History of Library Science Degree
Eileen Mann

When we think of libraries and librarians, and how they began, we look back a hundred years or so and reflect on Melvil Dewey and Andrew Carnegie's contributions. But we really need to delve deeper; libraries date back thousands of years. As far back as the 7th century BC, King Ashurbanipal of Assyria had a systematically organized collection for his library in Nineveh. Demetrius Phalerum, 3rd century Greek scholar, is believed to be the creator of the Library of Alexandria. The library housed a large collection of scrolls which were categorized in a systematic organization under his instruction. During the Han Dynasty in China, curators of the imperial library established a library classification system and the first book notation system. The curators, or librarians, cataloged their information on scrolls.

What this evidence shows is that many centuries of peoples and cultures placed a strong interest in the organization of information, and considered it a necessary expenditure of time. But as time progressed, and more and more information became available, trained professionals were highly sought to meet the growing needs, especially during the industrial revolution in America.
American libraries in the late 1800s were relatively small. Academic institutions housed the more sophisticated libraries, with educated, scholarly males at the helm. But there was little or no training. Employees learned on the job, and would consult others in the field when possible.

Between 1850 and 1876:
  • Apprenticeships began
  • Publications pertaining to libraries were developed by private publishers
  • Publishers Weekly began in 1872, it contained a small section for librarians
  • Librarians received little or no training, learned in the field, basically trial by error

Between 1876 and 1923:
  • American Library Journal was created in 1876 by the ALA (also begun in 1876), librarians used it as a forum to communicate with others in the field (it was later named Library Journal)
  • U.S. Bureau of Education published a study in 1876, Public Libraries in the United States of America: Their History, Condition, and Management. The data was from over 3600 libraries, and much of the information gathered was useful for librarians, but it was not enough.
  • Industrialization was on the rise, factory work increased
  • Technical schools developed, they followed a European technical education model
  • Society recognized importance of libraries in communities
  • Andrew Carnegie finances the construction of over 3000 libraries
  • Demand for librarians increases
  • Melvil Dewey designs the decimal classification system – the Dewey Decimal System, he becomes one of the creators of the American Library Journal
  • Transition from scholarly librarians to technical librarians begins
  • 1879, Dewey encourages organized apprenticeships, but it’s defeated
  • Apprenticeships continued, but summer schools offering training slowly emerged
  • 1884, Dewey is appointed head librarian at Columbia and persuades the president to begin a school for librarians
  • January 1, 1987, School of Library Economy - begun by Dewey, first of its kind opens at Columbia
  • 1888, Columbia closes the school – too many women in the classes (first class had 3 men and 17 women), board of directors were not happy wth the outcome, felt Dewey misled them
  • 1888, Dewey takes a new position as head of New York State Library, he reopens his school there
  • Mary Salome Cutler Fairchild, professor at Albany, takes on most of the responsibilities of the school
  • 1890 Pratt opens a library school,1892 Drexel follows suit, 1893 Armour Institute opens as well (in 1897 it became the State Library School at the University of Illinois), these three lbrary schools were run by women who began their education program with Dewey at Columbia
  • Mary Wright Plummer, director of Pratt, went on to become the president of ALA, and the director of the library school of the New York Public Library, she expanded the program from 6 months to two years
  • specialized courses in children's literature and historical courses were introduced
  • Alice Kroeger, director of Drexel's library training program, published the first text on reference materials
  • Katharine Lucinda Sharp led the school at the University of Illinois, and developed a program very similar to Dewey's, and created a four year degree
  • At least fifteen schools were developed by 1919, ten of them were run by women
  • In the 1920s the MLS in Library Science was introduced, before then only the school in Albany offered the degree
  • The Carnegie Corporation, established by Andrew Carnegie, led for changes in the public library sector
  • Carnegie hired C.C. Williamson to conduct a study and examine library schools
  • The Williamson Report was created in 1923, and summarized the findings, which represented a breakthrough in library education
  • The master's degree became the requirement for librarians, thus proving the need for education, not just training

After Carnegie
  • 1924- ALA responded to the Williamson report, created the Temporary Library Training Board
  • Board of Eduaction for Librarianship (BEL) created standards for library education (1925 & 1933)
  • Carnegie Corporation devised a plan for programs that led to master's degrees and Ph. D.s in library science (doctoral progam began at the University of Chicago in 1928)
  • Carnegie Corporation developed first school for African American librarians - The Hampton Institute Library School - opened in 1925)
  • Most library schools created a fifth-year master's degree program by the - 1950s it was standard

1930s - 1970s
  • Developments regarding libraries and library education slowedd during the depression
  • Schools continued to focus on routine rather than methodology and theory
  • 1951 - the BEL issued new standards for library education
  • Five years were now required - a master's degree
  • 1956 - ALA Committee on Accreditation (COA) was formed to evaluate and accredit library schools
  • 1960s saw a boom in library education and services, due to the boom in population and the economy
  • There was a significant expansion of libraries - which created a demand for librarians
  • By the 1970s there were more than seventy accredited library schools with master's programs

1980s - to Present Day
  • There was a great decline in schools and libraries in the 80s and 90s
  • Esteemed, accredited schools were closed due to financial burdens
  • By 1999 there were only 56 ALA accredited schools remaining
  • Enrollment did peak in 1992 - but there has been a considerable decline since
  • 1998 had 12,800 students enrolled in master's degree programs (US and Canada)
  • Library Science programs have undergone considerable changes since the 90s
  • Introductioon of the Internet has changed the duties of librarians and the education they need to receive
  • Technology has surpassed the efforts of the schools; textbooks can't keep up with the changing needs
  • Instruction is constantlty revamped as are class catalogs and content
  • The focus of library courses is now on keeping students tech savy and current

Foundations of library and information science