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A timeline of events in the history of libraries


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A timeline of events in the history of libraries

  1. 1. Timeline of Important Events in the History of American Libraries Susan Sharpe LIS 5020 Foundations of Library and Information Science Summer 2008
  2. 2. Directions: <ul><li>Each image on the Timeline is “hyperlinked” to a hidden page containing a description of that particular event. </li></ul><ul><li>To return directly from the description page to the Timeline just click the date on the left hand side. </li></ul><ul><li>The image surrounded by green is the one I have written my “paper” on. </li></ul><ul><li>This PowerPoint Presentation was made using Microsoft PowerPoint 2003, if there is any incompatibility please notify me immediately. </li></ul>
  3. 3. A Basic Historical Timeline Of Important Events for U.S. Libraries 1731 1814 1862 1870 1960 1887 1897 1967 1876 1934
  4. 4. <ul><li>1731 : Benjamin Franklin and his Junto Society open the first library of the Philadelphia Library Company, which still survives today (Rubin, 275). This library operated on the “subscription” base, and it was through the combined purchasing power of the members that the books were purchased (The Library Company). </li></ul><ul><li>1814 : In August 1814 the British invaded Washington D.C. and burned the Library of Congress destroying its collection of 5,000 books. A month after the burning former president Thomas Jefferson offered the use of his personal library, and by January 1915 the sale was complete. The nature of Jefferson’s library was not the standard legislative design, it contained a multitude of philosophical, scientific, and literary books which were typically not characterized as pertaining to the legal or political field. Ultimately it was this collection that inspired future directors of the Library of Congress in their “collection policies of today” ( Especially of note is the creation of the copyright law of 1870 which requires two of every work published in the U.S to be sent to the Library of Congress. </li></ul><ul><li>1862 : Morrill Land Grant Act: Passed by Congress in 1859 this act was originally vetoed by President James Buchanan, it was resubmitted under Abraham Lincoln’s administration in 1861, and officially made into law by 1862. This act is a cornerstone of the “growth of the academic library” (Rubin, 280). Roughly summarized this act provided each state with 30,000 acres of public land per senator or house member for educational use. Pictured here is the memorial plaque of Iowa State, and while this university was not the first Land Grant College (that distinction belongs to Rutgers), it is the first official college created under that act (Iowa State). </li></ul><ul><li>1870 : Although the history of women and libraries in the United States can be traced to colonial times, it is during this period that women’s clubs possessed the greatest amount of influence in the library world, this was partially stemmed from the continuing efforts by the same women’s clubs to obtain the right to vote and equal participation within the government. Their contributions towards the foundation and support of libraries between the 1870’s and 1930’s is credited to have created and/or supported nearly 470 public libraries (Rubin, 291).As Lorenzen points out in his article on the history of libraries, librarians or library science has always been viewed through the public eyes as a women-centric field, and this perception quite possibly is derived from the women who operated and worked in libraries at this time. </li></ul><ul><li>1876 : Johns Hopkins University is founded. The creation of this university is a direct response to the rise of the research model in education, it is noted by Rubin as the first university to fully incorporate this methodology as a “key function in a university” (Rubin, 280). Obviously such an institution would need and rely on a library, inadvertently creating demand across the country for the creation and establishment of large academic libraries for every research oriented college. </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>1887 : Melvin Dewey founds The School of Library Service, the first training school for librarians. </li></ul><ul><li>1897 : After the burning of the original library, and the adoption of Jefferson’s, the new Library of Congress continued in the spirit of “universal knowledge” amassing a huge collection of works from many parts of the globe. When Ainsworth Rand Spofford became head of the Library in 1864 he continued the Library’s tremendous expansion and acquisition rate. Shortly after his appointment Spofford single handedly doubled the contents of the Library after he sponsored the 1870 Copyright Act, (which requires two copies of all materials published in the US to be sent to the Library of Congress). The result was an explosion of materials, and the proposal of a new larger building to house the collection. Construction is completed on the new building for the Library of Congress, and on November 1 st , 1897 the doors open to the public. Upon opening the library was hailed as “the largest, the costliest, and the safest” library in the world ( The creation and renovation of such a costly new wing created a drive within the government to promote its library collection, making librarianship and the collection of materials a top priority while acting as a model for libraries across the country. </li></ul><ul><li>1934 : Please See Slide 5 or Click on 1934. </li></ul><ul><li>1960 : The creation of MARC (Machine Readable Cataloging) allowed “bibliographic data to be entered, stored, and disseminated electronically on computer tapes” (Rubin, 82). This advancement, like so many other computer related technologies, revolutionized library catalogues and was the first step in creating today’s concept of electronic library resources. </li></ul><ul><li>1967 : With the development of the MARC format the next advancement in computer and library connectivity came in the shape of the Ohio College Library Center. Now known as the Online Computing Library Center, the OCLC originally was a localized effort of the Ohio College Library to connect smaller member libraries to their MARC catalogue and essentially create one digitized collective catalogue available to all patrons. This idea has quickly expanded and today the OCLC functions as a hub of “interlibrary loan and document delivery” as well as provides access to “electronic databases” (Rubin 83). </li></ul>
  6. 6. Clara M. Edmunds and the first modern government documents library: In today’s info-centric world in which news is delivered live and from around the globe each and every minute, and data is uploaded and downloaded by the terabyte into personal computers, PDA’s, and cell phones it can be hard pressed for one to remember back to more distant times in which the information that we seek was not readily available. This transition from letter to email, from telegraph to radio and radio to telephone, from phone to cell phone, and etc was largely the result of the technological advances brought about by the last half of the 19th century and beginning of the twentieth. Most notably it was the invention and subsequent improvement of the computer which contributed to the way of which we view and access information today. However in the early 1930’s the computer was just an oversized calculator and the vast databases which house today’s documents, news, and etc were largely incomplete or in most cases simply did not exist. During this time period the public was at best alerted to recent news worthy developments via their local newspaper, radio, or television; while their information seeking needs was met by their local library, who in turned attempted to keep on top of the latest updates as fast as the technology of the times allowed. The 1930’s were a tumultuous era, the country was in the midst of a depression, a new president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, had been elected, and strange events were happening abroad. The first days of Roosevelt’s administration, aptly named the “Hundred Days,” oversaw the creation, formation, and overhaul of much of the antiquated government and in his attempt to single handedly bring the country out of its economic depression via his “New Deal” Roosevelt inadvertently sparked the creation of a modern government documents library, which during its peak was capable of updating its records hourly and answering thousands of inquiries on a variety of subjects (Lee, 216). In 1934 the United States Information Service (USIS) was created to help disseminate, “interpret, and explain” the “extent … of the expansion and multiplication of administrative agencies” which were part of Roosevelt’s “New Deal” (Lee, 213-217). These agencies issued daily publications of information that was vital to the public interest, but little of the public had access to it, or knew which agency to direct their queries (Lee, 214). Out of the chaos of the first “Hundred Days” and under the wing of the newly created USIS emerged a small “technical library” within the USIS headed by Clara M. Edmunds, which sole purpose was to disseminate and direct “officials, students, and other accredited persons” to the correct agencies through which their questions may be answered, or immediately provide the current answer on a variety of topics (Lee, 221). This small library, whose staff consisted of never more than seven paid librarians and clerks, focused on creating “a systematic database of legislative developments” that was “organized by subject matter (with appropriate cross-listing and indexing information) so that material was available in a way that would make sense to a lay citizen” (Lee, 216). Although the library was at first restricted to “accredited” personnel it eventually began fielding public questions and developed into a resource that as Edmunds said “was open to a great number of ordinary people who have found information not available in other libraries” (Lee, 216).
  7. 7. The genius of this “Congressional Information Section” library was in the fact that the information it contained had not been previously categorized or deemed noteworthy by current institutions. The range of its documents covered “official releases, [and] statements or speeches by other government officials” as well as “a progressive record of establishments of boards, commissions, and committees; decisions of the Supreme Court, Congressional bills, hearings, reports, Etc; the Congressional Record; (…) Executive orders (and etc)” (Lee, 218). These documents were not traditionally stored together, and in some cases, as with the executive letters written by Roosevelt to various agency directors they were not even stored at all (Lee, 218). Under Edmund’s directorship this small library became a hub to information seekers who wished to get the most recent and often the most clarifying explanation or summation of what the government was doing at that time. Not only was the library capable of fielding and directing a host of different questions on a variety of subjects, but it did so while providing monthly, daily, and hourly updates on a variety of materials- a feat that many an institution was hard pressed to duplicate (Lee, 212). Somehow without the computers of today, or microfilm, or any other of our modern and more convenient methodologies Edmund’s library operated on a level of interconnectivity that is rivaled only by today’s “information highway.” Her approach to cataloguing and indexing the various government documents by subject and office eventually inspired the creation of several of our modern government information sources such as the “Code of Federal Regulations” (Lee, 216). Unfortunately Edmund’s library failed to stand the test of time and by 1948 Congress officially dismantled the library, not because of any lack of functionality but simply out of politics as Roosevelt’s various administrations were demolished by Truman’s supporters (Lee, 224). In spite of this the policies on which it operated and the methodology lives on in the current forum of government documents, and although it has taken several decades of development today’s government document librarian has access to nearly much the same information as Clara Edmunds did without being privy to direct contact with the White House. The creation and eventual destruction of Edmund’s catalogue is a small but important footnote in the monumental changes brought about by Roosevelt’s reforms of the 1930’s. Mordecai Lee, author of the only recent and perhaps only paper on Miss Clara Edmunds, writes that “this forgotten chapter” “transformed the librarianship of government documents” and he notes that after the absorption and dismantling of the library’s collection it took nearly a “half century” and the creation of “digitized databases” for the government to duplicate what Miss Edmund’s “Congressional Information Section” accomplished in the 1930 through the 1940’s (Lee, 212 & 225). In many small ways Edmund’s forgotten library opened the door for all government documents libraries, and paved the way for the interconnected databases we enjoy today. Timeline
  8. 8. References: <ul><li>American Library Association Webpage: </li></ul><ul><li>Lee, Mordecai. “Clara M. Edmunds and the Library of the United States Information Service, 1934-1948.” Libraries & the Cultural Record. 2007,Vol. 42 no 3, p213-230. Retrieved via Ebscohost June 2008. </li></ul><ul><li>Library of Congress Webpage: </li></ul><ul><li>Lorenzen, Michael. “A brief history of Library Information in the United States of America.” Illinois Libraries. v.83 no2 8-18 Spring (2001). Retrieved via FirstSearch June 2008. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Marc Standards: The Library of Congress – Network Development and Marc Standards Office” Webpage: http:// /marc/ </li></ul><ul><li>“ Past Federal Actions in Higher Education.&quot; Congressional Digest ; Oct63, Vol. 42 Issue 10, p226, 1p Retrieved via Ebscohost June 2008. </li></ul><ul><li>Rubin, Richard E. Foundations of Library and Information Science. Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc. New York (1992). </li></ul><ul><li>“ The Library Company: Founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1731.” Independence Hall Association. (1995-2008). Retrieved via Google June 2008: </li></ul>
  9. 9. Images <ul><li>“ A Woman’s Library” Retrieved via Google Image Search June 2008: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Clara M. Edmunds at work in the USIS Library.” Washington Post, May 1948. Taken from Mordecai Lee’s: “Clara M. Edmunds and the Library of the United States Information Service, 1934-1948.” Libraries & the Cultural Record. 2007,Vol. 42 no 3, p213-230. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Columbia Classroom” Retrieved via Google Image Search June 2008: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Iowa State Land Grant Memorial.” Iowa State University. Retrieved via Google Image Search June 2008: </li></ul><ul><li>“ John Hopkins Gilman Building” Constantinos, Michael. “Constantinos’ Blog.” Retrieved via Google Image Search June 2008: </li></ul><ul><li>“ OCLC Logo” Retrieved via Google Image Search June 2008: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Painting of Benjamin Franklin opening the first subscription library.” Mill, Charles. Retrieved via Google Image Search June 2008: </li></ul><ul><li>“ The Burning of the Library of Congress.” Retrieved via Google Image Search June 2008: </li></ul><ul><li>“ The Jefferson Building, The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.” Higgins, Jim, photographer. Retrieved via Google Image Search June 2008: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Understanding Marc.” Retrieved via Google Image Search June 2008: </li></ul>