Friday, March 10, 2017

Message from the Convenor, IFLA Library History SIG

It is lovely to see that as of today we have a number of followers on our IFLA Library History SIG blog. But where are your posts? Not that I can claim being a great contributor, but then again I don't want to load you with stuff from me. Many thanks to Peter Lor for his post and link to his draft chapter for the momentous tome that he is putting together. And that post was last November! 
On the Library History front: from my little part of the world I can report that because I detected a nascent interest in the topic here in Western Australia (WA), I thought it was time I got things moving – again. My recollection was that the last burst of interest in WA was in 1990 when we held a wonderful Australian Library & Information Association conference here in Perth (during a national commercial pilots' strike – but that's another story) and colleagues Robert Sharman and the late Anne Clyde produced a publication Western Perspectives, which did cover the present and  some of our library history. But since then? Very little has happened. Until now. So wish me luck as I pursue the interest here. We have our first presentation in mid March on From Card Catalogue to Ebooks; a History of Fremantle City Library: 1851-2016.
And you?
Kerry Smith, Convenor, SIG Library History

Monday, November 28, 2016

The spatial and intellectual horizons of LIS

In response to Kerry’s pleas for contributions to the Library History SIG blog, here’s a link to a draft chapter I updated recently: Chapter 1 of my book International and comparative librarianship: concepts and methods for global studies. Chapter 1 is entitled “From local to global: the expanding horizons of libraries and related information organizations”. In it, I attempt to sketch the evolution of the spatial and intellectual horizons of librarianship, documentation, and information activities – the wider field of librarianship, documentation and information services commonly denoted by LIS – from early times to the present. Here the focus is on the international dimension of LIS as a field of activity.

The chapter is a radical revision – a rewriting really – of an earlier version in which I had outlined the history of international librarianship from the earliest times,  going back to the libraries/archives of ancient city states, Assurbanipal, the ancient Library of Alexandria, etc. It dawned on me a few years ago that it is an anachronism to refer to international librarianship before the advent of nation states (conventionally but somewhat simplistically marked by the Westphalian treaties of 1648). In fact, the word “international” was introduced in 1789 by that prolific coiner of new words, Jeremy Bentham, and international library activities in the strict sense only took off in the second half of the 19th Century.

How then to refer to border-crossing, cross-polity activities before the mid-19th Century?  After considering various periodizations of library history (discussed briefly, with some references, at the beginning of the chapter), I decided to avoid chronological periods and rather organize the chapter in terms of roughly chronological but often overlapping and sometimes recurring ‘horizons’. By ‘horizon’ I mean the geographic (e.g. local, national, international, global) and intellectual space within which librarians see their work (for example in terms of collections, bibliographic control and users) and the extent to which they interact with librarians and scholars in other cultural and political entities. I identified six horizons: local, imperial, universal, national, international and global. You can read the chapter here and judge for yourself whether the concept works:

Peter Lor

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Library History session at IFLA 2016 Columbus: Few Photos

Hello Library History friends

Our session at the Columbus conference was well attended and many thanks to all who came.  We had a lovely spread of papers with three of our four presenters able to attend- from left to right: Ray Pun who delivered the paper Recalling an Arab American Dream: The Story and Legacy of Ameen Rihani's novel The Book of Khalid and The New York Public Library, session Chair yours truly Kerry Smith, Irene Munster who delivered Spreading the roots: Origin of Jewish libraries in Argentina, and Dr Sharon McQueen who gave her paper May Massee and the Buffalo Public Library: Service to Immigrant Children, 1906-1912.  Our 4th paper presenter Dr Suzanne Stauffer was unable to attend. As some of you will recall Baton Rouge experienced serious weather and flooding during the conference and whilst Suzanne and family who live there came through this, she was unable to leave town.  You can read her paper From Saigon to Baton Rouge :  East Baton Rouge Parish Library and Vietnamese Refugees, 1975-1985 (which I read at the session) and the others by browsing the  IFLA library    I am working with Sharon McQueen to get her paper up as soon as we can.

Kerry Smith, Convenor IFLA Library History SIG