Monday, March 8, 2010

Happy Birthday Arthur Bostwick

It is not often that someone with a Ph.D. in Physics from Yale University becomes a public librarian, but that was the case with Arthur E. Bostwick (1860-1942). Bostwick was born on this date (March 8) in 1860 making this the 150th anniversary of his birth. Bostwick's career as a public librarian is described by library historian Donald G. Davis, Jr. in the Dictionary of American Library Biography. After a stint as a high school teacher and as an editor he became chief librarian of the New York Free Circulating Library in 1895. The New York Free Circulating Library was merged with the newly created New York Public Library in the same year. After supervising branch libraries for the New York Public Library, Bostwick served as director of the Brooklyn Public Library from 1899 to 1901. He returned to the New York Public Library in 1901 in the capacity of Chief of the Circulating Department, a post he held when the postal card above was mailed on December 3, 1902. By 1909 Bostwick was overseeing the largest circulating library in the world. In 1909 he became director of the St. Louis Public Library, a post he held for the remainder of his career. Active in the American Library Association, he served as its president in 1907-1908. Bostwick went to China in 1925 as a representative of the American Library Association. His contribution to library development in China as a result of that visit was documented by Priscilla C. Yu and Donald G. Davis, Jr. in a 1998 article for Libraries and Culture. Bostwick was the author of a number of books including The American Public Library which was published in four editions. A photograph which includes Bostwick can be found here in the digital collections of the American Library Association Archives.

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