A relatively new addition to National Library Week, the first National Bookmobile Day was celebrated in 2010, to recognize over one hundred years of service that bookmobiles and direct-delivery outreach services have contributed to bringing information, technology, and resources to all readers.
The more things change, the more they stay the same, or so you will think when you look at this laundry list of key considerations Katherine L. Sharp outlines for someone setting up a library in her writing “Catechism for Librarians.” Unlike a religious Catechism, she outlines not what to believe but a series of questions a librarian must answer for herself. Despite being only 3 by 5 inches in size, 24 pages long, and never published, these 180 questions still provide a reasonable guide to someone setting up a library today. And their relevance is still more interesting when you consider that this was written in 1891, with no knowledge of the sweeping changes in librarianship and technology that were to come. A few of the more prescient questions are presented here in their modern context: Continue reading “Have you a card catalog? Katharine L. Sharp’s Catechism for Librarians”→
For an educated woman at the turn of the century, there were few options for a intellectually satisfying career, as Katharine L. Sharp discovered as a newly minted college graduate in 1885. She taught foreign languages at a high school in Illinois for two years, but then she took a position as Assistant Librarian at the Scoville Institute and seems to have found her calling. Believing so strongly in the burgeoning field of professional librarianship, she enrolled in the new New York State Library School in 1889, where she studied under Melvil Dewey.  Continue reading ““The Best Man in America is a Woman”: Katharine L. Sharp and the First “Lady Librarians””→
Within a few weeks of America’s entrance into World War I, the American Library Association undertook an enormous campaign to send books and other reading materials to American forces at home and abroad. Continue reading “A Book for Every Man”→
The beginning of the Twentieth century marked the start of expansion for American libraries. A nationwide movement to establish county library systems began in 1898. This coincided with the spread of branch libraries, which began to appear in large cities in the early 1890s. The growing number of library buildings was due in large part to Andrew Carnegie, who built libraries in 1,412 communities. The first part of the century also saw a broader range of services as librarians reached out to groups that had previously been ignored by the library: children, immigrants, minorities, soldiers, the sick and the handicapped, the working class, and isolated rural community dwellers. Continue reading “Have Books, Will Travel”→