I’ve been involved in a review of some material in our Library & Information Science collection and in the process have come across some gems from the past. I’ve already highlighted one book that devoted a (short) chapter to the role of women in libraries. Today I bring you a short quote about the future of libraries from 1964. The book is called Teach yourself librarianship and is from a series that includes titles such as The teach yourself guidebook to Western thought, Teach yourself journalism and Teach yourself to teach.
It is unlikely that the book will soon be superseded as the medium for escape, entertainment and intellectual stimulus. Television is thought to have encouraged quite as much as it has discouraged reading for pleasure. But if machines can be taught to read, summarize and, at man’s will, regurgitate technical information (and this now seems to be within the realm of practical possibility), then the information services of libraries may well be revolutionized…The profession today thinks less in terms of books in chains and documents in custody than of the active liberation and circulation of information as the intellectual life-blood of the community.
In some ways, not much has changed, has it?
I would like to share with you a few lines from a book I found in the LIS collection at MPOW. Bear in mind that we have not taught LIS here for more than 15 years – so our collection is dated to say the least. This particular gem comes from a 1961 book called ‘Librarianship’, from a series called The Sunday Times Career Books. Chapter 15 is really called ‘Specially for Maidens’. It probably won’t come as any surprise that this book was written by a man! Here we go:
Librarianship, too, is a profession with a distinct appeal to the female sex and the work is well-suited to women. It requires at many stages such personal characteristics as accuracy, persistency, neatness, orderliness, and a liking for work with the public…Many women, of course, do not enter the profession as a long-term career. Marriage is the ultimate objective (and incidentally work in a library has its advantages in this direction too) but until then at any rate they are able to earn a reasonable salary…
The work is interesting in all its aspects, but that which is particularly attractive to women is work as a Children’s Librarian…Cataloguing work, too, is well suited to the feminine temperament, for it demands great accuracy and consistency…On the other hand, many women seem to fight shy of the administrative posts, which carry more responsibility and need greater organising ability. Perhaps this is one more reason why the majority of such positions go to men!
I don’t think there’s really anything else to say.