Saturday, January 1, 2011

Celebrating Library History in 2011

I'm always on the look out for opportunities to celebrate library history. Anniversaries of important dates and events is obviously one way of doing this. Although centennials of libraries are a common way of celebrating library history, I'm of the opinion that significant anniversaries can be celebrated as often as every five years. Obviously, the more significant the anniversary the greater opportunity it presents. For some ideas on celebrating library anniversaries click HERE.

The year 1876 was probably the most significant year in American library history. This year is the 135th anniversary of 1876 and all that happened in that year. This was the year that the American Library Association was founded. It was also the year in which Melvil Dewey first published his decimal system of book classification. The Library Journal, originally the American Library Journal, began publication in 1876. The landmark publication Public Libraries in the United States of America was also published by the U. S. Bureau of Education in that year.

It is not surprising that New York under the influence of Melvil Dewey was the first state to organize a state library association. This occurred in 1890. One year later in 1891, 120 years ago, seven more states established library associations. These were in Wisconsin, Connecticut, Maine, Michigan, Kansas, Minnesota, and Indiana. A great year to celebrate 12 decades of library promotion by these associations.

Every year, with the help of the Dictionary of American Library Biography and its supplements, I try to identify key birth anniversaries of important library people and make note of them in the Library History Buff blog, This year will be the 305th anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Franklin, the 180th anniversary for Justin Winsor, the 160th for Melvil Dewey, the 150th for Herbert Putnam, the 130th for Julia Wright Merrill, and the 100th for Augusta Baker, to name a few.

The Carnegie Corporation of New York celebrates centennial in 2011.

The Society of American Archivists celebrates its 75th anniversary.

Other dates and events that lend themselves to the celebration of library history are National Library Week, American Archives Month, Preservation Month, and National Bookmobile Day, to name a few.

The invitation to the attendees of the 1876 meeting of librarians which is shown above is a reproduction.

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