Page:Essays in librarianship and bibliography.djvu/57

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PUBLIC LIBRARIES AND THEIR CATALOGUES

servants England possesses in these administrators of her free libraries. The next great era in library history dates from 1876, when the practical genius of the Americans led them to perceive the benefit of giving bibliothecal science a visible organisation. The Philadelphia Conference of that year resulted in the foundation of the American Library Association, the prototype of our own. About the same time the American Library Journal—now the organ of the library associations of both countries—was established, and the Bureau of Education issued its volume of reports, the most valuable collection, not merely of statistics, but of close and sagacious discussion of library questions, that has yet been produced anywhere. That the American example should have been so promptly imitated in this country is mainly due to Mr. E. W. B. Nicholson, the librarian of the London Institution. Mr. Nicholson conceived the idea of an English conference on the American model. Messrs. Tedder, Harrison, Overall, and other distinguished metropolitan librarians, contributed their time and their marked capacity for business towards carrying it out. Mr. Winter Jones, as Principal Librarian of the British Museum, gave the conference éclat by accepting the office of President, and the welcome presence of a strong deputation of American librarians, together with some distinguished representatives of the profession from the Continent, imparted the international character which it alone needed to ensure success. The second conference, held at Oxford, was equally successful, and the