Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Frederick Leypoldt, Founder of Publishers' Weekly and Library Journal

Today is the 175th anniversary of the birth of Frederick Leypoldt (1835-1884). On May 17, 1876, Frederick Leypoldt, Melvil Dewey, and Richard Rodgers Bowker met in the offices of Publishers" Weekly and mutually agreed to pursue a conference of American librarians and a library journal. Both of these objectives were accomplished in that same year. The first issue of Library Journal (under the initial title of American Library Journal) was dated September 30, 1876 and the conference of librarians which resulted in the founding of the American Library Association took place in Philadelphia in October, 1876. Dewey is often given credit for these accomplishments, but both Leypoldt and Bowker also deserve much credit. Leypoldt had successfully established Publishers' Weekly as a major source of information about books and their publishing in America, and although Dewey was the first Managing Editor of Library Journal, Leypoldt was its publisher and source of financial support. Leypoldt also published the American Catalogue and Index Medicus. Leypoldt was a poor businessman and his publishing endeavors, including Library Journal, often resulted in financial loses. His close associate R. R. Bowker was more financially astute and later purchased Publishers' Weekly. The R. R. Bowker Company developed into a major American publishing house with emphasis on the book and library trades. The envelope above was mailed in 1889, five years after Leypoldt's death. The relationships between Leypoldt, Dewey, and Bowker are fascinating. They are dealt with in several publications. These include E. McClung Fleming's R. R. Bowker: Miltant Liberal (Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 1952), Edward G. Holley's Raking the Historic Coals: The A.L.A. Scrapbook of 1876 (BETA PHI MU, 1967), and Wayne A. Wiegand's Irrepressible Reformer, A Biography of Melvil Dewey (ALA, 1996).

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