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LQ Volume 3 Issue 4

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

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

Article 1

This entry is about:

Shera, J. H. (1933). Recent Social Trends and Future Library Policy. The Library Quarterly, 3(4), 339-353. url:

Note: The first article of the fourth issue of the third volume of The Library Quarterly is titled “Recent Social Trends and Future Library Policy.”

It was written by J. H. Shera, who was affiliated with:

Affiliation: Miami University

Note: Enter Shera.

Note: This piece begins with a scolding (Shera was good at this) of those librarians who fail to see “the need for a sociological concept of the library profession” (p. 339).

Note: Shera discusses Borden's work (see my notes on the piece by Borden).

Any adequate interpretation of future library policy must necessarily, therefore, be based on a thorough recognition of the library as the product of social and economic forces that have been evolving during the past three-quarters of a century. Mr. Borden, in the paper previously cited, has admirably paved the way for these new concepts [emphasis added] (p. 340).

Note: It's weird reading this because it's so current:

Suffice it here to state that the downward trend of the birth-rate and the extension of the expectation of life and resulting aging of our population cannot but affect materially the type of public that librarians of the future will serve. The census of 1930 showed unmistakably that our period of rapid growth in numbers is definitely at an end. With the older people constituting an increasingly larger percentage of our population, the demand for leisure-time activities and the services of the librarian should increase, while the children's librarians, relieved of the burden of ever increasing numbers to serve, can shift their attention from quantity to quality (pp. 341-342).

Note: I'm often interested in what people and sources these early LQ authors cite. It would be interesting to study that.

Note: Interesting discussion of decentralization. See p. 345.

Note: Writing about how libraries can serve various aesthetic functions, “make beauty increasingly a vital part of our lives” (p. 349), Shera writes for a fluid definition / conception of the library:

There will be many who will argue that all this is without the province of the library—that a library is not a museum—that such confusion of purpose strikes at the very heart of the library's true function. In the cities, with large art collections and great museums just around the corner, such a rigid interpretation of the function of the library may be well and good. But in the increasingly important village the library must broaden its scope and become a true cultural center (p. 349).

Note: How like the 1930s to the present.

The Depression and its effects:

The profession is confronted by the first serious crisis in its short history. Ever since the publication, over a year ago, of Mr. Joeckel's important study of supply and demand in the library field, librarians have long known of the ravages of unemployment in their ranks; and much has been written about it but little has been done (p. 350).

Shera is referring to a piece Joeckel published in Library Journal, but Joeckel has also published articles in LQ (search wiki for more by Joeckel).

Note: Again, scathing. Shera continues from above:

It is needless to point out the inevitable consequences and economic folly of this short-sighted policy. Suffice it to say that if a service is worth rendering, it merits compensation, and if librarians persist in the sanction of such practices they can anticipate little relief from their present ills (p. 350).

And now he scolds library schools (just continuing from previous sentence):

Yet, in the face of all this, the library schools are not cooperating as they should. Even the chairman of the Junior Members Round Table of the A.L.A. is compelled to admit that “While some schools are radically reducing enrollment, others are merely making a gesture.” This is not time to allow personal institutional pride to work against the best interests of the profession. There must be a “domestic allotment plan” for the library schools (pp. 350-351).

Note: Could see it coming. He proposes a central planning commission that would have a great deal of authority of all libraries in the U.S.

Note: Reading Shera is always interesting. Usually brilliant. I must admit, though, that I can almost hear a Palpatine laugh when I read this line:

This does not mean that local libraries will have to surrender much of their present autonomy. As a matter of fact they will be virtually as independent as they now are. Only as their individual policies might work at cross-purposes with the master-plan will they feel the presence of any restraint or authority [emphasis added] (pp. 351-352).

Note: Sometimes I think that Shera is way too quick on the draw, and I disagree with some of his arguments in this article, but I do think this is true:

Librarians must create vision and venturesome leadership or the profession will suffer. They must take their calling more seriously, define their functions more closely, engage in more searching self-criticism, in more radical professional thought; … (p. 353).

Article 2

This entry is about:

Morris, Adah V. (1933). Anonyms and Pseudonyms: An Annotated List. The Library Quarterly, 3(4), 354-372. url:

Note: The second article of the fourth issue of the third volume of *The Library Quarterly* is titled “Anonyms and Pseudonyms: An Annotated List.”

It was written by Adah V. Morris, who was affiliated with:

Affiliation: University of Michigan

Note: This is the first article that I've only skimmed and not read thoroughly. The reason is that it is an annotated bibliography (rather than a standard narrative of some wort) of reference works related to anonyms and pseudonyms. As the author states:

This list has been compiled as an aid to librarians and cataloguers in the purchase and use of books which treat of anonymous and pseudonymous literature (p. 354).

Note: The article begins with a description of the list and how it was compiled. It has the following sections:

  • General
  • American and English
  • Dutch and Belgian
  • French
  • German
  • Hebrew
  • Hungarian
  • Italian
  • Scandinavian
  • Slavic
  • Spanish, Spanish-American, Portuguese

Article 3

This entry is about:

Wachtel, Lee. (1933). State Provisions for the Support of Municipal Public Libraries and Some Comparisons with State Provisions for the Support of Public Schools. *The Library Quarterly, 3*(4), 373-389. url:

Note: The third article of the fourth issue of the third volume of The Library Quarterly is titled “State Provisions for the Support of Municipal Public Libraries and Some Comparisons with State Provisions for the Support of Public Schools.”

It was written by Lee Wachtel, who was affiliated with:

Affiliation: University of Chicago

Note: Another article that deals with some aspect of public education and public libraries. Previous articles (based on a quick search) that I've noted include:

Note: Historical note:

Whereas almost every state has some provision in its constitution for the establishment and maintenance of the public school, only one state, Michigan, provides in any way at all for the public library (p. 373).


Notwithstanding this, the establishment and support of the public library is still considered to be a local function, and not an obligation of the state. This is quite evident from the legislative enactments. In no case is library legislation compulsory as is school legislation (p. 375).

Note: Good article for anyone interested in public library funding — especially the history of it.

Note: There is a lot of good and detailed information in this article, but here's one of the author's main points:

As has been indicated above, the most significant difference between school legislation and library legislation is that the one is compulsory and the other permissive, though the general property tax is the main source of revenue for both these services (p. 386).


The library receives little state aid because it is still conceived of as a local function (p. 386).

Note: Another historical note / observation:

The county library system as developed in California and other states is a serious attempt to avoid wastefulness and duplication in basic library collections, buildings, equipment, catalogues, et al., in communities which are sufficiently close to one another to receive library service from a common source. It would, however, be premature and perhaps inaccurate to infer that the county is the ideal unit for purposes of library organization (p. 387).

The rest of the paragraph contains important points about determining library unit sizes, scopes, reach, etc. based on empirical data rather than on politic divisions.

Note: So, like Shera, the author makes note of the increasing centralization of government. This would have been on the public's mind at the time (given President Roosevelt's efforts at the time to combat the Depression):

The problem of determining the proper unit for library organization and support is bound up with the larger problem of governmental consolidation and centralization. The movement toward consolidation is close at hand, and it is a question whether independent library boards and library districts will remain unaffected (p. 387).

The above line suggests the need to understand more about the relationship between the Depression, federal government efforts to combat it, and the rise of public libraries. This would be the kind of research project very much in line with what many of these early LQ authors are trying to push (sociological, economical, political lines of inquiry).

Note: Important comment on the relationship between libraries and government:

The second assumption results from a hazy conception of the place of the library in the government structure. State provisions for library support assume that public libraries should have little or no relation to other governmental agencies. The bogey of “politics” and the battle-cry, “Keep politics out of the library,” have resulted in the establishment of independent boards with segregated funds and separate powers. But here also the forces of centralization are at work, and there is a tendency to modify the position of independent boards. This tendency is especially noticeable in city manager cities where the librarian is made directly responsible to the city manager, and the library board is either entirely dispensed with or given advisory power only. Students of political science have contended that independent boards with segregated funds and separate powers are harmful; that they complicate governmental machinery by adding additional units to it; and that they hinder the development of sound budgetary and fiscal practices (p. 388).

Article 4

This entry is about:

Brown, Charles, H., Joeckel, Carleton B., Munn, Ralph, Williamson, C. C., & Wilson, Louis R. (1933). Proposals Submitted to the American Library Association for Study and Investigation. The Library Quarterly, 3(4), 390-407. url:

Note: The fourth article of the fourth issue of the third volume of The Library Quarterly is titled “Proposals Submitted to the American Library Association for Study and Investigation.”

It was written by Charles H. Brown, Carleton B. Joeckel, Ralph Munn, C. C. Williamson, and Louis R. Wilson, who were affiliated with:

Affiliation: Advisory Board for the Study of Special Projects

Note: ALA establishes a committee to help determine priority and coverage of research fronts in librarianship. The authors, serving on this committee, take into consideration a list of proposals that have been submitted to ALA in the previous years by various members and other entities. The committee categorizes, ranks, and charts the progress these areas of research.

One of the stated purposes of this study reflects the nature of our field and its complexity, but also something about science in general:

Publication of this report in the present form is primarily intended to serve two closely related purposes. The first is to draw a clear distinction between service studies, which are often best undertaken locally in terms of actual conditions that render the problem acute, and research of genuine theoretical value to the profession at large (p. 391).

This purpose mirrors the scientific enterprise in the following way:

  1. Some studies seek to add factual knowledge about the world or the state of affairs
  2. Some studies seek to test theory (or higher order concepts)

Note: This is an important report as it lays out what the authors and the field, in general, have in mind in regards to the values held by the field and its domain. It highlights what research has been completed on certain topics, where research needs to direct its attention, etc.

The general outline of the research is:

I. Readers and reading
II. Reading matter, publications
III. Administration of distributing agencies

Those three top level topics are too broad to illuminate the all the details.

Article 5

This entry is about:

Blom, Frans. (1933). Maya Books and Sciences. The Library Quarterly, 3(4), 408-420. url:

Note: The fifth article of the fourth issue of the third volume of The Library Quarterly is titled “Maya Books and Sciences.”

It was written by Frans Blom, who were affiliated with:

Affiliation: Tulane University

Note: *LQ*'s scope at this time was certainly interesting. This article discusses the Mayans and the Aztecs and the state of knowledge of these two cultures at the time. Also, it discusses, in some detail, the writing and the mathematical abilities of the Mayans. Blom is highly enthusiastic about these cultures.

Regarding *LQ*, this is not the first article that is somewhat outside the modern library box. Others, historical and international, include:

Frans Blom, the author, seems to have had an interesting history.

lq/volume-3-issue-4.txt · Last modified: 2017/02/07 09:07 by seanburns