Thursday, January 26, 2012

Charles Williamson and His Report on Training for Library Service

Today is the 135th anniversary of the birth of Charles Clarence Williamson (1877-1965) who conducted a study of the training for library service in the United States for the Carnegie Corporation in in 1919-1921. The "Williamson Report" was completed in 1921 and later published as Training for Library Service in 1923. According to Robert Leigh the Williamson study "became the major program for discussion and action regarding library education for the next quarter century".  Williamson conducted his study after working at the New York Public Library as Head of the Economics and Sociology Division and as Head of the Municipal Reference Library. In 1926 Williamson was given the opportunity to put his ideas about library training into practice (or as he said "Put up or shut up.") when he received a joint appointment as Director of Columbia University Libraries and as the University's School of Library Service. He served in that capacity until his retirement in 1943. Ironically, Williamson himself had no formal training as a librarian. Williamson's life and library career is documented in the book The Greatest of Greatness: The Life and Work of Charles C. Williamson (1877-1965) by Paul A. Winckler (Scarecrow Press, 1992). Winckler also wrote the entry for Williamson in the Dictionary of American Library Biography (Libraries Unlimited, 1978) which is the source of the information in this post.

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