes or claims; rather, it's the generalization of it, and it's not something I claim to be true–just thought-framing.

  • advancing education causes cheaper communication
  • quality of information storage is a function of the dissemination of information

Reflection: There's not much more I want to write about this article. I think it will stick with me and I can see myself drawing from it for some future project. Otherwise, it's an interesting piece that reports findings on research that causes paper to deteriorate–at a time when this was very new information / findings. For example:

  • “effect of light”
  • “Drying-out effect”
  • “Effect of sulphur dioxide” (acidity) (pp. 415-416).

It's also interesting because it highlights how the research in this area (paper quality and its standardization) marks some of the earliest, modern discussions on *information storage.*

Article 4

This entry is about:

Randall, William M. (1931). The College-Library Book Budget. The Library Quarterly, 1(4), 421-435. url:

Note: The fourth article of the fourth issue of The Library Quarterly is titled “The College-Library Book Budget.”

It was written by William M. Randall, who was affiliated with:

Affiliation: Graduate Library School, University of Chicago

Note: An opening attack on how book budgets are applied at college libraries. A really good attack. For example, on spending money based on student population per department:

It appears obvious, for example, that the number of students enrolled in courses in economics in College A can have no possible effect upon the number of authoritative and necessary books published during a year in the subject (p. 421).

The second argument is an argument against lapsing or use it or lose it budgets.

Note: Randall claims that knowing two pieces of information would help solve the book budgeting problem:

  1. Average cost of book per academic deparment
  2. Average number of books published per academic department per year (see p. 422).

Reflection: I think this is the first truly obsolete article I've read in these first issues of LQ. Randall's previous article is relevant in many ways, but this one may be so only for historical purposes.

I should add that I do not meant to minimize the importance of this article. In fact, I think this article's lack of currency suggests that this is an area (collection management) that library science has truly advanced.

I'm enjoying this article so much. This is great (simpler times):

But, since the list has 149 titles in economics during one interval, and 275 titles in English during the corresponding interval, it seems reasonable to suppose that the college library will need to buy, on the average, about twice as many titles in English as in economics during a given period (exactly 275/149) (p. 425).

Note: Essentially, what Randall is suggesting is a collection development algorithm based on normalizing around the number of books published in the field of *English*. It's original and ingenious and fun to read. The method he proposes is also very thorough and well thought out, even if outdated.

For example, it's coming out in the article that one of the benefits of his method is that it highlights discrepancies in funding and collections. Thus, his method could have been used to highlight what is a fair distribution of books per academic department.

Note: And here's the kicker. This is what the LQ is all about–a *Library Science*, at least in these early years:

This article is intended not as a final word on any of the questions of which it treats. It is intended rather as an introduction and a sample of the sort of work which may be done upon the problems of the college library–and upon all library problems in general–by the use of methods which have been tested in other disciplines; and by the utilization of available data which can be proved reliable. It would appear that the proper procedure for the library profession at this time is not to seek in every case practical and immediate application of knowledge to everyday problems, so much as to investigate hypotheses, and to test the assumption upon which the profession works (p. 435).

Article 5

This entry is about:

Christensen, Claude H. (1931). Classification and Cataloguing in the Scandinavian Countries. The Library Quarterly, 1(4), 436-464. url:

Note: The fifth article of the fourth issue of The Library Quarterly is titled “Classification and Cataloguing in the Scandinavian Countries”

It was written by Claude H. Christensen, who was affiliated with:

Affiliation: Graduate Library School, University of Chicago

Note: Begins with praise of the order in Scandinavian libraries and proceeds to discuss their history.

Note: There is one theme that I seem to find across many different types of library histories. The problems that have plagued libraries, especially around the middle to later part of the 19th century, is this: library methods could not scale with increased communication. In order to meet that challenges, they discarded, revised, and invented new methods to scale up. In this article's context:

The works of Francke, Ebert, Schrettinger, and others excited a renewed interest in library methods, which were proving quite inadequate for the proper handling of the growing collections (p. 440).

Reflection: I enjoy reading articles about the development of classification systems, and this article is partly about that. Articles like these remind me how historically situated and culturally defined classification systems are.

Note: We may not have *rulers* anymore, but we still have this problem and this outcome:

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the fortunes of the library depended largely upon the attitude of the rulers, and at times there was little or no progress (p. 451).

Article 6

This entry is about:

Ketring, Ruth A. (1931). Johann Neumeister: An Assistant to Johann Gutenberg? The Library Quarterly, 1(4), 465-475. url:

Note: The sixth and last article of the fourth issue, and last article of the first volume, of *The Library Quarterly* is titled “Johann Neumeister: An Assistant to Johann Gutenberg?”

It was written by Ruth A. Ketring, who was affiliated with:

Affiliation: Duke University Library

Note: A historical piece on printing and bibliography.

Reflection: Nothing much to say about the specifics of this article. In the last few years I've picked up a couple books on old-school bibliography work (the work of *bibliographers*) in the last few years. It's fascinating, detailed, part-historical work and represents, I think, one of the most important skills in the history of librarianship.

lq/volume-1-issue-4.txt · Last modified: 2017/02/07 08:46 by seanburns