Tuesday, September 27, 2011

September Birthdays of Former Library Leaders

September has some significant birthdays of former library leaders.

Julia Wright Merrill (1881-1961) born on Sept. 11, 1881 (130 years ago). Wright was a national leader in the extension of public library service and was the first Executive Secretary of the Public Library Association of the American Library Association. She has been inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame and the Ohio Library Hall of Fame.

Lutie Eugenia Stearns (1866-1943) born on Sept. 13, 1866 (145 years ago). Stearns was a state and national leader in the promotion of public library service. While at the Wisconsin Free Library Commission she tirelessly traveled the state establishing traveling libraries and free public libraries. In 1951 she was one of 40 of America’s most significant library leaders selected by the Library Journal for inclusion in a “ Library Hall of Fame". She was in the first group of library leaders inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame.

Margery Closey Quigley (1886-1968) born on Sept. 16, 1886 (125 years ago). While Director of the Montclair (NJ) Public Library, Quigley developed nationally acclaimed programs that served as a model for other libraries. Her book Portrait of a Library (1936) and later a documentary film of the same name helped make the Montclair Public Library "the best known American suburban library in the world". She taught courses on library publicity at Columbian University and other library schools. She is included in the Dictionary of American Library Biography (Libraries Unlimited, 1978).

George Herbert Putnam (1861-1955) born on Sept. 20, 1861 (150 years ago). Putnam was the eighth Librarian of Congress (1899-1939). In that capacity he reorganized the Library and greatly expanded its national role especially in relation to the national library community. Under his leadership the library instituted an interlibrary loan program and produced printed catalog cards for the nation's libraries. The United States has not honored a librarian on a postage stamp. Putnam was one of my possibilities for this honor.

Edwin Hatfield Anderson (1861-1947) born on Sept. 27, 1861 (150 years ago). Anderson's entry in the Dictionary of American Library Biography (Libraries Unlimited, 1978) written by Phyllis Dain reads in part: " Through quiet but forceful leadership of several of the foremost library institutions of his day, Edwin Hatfield Anderson exerted a powerful if indirect influence over librarianship. As the first librarian of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, he shaped it into a many-faceted agency embodying the latest ideas and ideal of community service; as New York state librarian and director of the New York State Library School, he revitalized the State Library and stabilized the school; as director of the New York Public Library, he guided one of the great libraries of the world through a time of prodigious growth." Photograph of Anderson in ALA Archives.

Joseph Green Cogswell (1786-1871) born on Sept. 27, 1786 (225 years ago). Cogswell is best known for his role in building the collection of the Astor Library in New York City, one of the institutions that merged to form the New York Public Library. I have a couple of postal items in my collection related to Cogswell which I have written about previously. One is an 1855 letter written by Cogswell which contains his philosophy of library service. The other is an 1848 letter introducing Cogswell to Anthony Panizzi of the British Museum.

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