Volume 69 January 1999 Number I TUNNEL VISION AND BLIND SPOTS: WHAT THE PAST TELLS US ABOUT THE PRESENT; REFLECTIONS ON THE TWENTIETH-CENTURY HISTORY OF AMERICAN LIBRARIANSHIPI Wayne A. Wiegand2 The twentieth-century American library is one of this nation's most understudied yet ubiquitous institutions, possessing a rich history of service to millions of users who over the generations have variably appropriated library collections and serices for multiple purposes. For the most part, however, the library and information science (LIS) research community has failed to analyze the deeper meanings of these appropriations or to evaluate their significance for library users, in large part because it has yet to harness the ideas of many critical theorists whose thinking now dominates so much of the discourse occurring in other professions and academic disciplines. This article constitutes a reexamination of the twentieth-century history of American librarianshipthat is grounded on this thinking. It argues that contemporary LIS discourse is plagued with tunnel vision and blind spots that greatly limit the profession's ability to understand the role of the American library in the present accurately, and thus seriously affect the profession's efforts to plan the library'sfuture. 1. Revised version of a lecture originally delivered October 31, 1997, at the Library of Congress. The lecture wasjointly sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Libraryof Congress and the American Studies Association, which was hosting its own annual conference in Washington, D.C. 2. Professor, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706. Telephone 608-263-2914; Fax 608-263-4849; E-mail [email protected] [Libraty Quarterly,vol. 69, no. 1, pp. 1-32] i 1999 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved. 0024-2519/99/6901 -0001$02.00 1 This content downloaded from 205.208.116.024 on November 13, 2017 00:40:28 AM All use subject to University of Chicago Press Terms and Conditions (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/t-and-c). 2 THE LIBRARYQUARTERLY Introduction My students have heard it so often they call it my "birdsong." The refrain comes from a set of numbers I carryin my wallet that are generated annually by the American LibraryAssociation's Office of Research and Statistics . Let me give you just a few for 1996. "There are more public libraries than McDonald's-a total of 15,872 including branches." "More children participate in summer reading programs at libraries than play Little League baseball." "College librarians answer 94 million reference questions each year-more than three times the attendance at college football games." Or how about this one: "Americans make 3.5 billion visits to school, public, and college libraries each year-about three times the attendance at movie theaters." Impressivestatisticsby anyone's standards,yet at the end of the twentieth century the ubiquitous libraryfeatured in these numbers remains one of the most understudied of American institutions. Currentlywe lack a solid body of scholarship that criticallyanalyzesthe multiple roles that libraries of all types have played and are playing in their host communities, whether that be in educational institutions ranging from the elementary school to the research university,in civic institutions such as the historical society, the state libraryagency, or the public library (urban, suburban, or rural), or in privateinstitutions such as insurance companies, hospitals, research institutes, corporations, law firms, seminaries, art museums, or music conservatories. In each of these cases the library as an information agency has in different waysaffected its users-millions of them in the twentieth century who include Americans of both sexes, all ages, creeds, ethnicities, classes, educational levels, physicalities, and sexual orientations. Although all have used librariesover the generations, to this day-unless we extrapolate our own limited experiences to a much larger population-we do not know very much about why or how. That is unfortunate, because without a deeper understanding of the American library'spast we cannot adequately assess its present and are thus unable to plan its future prudently. Yet evangelists of newer information technologies foresee a number of futures for libraries as if they are certainties. Twenty years ago F. Wilfrid Lancaster was already predicting "paperless information systems"-especially for scientists-as "inevitable" [2, p. xi]. William Mitchell anticipates a library in which the facade "is not be to constructed of stone and located on a street .. , but of pixels on thousands of screens scattered through the world" [3, p. 561. To a great extent predictions like these are made more plausible because the body of critical scholarship detailing the historical role and impact of all types This content downloaded from 205.208.116.024 on November 13, 2017 00:40:28 AM All use subject to University of Chicago Press Terms and Conditions (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/t-and-c). TWENTIETH-CENTURY AMERICAN LIBRARIANSHIP 3 of libraries in the United States offers an inadequate counterpoint. At present, this body of scholarship is too small, too light, too marginalized within librarianship, and too easily ignored. Perhaps the time is right to apply broader, more interdisciplinary and theoretically rich perspectives on that past in order to focus some attention on what I see as tunnel vision and blind spots affecting plans now being crafted for librarianship's future. The study of history can do that for you. After all, none of us can escape the fact that we are products of our pasts, and as products we bring to the present all of history's successes and shortcomings. Certainly we need to build on the successes, but too often we fail to recognize the shortcomings, in large part because the cultures in which we are immersed-or to which we aspire-tend to control the range of questions we ask about ourselves and our profession. That is why constant reexamination of our past from alternative perspectives has so much value. Like a convex mirror, it can show the parameters of tunnel vision and reveal many of the blind spots. Ken Carpenter ably started this task in a 1995 lecture titled "Readers and Libraries: Toward a History of Libraries and Culture in America," which broadly outlined American library history and its literature through the nineteenth century . In this article, I extend his analysis to the present and in that analysis cover the twentieth-century diversification of American librarianship.3 In some respects, however, Ken had it easier than me. Through 1900 the world of American libraries, which consisted of the services they provided, the cultural forms they collected, and the people who staffed and used them, was much smaller and less diverse than it is today. Librarianship in Progressive America, 1893-1918 I begin coverage in 1893, when the American Library Association (AlA) gathered at the Chicago World's Fair for its annual conference in July. By that time the ALA had functioned for seventeen years as a small but persistent voice for the nation's library community. In 1879 it had adopted a motto-"The best reading for the largest number at the least cost"-which succinctly summarized its goal of making the American library a force for an ordered, enlightened, educated, and 3. Like this article, Ken Carpenter's presentation was also sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Libraryof Congress. Both are part of an effort to ground planning of a multivolume project tentatively titled "A History of Libraries and Librarianship in the United States." This content downloaded from 205.208.116.024 on November 13, 2017 00:40:28 AM All use subject to University of Chicago Press Terms and Conditions (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/t-and-c). 4 THE LIBRARYQUARTERLY informed citizenry. In 1893 librariansfor the most part agreed on "the best reading." ALA leaders constituted an elite corps of WASP,mostly male, middle-class professionals immersed in the disciplinaryand literary canons of the dominant culture. They shared a common ideology of reading bequeathed them by such intellectuals as Sir FrancisBacon [5, p. 342] and Ralph Waldo Emerson [6, p. 78], reinforced by others [7-9], and echoed in standard texts like McGuffey readers . For librarians, that meant "good" reading led to "good" social behavior, "bad" reading to "bad" social behavior, and although they occasionally disagreed on individual titles to include in either category (the academy and literary establishment from whom they took their cues often sent mixed signals), once that "good" reading found its wayonto libraryshelves librarianswere convinced that by providing access to it they offered a "neutral" service to all Americans [11, pp. 71-73]. At the Chicago conference a significant manifestation of this ideology of reading was a "Model Library," a 5,000-volume collection of best books recommended for any small public librarythat a committee consisting of disciplinary authorities and librarianswho had screened review journals for expert opinions had recently put together . Compilers suggested a certain balance in subject categories. For example, 14 percent of the titles cited were classified history, 12 percent biography, 15 percent fiction. The latter contrasted sharplywith actual circulation figures, however;most public librarieshad been experiencing circulation rates of 75 percent fiction since they opened. That troubled librariansgreatly,and to help them combat this huge discrepancy, the U.S. Bureau of Education promised to publish a bibliographyof the Model Library'scontents as Catalogof "A.L.A."Library, thus making it available as a government document that, on request, congressmen could distribute free to librariesin their constituent communities. But ALAleaders did not spend much time discussing "the best reading" during their conference. That problem, they believed, would take care of itself over time if only they persisted. In 1893, librarianswere convinced that by inducing the public to read quality literature and consult reliable information about contemporary issues, the library would inevitably contribute to the nation's progress and social order. Dewey called this the "libraryfaith," an ideology driven by a library "spirit." Because that "faith" had sedimented into a professional m-entaliteby the late nineteenth century, ALA leaders felt it unnecessary to concentrate much conference time on the "best reading." Instead, they showed much more concern for "the largest number at the least cost." For years, Dewey-at the time New York State Librarian and in 1893 the ALA's president-had been pushing libraries across the country to adopt centralized systems such as a common classification scheme and uniform subject headings to increase the utility and effi- This content downloaded from 205.208.116.024 on November 13, 2017 00:40:28 AM All use subject to University of Chicago Press Terms and Conditions (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/t-and-c). AMERICANLIBRARIANSHIP TWENTIETH-CENTURY 5 ciency of library management. In addition, he and his allies pressed their colleagues to expand services to more and more Americans, including immigrants, children, women, businesses, and the physically challenged. In 1893 the Dewey forces controlled the ALA [14, pp. 214-19]. As evidence of the ALA's commitment to service "at the least cost," the conference had been carefully structured to consist of presentations on practical matters of library expertise and management that the Bureau of Education agreed to publish later as a "Handbook of Library Economy" , another government document novice librarians could obtain free of charge through their congressmen. As evidence of its commitment to reaching "the greatest number," the ALA hosted meetings for three sections representing more specialized library interests-a college section for academic libraries, a publishing section to push for more bibliographical aids such as the ALA Catalog, and an Association of State Librarians, which met in Chicago only to disband into two new sections, a law library section and a state library section. In 1893 the library profession was already showing signs of specialization that characterized other professions emerging in the Progressive Era [16-18]. The 1893 conference also provides a cameo of the "library science" Dewey and his allies constructed for the library profession, a library science that consisted of four component parts: character, expertise, institution, and authority. By "character" I refer to a sociodemographic profile that tied most late nineteenth-century library professionals into a homogeneous group of WASP, middle-class, largely higher-educated men and women who shared a set of literary and academic canons and a faith in the power of education. By "expertise" I refer to the methods of acquisition, cataloging and classification, reference work, and circulation that mark conventional library services. By "institution" I refer to management of the physical plant, its architecture, employees, and services. A good library, ALA leaders believed, was staffed by people of the right character who possessed the expertise to provide reliable information contained in "the best reading," and who had the skills to manage efficiently the institution and building in which all this took place. "Authority" is a different matter, however . Here I refer to the power the dominant culture allocates to certain professional groupsscientists, intellectuals, belleslettresauthors, and disciplinary experts in the academy-to identify not only the best reading within their areas of authority but also to define the canons against which any new publications ought to be judged. In the late nineteenth century, librarians were already defined by their character before selecting librarianship as their new profession. As aspiring professionals, they then learned This content downloaded from 205.208.116.024 on November 13, 2017 00:40:28 AM All use subject to University of Chicago Press Terms and Conditions (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/t-and-c). 6 THE LIBRARYQUARTERLY library expertise and management either on the job or in one of the few libraryschools. Except for a few notable exceptions, however, they did not share in decisions about what was "best reading." Instead they selected from among choices already legitimated by others in whom society did invest that power [20, 21]. Ironically, setting up mechanisms to identify those choices at the beginning of the twentieth century turned into a mushrooming industry that tended to mask the locus of authorityfor determining the best reading. Over time, librarians certainly came to "know" good books, but with one exception: that knowledge was the end product of a filtering systemevolved by U.S. publishers on which that industrydepended. For example, in 1901 the H. W. Wilson Company of Minneapolis began publishing indexes such as the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature, which, in its initial issue, covered twentyperiodicals, including Atlantic Monthly, Current Literature, Dial, and North American Review, each of which was edited by literaryauthorities whose goal was to publish only quality material. Libraries quickly subscribed to Reader'sGuide,then began favoring subscriptions to periodicals the Guidecovered precisely because they were indexed. For the rest of the century, modification of the Guide'sscope came slowly,and over time the momentum of tradition became an obstacle to rather than a facilitator of change . Similarly,within the decade Wilson was also issuing bibliographicalaids such as Fiction Catalog and Children's Catalog, both designed to help li- brarians identify the "best reading" [23, 24]. Like the ALA Catalog, the FictionCatalogtook its cues from outside experts, especially those in the New York- and Boston-based literary establishments whose reviews had conveniently appeared in periodicals covered by Wilson indexes. Booklistmagazine, a monthly the ALA began publishing in 1905 primarilyto guide poorly skilled staff members of a mushrooming number of small public libraries with their new acquisitions, mirrored this pattern. By 1908, Booklisthad located its editorial offices in Madison, Wisconsin, where it was easy to tap the expertise of Universityof Wisconsin facultyfor reviewsof new books . Over time more librarians began to contribute reviews,but their evaluationswere generally based on criteria they learned as undergraduates. Unlike Booklist,the ALA, or Fiction Catalogs, however, Children'sCata- log did not grow out of the opinions of outside authorities. That its contents were evaluated largely by librarians reflected a demographic characteristiclibrarianshipshared with few other professions. By 1920, 88 percent of American librarians were women. And in a patriarchal society, men in control of the dominant culture had little reservation about giving female librariansthe power to select appropriate materials for children for which their "natural" instincts so well suited them. Collections that resulted from their efforts were established in thou- This content downloaded from 205.208.116.024 on November 13, 2017 00:40:28 AM All use subject to University of Chicago Press Terms and Conditions (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/t-and-c). TWENTIETH-CENTURY AMERICANLIBRARIANSHIP 7 sands of public libraries across the nation. There these collections became source material for the ubiquitous weekly children's story hour. They also served as a major source of reading materials to which local school children had ready access [26, 27]. By the time Wilson was beginning to publish its catalogs and indexes and the ALA was successfully pushing librarians to adopt the library "science" inherent in the ALA's motto, Andrew Carnegie had begun to give awaymuch of his fortune. Between 1890 and his death in 1919, Carnegie gave $4,282,000 to construct 108 academic librarybuildings and $41 million to construct 1,679 public library buildings in 1,412 communities in the United States. The sheer size of his philanthropy generated a competition between communities to establish libraries; it also helped create a climate of giving that encouraged other philanthropists [28-30]. As hundreds of new library buildings went up all over the country, communities were eager to collect the right books, to subscribe to the right periodicals, to organize their collections according to the latest libraryscience, and to have their new facilities run as efficiently as possible by people of the right character. By the time World War I erupted in 1914, American librarianship had claimed a professional jurisdiction-no matter the type of library, librarians would provide access to "the best reading for the largest number at the least cost"' through "neutral" service. And this jurisdiction was already much broader than that practiced by the generation of librarians preceding it. In 1901, for example, Charles McCarthyhad set up a Legislative Reference Libraryto do research and draft bills for Wisconsin state legislators that became a model for other states and the nation a decade and a half later . In the late nineteenth century, a few wealthy philanthropists donated large sums of money to construct and maintain private research libraries for people they thought poorly served by most public and academic library collections. In Chicago, for example, fortunes left by Walter NewberryandJohn Crerarestablished large research libraries, the former in the humanities, the latter in the sciences [32, 33]. In 1919, Henry Huntington founded a library in San Marino, California, and donated to it his substantial collection of rare books . That same year, the Hoover Library on War, Revolution, and Peace opened its doors on the Stanford University campus . Librarianshipalso branched out in other directions. In 1909, several corporate librarians,including Daniel Nash Handy, organized the Special LibrariesAssociation (SLA). As director of the Insurance Library Association of Boston (ILAB), Handy had modified the Dewey Decimal Classificationscheme to meet his own needs, and started the ILABBulletinto index fire insurance and fire protection/prevention literature. As SLA president in 1913, he initiated projects that eventually led to This content downloaded from 205.208.116.024 on November 13, 2017 00:40:28 AM All use subject to University of Chicago Press Terms and Conditions (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/t-and-c). 8 THE LIBRARYQUARTERLY the publication of the Publication Affairs Information ServiceBulletin and the Industrial Arts Index, predecessor of the Business Periodicals Index, both of which were eventually published by Wilson [36, 37]. In higher education, some colleges were transitioning into universities. By 1893, many had inaugurated doctoral studies, elective systems, research seminars, and honors and independent study programs. Members of newer professional classes also pressed universities to initiate professional programswith curriculathat served their interests. Naturally, all of these forces placed demands on institutional collections. In response, academic libraries extended hours, greatly expanded collections, developed closed reserve services to address the problem of circulating heavilyused class-related materials,and evolved better catalogs and information retrieval systems [38, 39]. But when the United States entered World War I on the Allied side on April 6, 1917, any pretense of a neutral libraryservice disappeared. For example, public libraries circulated materials printed by George Creel's Committee on Public Information and Herbert Hoover's Food Conservation Program, and opened their buildings to all types of war work, including activities of Americanization programs designed to channel loyalties of hyphenates. The ALALibraryWarService Committee organized library services for thirty-six training camps set up for the war effort, to which thousands of libraries of all types channeled books and periodicals they had collected for soldiers and sailors. Back home, many librarians used the "Army Index"-a list of sometimes pro-German, sometimes pacifist materials the army did not want in training camp libraries-to purify their own collections. At the same time, they watched these collections accept books that one Minnesota volunteer book collector labeled "decent but not too highbrow" and turned awaySIA criticism that camp libraries lacked adequate technical materials. By the end of the war, the typical training camp library collection averaged 65 percent fiction. The latest edition of the ALA Catalog (1911), on the other hand, had recommended that public library collections contain only 10.8 percent fiction [40, 41]. Between the Wars, 1918-45 World War I was a watershed for American librarianship that signaled a modification of the profession's ideology of reading. In large part because an authority as powerful as the federal government found it acceptable to circulate to soldiers and sailors the popular reading materials the vast majorityof librarypatrons wanted anyway,librarianshad a difficult time objecting. Besides, much was alreadycirculating in seri- This content downloaded from 205.208.116.024 on November 13, 2017 00:40:28 AM All use subject to University of Chicago Press Terms and Conditions (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/t-and-c). TWENTIETH-CENTURY AMERICAN LIBRARIANSHIP 9 alized form in the periodicals libraries collected and the Reader'sGuide indexed (for example, Saturday Evening Post and Ladies HomeJournal) or in local newspapers edited by men tightly connected to the local elites from which libraries drew their board members. Thus by the 1920s, librarians generally came to accept that the "light" reading they had disparaged for the past half-century fell somewhere between "good" and "bad," and was at most "harmless." Tension surrounding their self-assumed responsibility to provide "the best reading" had been modified by a higher authority, and this effect reduced the pressure librarians imposed on themselves to "elevate the popular taste." In her preface to the 1923 edition of what later evolved into the Fiction Catalog, compiler Corinne Bacon noted that "this is not a list of the best 2,350 novels, judged as literature, but a list of the 2,350 of the best novels for public library use. This means," she continued, "it includes novels for highly educated and for comparatively uneducated readers, for those who like the older novels, and for those who want to keep in touch with present day fiction" [42, pp. ii-iii]. Although they continued to push "the best reading" identified by academic and literary elites, librarians quietly began placing more emphasis on extending the "largest number" and serving them "at the least cost." At the same time, however, their model of public library service became more comprehensive. Librarians certainly did not abandon their advocacy of the "best reading" reflected in the canons of literatures marking their own socioeconomic group. An informed citizen could still find the "best books" that the library had purchased through centralized systems that filtered acquisition decisions, or tap the counsel of a new library professional-the "reader's advisor"-who was supposed to know the "good books" on library shelves and through personal service meet her patrons' individual needs by connecting them to appropriate library materials. But at the same time the patron could now use a maturing system of reference services and reference materials to research facts on which to create new knowledge or to base prudent decisions to vote, to build, to invent, to purchase [43, 44]. It was the kind of library service Daniel Nash Handy's patrons found so valuable, the kind "serious" scholars came to expect when they did research at libraries such as the Newberry and the Crerar. And because these client groups had more political, social, and economic clout than a black child or a female romance novel reader, the kinds of information disseminated in reference work and by "reader's advisors" became privileged. Both became part of the library's contribution to an adult education movement emerging nationwide . "Entertainment" reading, a type of reading that accounted for most use in public libraries, was relegated to a subordinate status in profes- This content downloaded from 205.208.116.024 on November 13, 2017 00:40:28 AM All use subject to University of Chicago Press Terms and Conditions (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/t-and-c). 10 THE LIBRARYQUARTERLY sional thinking and subsequently largely ignored in library rhetoric. When public libraries reported the volume of popular reading materials they circulated after World WarI, they generally buried it in a larger category labeled "fiction," which lumped Edith Wharton with Mrs. E. D. E. N. Southworth, and HenryJames with Oliver Optic. Over time, the value of library services became closely tied to the clienteles for which they were designed. Services designed to improve access to the information desired by scientists and academics were more valued than services designed to improve access to the information contained in reading materials desired by housewives and children. Differences in salaries earned by librarians serving each of these clienteles reflected these values. In 1928, the Universityof Chicago opened a GraduateLibrarySchool (GLS) with the help of a substantialgrant from the Carnegie Corporation. Unlike other library schools, which simply trained students for librarypractice, GLS was designed to concentrate on research and to admit only Ph.D. students. At the time, the university was a national leader in efforts to make the social sciences more "scientific" by using quantitativemethods. And for much of the first decade of its existence, GLS faculty extrapolated from political science, sociology, and education to concentrate its research on the scientific investigation of reading . Its research scope, however, betrayed a cultural bias. Led by Douglas Waples, a social scientist hired from the College of Education, GLS faculty generally disregarded fiction, thus ignoring the kinds of reading the majorityof libraryusers obtained at public librariesacross the nation [47-50]. Instead, they focused on certain kinds of nonfiction information, especially the kinds that reference services were designed to provide. However, under the guidance of Louis Round Wilson, new dean appointed in 1932, GLS shifted its research focus in the 1930s from reading research to studying librarymanagement and expertise. As a result, the GLS walked awayfrom an opportunity. On the one hand, it failed to address concerns voiced by Helen Haines, who loudly complained about "the mechanistic non-literaryattitude" she thought characterized postwarlibrarypractice. In her Living withBooks(1935), which became a standard selection text in libraryschool for the next two generations, Haines defended the kind of middlebrow literary tastes public libraries  and the new Book-of-the-Month Club  patrons wanted . On the other hand, the GLS also ignored newer research on the act of reading. In 1938, Louise Rosenblatt published Literatureas Exploration,a pioneering study written for the Progressive Education Association's Commission on Human Relations. In it she argued that because reading was not "a passive process of absorption" This content downloaded from 205.208.116.024 on November 13, 2017 00:40:28 AM All use subject to University of Chicago Press Terms and Conditions (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/t-and-c). TWENTIETH-CENTURY AMERICANLIBRARIANSHIP 11 but a "form of intense activity," researchers needed "to find out what happens when specific human beings, with their interests and anxieties, participate in the emotional and intellectual life" that reading "makes possible" [54, pp. vi, vii; 55, p. 182]. By then, however, library researchers were not positioned to address her conclusions and extrapolate from them to the professional world they knew. They had already moved on to other things. In fact, Libraty Literature, the Wilson Company index to "current books, pamphlets, and periodical literature relating to the library profession," has no entries for Literatureas Exploration, and for the remainder of the century, research on reading largely disappeared from the profession's discourse. Instead of pursuing ways to understand what uses most people made of the materials they ob tained from libraries of all types, librarians continued to emphasize and improve professional expertise and management, and persisted in a library faith steeped in high-culture canons that over time were slow to shift. Although the ideology of reading behind "the best books for the largest number at the least cost" was modified after World War I and the model of library service the profession projected to external communities extended its focus in the 1920s to encompass the "useful" (and thus privileged) information delivered in reference services, events occurring a continent away in the 1930s created another opportunity for the nation's library community to expand its professional responsibility. As pictures of and news about book-burning events in Nazi Germany began appearing on the pages of American newspapers, some librarians began to ponder their role in intellectual freedom. Then in 1939, a year after the Des Moines (Iowa) Public Library crafted a "Library's Bill of Rights," the ALA adopted a similar document that outlined the library's responsibility to champion intellectual freedom and fight censorship and thus embraced, at least in its rhetoric, the defense of intellectual freedom as a professional imperative [56, 57]. But the new Library Bill of Rights also had a convenient residual effect; it promised to deflect occasional pressure from cultural authorities across the country to justify the social benefits of popular reading, and because intellectual freedom advocacy was so much more compelling in the world of professions, librarians had little reason to read newer research on reading that dealt with people's actual reading practices and behaviors, or with the multiple ways in which library patrons appropriated their reading materials. As World War II erupted on the European continent in September 1939, the United States was just emerging from the Great Depression in which American libraries had experienced increased demands for their services and collections at the same time they had weathered de- This content downloaded from 205.208.116.024 on November 13, 2017 00:40:28 AM All use subject to University of Chicago Press Terms and Conditions (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/t-and-c). 12 THE LIBRARYQUARTERLY creased funding. But in response, librarianshad also shown much creativity. In the latter half of the decade they managed to tap federal work programs to build 350 new libraries and other programs to employ students and young adults (7,000 in 1938) to repair and rebind hundreds of thousands of books, to prepare reference materials such as newspaper indexes and bibliographies, and to fund rural library demonstration projects designed to encourage isolated communities to establish or increase support of local library service. By December 1941, when the United States joined the war, librarians had become so adept at exploiting opportunities provided by the federal government that WorksProgressAdministrationgrants accounted for half the increase in expenditures for libraryservices nationwide [58, 59]. Once in the war, however, the entire national librarycommunity mobilized to provide services to the nation's fighting forces . During the first half of the twentieth century, the United States also developed several national libraries. Under Herbert Putnam's leadership (1899-1939), the Libraryof Congress pushed to centralize cataloging for the nation by applying new practices to its own rapidly expanding collections, which were largely made possible by the legal deposit requirements of copyright. Early in his tenure Putnam established a catalog card and distribution service that eventually grew into the National UnionCatalog.By 1939, when Archibald MacLeishbecame librarian, other initiatives had turned the Libraryof Congress into a national libraryin fact, if not in name [61-63]. Its experience matched that of several other federal libraries. In 1934, the National Archives opened to collect and make availabledocuments generated by the federal government . In the 1950s, the National Libraryof Medicine emerged from the Army Medical Libraryand the National Agricultural Libraryemerged from the Department of Agriculture [65, 66]. Postwar Expansion, 1945-56 In 1948, the Carnegie Corporation funded a "Public LibraryInquiry" (PLI) to closely examine the purpose of the public library and especially the "libraryfaith" on which it was grounded. Led by Robert D. Leigh of the University of Chicago political science department, the project eventually resulted in seven books and five reports. Among the former were landmark studies such as Oliver Garceau's ThePublicLibraryin the Political Process , Bernard Berelson's The Library'sPublic , and Alice Bryan's ThePublicLibrarian, all published by the Columbia University Press. In these publications authors argued that instead of supplying the popular reading desired by larger populations, This content downloaded from 205.208.116.024 on November 13, 2017 00:40:28 AM All use subject to University of Chicago Press Terms and Conditions (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/t-and-c). AMERICANLIBRARIANSHIP TWENTIETH-CENTURY 13 public libraries ought to alter the "libraryfaith" and use it as an organizing agent to create a "civic" institution in which the information needs of a smaller but more influential combination of "serious" readers, community leaders, and students of adult education became prime beneficiaries. Like GLS researchers in the 1930s, PLI investigatorsdisdained popular reading and sought to reduce its monopoly on regular libraryservices.The immediate effect of their findings on public library practice was minimal. Some librariansignored their recommendations, some criticized the PLI for overlooking the information and reading needs of less powerful groups such as children, and some found fault with methodological inconsistencies in the research [70, 71]. Several things kept conventional librarianship moored. Because it had embraced the LibraryBill of Rights as a fundamental professional responsibility, libraries and librarians were projected to the nation's center stage when Wisconsin SenatorJoseph McCarthyaccused a number of cultural institutions of spreading communism. Either to protect their jobs or because they agreed with McCarthy'sgoals, some voluntarilywithdrew controversial materials, others never acquired them. In one study undertaken for the California LibraryAssociation's Intellectual Freedom Committee, Marjorie Fiske discovered that although librarians "expressed unequivocal freedom-to-read convictions," almost two-thirds of the library book selectors she talked to "reported instances where the controversialityof a book or author resulted in a decision not to buy." Even worse, she reported, "nearly one-fifth" of the librariansshe interviewed "habitually avoided buying any material which is known to be controversialor which they believe might be controversial." Evidence suggested that many librarians in other states acted no differently . Some, however, fought McCarthyand his supporters on principles outlined in the LibraryBill of Rights. In response to pressure from a Senate committee to suppress "immoral books," the American Library Association's Intellectual Freedom Committee (established in 1940) joined the American Book Publisher's Council for a conference in May 1953, out of which came TheFreedomto Readstatement. A month later, President Dwight D. Eisenhower implored a graduating class at Dartmouth College not to "be afraid to go in your library and read every book." Later that month ALA president Robert Downs read a letter from Eisenhower at the ALA conference encouraging librarians to resist the book burners [57, pp. 77-79]. Academic librarieswere also significantlychanged by postwarevents. Returning GIs flooded campuses across the country, placing new burdens on the libraries that served these new students. In addition, campus scholars (especially from the sciences) fought for a share of the This content downloaded from 205.208.116.024 on November 13, 2017 00:40:28 AM All use subject to University of Chicago Press Terms and Conditions (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/t-and-c). 14 THE LIBRARYQUARTERLY research and development money being allocated by government and industry to the public sector and in many cases formed partnerships with corporate and industrial America to conduct that research and development . To cope with increased demands as well as perceived opportunities, academic librariesworked out cooperative acquisitions programs for rare, unique, and expensive materials, including the Farmington Plan (established in 1948), whose aim was to guarantee that at least one of fifty university libraries would obtain at least one copy of every new research-oriented foreign book, and that the Library of Congress would list each work (and its location) in a new edition of the National Union Catalog.In its first twenty-fiveyears, the plan accounted for the acquisition of 11 million items to member libraries; many of these items were made available by interlibraryloan practices honed and revised by the ALAsince 1917 [74, 75]. Almost all academic libraries experienced significant growth in the 1950s and 1960s, enabling many to recatalog and reclassify their collections as well as to expand them. When Lawrence Clark Powell became director of the UCLA Library system in 1944, for example, he inherited a collection of 462,327 volumes, a book budget of $50,000, fifty full-time staff members, and no branch libraries.That year the systemcirculated 300,000 items and lent just a few more tides on interlibraryloan than it borrowed. When Powell retired in 1961, the UCLA library system held 1,568,565 volumes, 105,995 of which had been acquired in the previousyear. Powell administered a book budget of $381,650, and superviseda staffof 220 full-time people, many of whom worked in the system's sixteen branches. In 1960-61, the librarycirculated 1,593,204 items, and on interlibrary loan UCLA borrowed 2,619 items, lent 9,185. Powell was also a library leader of another sort. A humanist at heart (he had a Ph.D. in American literature), he argued that "books are basic" to librarianshipand that to be effective professionals, librariansprimarilyhad to be readers. A substantial fraction of the nation's library community agreed with him . For this "fundamentalist" view of the importance of the book, however, Powell was heavily criticized by many, most notably Jesse Shera, dean of Western Reserve's School of LibraryScience . In the early 1950s, Shera wanted librarianship to form links with a group of scientists that traced its roots to World War II, when the federal government established an Office of Scientific Research and Development to accelerate the war effort. In it director VanevarBush supervised 6,000 scientists, many of whom worried about controlling the rapidly expanding body of scientific and technical information with which they had been dealing. Bush anticipated that postwar America would shift the scientific energy generated by wartime efforts to peace- This content downloaded from 205.208.116.024 on November 13, 2017 00:40:28 AM All use subject to University of Chicago Press Terms and Conditions (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/t-and-c). TWENTIETH-CENTURY AMERICAN LIBRARIANSHIP 15 time uses. He also recognized that newer technologies promised to improve bibliographical control of this increasingly large literature. His foresight proved accurate. In 1950, Congress authorized the establishment of a clearinghouse for scientific and technical information, and, after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957-an event that catalyzed the federal government to supplement acquisition funds for most type of libraries-the president's Science Advisory Committee published a report on the availability of scientific and technical information in the United States that left little doubt about why it thought the nation was losing the race to space . By that time what Bush had called "science information" was well placed to benefit from an infusion of federal funds, and because scientists generally agreed that traditional libraries were not meeting their needs, they began to establish science information centers and initiate their own indexing and abstracting services to more rapidly retrieve the information they needed. Out of these efforts a postwar "information science" was born, which quickly fused with other "science information" activities in medicine, and allied with the gathering of military and political intelligence . Because it was conceived by a wellsupported, relatively powerful group of professionals who sought to serve the immediate information needs of other well-supported groups who wanted to retain or increase their influence, information science in the 1950s and 1960s understandably privileged scientific over other forms of information, especially other cultural forms of information. Upon closer analysis, however, it is obvious that the information science they crafted grew out of the conventions of traditional library reference service. Information scientists transformed that service, first by harnessing unique languages in particular professional discourses, and second by designing systems tailor-made to control access to the discourses contained in certain privileged literatures in order to serve the specific information needs of particular clienteles who enjoyed political or economic power. Impact of Federal Funding, 1956-65 By the late 1950s, the infusion of federal funds into all sectors of the library community was having significant impact on American libraries. In 1956, President Eisenhower reluctantly signed the Library Services Act (LSA), the first federal legislation intended to fund some library services. The act made it to his desk only because a group of state librarians from the South had managed to convince their congressmen and senators (many of whom held crucial congressional committee chairs) This content downloaded from 205.208.116.024 on November 13, 2017 00:40:28 AM All use subject to University of Chicago Press Terms and Conditions (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/t-and-c). 16 THE LIBRARYQUARTERLY that passage of the act would not curtail states' rights because state library agencies would have the power to determine the distribution of the funds . Services provided by state libraryagencies have a unique and diverse history. Although some state library agencies had been established early in the nineteenth century, most did not expand significantlyuntil the early twentieth, when many states created librarycommissions to promote public library development. Many then consolidated library commissions and state libraries after World War I, and by World War II the consolidated agencies offered a varietyof services, including legislative reference services and traveling libraryservices to remote parts of the state. Some built on a tradition of research libraryservice (California and New York); others functioned as the center of the state's public librarysystem and provided interlibraryloans and traveling exhibits to city and county public libraries. But LSA funds gave state libraryagencies a new source of power which many used to buy bookmobiles that traversed the more remote areas of their states previously little served by libraries. Naturally, the bookmobiles-often managed directly by a state library agency, sometimes by a newly structured county or regional library system-were stocked with titles identified in such staple collection guides as Fiction Catalog, Public Libraiy Catalog, and Children'sCatalog. The bookmobile constituted yet another example of the librarycommunity's commitment to provide "the best reading for the largest number at the least cost." Federal funding also had a significant impact on school librarydevelopment, which is largely a twentieth-centuryphenomenon. At the turn of the century, many newly established elementary and secondary schools had entered into agreements with local public libraries to supply the extracurricular and independent reading needs of their students. By the end of World War I, however, the National Education Association (NEA) was pressing for more direct control over school librarycollections; it advocated the creation of separate libraries to be acquired, staffed, and organized by the school system specifically for teachers and students, and specificallyin support of the school curriculum. In the 1920s, the NEA developed standards for elementary and secondary school libraries, and shortly thereafter some state and local governments started funding school librarysupervisors,issuing school libraryhandbooks, and publishing recommended book lists.The Great Depression interrupted growth, but in postwarAmerica, school libraries began to acquire nonprint media for instruction and many quickly transformed themselves into "instructional materials centers" or "school library and media centers." Then came Lyndon Johnson's 1960s Great Society legislation, including the LibraryServicesand Con- This content downloaded from 205.208.116.024 on November 13, 2017 00:40:28 AM All use subject to University of Chicago Press Terms and Conditions (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/t-and-c). AMERICANLIBRARIANSHIP TWENTIETH-CENTURY 17 struction Acts (1964, 1965), the Higher Education Act (1965), and, of particular benefit to school libraries, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (1965). Influenced by funding from all three, the number of libraries in public schools increased from 50 percent of the total in 1958 (40,000) to 93 percent in 1985 (74,000). At the same time, the average size of book collections in public schools increased from 2,972 in 1958 to 8,466 in 1985 [82-85]. Profile of a Diversified Library Profession, 1965-90 By the time the federal government began accelerating library activity with a heavy infusion of funds in the 1960s, the profession reflected a much more diverse profile. The ALA still functioned as a national voice, but an increasing number of specialized clienteles were being served by an increasing number of specialized librarians, all of which was made manifest in the organization of new groups such as the Medical Library Association (1898), the American Association of Law Libraries (1906), the Special Libraries Association (1909), the Catholic Library Association (1921), the Music Library Association (1931), the Association of Research Libraries (1932), the Society of American Archivists (1936), the Theatre Library Association (1937), and the American Theological Library Association (1947). In 1967, the American Documentation Institute (1937) changed its name to the American Society for Information Science (ASIS), in part to claim jurisdiction over a rapidly evolving professional field, in part to provide an associational focus to scholars, researchers, documentalists, and bibliographers who shared interests in this new area called "information science." At the same time, the library press had grown significantly, mostly to address the practical needs of the profession, especially in collections acquisition and ready reference information. The ALA stopped publishing its own Catalog by mid-century but continued to issue Booklist. Most public libraries continued to subscribe. Multiple divisions, sections, and round tables within the ALA began issuing their own journals, some of which published applied research aimed at improving library services and management, including the Reference and Adult Services Division's RQ (now Referenceand User Services Quarterly), the American Association of School Librarians' Top of the News (now the Journal of Youth Servicesin Libraries), the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services' LRTS, and the Association of College and Research Libraries' College & ResearchLibraries. The latter association also issued Choicemagazine, a monthly list of books recommended for purchase by academic libraries. Most subscribed to and also continued This content downloaded from 205.208.116.024 on November 13, 2017 00:40:28 AM All use subject to University of Chicago Press Terms and Conditions (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/t-and-c). 18 THE LIBRARYQUARTERLY to buy new editions of the more comprehensive Booksfor CollegeLibraries, which had first appeared in 1967. The Society of American Archivists began publishing AmericanArchivistin 1937, and ASISchanged the (1950) to theJournalof name of itsjournal from AmericanDocumentation the American Societyfor Information Science (JASIS) in 1970. The H. W. Wilson Company continued to publish Reader'sGuide,but supplemented it with an array of other indexes, including Abridged Reader'sGuide, Humanities Index, Social SciencesIndex, and Applied Sciences and TechnologiesIndex. The company still issued Fiction Catalogand Children's Catalog but had evolved Public LibraryCatalog out of another bib- liographical guide it had begun issuing in the 1930s. Along withJunior High School and Senior High School Library Catalog each was published in quinquennial editions and was updated by annual supplements. Libraries working in each sector of the libraryworld routinely awaited the arrivalof these guides, then checked the contents of their libraries against the citations. Works not represented in their collections were considered for acquisition; works in their collections but not in the guides were considered for weeding. The R. R. Bowker Company, Scarecrow Press, Libraries Unlimited, the ALA, and the Wilson Company (among others) also published numerous monographs, but mostly to address librarians' practical needs. And each publisher also issued hundreds of new reference titles in the twentieth century that were intended to improve essential libraryservices. The most utilized tides (for example, Statistical Abstracts,OxfordCompanionto AmericanLit- erature)found their way onto the reference shelves of nearly all libraries; less utilized titles (for example, A Bibliographyon Historic Organization Practices , Guide to Private Manuscript Collectionsin the Narth CarolinaStateArchives ) were acquired mostly by better funded and more comprehensive, larger institutions. Thus, the vast majority of postwar library literature and library research continued to address issues of libraryexpertise and institutional management. Not even researchjournals such as the LibraryQuarterly, which the Universityof Chicago Press had been publishing for the GLS since 1931, varied significantly from this pattern. The vast majorityof the bibliographical guides aimed at identifying "the best reading" continued to rely on a sophisticated and involved system set up at the turn of the century to profile "quality" work. Peer-reviewedjournals and university presses, reputable and authoritative literaryperiodicals and trade publishers worked together to evaluate newer materialsand eventually form a consensus on a hierarchy classifying the rest. Librarians followed their lead and chose from a pool whose boundaries others had already defined . New professionals coming out of library schools in the 1960s had This content downloaded from 205.208.116.024 on November 13, 2017 00:40:28 AM All use subject to University of Chicago Press Terms and Conditions (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/t-and-c). TWENTIETH-CENTURY AMERICAN LIBRARIANSHIP 19 little reason to question the judgment of these external authorities. The model of library education they inherited had grown from apprenticing in the nineteenth century into a training program that by the 1920s was sometimes connected to a major public library, sometimes to a university as an undergraduate program, and finally after 1950 into a professional program located in a university graduate school. Before mid-century, entrance exams tested library school applicants' knowledge of current events, high-culture literature, and political (and largely Western) history. After mid-century, library school applicants generally needed a liberal arts undergraduate degree from an accredited institution, where they had already been taught the "best reading" by academic experts. Because library schools generally insisted on good grades (for example, 2.75 on a 4.00 scale) as a condition of matriculation, the profession could feel relatively confident that its new recruits would share the right "character" with their predecessors [87, 88, 46]. Once enrolled in library schools they took a core curriculum usually consisting of cataloging and classification, reference, management, book selection, and often a generic "Library in Society" course. The first four addressed institution and expertise; the last was intended to socialize students to the "library spirit" and inculcate the "library faith" by celebrating the library as an institution. Much of this celebration was reflected in the literature of library history that, with a few exceptions such asJesse Shera's TheFoundations of the Public Libra?y[891 and Phyllis Dain's The New YorkPublic Libraiy: A History , lacked the kind of critical analysis necessary to examine the validity of the library faith. Not until Michael Harris extrapolated from the conclusions of revisionist educational historians and in the early 1970s applied their ideas to an analysis of the origins of the Boston Public Library was the celebratory model significantly shaken . Harris argued that founders, all of whom came from Boston's first families, set up the institution primarily as a means to exercise control of the city's new immigrants, especially the Irish. His conclusions struck at the heart of the library faith, but they also fit the times. The ALA had just weathered a revolt occasioned by hundreds of its younger members who saw in the principle of "neutrality" most often advocated by veteran librarians an excuse not to address inequities in library practice caused by racism, sexism, and homophobia, a rationale not to confront a government bent on conducting an unjust war in southeast Asia, and a mechanism to give the Library Bill of Rights a strict construction that rendered it ineffective in the fight to include alternative perspectives in library collections . With the organization of the Social Responsibilities Round Table in 1969, these rebels found a home in the ALA and with the publication of Harris's essay in 1973 and other This content downloaded from 205.208.116.024 on November 13, 2017 00:40:28 AM All use subject to University of Chicago Press Terms and Conditions (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/t-and-c). 20 THE LIBRARYQUARTERLY "revisionist" works that followed [92, 93], they found a history that grounded a justification of their own actions. For the next decade, readers of American library history rather simplistically categorized new publications into two camps: pro- or anti-Harris. But for practicing librarians, the quality of American libraryhistory scholarship paled in significance compared to developments in library practice. When World War II ended, few libraryadministratorsutilized management principles. In subsequent decades, however, librarymanagement literature made frequent reference to theorists such as Peter Drucker,ChrisArgyris,and Douglas McGregor.In 1970, the Association of Research Librariesestablished an Office of Management Studies to improvelibrarymanagement through initiativessuch as the Management Review and Analysis Project, the Academic LibraryDevelopment Program, and the Consultant Training Project . By that time, under Henriette Avram'sleadership, the Libraryof Congress had developed a standard format for machine-readable bibliographic records called MARC (machine-readable cataloging), first for books, later for serials and other formats . In 1967 the Ohio College Association founded the Ohio College LibraryCenter. Under FrederickKilgour'sleadership, little more than a decade later the center had evolved from a local college network into a national bibliographic utility known as the OCLC (Online Computer LibraryCenter, Inc.). Because OCLC adopted the MARCrecords on which many libraries depended, by 1990 thousands of libraries around the world were using its database for cooperative cataloging. By that time in the United States, thousands of libraries of all types had developed online public access catalogs, adopted packaged automated circulation systems,and incorporated use of CD-ROM products into the provision of traditional libraryservices [96, 97]. More specifically, the public libraryworld was affected in other ways. As white flight drained the cities in the 1960s, urban public library circulation decreased, in the largest communities by as much as 16 percent. Because those who stayed did not value the kind of printed cultural forms libraries routinely collected as much as those who left, librarians had to alter traditional practices and devise new ways to address a different set of information needs . Information and referral (I & R) became one approach, most evident in the Detroit Public Library TIP (The Information Place) Program it initiated in 1971. There librarians developed card file systems listing social and county organizations and the services they provided, their hours, addresses, telephone numbers, and personnel. Manyof these files were later converted to machine-readable databases. Elsewhere, public librarians took different approaches. One approach to new circumstanceswas the evolution of federated library systems in which individually governed This content downloaded from 205.208.116.024 on November 13, 2017 00:40:28 AM All use subject to University of Chicago Press Terms and Conditions (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/t-and-c). AMERICANLIBRARIANSHIP TWENTIETH-CENTURY 21 libraries volunteered to participate in joint efforts to purchase materials and share I & R services. Opportunities brought by improvement in electronic data processing accelerated the process. Another was the emergence of highly successful county library systems, most notably in places such as Broward County, Florida, Hennepin County, Minnesota, and Montgomery County, Maryland . All these developments were reflected in a set of recommendations detailed in The Public Library Mission Statementand Its ImperativeforrServicethat ALA's Public Library Association issued in 1979. Public libraries should step away from acculturation, the document argued, and instead become educational, cultural, information, and rehabilitative agencies that celebrate and serve the multicultural heritage of their communities in nontraditional ways . Elsewhere in the library world, efforts to prepare different futures met mixed results, some of which were reflected in the experiences of the Council on Library Resources (now known as the Council on Library and Information Resources), which had been established by a Ford Foundation grant in 1956 to facilitate research that had potential for improving library services and collections. In the late 1960s, for example, the council began pouring millions of dollars into MIT's Information Transfer Experiment (INTREX) Project-up to that time the largest nonmilitary information research project ever undertaken-in order to reconfigure the research library of the future . Because it was designed primarily by engineers and privileged the information they considered most valuable, the project ultimately failed to produce the prototypical all-purpose research library for which it was funded. In 1986, however, the council formed a Commission of Preservation and Access, produced a very effective film on the deterioration of paper with high acidity called "Slow Fires," and joined with other higher education and scholarly agencies (for example, the Brittle Book Program of the National Endowment for the Humanities) to focus attention on the problem that affected the printed materials held by most libraries. In 1990, the federal government passed legislation requiring the use of alkaline paper in government publications . The application of computers to document reference retrieval began in the late 1950s, and by the mid-1960s, online retrieval was widely used by special librarians in government and industry. For example, in 1971 the National Library of Medicine transformed Index Medicus, a papercopy information retrieval system Surgeon GeneralJohn Shaw Billings originated in the 1870s, into MEDLARS (MEDical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System), a computerized bibliographic system accessible through MEDLINE (MEDLARS on Line) . About the same time the Defense Department's Advanced Research This content downloaded from 205.208.116.024 on November 13, 2017 00:40:28 AM All use subject to University of Chicago Press Terms and Conditions (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/t-and-c). 22 THE LIBRARYQUARTERLY Projects Agency established a computer network. When several years later the federal government sponsored a program to establish communication protocols to integrate multiple unique networks, the Internet was born. In the 1980s, the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded much of the research to connect selected universities and research institutions through NSFnet to NSF-assisted supercomputers. One response from the federal government to this emerging "opportunity" was the creation of the National Research and Education Network (NREN) in 1991. In anticipation of NREN, the Association of Research Libraries, the Association for the Management of Information and Technology in Higher Education, and EDUCOM (a networking consortium of colleges and universities) created the Coalition for Networked Information in 1990 to facilitate scholarship by improving access to networked information sources . Much of the activitythen became subordinate to the National Information Infrastructureinitiated by the Clinton administration,which as of this writing is still being played out. Recent efforts to merge promising networks into routine libraryservicesare indeed exciting, but at the same time it is important to remember that the types of information processed by these networks are not universal and do not encompass information in all its cultural forms. Assessing the Present: Tunnel Vision and Blind Spots So now we stand at the end of one century, looking to prepare for the next. What guidance can the existing literature on the twentiethcentury history of American libraries provide? On the one hand, I am cheered by recent developments in American libraryhistory,which has begun to mature into a more richly analytical,more deeply contextualized literature. Workssuch asJane Aikin Rosenberg's TheNation'sGreat Library:HerbertPutnam and the Libraryof Congress, 1899-1939 , Joanne E. Passet's Cultural Crusaders: Women Librarians in the American West, 1900-1917 , Deanna B. Marcum's Good Books in a Country Home: The Public Libraryas CulturalForcein Hagerstown,Maryland, 18781920 , Abigail Van Slyck's Free To All: CarnegieLibrariesand American Culture, 1890-1920 , and Louise S. Robbins's Censorshipand the American Library:The American LibraryAssociation's Responseto Threatsto Intellectual Freedom, 1939-1969 , and journals such as Libraries & under the able editorships of Donald Cultureand the LibraryQuarterly, G. DavisandJohn V. RichardsonJr., respectively,hold out much promise for the future. On the other hand, however, I am uneasy about the size of the task This content downloaded from 205.208.116.024 on November 13, 2017 00:40:28 AM All use subject to University of Chicago Press Terms and Conditions (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/t-and-c). AMERICANLIBRARIANSHIP TWENTIETH-CENTURY 23 before us. From my perspective, the field is too large for the number of scholars currently giving it scrutiny, its research scope too centered on biography, library expertise, and big library institutions, and its focus largely devoid of analysis of the impact collections and services have had on library users and the ways in which users appropriated both. I am especially concerned that with few exceptions we have not given nearly enough attention to the impact collection guides such as Booklist and Choice have had on perpetuating canons, or to the role libraries have played in the everyday lives of women, children, African, Hispanic, and Asian Americans, and working-class people. Blind spots, all. But even among types of libraries, scanning the literature of American library history reveals huge gaps in terms of quality and quantity. For example, in 1990 the United States had 75,000 school and 4,600 academic libraries, yet there is no comprehensive critical history or even a set of solid case studies to help identify their multiple roles and evaluate their impacts on the millions of students and faculty who used their services and collections in the twentieth century. How can the school and academic library communities possibly articulate policy and plan for their futures without knowing what they have done well and poorly in the past? In 1990, every state in America had at least one state library agency that for most of the last half of the twentieth century expended millions of dollars to improve library services, yet there is no comprehensive critical history of state library agencies or even a set of solid case studies to help identify their multiple roles and evaluate their impacts on the millions of citizens affected by those dollars. Again, blind spots. What concerns me even more, however, falls under the jurisdictions of public libraries and what we used to call special libraries but are now more frequently referring to as information agencies. Let me start with the latter first. Here I see a field evolving that is based on the traditional model of reference service that American libraries have sought to provide for most of this century . In it certain types of information valued by business, industry, and government receive most attention, in part because each has invested huge sums of money to improve systems design. Absent from the discourse driving this field, however, are the kinds of questions critical theorists such as Michel Foucault , Antonio Gramsci , and Jurgen Habermas , and philosophers of science such as Helen Longino , MargaretJacob , and Sandra Harding  ask about connections between power and knowledge, which all agree is never totally objective and never disinterested. To illustrate what I mean, I took a cursory glance at the 3,200 citations in the one hundred "research" articles appearing in the 1991 and 1995 issues ofJASIS. In them I found no references to the six criti- This content downloaded from 205.208.116.024 on November 13, 2017 00:40:28 AM All use subject to University of Chicago Press Terms and Conditions (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/t-and-c). 24 THE LIBRARYQUARTERLY cal theorists I cite above and only a few to thinkers such as Umberto Eco and Hilary Putnam. Based on this rather unscientific survey, one gets the impression of a profession trapped in its own discursiveformations, where members speak mostly to each other and where connections between power and knowledge that affect issues of race, class, age, and gender, among others, are either invisible or ignored. One also gets the impression of a profession much more interested in process and structure than in people. Tunnel vision and blind spots. I think this also may explain why contemporary "information science" has generally failed to construct models of a personal "information economy"4 for individualsof both genders, all classes, ages, ethnicities, creeds, and sexual orientations in order to see what information they variablyobtain from printed materials of all types, from cultural forms such as music, film, art, and TV, from their neighbors, their school, their church, their libraries, their government, their friends, their family, even from computers, and then to analyzehow they appropriate that information in efforts to make sense of the world around them in their everyday lives . Unfortunately, with relatively few exceptions [115-119], researchers in libraryand information studies have generally not attempted to harness the kind of critical thinking that would enable them to evolve "personal information economy" models that my colleague Doug Zweizigpointed to in his 1973 dissertation, when he argued that for too long our profession has "looked at the user in the life of the libraryrather than the libraryin the life of the user" [120, p. 15]. His observation still applies. The "information science" that has developed in the last years of the twentieth century constitutes an arena of study in which the technology to which it is harnessed defines the field. Like general reference work, it is built on "expertise," not "authority,"and to the extent that people's "information economy" does not require use of these technologies within the culture in which they live, current "information science" discourse renders them and their culture(s) invisible largely by ignoring both. Equally unfortunate is that information science and American library historians have not provided much perspective here. All of this constitutes a subtext I read in the words of Pulitzer Prizewinning historian Leon Litwack,who complained loudly about the priorities of the librarysystem on his own Universityof California, Berkeley, campus. "In our eagerness to implement the new information technology," he wrote in the February 1998 issue of CaliforniaMonthly, "there is no sense of the need for balance, little or no awareness that 4. I adapt this from Barbara Herrnstein Smith, who talks about the concept of a "personal economy" that comprises an individual's "needs, interests, and resources" [113, chap. 3]. This content downloaded from 205.208.116.024 on November 13, 2017 00:40:28 AM All use subject to University of Chicago Press Terms and Conditions (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/t-and-c). AMERICANLIBRARIANSHIP TWENTIETH-CENTURY 25 different academic disciplines may have different needs, not all of them fulfilled by the new technology. We find ourselves, instead, embracing that technology uncritically, without considering cost, maintenance, reliability, and value" [121, p. 12]. Tunnel vision and blind spots. American public libraries (and to some extent school and academic libraries) suffer similar myopia, in large part because LIS research in general, and American library history in particular, has not yet assimilated into its research scope the findings emanating from a growing interdisciplinary body of scholarship on reading [52; 122-127], a major means by which people obtain information, whether it comes off the printed page or the computer screen. For the past twenty years, it has been generated by some of the brightest minds in traditional academic disciplines like history and literature, and new interdisciplinary fields such as cultural, women's, ethnic, and American studies, and it has been published by some of the world's most prestigious presses, all of which have exacting scholarly standards. I think our absence as a profession from this mix of voices reflects the tunnel vision of our contemporary professional discourse and constitutes one of librarianship's major blind spots . This scholarship, for which Louise Rosenblatt's Literatureas Exploration served as a harbinger (the Modern Language Association published a fifth edition of her work in 1995), attempts to shed the rules and regulations by which we have previously judged our reading, and especially the reading of popular fiction public libraries have been circulating by the millions for most of this century, in order to look at and understand the contents of those texts through the eyes of the people who read them most. These numbers have not significantly changed in recent times. A U.S. News/Cable Network News poll conducted October 13-16, 1995, revealed that 67 percent of Americans used public libraries in 1994, and of that number 80 percent (140 million people) went to check out some cultural form. Yet without knowledge of reading research, recipients of a Kellogg Foundation grant who met in Washington in 1996  to discuss the future of libraries seemed unable to tease out the broader significance of a Benton Foundation report [130, pp. 27, 30] on a focus group that identified as its top two library services (1) "providing reading hours and other programs for children," and (2) "purchasing new books and other printed materials." And when a member of that same Benton Foundation focus group also criticized libraries for not stocking enough popular titles ("If you want to get the book that everybody is reading right now, it is just not in," she complained), Kellogg grantees and focus-group organizers did not seem to understand what sociologist Elizabeth Long discovered years ago in her research-that reading the same book (even if individually This content downloaded from 205.208.116.024 on November 13, 2017 00:40:28 AM All use subject to University of Chicago Press Terms and Conditions (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/t-and-c). 26 THE LIBRARYQUARTERLY done in private) constitutes a community-based information-sharing activity . Tunnel vision and blind spots. On September 25, 1995, Ken Carpenter called for a joint effort between professional librarians and professional historians to study the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century library as a resource shared to varying degrees by hundreds of thousands in America's multicultural society. I welcome this opportunity to echo his call, but also to amplify and extend it for twentieth-century American library history to additional professional communities whose research interests have the potential to address huge gaps in our knowledge of one of this nation's most ubiquitous twentieth-century institutions. The task before us is indeed large, but with the help of education, social, cultural, and intellectual historians, and scholars from research communities such as American, women, race, and ethnic studies, we can accelerate and augment our effort. Like society in general, every generation of libraryand information professionals must apply to the past it has inherited a set of questions unique to its time and circumstances in order to better understand its present, so that it can prudently plan its future. Our own generation is no different. Our alternative-to craft a set of tunnel-visioned plans and strategies for the future that carrywith them many of the systemic gendered, class, age, occupational, ethnic, and homophobic blind spots marking so much of our past-is, in my opinion, unacceptable. REFERENCES 1. Public Information Office. American LibraryAssociation. LibraryAdvocacyNow! Quotable Facts aboutAmericanLibraries.Chicago: American Library Association, 1996. 2. Lancaster, F. Wilfrid. TowardsPaperlessInformationSystems.New York: Academic Press, 1978. 3. Mitchell, William J. City of Bits: Space,Place, and the Infobahn.Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1995. 4. Carpenter, Kenneth E. Readersand Libraries:Towarda Historyof Librariesand Culturein America.Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1996. 5. Bacon, Francis. "Of Studies." In Essaysor Counsels,Civil and Moral, of FrancisBacon, edited by Samuel Harvey Reynolds, pp. 341-44. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1890. 6. Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Societyand Solitude:TwelveChapters.Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1860. 7. Harrison, Frederic. TheChoiceof Booksand OtherLiteraryPieces.London: Macmillan, 1896. 8. Hillis, Newel Dwight. A Man's ValuetoSociety:Studiesin Self-Cultureand Character.London: Oliphant, Anderson & Ferrier, 1897. 9. Hayes, Kevin H. A Colonial Woman'sBookshelyKnoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1996. 10. Westerhof, John H., III. McGuffeyand His Readers:Piety, Morality,and Educationin NineteenthCenturyAmerica.Nashville: Abingdon, 1978. 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