|Photo of Root from Oberlin College Archives|
Today is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Oberlin (OH) College Librarian and ALA President Azariah Smith Root (1862-1927). I wrote a post about Root for December 15, 2009. It is partially reprinted below. I also have a blog post about Oberlin's card catalog.
Azariah Smith Root served as the Librarian at Oberlin College from 1887 to 1927. Root was responsible for transforming the library at Oberlin into one of the best college libraries in the nation. Root's original involvement with the Oberlin College Library began before his appointment as librarian with a project to catalog the library's collection in 1885 using the Dewey Decimal Classification System. Root played a major role in acquiring a grant of $150,000 from Andrew Carnegie in 1905 for a new college library building which also served the community of Oberlin as a public library. He developed a detailed description of what should be included in the new library which is considered to be the first library building statement written by a librarian. Root was also heavily involved in librarianship at the national level and served as President of the American Library Association (ALA) in 1922. He was actively involved in promoting quality library education and training. This included work with others that resulted in the certification of library schools by ALA. Root served as director of the American Correspondence School of Librarianship which was established in 1923 until his death in 1927. Azariah's library has evolved into the Seeley G. Mudd Center. The Carnegie building (see history) still survives on campus housing older collections of the library and offices for a couple of college departments. Root has been honored by Oberlin College through the naming the position of director of the library as the Azariah Smith Root Director of Libraries which is currently held by Ray English. The history of Oberlin's library is preserved by an outstanding College Archives. Herbert F. Johnson has written an excellent biography of Root in the Dictionary of American Library Biography (Libraries Unlimited, 1978).