100 of the Most Important Leaders We Had in the 20th Century: A guide to archival holdings

In their last issue of the 20th century, American Libraries magazine published a selection of the 100 most important library leaders of those last 100 years (American Libraries volume 30, number 11, December 1999). The following is an annotated version of that article intended as a research guide, providing links to known archival holdings of all these library figures, both in and outside of the ALA Archives. This guide shows the depth and diversity of archives related to the history of libraries and librarianship. This page is meant to be a starting point only and is not comprehensive, if you are researching any of these figures please contact the ALA Archives for personalized help!

(These figures are in alphabetical order and not ranked. )

Katharine Sharp with Melvil Dewey and other librarians
Caption on the back reads: “Mr. Brunden, our host, Miss ‘Public Libraries’ Ahern; Mr. Dewey (with the Placid look upon his face); Miss K. L. Sharp; Miss M. McIlvaine.” c. 1900

Mary Eileen Ahern (1860-1938)

Known for her missionary zeal for the teaching function of the public librarian, she also championed library training and the cause of small public libraries.

Mary Eileen Ahern’s personal papers are held at the ALA Archives. In addition, the UIUC library holds a full run of her magazine, Public LibrariesAdditional materials related to her work can be found in the records of the Illinois Library Association, housed at the University of Illinois Archives.

Alexander P. Allain (1920-1994)

A true visionary, he spearheaded the formation of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom in 1967, and his tireless efforts included cofounding the Freedom to Read Foundation.

Material related to Alex Allain’s work can be found in the files of the Freedom to Read Foundation at the ALA Archives.

May Hill Arbuthnot (1884-1969)

Although she was not a librarian, children’s librarianship in this country has been enriched by her contributions to education as a popular teacher of children’s literature and extensive writings about children’s books. Her exhaustive textbook Children and Books (1947) reached six editions. Arbuthnot also authored several anthologies, some of which are still used in classrooms today. ALA’s Association for Library Service to Children sponsors an annual honor lecture in her name.

Records about the Arbuthnot lecture series from the ALSC are held at the ALA Archives.

Lester E. Asheim (1914-1997)

Elegance of manner and expression characterized his contributions to international librarianship, intellectual freedom, and library education.

Lester Asheim’s papers are held at the ALA Archives in two runs, one of papers from his work as the director of the International Relations Office, and the second is papers from his work as the director of the Office for Library Education.

Hugh C. Atkinson, University of Illinois Librarian (1976-1986)
Hugh C. Atkinson, University of Illinois Librarian (1976-1986)

Hugh Atkinson (1933-1986)

Among the first academic library administrators to see the potential for networking and cooperative collection development and their relationship to automation of library records, he. demonstrated drive and commitment to introduce new systems for organizing and recording collections while serving as library director at Ohio State University and at the University of Illinois/Urbana-Champaign.

Hugh Atkinson’s papers are held at the University of Illinois Archives in Urbana-Champaign.

Augusta Baker (1911-1998)

Often considered “America’s first lady of traditional storytelling,” she served as storyteller-in-residence at the University of South Carolina from 1980 until her retirement in 1994, after serving some 20 years as coordinator of children’s services and storytelling specialist at New York Public Library. Her legacy survives in “A(ugusta) Baker’s Dozen,” an annual celebration of storytelling in Columbia sponsored by the Richland County Public Library and the USC library school.

Augusta Baker’s papers are held at the University of South Carolina.

 William J. Barrow (1904-1967)

Through his lifelong research and dedication to the question of what caused paper to deteriorate–a passion that began in his 20s when he developed the first practical roller-type laminator for weakened documents–he created the basis for contemporary practice in restoration and preservation.

William Barrow’s papers are held at the Virginia Historical Society.

Mildred Leona Batchelder (1901-1998)

A longtime ALA staff member, she was a champion of library service to youth who mentored developing leaders, established international relations with others in youth services, and succeeded in focusing public attention on issues of children and their reading and use of libraries.

Mildred Batchelder’s papers are held at the ALA Archives.

New York Public Library c. 1900
New York Public Library c. 1900

John Shaw Billings (1838-1913)

Although his primary contribution was as director of the 19th-century precursor to the National Library of Medicine, he also directed the emerging New York Public Library from 1896 to 1913 and bargained for the old Croton Reservoir, which became the site of the 42nd Street main library.

John Billings’ papers are held at the New York Public Library.

William Warner Bishop (1871-1955)

An influential adviser to the Carnegie Corporation as it broadened its commitment to librarianship to include library education, development of academic library collections, and scholarships and fellowships, he was also director of libraries at the University of Michigan from 1915 to 1941. He was instrumental in opening the Vatican Library to modern scholarship.

William Bishop’s papers are held at the University of Michigan.

Henry Bliss (1870-1955)

His bibliographic classification system, popularly known as Bliss Classification, was published as a two-volume work in 1935. Emphasizing a subject approach to information, it is considered one of the most flexible ever conceived. Facet indexing, a major aspect of his scheme, is implicit in most machine systems.

Henry Bliss’ papers are held at the Columbia University Library.

Sarah Bogle (1870-1932)

A major force in library development overseas after World War I, Bogle commanded respect as a senior staff member of ALA and played a major part in getting financial and moral support for emerging library schools and for establishing standards and procedures for their evaluation.

Material related to Sarah Bogle’s work in library education standards appears in records of several ALA Offices at the ALA Archives.

Richard Rogers Bowker (1848-1933)

Founder of the R. R. Bowker Company and a brave fighter and intelligent warrior for nearly every liberal cause of his day, such as tariff reform; library development, and equal treatment for minorities, he is best known as the founding publisher with Melvil Dewey and Frederick Leypoldt of Library Journal and Publishers’ Weekly.

Richard Bowker’s papers are held at the New York Public Library.

William Howard Brett (1846-1918)

Director of the Cleveland Public Library, he distinguished himself by his contributions to cataloging in the Dewey and Cutter traditions, in establishing the children’s collection, and in establishing a library school at Western Reserve University in 1904; he was its first dean.

Some correspondence from Brett appears in the Henry J. Carr Papers at the ALA Archives.

Pierce Butler (1886-1953)

As lecturer on the history of books and printing at the University of Chicago’s library school, he made his mark interpreting the social history of the library, and his most remembered course was the history of scholarship.

Pierce Butler’s papers are held at the Newberry Library.

"The Duty of the Man of Wealth" poster created by the ALA in 1935
“The Duty of the Man of Wealth” Carnegie poster created by the ALA in 1935

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919)

No single philanthropist in the 20th century has had the impact of this steel magnate who believed in the value of free libraries. He donated $56,162,622 for the construction of 2,509 library buildings in the United States and other parts of the world; 1,679 of them were public libraries.

Andrew Carnegie’s personal papers are held at the Library of Congress.

Leon Carnovsky (1903-1975)

His surveys of libraries, his writings on censorship and other major issues, as well as his teaching and mentoring of students extended Carnovsky’s influence far beyond the library school of the University of Chicago, where he spent more than 40 years as student and faculty member.

Correspondence from Carnovsky appears in the International Relations Office Subject Files at the ALA Archives.

Verner Warren Clapp (1901-1972)

With his imagination and ingenuity, he achieved the position of Chief Assistant Librarian of Congress in 1947 after 24 years on the staff; but it was as first president of the Council on Library Resources, founded by the Ford Foundation in 1956, that he had the opportunity to shape library development significantly by sponsoring major research and publications.

Verner Clapp’s papers are held at the Library of Congress.

David Horace Clift (1907-1973)

Low-key in manner, Clift offered ALA what it was seeking in a chief executive in 1951. He maintained that manner as the Association grew and changed, encountered major issues of intellectual freedom during the McCarthy era, and established itself as an international force before his retirement in 1972.

David Clift’s papers are held at the ALA Archives.

Fred C. Cole (1912-1986)

Educator and president of Washington and Lee University, he stimulated the integration of libraries into the curriculum. He joined with other scholars and librarians in developing the Council on Library Resources and actively promoted the library’s role in the future of American society.

Fred Cole’s papers are held at the archives of Washington and Lee University. (No finding aids online.)

George Watson Cole (1850-1939)

First librarian of California’s Huntington Library (1915-1924), he was a kindred spirit to the library’s wealthy builder, Henry E. Huntington, and he took charge of making accessible the most comprehensive private library ever assembled.

George Cole’s papers are held at the American Antiquarian Society, located in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Robert B. Croneberger (1937-1998)

One of the major public-library reformers of the last part Of the century, he championed information and referral, community outreach, and open access. His 35-year career concluded with the directorship of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

Records related to his work as the State Librarian and Archivist of Tennessee are held at the Tennessee State Library and Archives.

Arthur Curley (1938-1998)

A believer in the power of public libraries as a force for freedom and democracy, he ended his distinguished career with the directorship of the Boston Public Library. The consummate man of letters, he was a frequent contributor to library and literary publications.

Arthur Curley’s time as ALA President is documented in the Executive Director’s Office Presidential Files.

John Cotton Dana (1856-1929)

A public librarian for 40 years, he was president, and often a critic, of ALA and helped to organize the Special Libraries Association. Dana opened the very first children’s room in a public library (1894) as head of the Denver Public Library, filled with not only children’s books but with appropriate-sized furniture. He directed the Free Public Library of Newark, New Jersey, for the last 27 years of his life.

Some of Dana’s papers are held at the Newark Museum, and some are also held at the Newark Public Library, and an additional set are held at the Denver Public Library.

Sadie Peterson Delaney (1889-1958)

A beacon of hope for many in the segregated South, she brought books and pride to recuperating African-American veterans from the 1920s to the 1950s, pioneering the concept of bibliotherapy.

Sadie Delaney’s papers are held at the New York Public Library.

Melvil Dewey (1851-1931)

Can it be only 68 years ago that the father of modern librarianship died? His legend would seem to rival Socrates’s. By 1906 he had almost single-handedly created the profession. To himwe owe the Dewey Decimal Classification, Library Journal, library education, and the American Library Association, which he dominated for 30 years following its founding in 1876. This complex and controversial man is the single greatest influence on all library professionals in this century.

Melvil Dewey’s personal papers are held at the Columbia University Library. The ALA Archives holds many additional records documenting Dewey’s work with the organization, including the correspondence he wrote to organize the first ALA conference.

William S. Dix (1910-1978)

He served as librarian of Princeton University for 22 years without having obtained a library degree. He was the principal author of ALA’s Freedom to Read statement, formulated during the turbulent McCarthy era, and he evenhandedly presided over ALA’s activities during the crucial 1969-1970 year of tumultuous change. He had a wonderful way with words, both on his feet and in print, and effectively testified before Congress to speak for library legislation.

William Dix’s papers are held at the Princeton Library and some of Dix’s papers relating to his work with ALA are at the ALA Archives.

Robert B. Downs (1903-1991)

His interest in humor, folklore, international relations, and, literature, along with his gift for writing, made him one of the most prolific librarian-authors of his day. An outstanding administrator, educator, and leader, his name graces an annual intellectual freedom award presented by the University of Illinois, where he was director of libraries and the library school for 27 years.

Robert Downs’ papers are held at the University of Illinois Archives.

Paul Dunkin (1905-1975)

He developed his reputation as a philosopher in the field of cataloging and classical scholarship while chief of technical services at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington. His teaching career as professor at the Rutgers school of library service greatly influenced subsequent administrators.

Paul Dunkin’s papers are held at the Lilly Library of Indiana University Bloomington.

Linda Eastman (1867-1963)

In nearly a half-century of service at the Cleveland Public Library, she expanded library service in unique and innovative ways, including the addition of services to hospitals, the blind, and municipal welfare institutions. She initiated a travel section, a business information bureau, and other services today viewed as essential.

Linda Eastman’s papers are held at Harvard.

Margaret A. Edwards (1902-1988)

As an administrator of young adult programs at Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore for more than 20 years, she brought youth services to the attention of the entire profession. A YALSA/ALA award in her name goes annually to an author whose work embodies her goals of helping adolescents become aware of themselves and their role in society.

Papers related the the Margaret A. Edwards Award are located in the records of YALSA at the ALA Archives.

Charles Evans (1850-1935)

Though his career as a librarian from 1866 to 1901 was marred by friction with library boards and administrators, he was a leader in developing library services. From 1902 to the end of his life he dedicated himself to the gargantuan job of compiling and publishing his American Bibliography, a chronological, annotated record of U.S. publications from the beginning of American printing in 1639 through 1820. He lived to complete volume 12. The American Antiquarian Society issued volumes 13 and 14 after his death.

Charles Evans’ papers are held at the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Luther Evans (1902-1981)

One of the rare appointments made from within the ranks, Evans became the 10th Librarian of Congress in 1945. Among his most important accomplishments were programs to publish the Cumulative Catalog of Library of Congress Printed Cards and the issuance of Rules for Descriptive Cataloging in the Library of Congress.

Luther Evans’ papers are held at the University of Texas at Austin.

Virginia Proctor Powell Florence (1897-1991)

In 1923 she became the first African-American woman to complete a education program in librarianship, at the Pittsburgh Carnegie Library School.

Virginia Florence’s papers are held at the University of Pittsburgh.

Henry Clay Folger (1857-1930)

Head of Standard Oil of New York, he was one of the great book collectors of the century, amassing a library of some 93,000 books, 50,000 prints and engravings, and thousands of manuscripts he and his wife stored in bank vaults and warehouses. They created and built the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, but he died two weeks after the cornerstone was laid.

Folger’s personal papers are held at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Herman H. Fussler (1914-1997)

From his earliest days as an innovator working with microfilm and new technologies, Fussler combined his administrative abilities with tough teaching and thoughtful writing, and provided leadership to the first presidential commission on libraries as well as to the Council on Library Resources.

Herman Fussler’s papers are held at the University of Chicago.

Loleta Fyan (1894-1990)

State librarian of Michigan for 20 years, she believed that every person, regardless of residence, was equally entitled to high-quality library service as a “right of citizenship.” An ALA grant in her name funds projects that further that aim.

Loleta Fyan’s papers are held at the Michigan State Archives.

Mary Gaver (1906-1992)

Through her writings, teaching, research, and example, Gaver influenced the advance of school library programs far ahead of her time. She assisted in developing school library standards and attracted scores of students to her classes at Rutgers University library school (1954-1971): Every Child Needs a School Library (1957) inspired librarians working with children throughout the country.

Mary Gaver’s papers are held at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.

Rudolph H. Gjelsness (1894-1968)

Known for his commitment to international librarianship, he chaired the library science department at the University of Michigan from 1940 to 1965.

Rudolph Gjelsness’s papers are held at the University of Michigan.

Fred Glazer (1937-1997)

West Virginia had 25 viable public libraries when he began as director of the state library commission in 1972. When his career ended in 1996, there were 179. A tireless library promoter, he became famous for his imaginative and innovative efforts.

Correspondence from Glazer appears in the records of the New Members Round Table and the International Relations Office,  and a video of him is available in the Public Relations Audiovisual file, all held at the ALA Archives.

Margaret Hayes Grazier (1916-1999)

Her illustrious career in school libraries in Colorado and Michigan concluded with a professorship at Wayne State University that began in 1965. Her work has had a positive impact on countless young library users.

Correspondence from Grazier appears in the records of AASL at the ALA Archives.

Emerson Greenaway (1906-1990)

His name is tied to the plan that made it possible for many more libraries to have access to books on an approval basis; but this astute administrator left his mark on several public libraries where his commitment to service and his leadership, especially in the expansive years following World II, resulted in new services, improved facilities, and public support.

Emerson Greenaway’s papers are held at the ALA Archives.

James Christian Meinich Hanson (1864-1943)

This Norwegian-American giant of the bibliographic organization of libraries was named superintendent of the catalog department at the Library of Congress in 1897, and his carefully considered modifications to Cutter’s rules for a dictionary catalog facilitated the use by other libraries of LC’s cataloging. The Anglo-American cataloging code of 1908 came to fruition largely because of his ability to reconcile divergent views of Britain’s Library Association and ALA rules committees.

J. C. M. Hanson’s papers are held at the University of Chicago.

Adelaide R. Hasse (1868-1953)

Known for her acerbic personality, she nonetheless developed a model public documents collection at the New York Public Library with John Shaw Billings’ blessing and tutelage. She was an avid writer and produced nearly 24 monographs and many articles for the library and popular press.

Adelaide Hasse’s papers are held at the Library of Congress.

Frances E. Henne (1906-1985)

She helped found ALA’s American Association of School Librarians and define the role it could play for school librarians, and was the first woman appointed to the faculty of the University of Chicago library school. While there, she established the Center for Children’s Books and very early recognized the need for nonprint materials in school libraries.

Frances Henne’s papers are held at Columbia University. Material about the Frances Henne Award is located in the papers of AASL at the ALA Archives.

Caroline M. Hewins (1846-1926)

An innovative administrator, she was the librarian at the Young Men’s Institute of Hartford, Connecticut, a subscription library where she established many procedures in children’s work that later became standard practice.

Caroline Hewins’ unique collection of holiday cards is held at the Harford Public Library.

Carleton B. Joeckel (1886-1960)

In 1937, he played a major part in establishing the Library Services Division in the Office of Education, and motivated leaders to pass the Library Services Act of 1956. His greatest contributions were as a teacher both at the University of Chicago library school and the University of California/Berkeley.

Material from Joeckel’s library activism is located in various record series at the ALA Archives.

Virginia Lacy Jones (1912-1984)

She was instrumental in the planning and opening of the Atlanta University School of Library Service in 1941, where she served on the faculty until 1945, when she was named dean. She also helped establish the Field Service Program under the Carnegie Corporation’s sponsorship, bringing library services to African-American communities in the southeastern states.

Virginia Lacy Jones’ papers are held at Atlanta University. The ALA Archives also holds material including correspondence related to her work.

Frederick Paul Keppel (1875-1943)

The fourth president of the Carnegie Corporation, he saw libraries, especially public libraries, as the major center for lifelong learning. During his tenure, close to $30 million was given to library projects and more than $3 million directly to ALA. Among the benefactors was the University of Chicago, which in 1926 set up the first graduate school of library science.

Frederick Keppel’s papers are held at Columbia University.

Harry Miller Lydenberg (1874-1960)

From probationary cataloger to director of the New York Public Library, Lydenberg focused much of his interest and attention on the development of the library as a major research institution. When he retired, he took on the position of director of the new Benjamin Franklin Library in Mexico City (1941), and, two years later, the directorship of the new International Relations Office of ALA in Washington.

Harry Miller Lydenberg’s papers are held at the New York Public Library. Material related to Lydenberg’s work with the ALA can be found in the records of the International Relations Office at the ALA Archives.

Stephen McCarthy (1908-1990)

Appointed director of Cornell University Libraries in 1946, he transformed a sad group of libraries with deficient collections into one of the finest systems in the country. As executive director of the Association of Research Libraries for seven years, he created the Office of Management Studies and presented testimony to Congress benefiting higher education and libraries.

Material about McCarthy’s work with the ALA is available in the records of ACRL at the ALA Archives.

Archibald MacLeish (1892-1982)

Appointed Librarian of Congress in 1939 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, over the bitter opposition of ALA, the celebrated writer and poet became an eloquent spokesman on behalf of libraries and librarianship. His administrative reorganization of LC enhanced its reputation as a major American cultural institution.

Archibald MacLeish’s papers as the Librarian of Congress are held at the Library of Congress, and his personal papers are held at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Records of the ALA’s opposition to his appointment are available at the ALA Archives.

Margaret Mann (1873-1960)

She is renowned mainly as a teacher of cataloging courses. When ALA set up a library school in Paris in 1924, she directed it and taught her international student body in French. Mann’s views on the teaching of cataloging and methods of communicating it in textbooks are worthy of attention, especially Introduction to Cataloguing and the Classification of Books.

Records of Mann’s work with the Paris Library School are available at the ALA Archives.

Charles Martel (1860-1945)

He was the chief architect of the Library of Congress classification system, and his work with the Vatican Library was a major step in international library cooperation.

Allie Beth Martin (1914-1976)

Charm and humor softened the tenacity of this public librarian who was called “the heart and soul and mind of Tulsa’s library system,” but whose enthusiasm and vigor reached far beyond Tulsa in her study of public libraries and her leadership in ALA.

Some materials related to Allie Beth Martin’s work and untimely death are located in the records of the Public Library Association and the Executive Director at the ALA Archives.

Frederic G. Melcher (1879-1963)

His belief in the interdependence of all aspects of the book world resonated during his tenure at the R. R. Bowker Company and Publishers’ Weekly. His generosity in establishing awards, most notably the Newbery Medal in 1922 and the Caldecott Medal in 1937, was but part of what made the London Bookseller call him “the greatest all-round bookman in the English-speaking world.”

The Melcher family papers are held at the University of Virginia, and a small additional set of material is held at the University of New Hampshire.

Keyes D. Metcalf (1889-1983)

He achieved international recognition and the admiration of many for his contributions as an administrator at the New York Public Library and as director of libraries at Harvard, where he made the university libraries an example of top-notch organization and efficiency.

Keyes Metcalf’s papers are held at Oberlin College, and material related to his work with ALA appears in many record series at the ALA Archives.

Carl H. Milam (1884-1963)

They called him “Mr. ALA” because of his long tenure (1920-1948) as secretary and executive secretary. Those many years saw major developments in financial support for the Association, increased internationalism, and great strides in many aspects of library development.

Carl Milam’s papers are held at the ALA Archives.

Sydney B. Mitchell (1878-1951)

Known as an unerring judge of people, he made his mark on university librarianship and library education at the University of California/Berkeley. He also wrote prolifically on gardening, as the editor of Sunset magazine.

Sydney Mitchell’s papers are held by the University of California-Berkeley.

William Andrew Moffett (1933-1995)

As director of the Huntington Library, he made international headlines by opening the library’s archives of the Dead Sea Scrolls to scholars in 1991, breaking a 40-year scholarly monopoly on scroll study.

Foster E. Mohrhardt (1907-1992)

He has been called the premier librarian-diplomat of the United States. As director of the National Agricultural Library, he successfully envisioned the library’s national and international role in providing services to the bio-agricultural community.

Foster Mohrhardt’s papers are held at the ALA Archives.

Anne Carroll Moore (1871-1961)

Devoting her career to children’s librarianship, she touched every aspect of it lecturing and teaching, administering children’s services at the New York Public Library–insisting on strong criteria for evaluating children’s books and providing a model of leadership.

Anne Carroll Moore’s papers are held at the New York Public Library.

Bessie Boehm Moore (1902-1995)

This library booster from Arkansas made her mark as a restauranteur and economic educator, but her link with libraries included significant services as a trustee and as an educator-leader for trustees and librarians, whom she inspired to be advocates and effective lobbyists at a time when federal support for libraries was just developing.

The Bessie B. Moore Center for Economic Education Records are held at the University of Arkansas, which includes photographs of Moore, certificates presented to her, and an interview with her.

Everett T. Moore (1909-1988)

A well-known advocate of intellectual freedom, his Issues of Freedom in American Libraries (1964) continues to have influence today. A librarian at UCLA and a visiting professor in its library school, his perspicacity on the problems of censorship in libraries made him the perfect choice as vice-president for the Freedom to Read Foundation in 1972, when for the first time it became party to a lawsuit.

Everett Moore’s papers are held by the University of California Los Angeles. There are also records related to his work in the ALA Archives.

Isadore Gilbert Mudge (1875-1957)

Her Guide to Reference Books made her America’s foremost reference librarian and the undisputed authority on reference books throughout the 1920s and ’30s.

Isadore Mudge’s papers are held by Columbia University. There are also records about her in the Publishing Services files at the ALA Archives.

L. Quincy Mumford (1903-1982)

As Librarian of Congress from 1954 to 1974, he presided over an unprecedented period of growth that set new standards for automation and funding. LC’s James Madison Memorial Building, which more than doubled the library’s space, was built during his tenure.

Materials related to Mumford’s work are available at the ALA Archives.

Ralph Munn (1894-1975)

Administrator, educator, and author, his directorship of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh took it to world-class status. Known for fairness, clarity, and grace, he was a champion of equal opportunity for women long before it was fashionable.

Materials related to Munn’s work are available at the ALA Archives.

Margaret Norton (1891-1984)

As Illinois State Archivist during a career of more than 35 years, she played a leading role in redirecting an emerging U.S. archival profession toward public service. She believed that public records, as the product of government activity, deserved proper care and support and should not be treated as a mere adjunct to the historical field.

Margaret Cross Norton’s papers are held by the Lincoln Presidential Library. In addition, her working papers have been digitized and are available for use online.

Paul Evan Peters (1948-1996)

In 1990 he founded and headed the Coalition for Networked Information, whose essential role is to advance scholarship and intellectual productivity. He sought common ground for many constituencies in order to develop global networked information resources.

Effie Louise Power (1873-1969)

A pioneer in children’s librarianship, she authored the first authoritative text on the subject, Library Service for Children, in 1930.

Herbert Putnam (1861-1955)

The first experienced librarian to hold the post of Librarian of Congress, from 1899 to 1939, he established and defined the library’s pattern of national service to Congress, the world of scholarship, and American libraries.

Herbert Putnam’s papers are held by the Library of Congress.

Joseph Henry Reason (1905-1997)

Elected the first African-American president of ALA’s Association of College and Research Libraries in 1971, he was also the first black nominee for ALA president, in 1965. As librarian at Howard University from 1946 to 1957, he was an inspiration to many.

Records related to Joseph Reason’s work with the ALA are available at the ALA Archives.

Ernest C. Richardson (1860-1939)

In the scholar-librarian tradition, his record of publication was phenomenally varied. As library director at Princeton University, he successfully struggled to build the collection and reduce bibliographic complexity.

Ernest Richardson’s papers are held at Princeton University.

Arthur Fremont Rider (1885-1962)

He was an editor, writer, publisher, associate of Melvil Dewey, and early advocate of microform. His autobiography, And Master of None (1955), is noted for its flamboyant reconstruction of his career and the inclusion of much information about his nonlibrary activities.

Arthur Fremont Rider’s papers are held at Syracuse University.

Frank Bradway Rogers (1914-1987)

As director of the National Library of Medicine, he became one of the developers of the first automated database for scientific literature, MEDLARS, and supervised its transfer to medical and hospital libraries.

Frank Bradway Rogers’ papers are held at the National Library of Medicine.

Charlemae Rollins (1897-1979)

Perhaps the most influential of all African-American librarians, she inspired generations of others with her work using children’s literature as a force for racial justice and harmony. In her retirement she wrote several biographical works on well-known blacks, including Famous Negro Poets (1965).

Charlemae Rollins’ papers are held by the Archives of the DuSable Museum of African American History.

Francis R. St. John (1908-1971)

An outreach pioneer best known as the director of the Brooklyn Public Library from 1949 to 1963, he became identified with the introduction of assembly-line book processing and other management innovations to hold down costs.\

Francis St. John’s papers are held at the New York Public Library.

Frances Clarke Sayers (1897-1989)

Projecting enthusiasm and deep commitment, Sayers used scholarship and storytelling, creative writing and speaking, sound administration at the New York Public Library, and imaginative teaching to improve library services for children and to stimulate and support those who provided those services.

Frances Clark Sayers’ papers are held at the University of California Los Angeles.

Marvin Scilken (1926-1999)

Known as “The Unabashed Librarian” after the newsletter he published faithfully for 28 years, he was a tireless library advocate and mentor to new professionals. His one-man letter-writing campaign made him a regular in the New York Times and other magazines and newspapers across the country. His 1966 testimony before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Anti-Trust and Monopoly on alleged price-fixing of library books triggered more than 1,000 lawsuits from which libraries later recovered millions of dollars.

Margaret Scoggin working with children at the 58th Street Branch, New York City.
Margaret Scoggin working with children at the 58th Street Branch, New York City.

Margaret C. Scoggin (1905-1968)

Young adult services in public libraries owe a tremendous debt to her and to her sense of outreach to youth. She left a large body of professional writing and editing, including six anthologies for young people, beginning with Chucklebait, published in 1945. She organized the enormously popular and award-winning Young Book Reviewers radio program in New York.

Records related to Margaret Scoggin’s work are available at the ALA Archives.

Minnie Earl Sears (1873-1933)

Best known for her List of Subject Headings for Small Libraries and for coediting the Essay and General Literature Index (1931-33). She organized the first master’s degree course in cataloging at Columbia University, where she joined the faculty in 1927.

The New York Technical Services Librarian records, for which Minnie Earl Sears served as president, are held at Columbia University.

Katharine L. Sharp Memorial bias-cut relief
The Katharine L. Sharp Memorial, which currently hangs in the circulation area on the second floor of the University of Illinois Main Library building.

Katharine Sharp (1865-1914)

In 10 years as head librarian and director of the library school at the University of Illinois, 1897-1907, she helped lay the foundation for all that would follow for the rest of the century, in Illinois and across the country.

Katharine L. Sharp’s papers are held by the University of Illinois Archives.

Ralph Shaw (1907-1972)

His reputation for radical thinking preceded him into every room he entered. With a record of publishing, research, teaching, and association work almost to exhaustion, he is perhaps now best remembered as the founder of Scarecrow Press.

Ralph Shaw’s work as Chairman of the Reorganization Committtee in 1947 are available for use at the ALA Archives.

Jesse H. Shera (1903-1982)

Crusty and opinionated–but writing with wit, teaching with style, and relishing opportunities to prick the pompous–he wrote and lived significant pieces of the history of librarianship.

Records related to Jesse Shera are available at the ALA Archives.

Louis Shores (1904-1981)

Editor and educator, his greatest contribution to the profession was the introduction of audiovisual materials into library collections and his enthusiasm for multimedia collection development.

Louis Shores’ professional papers are held at the ALA Archives.

Frances Lander Spain (1903-1999)

Children’s librarian, book reviewer, editor, and educator, she was the first children’s librarian to serve as ALA president (1960-61). She was coordinator of children’s services at the New York Public Library from 1953 to 1961.

Frances Lander Spain’s papers are held at Winthrop University.

Forrest Spaulding (1892-1965)

Written in 1937 while he was director of the Des Moines Public Library, the Library Bill of Rights stands as his most enduring contribution.

Material related to Spaulding’s work with the PLA is available at the ALA Archives.

Mortimer Taube (1910-1965)

An innovator and inventor as well as scholar and savvy business executive, he is widely credited with the implementation of “coordinate indexing” through the application of “uniterms,” a concept that forms the basis of a significant amount of computerized search strategy.

Maurice Tauber (1908-1980)

Prolific writer, biographer, editor, critic, researcher, scholar, educator, and administrator, he was also an expert in technical services and library buildings. His books The University Library and Technical Services in Libraries are classics of the profession.

Maurice Tauber’s papers are held at Columbia University.

Ralph Ulveling (1902-1980)

A liberal on civil rights issues, he made his mark as director of the Detroit Public Library for 26 years, preaching the library’s role in the teaching of tolerance and taking it to the pinnacle of modern, expanded service.

Ralph Ulveling’s papers are held at the Detroit Public Library. (No finding aid online)

George Burwell Utley (1876-1946)

Combining administrative ability with humanitarian instincts, he was executive secretary of ALA from 1911 to 1920, when he became director of Chicago’s Newberry Library and led the institution during 22 years of growth that made it one of the preeminent private libraries in the world.

George Utley’s papers are held at the ALA Archives.

Robert G. Vosper (1913-1994)

A university librarian and educator, he gained worldwide recognition as a force for libraries and for the rights of librarians as partners in scholarly enterprise. As library director at UCLA during the days of campus unrest and protest in the 1960s, his commitment to the library as an intellectual sanctuary was an inspiration to many.

Records related to Vosper’s work are available at the ALA Archives.

Douglas Waples (1893-1978)

His studies of reading behavior are considered his most important contribution to librarianship, but this international intellectual excelled in social analysis that took him far afield.

Records relating to Douglas Waples’ career are available at the University of Chicago.

Joseph L. Wheeler (1884-1970)

He oversaw the growth of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore into one of the greatest public libraries in the country. He retired in 1945, at age 61, to a new career conducting strategic surveys, completing well over a hundred by 1960.

Joseph L. Wheeler’s papers are held at Florida State University. A smaller set of Wheeler’s papers are available at the ALA Archives.

Edward C. Williams (1871-1929)

Despite the grinding racial barriers of his time, he graduated from the New York State Library School in 1900, the first professionally trained African-American librarian.

Charles C. Williamson (1877-1965)

His name is associated with the influential report on library education he prepared for the Carnegie Corporation in the early 1920s, but, as he himself observed, he had the opportunity to “put up or shut up” as he administered the School of Library Service at Columbia University from 1926 to 1943.

Charles C. Williamson’s papers are held at Columbia University.

Halsey William Wilson (1868-1954)

The bibliographies, indexes, and journals published by the company Wilson founded have not only been tools for librarians and library users, but were based on principles that helped to codify subject approaches to a wide range of literature.

Louis Round Wilson (1876-1979)

In his long life, Wilson helped to set the library school of the University of Chicago on a firm basis in its early days, served as longtime director of the library of the University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill, and was among the internationally oriented library leaders in the U.S. who contributed much to the early history of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.

Louis Round Wilson’s papers are held at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

Constance M. Winchell (1896-1984)

To thousands her name became synonymous with her Guide to Reference Books, the editorship of which she took over in 1941 from Isadore Mudge and retained until her retirement after 38 years at Columbia University in 1962.

Constance Winchell’s work records are held at Columbia University, as well as an oral history she recorded in 1963.

Donald Goddard Wing (1904-1972)

Associated for over 40 years with Yale University Library, his Short-Title Catalogue of books printed in English in the 17th century became an indispensable tool for librarians and booksellers alike, eventually leading them to refer to “Wing books” and “Wing numbers” and even “Wing period” titles.

Donald Wing’s papers are held at Yale.

(Ranganathan Makes 101)

S.R. Ranganathan (1892-1972)

Was thought of as the father of library science in India, but his Five Laws of Library Science (1931) were widely accepted as the definitive statement of the library service ideal, especially in the U.S. His contributions to classification and indexing theory had worldwide influence, so much so that he is the only non-U.S. librarian honored with inclusion in this feature. He is said to have never taken a day’s leave during his 20-year tenure as librarian at the University of Madras. May he continue to be an inspiration to us all. His five laws:

1) Books are for use. 2) Books are for all; every reader his book. 3) Every book its reader. 4)Save the time of the reader. 5) A library is a growing organism.

A letter from Ranganathan is located in the Field Survey of Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) Use Abroad, 1962-1967 at the ALA Archives.

Research guide by Denise Rayman, published 2014. Updated with additional sources 2021.