Card from the first American Library Association conference in Philadelphia, October 4-6, 1876, possibly showing the library of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Present at the Creation

January 29, 2016

The forces that brought them together were diverse. In 1875, US Commissioner of Education John Eaton was looking for a venue to announce a Special Report on Public Libraries he planned to publish the next year. On July 2, he asked Boston Public Library Director Justin Winsor about a library conference. (We don’t know whether … Continue reading Present at the Creation


A woman using the card catalog at the main reading room of the Library of Congress, circa 1940.

The Evolving Catalog

January 4, 2016

Today when we say “technology,” it is often shorthand for “computer technology.” Of course this is not the only technology in our lives, but it is the one that defines our modern age. A century and a half ago, the defining technology was electricity and all things electric. The light bulb was literally the bright … Continue reading The Evolving Catalog


The many faces of the librarian stereotype. Illustration: Rebecca Lomax and Vlada Young/Shutterstock

The Stereotype Stereotype

October 30, 2015

The answers lie in understanding the history of stereotypes in our profession and also in looking outside the profession to larger social conditions. We cannot separate our understanding of library stereotypes from the history of librarianship that influenced their development in the first place. Librarians are not explicitly responsible for the creation and perpetuation of … Continue reading The Stereotype Stereotype