Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Azariah's Library

There's an eating place in the Academic Common's of Oberlin College in Ohio called Azariah's Cafe. The cafe is named for Azariah Smith Root (1862-1927), 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 old Carnegie building still survives on campus serving multiple non-library functions. I posted a previous blog entry about Oberlin's card catalog which has an exterior view of the Carnegie building. The history of Oberlin's library is preserved through an outstanding College Archives. Herbert F. Johnson has written a thorough biography of Root in the Dictionary of American Library Biography (Libraries Unlimited, 1978).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great of you to post on Azariahs' Cafe. It's one of the ways we at Oberlin memorialize Azariah Smith Root. Another is the "Root Room," which is the current name of what used to be the main reading room in our former Carnegie Library, as pictured in your post. And then there's my title.
Ray English
Azariah Smith Root Director of Libraries
Oberlin College