On Tuesday, April 10th, National Library Workers Day recognizes current professionals in the field of library and information science. It also reminds us of historical figures that have contributed greatly to our understanding of library science and laid the foundation of our current practices. In honor of the upcoming celebration, I decided to examine one of our larger archival collections that houses records of the State Library. Of especial interest in Ms. Coll. 66 is correspondence addressed from Melvil Dewey and Charles Ammi Cutter to Caleb Tillinghast, the first State Librarian of Massachusetts; Tillinghast has been on our minds recently with the near completion of our preliminary Massachusetts Legislative Biographical File database. (http://www.mastatelibrary.blogspot.com/2012/03/in-works-electronic-legislative.html).
Dewey and Cutter were innovators in library science and, if anything, we immediately associate their names with the Dewey Decimal System and the Cutter Expansive Classification; each classification system, developed in the mid-to-late 19th century, has made an enduring impression and continues to help modern libraries better categorize and arrange their materials with efficiency and specificity. In addition, Melvil Dewey was, among other things, the founder and editor of Library Journal; a founding member of the American Library Association (ALA); Librarian of Columbia College, where he founded the School of Library Economy; and Director of the New York State Library. Charles Cutter was also a founding member of ALA, over which he served as president from 1888 to 1889; worked for the Winchester (Mass.) Town Library and the Boston Athenaeum, both at which he applied his newly developed classification scheme; and was General Editor for Library Journal (1881-1883).
Below are just two examples of the correspondence in our collection: one message depicts the usual day-to-day library activities, and another is a letter that seeks Caleb Tillinghast’s opinion on a more personal matter.
National Library Week events
Month of April – School Library Month
Monday, April 9 – 2012 State of America’s Report released
Tuesday, April 10 – National Library Workers Day
Wednesday, April 11 – National Bookmobile Day
Thursday, April 12 – Support Teen Literature Day
For more information please visit ALA’s Library Week website at: http://www.ala.org/conferencesevents/celebrationweeks/natlibraryweek
Library Technician, Reference Department