Portrait in Paradox: Commitment and Ambivalence in American Librarianship, 1876-1976

Portrait in Paradox: Commitment and Ambivalence in American Librarianship, 1876-1976 b y MICHAEL H. HARRIS On October 6, 1976 a group of library historians gathered in Philadelphia to commemorate the founding of the American Library Association in that city on that same date one hundred years earlier. This observance was just one of the more visible of many designed to celebrate one hundred years of professional librarianship in America. It is pertinent to note that this celebration corresponded rather unhappily with the onset of what appears to be a sustained fiscal crisis for America's libraries. The natural desire to celebrate one hundred years of professional growth, intensified as it was by the ebulliantly self-conscious celebration of the American Bicentennial, combined with the profession's pressing need to justify its existence to an increasingly skeptical public, has stimulated the production of a mass of literature on the history of American librarianship.1 This literature will prove disappointing to those seeking answers to the larger questions relative to the emergence of American librarianship over the last century, for in the main it is self-congratulatory, uncritical and heavily freighted with reassuring references to glorious ancestors who, one would be led to believe, were enlightened and humane beyond our most unrealistic expectations. That part http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Libri - International Journal of Libraries and Information Services de Gruyter

Portrait in Paradox: Commitment and Ambivalence in American Librarianship, 1876-1976

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Publisher
de Gruyter
Copyright
©2011 by Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co.
ISSN
0024-2667
eISSN
1865-8423
DOI
10.1515/LIBR.1976.26.4.281
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

b y MICHAEL H. HARRIS On October 6, 1976 a group of library historians gathered in Philadelphia to commemorate the founding of the American Library Association in that city on that same date one hundred years earlier. This observance was just one of the more visible of many designed to celebrate one hundred years of professional librarianship in America. It is pertinent to note that this celebration corresponded rather unhappily with the onset of what appears to be a sustained fiscal crisis for America's libraries. The natural desire to celebrate one hundred years of professional growth, intensified as it was by the ebulliantly self-conscious celebration of the American Bicentennial, combined with the profession's pressing need to justify its existence to an increasingly skeptical public, has stimulated the production of a mass of literature on the history of American librarianship.1 This literature will prove disappointing to those seeking answers to the larger questions relative to the emergence of American librarianship over the last century, for in the main it is self-congratulatory, uncritical and heavily freighted with reassuring references to glorious ancestors who, one would be led to believe, were enlightened and humane beyond our most unrealistic expectations. That part

Journal

Libri - International Journal of Libraries and Information Servicesde Gruyter

Published: Jan 1, 1976

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