Monday, February 20, 2012

Samuel Swett Green, Father of Library Reference Work

On Presidents Day we can also celebrate the 175th anniversary of the birth of Samuel Swett Green (1837-1918), one of the founders of the American Library Association and considered by many to be the father of library reference work. Green's claim to this distinction is based on his library service philosophy which is summed up with this quotation by Green: "A librarian should be as unwilling to allow an inquirer to leave the library with his question unanswered as a shopkeeper is to have a customer go out of his store without making a purchase." Green developed his philosophy of service as Director of the Worcester (MA) Free Public Library from 1871 to 1909. Green was also a proponent of public library cooperation with schools and compiled the book Libraries and Schools (F. Leypoldt, 1883). Green was instrumental in obtaining a new library building for Worcester (shown on the postcard above) which opened in 1891. Green who was among those attending the library conference of 1876 where the American Library Association was founded served as its President in 1891. The book The Public Library Movement in the United States 1853-1893 (Boston Book Company, 1913) includes Green's reminiscences about the early development of the library profession in the United States. Sources for information in this post include the entry in the Dictionary of American Library Biography (Libraries Unlimited, 1978) written by Budd L. Gambee and the the Wikipedia entry for Green.

1 comment:

Banshee said...

If Samuel Swett Green can be called the Father of Library Reference work, maybe Caroline Hewins can be called the mother of library reference work esp for schools and the young...?

In 1882 Caroline Hewins published her famous pamphlet "Books for the Young"
and long associated with the Hartford Public Library but also earlier in other parts of New England also & education/schools advocacy

Let's remember the ladies ! :-)

Cheers & best regards,
Karen Weaver
Pittsburgh PA