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LQ Volume 3 Issue 3

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

To return to the list of notes on this volume: volume-3

Article 1

This entry is about:

Kuhlman, Augustus Frederick. (1933). The Social Science Research Council and the preservation of source materials. The Library Quarterly, 3(3), 229-247. url:

Note: The first article of the third issue of the third volume of The Library Quarterly is titled “The Social Science Research Council and the preservation of source materials.”

It was written by August Frederick Kuhlman, who was affiliated with:

Affiliation: University of Chicago Libraries

Note: Begins with a great description (definition) of research libraries.

The objectives of a research library may be said to be twofold. From one point of view, it is an end in itself. Its object as a depository is to acquire, organize, and preserve all of the material of merit within those fields of human knowledge and activity that fall within its defined scope. The aim is to be a treasure house which in its acquisitions has kept abreast of the progress of those sciences with which it is concerned, or has even anticipated coming trends. It stands ready to offer the scholar unexplored materials with which he can make new discoveries and extend the bounds of knowledge. From another point of view, however, the research library is a means and not an end. Its function is one of mediation between the scholar's research goals and the sources that must be discovered, acquired, and placed at his disposal under favorable working conditions if he is to be effective. To serve either of these functions well, particularly the latter, presupposes active teamwork between scholars and librarians, for the building of collections represents the product of constantly integrating sources that are to be acquired and preserved with the changing and evolving research objectives and goals of scholars (p. 229).

Reflection: I read those words above and I feel as if they are now fighting words. Those words are inspiring. And I want to talk with people about them.

Note: The rest of the paragraph highlights the important relationship between librarians and scholars in the pursuit of social science research.

Note: This is an important article. Details the history of the Social Science Research Council, discusses some of the important work in developing collections that would enhance social science research, and this includes important reference works such as Social Science Abstracts, and highlights the important role that librarians had in advancing social scientific research.

Article 2

This entry is about:

Mitchell, J. M. (1933). The library service in Great Britain: Effects of the financial crisis. The Library Quarterly, 3(3), 248-252. url:

Note: The second article of the third issue of the third volume of The Library Quarterly is titled “The library service in Great Britain: Effects of the financial crisis.”

It was written by J. M. Mitchell, who was affiliated with:

Affiliation: Carnegie United Kingdom Trust

Note: Simply put, an upbeat and short piece on the advancements libraries were making despite the financial hardships Britain was facing as a result of the Depression.

My favorite line, I think:

Those who attended the 1932 Annual Conference of the Library Association, held at Bournemouth under the presidency of Sir Henry Miers, could not fail to be impressed by the fact that the attendance was practically normal, and that, with due allowance for the inevitable percentage of “web blankets,” the spirit of the profession as a whole remained undaunted [emphasis added] (p. 250).

Article 3

This entry is about:

Wang, Charles K. A. (1933). Selecting applicants to a library school or training class: An approach to a technique. The Library Quarterly, 3(3), 253-266. url:

Note: The third article of the third issue of the third volume of The Library Quarterly is titled “Selecting applicants to a library school or training class: An approach to a technique.”

It was written by Charles K. A. Wang, who was affiliated with:

Affiliation: Kaifeng, China (No Affiliation)

Note: The study reported in this article is based on personnel records. This could be interesting. Given the reported location of the author, it's not yet clear if the library system he refers to is one that is located in the U.S. or in China.

Note: I believe this is the first article that most closely resembles the modern structure of a “scientific” article. It has a “procedure” section, a “results” section, and a “discussion section.”

Note: The amount of information libraries had on their personnel is staggering:

On the other hand, the library does have personnel records covering the graduates in its training class. Such records are of varying completeness and include application blanks, entrance-examination scores, library-training records, and intelligence scores (p. 253).


Up to the present, selection has been based in part on entrance examinations, school records, and, more recently, intelligence scores; but the number of qualified applicants so far exceeds vacancies in the training class that selection has rested largely on the subjective opinions of a few interviewers. This study undertakes to evaluate certain personality factors which by their presence or absence may contribute to one's success as a library assistant (p. 254).

Note: In the procedure section, the author uses personnel records but also questionnaires. Plus! Two personality tests. One that measures introversion and extroversion and the other, which the author developed, that measures “persistence.” Plus!! An efficiency rating was devised — to measure how efficient a person was at books or with people, and so could be placed in the appropriate position. This is incredible.

Note: Interesting correlations throughout.

Note: Although it's not labeled, there's essentially a section that discusses limitations. See the middle paragraph on page 262.

Note: His suggestions:

When these tests are given, the test scores are of selective value in themselves aside from the part they contribute to the total efficiency scores. In the case of the entrance examinations now in use, it is suggested that candidates be eliminated if their score is under 55. In the case of the intelligence test, candidates with scores of under 100 may be removed from further consideration. On the test of introversion-extroversion, it is probably safe to eliminate the extreme introverts, i.e., those with a score of +20 or more. With regard to the persistence scale, there is probably little to lose in eliminating candidates with a score below 60 (p. 263).

Note: Wow, the importance of being “objective”:

If, however, they are supplemented by intelligent observation on the part of the interviewer, such occasional errors might be avoided, although this subjective judgment is by no means encouraged (p. 263).

Article 4

This entry is about:

Waples, Douglas. (1933). Graduate theses accepted by library schools in the United States from June, 1928, to June, 1932. The Library Quarterly, 3(3), 267-291. url:

Note: The fourth article of the third issue of the third volume of The Library Quarterly is titled “Graduate theses accepted by library schools in the United States from June, 1928, to June, 1932.”

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

Affiliation: University of Chicago

Note: In an examination of Master's theses coming out of library schools, Waples asks:

What is the field of librarianship as defined by the 148 theses reported?

The question reminded me of a more current LQ article, which I thought might cite Waples, but doesn't.

Note: The paragraph below captures what this entire enterprise is about: what is the one, necessary purpose of the library?

There is no question, of course, but that libraries will endure, as they always have endured, if only for the purpose of preserving records that each age considers important—witness the pyramids of Gizeh. But now the question of most immediate importance is how many and which of the other recreational and educational values to contemporary society, as urged by the American public library in justification for generous public support, can be made convincing to the present taxpayers and city councils (p. 268).

Waples assumes it's preserving records, and he assumes that for good reason. But now that records are increasingly decentralized, the question is whether that will remain a continuing assumption. Perhaps it is “the other recreational and educational values” that will become the necessary purpose of the library. This is part of the modern question, it seems to me.

Note: As a reminder, this article was published amidst the Great Depression. One concern that Waples is addressing concerns the relevancy of libraries in such times.

Note: Here is one instance where the early library scientists defined one of the fundamental questions of the field:

To attack the problems directly may require some change in professional attitudes toward the reading needs of the community. For example, some studies may best proceed from the assumption that the economic situation requires the public library, by analogy with the tax-supported schools, to identify those now receiving its benefits in order to make plain that it reaches a sufficiently large and diversified part of the population to justify public support; to show that certain benefits of reading are not so readily obtained from other distributing agencies; and to specify the scope of benefits peculiar to library services. From this point of departure, the definition of the library's social benefits is a task to which some students of librarianship should devote their full energies. The problems which need to be studied from this point of view have consequently suggested our headings [emphasis added] (pp. 269-270).

Note: Table 1 on page 271 lists the theses subjects. In my study of the history of library science, I need to find and read these.

Waples asks:

“What is the field of librarianship as defined by the theses?” (p. 271).

Here's the paragraph that outlines the theses:

The field of librarianship as defined by the titles in general terms in Table 1. The headings for the three of the classes are ambiguous, namely, “Description of current library practices,” “Library organization,” and “All others.” The forty-one theses classed as description of current practice are subdivided as follows: twelve on cataloguing and classification, nine on book selection, eight on educational activities, five on library extension, two on interlibrary lending, two on lending and circulation, and three on general practices. Library organization, with the exclusion of historical and survey treatments, is represented by eleven theses—two on legislation, four on finance, two on buildings, and three on holdings. “All others” include seventeen theses: seven in the field of reading, three on publishing, four on criteria for library services, and three on sources and methods of research (pp. 271-272).

Note: Waples compares these theses with non-library PhD dissertations that are about libraries in some way and that were published in 1930. It's not entirely clear what areas or fields have launched these dissertations, but Waples provides a way to track them down.

Article 5

This entry is about:

Herbert, Clara W. (1933). Personnel requirements for library branches in relation to circulation. The Library Quarterly, 3(3), 292-304. url:

Note: The fifth article of the third issue of the third volume of The Library Quarterly is titled “Personnel Requirements for Library Branches in Relation to Circulation.”

It was written by Clara W. Herbert, who was affiliated with:

Affiliation: Public Library, District of Columbia

Note: Another article relating to personnel and to standards (see also Article 3 from this issue).

Note: Interesting quote from George Washington about having too many students per instructor. See page 293.

Note: There is a very real desire to make the evaluation of library work as non-subjective as possible. The desire for objectivity is, it should be noted, a desire for fairness. This article, for example, at least begins in search of some mathematical way to determine how many circulation personnel are needed at any given library in order to maximize the benefit these services offer to the community and to minimize the cost to the taxpayers.

For example (and I can't get over this paragraph):

Perhaps the following explanation will make Table I clearer. It will be noted that the unit of measurement was based on the smallest agency; for example under administration, if the square footage of the D branch is 2,211, the units for A, B, C branches will be there square footage divided by 2,211 or 3.4, 3.6, and 6.1, respectively. Again, if one unit is assigned to a staff of 4 persons, the units for a staff of 7 will be as many as 4 will go into 7 or 1.7; a staff of 12 will be as many as 4 goes into 12 or 3.0; and a staff of 22 will be as many as 4 goes into 22 or 5.5. This procedure is followed throughout the table to give a picture of the relative demands of branches of different types. In translating the total units into time required, however, the standard of comparison was shifted to the B or Southeastern Branch because of its more typical aspects. All comparisons could have been made on the Southeastern Branch, but to avoid the use of decimals it was thought more convenient to compare the activities on the basis of the smallest branch. To complete the explanation: If the sum of the units representing the activities under “Administration” is 13.6 at the Southeastern Branch and it takes thirty-two hours weekly to perform them, it will take as many at the Mount Pleasant Branch as 13.6:32::23.6:x, or 56 hours (p. 296).

Reflection: Now refer to Kuhn and his discussion of paradigms and rules. As much as Kuhn's discussion of these topics applies to the social sciences, generally, and to library science, specifically (and that's doubtful), there is something to be said in that while we may maintain the same paradigms as these 1930 library researchers, our rules for expressing and rationalizing these paradigms are much different today. In short, the paragraph above is not the kind of paragraph, I think, we'd see in present day literature.

Note: This article also follows the standard structure (LQ articles are evolving): It's outline:

  • Objectives (includes a literature review, so to speak)
  • Procedure
  • Results

Also has various subsections.

Note: The “factory” statement is good because I was thinking that's what the author was trying to do:

Standards of achievement.—Third, we wish to set up standards of achievement. We have no desire to turn the library into a factory or to place upon the staff strain additional to that inherent in public service. We felt, however, that reasonable standards based on figures of day-in and day-out work, not those obtained under the pressure of making a record, would be a satisfaction to the assistant and give us a sound position before economy boards. Accordingly, the following standards are before us tentatively. After experimentation they may require further revision (p. 302).

Reflection: Interestingly, this is the exact kind of thing I desired to know when I was a cataloger. I wanted some idea of how many books I was supposed to process per hour.

Note: Just wondering what kind of mechanical devices the author refers to:

we are using forms and mechanical devices whenever possible … (p. 303).
lq/volume-3-issue-3.txt · Last modified: 2017/02/07 08:53 by seanburns