Thursday, January 29, 2009

James Kendall Hosmer 175 Today


The Minneapolis Public Library (merged with the Hennepin County Library in 2008) had the good fortune to have three exceptional directors at the beginning of its history. James Kendall Hosmer (1834-1927) was the second of those directors serving from 1892 to 1904. He followed Herbert Putnam and preceded Gratia Countryman. Hosmer, Putnam, and Countryman all served as President of the American Library Association, Hosmer in 1902-1903. Hosmer was born on January 29,1834 and today is the 175th anniversary of his birth. Happy birthday James.
Ralph Adams Brown author of Hosmer's entry in the Dictionary of American Library Biography had this to say about Hosmer: "He also believed that a library must aggressively seek to expand its appeal, to increase its service. Books that merely sat on shelves were unimportant; they must be circulated and read. He rejoiced that his Library not only had many branches but that it supplied books to 35 different public schools within the city." When Hosmer retired from the Minneapolis Public Library it had the largest per capita circulation of any public library in a city over 200,000.
Hosmer was also a prolific author of of novels and articles on a wide range of topics. Hosmer was named Librarian Emeritus of the Minneapolis Public Library in 1925 and in 1926 the 36th Street Branch was renamed the James K. Hosmer Branch. The James K. Hosmer Special Collections Library of the Hennepin County Library, the source of the photo above, is named in his honor.

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