Friday, December 5, 2008

Tribute to the Library Historian

I am one of the biggest fans of the library historian. I am absolutely in awe of these individuals. Although I am flattered when someone occasionally refers to me as a library historian, I choose to label myself as a library history buff which is more in keeping with my approach to library history. Library historians are focused, they are disciplined, and they make a long term commitment to the topic of their research. I am much more likely to go off in a hundred different directions as I pursue and promote library history.

The products of much of the research done by library historians is documented in the publication American Library History: A comprehensive Guide to the Literature edited by Donald G. Davis, Jr. and John Mark Tucker. Parts of this publication have been placed on the web by the Library History Round Table (LHRT). The LHRT also publishes a bibliography of library history in each semi-annual issue of the LHRT Newsletter.These bibliographies have also been placed on the web by LHRT. The LHRT, of which I am a member,does a great job of recognizing excellence in library history scholarship with a variety of awards.

My personal library includes many of the books written and compiled by library historians. I am particularly grateful to all of those individuals who contributed to the Dictionary of American Library Biography and its supplements. I am also indebted to the contributors to the Encylopedia of Library History. I have found the publication American Library Development 1600-1899 by Elizabeth W. Stone, now deceased, especially useful. I subscribe to Libraries & The Cultural Record, the premier library history publication, which includes many excellent articles by library historians.

I have been fortunate to be acquainted with a number of library historians during my career and post career as a librarian. More recently these contacts have been in regard to our shared interest in library history. However, in years past my interaction with library historians was often because of our work as librarians or members of library associations, and sadly I was sometimes oblivious to their library history scholarship. Although this reflects badly on me, it is also an indication that library historians are often active in the library profession in other significant capacities.

I have compiled a list of the websites of library historians. These websites often include information on the past and current research of library historians. In future entries on this blog, I will also try to include information on library historians and their work.

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