The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Library Training

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The Encyclopedia Americana
Library Training
Edition of 1920. See also Education for librarianship on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

LIBRARY TRAINING. M. W. Schrettinger, in his ‘Versuch eines vollständigen Lehrbuchs der Bibliotheks-wissenschaft’ (Munich 1829) was probably first to suggest special schools for training librarians. F. Rullman, librarian of the University of Freiburg, in 1874 outlined a university course in library science. The older libraries and librarians were intensely individualistic, and these, as well as other early schemes, emphasized the bibliographical side rather than the administrative. Recognition of librarianship as a profession and the consequent professional co-operation of librarians were necessary for substantial progress in library training. The first really constructive work in this direction followed the formation of the American Library Association in 1876. A regular course in bibliography was established at the University of Michigan in 1882 and a chair of library science at Göttingen under Karl Dziatzko, in 1886.

The beginning of systematic library training in America is largely due to Melvil Dewey, who on 5 Jan. 1887 opened the School of Library Economy at Columbia College, New York City. This was transferred to Albany in 1889 and renamed the New York State Library School. From this pioneer school five types of library training agencies have developed: library schools; apprentice and training courses; short courses; library courses in schools and colleges and miscellaneous agencies.

Library Schools. — Regular library schools give courses of either one or two school years. All are connected with libraries which are used for study and practice. The location of the school usually determines whether public, college or reference library work is emphasized. The principal subjects are substantially the same in the different schools. They include bibliography, reference work, selection and evaluation of books, history of books and libraries, binding, cataloging, classification, library administration, library buildings and many other technical and social aspects of library work, sometimes grouped under the term “library economy.” Practice in varied library work is required. Entrance requirements range from high school graduation to college degree.

The Association of American Library Schools was formed at Albany, N. Y., 29-30 June 1915, for the improvement of library school training. Membership is limited to schools giving at least one full year of library training and meeting the minimum standards of equipment, faculty personnel and curriculum prescribed by the association. The present members of the association (1919), with date of founding, length of course and degrees granted are:

1887. New York State Library School, Albany, N. Y. (2 years. College graduates only. Bachelor of Library Science. Master of Library Science.)

1890. Pratt Institute School of Library Science, Brooklyn, N. Y. (1 year.)

1893. University of Illinois Library School. Urbana, Ill. (2 years. College graduates only. Bachelor of Library Science.)

1897. Syracuse University Library School. Syracuse, N. Y. (2 years. Bachelor of Library Economy.)

1900. Carnegie Library School. Pittsburgh. Pa. (3 courses of 1 year each.)

1902. Simmons College. School of Library Science, Boston, Mass. (1 year. Bachelor of Science.)

1904. Library School of Western Reserve University, Cleveland. Ohio. (1 year.)

1905. Library School of the Carnegie Library of Atlanta, Ga. (1 year.)

1906. Library School of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis. (1 year.)

1911. Library School of the New York Public Library, New York City. (1 year and advanced electives.)

1914. Los Angeles Public Library Training School, Los Angeles, Cal. (1 year.)

Other library schools giving a one-year course are the California State Library School, Sacramento, Cal.; Saint Louis Public Library School, Saint Louis, Mo.; University of Washington Library School, Seattle, Wash., and the Riverside Library Service School, Riverside, Cal. (33 weeks).

Apprentice and Training Classes. — Before the establishment of library schools, service as an apprentice was the usual method of library training. Most large library systems now conduct elementary classes for training assistants for their own libraries. The instruction is usually local in emphasis and chiefly concerned with administrative details. Training classes vary greatly in length, subjects treated and methods of instruction.

Short Courses. — These are elementary courses of three or more weeks' duration, usually given in the summer months and chiefly intended to aid librarians in small public or school libraries or in subordinate positions in large libraries. They are rather numerous and, without any generally accepted standard. They fall, for the most part, into one of four classes: (1) Those conducted independently by State iibrary commissions as in Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey and Pennsylvania; (2) those given by library schools, with or without the co-operation of library commissions, e.g., the summer course of the New York State, University of Illinois, Simmons College and University of Wisconsin library schools; (3) those given as summer courses by colleges, universities and normal schools as at the universities of California, Iowa, Michigan and Missouri and at Columbia University; (4) the independent short course, represented by the Chautauqua (N. Y.) School for librarians.

School, College and University Courses. — These, unlike the “short courses,” are usually a part of the regular curriculum. Secondary and normal school courses usually emphasize the reference use of books, the wider reading of good books and the intelligent use of libraries. Many normal school courses include the elements of library organization and management, especially of school libraries. These courses, which are increasing in number, vary widely in scope and value. College and university courses vary from courses similar to those given by normal schools or apprentice classes for student assistants, to advanced work in bibliography or library technique.

Miscellaneous Agencies. — Many library commissions conduct local library conferences or “institutes” of from one day to two weeks' duration. The American Library Association and many State and local library associations regularly hold meetings for professional discussion. These meetings are important auxiliary forces in promoting professional spirit and encouraging library training. Several States employ library organizers who give personal instruction in library matters to librarians whose libraries they inspect or organize. Correspondence and extension courses in library work have so far made little material progress. The near future will probably see important developments in both directions.

Library Training Outside the United States. — As early as 1877, Italy had prescribed examinations for library positions but, as a whole, libraries outside the United States still depend chiefly on the apprentice system to recruit their staffs. Most of the training given is primarily bibliographical. Extended service and rigid examinations are required in Prussia and Bavaria, and schools for women librarians are maintained in Berlin and Leipzig.

In England, regular extension courses in library subjects, with prescribed examinations, are held under the auspices of the Library Association, chiefly to provide assistants for the public libraries.

In Canada, summer courses have been held at McGill University, Montreal. A nine weeks course is regularly conducted by the Ontario Department at Toronto.

The number of Scandinavian librarians trained in American library schools is steadily increasing. Norway has elementary library courses, in the interest of the rural libraries, in most of her normal schools, and several general library summer courses have been held.

Successful library courses, modeled on American lines, were conducted by Mme. Haffkin-Hamburger, at Shaniawsky University, Moscow, 1913-17. In India two library courses have been established: at Baroda by W. A. Borden and at the University of Lahore by A. D. Dickinson.

Bibliography. — Cannons, H. G. T., ‘Bibliography of Library Economy’ (London 1910); ‘Librarianship as a Profession’ (Albany 1912); Plummer, Mary W., ‘Training for Librarianship’ (Chicago 1913); ‘Library Instruction in Universities, Colleges and Normal Schools’ (United States Bureau of Education, Bulletin 606; Washington 1914). For library schools and short courses consult current American Library Annual, New York; ‘First Quarter Century of the New York State Library School’ (Albany 1912); the circulars of the various schools and library commissions; American Library Association Proceedings, 1917; Reports of the Committees on Summer Schools and Apprentice Training Classes (Chicago 1917).

Frank K. Walter,
Vice-Director, New York State Library School.