Special Topics & Papers

Gender issues and biographical works
Reading, Gender Issues, and the Modernization of Libraries in France
Libraries and librarianship in Africa

Gender Issues and Biographical Works
Historical and Theoretical Works on Gender
"Between Two Worlds: The American Library in Paris during the War, Occupation, and Liberation (1939 – 1945)" Library Trends volume 55, number 3, Winter 2007.
The American Library in Paris remained open to readers throughout the second world war, and its history during the dark years of the occupation is a tribute to the leadership of the American born Countess de Chambrun and her small but dedicated staff. This paper presents the drama as it unfolded, and after introducing several key players, each phase of the library’s war service is framed as an act of a play. The concluding section offers a brief analysis of the American Library’s unlikely survival, and explores its complicated wartime history by using concepts borrowed from institutional sociology.

"Exporting American Print Culture: The Role of Bookwomen in Paris during the 1920s"
A paper prepared for the special issue of Libraries & Culture in honor of Donald G. Davis, Jr.

Using the lens of gender, this essay examines the lives and collective contributions of American women who participated in the book world of Paris during the 1920s. The focus is on Sylvia Beach's bookshop, Shakespeare & Company; the American Library in Paris , which inherited the American Library Association (ALA) Library War Service reference collection; and the Paris Library School operated by the ALA from 1923 to 1929. Working in each of these settings, women found innovative ways to make American books and print culture more widely known in France .

"Telling Lives: Women Librarians in Europe and America at the Turn of the Century."  In  Gendering Library History, edited by Evelyn Kerslake and Nickianne Moody, pp. 57-81. Liverpool, England: John Moores University Press and the Association for Research in Popular Fictions.
This study examines the international experience of Mary Wright Plummer and contrasts her career with that of two European colleague,  Marie Pellechet the noted bibliographer from France and Giulia Sacconi-Ricci one of the first women to qualify as a professional librarian in Italy.

*The full text file at right is a longer preliminary version of the paper as it was prepared for presentation. For references, see the publication listed above.

"Gender, Culture and the Transformation of American Librarianship, 1890-1920, Libraries & Culture, 33   (Winter, 1998):51-61.
Special issue of this journal devoted to the proceedings of an international conference on the History of Reading and Libraries in the United States and Russia, held in Vologda, Russia, in Jun 1996, and organised by the IFLA Roundtables on Library History and Research in Reading. Shows how women graduates of the first US library schools brought to the innately conservative custodial conception of librarianship new concepts of reading and scholarship. Melvil Dewey's School of Library Economy (Columbus College) and other late Nineteenth century pioneering training programmes for women in Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Chicago welcomed them into an emerging profession on a basis of equality. A succession of dynamic women refined library ideology and campaigned for women's rights. The proposed formation of a Women's Section within the American Library Association, however, met with opposition from non-separatists, the work of Mary Wright Plummer being seen as more representative

"Women in Library Education:  Down the Up Staircase." Library Trends -- "Education for Librarianship in America, 1887-1987" 34:401-432 (Winter 1986).
Contribution to an issue devoted to the history of library and information science education on the occasion of its centenary. A history of women's status in library education is assessed from a feminist perspective. 3 distinct periods in this history have been identified; the First begins in 1887 with the participation of women as students andlecturers in the First library training class and ends in 1923 with the opening of the Paris Library School; the Second period begins with the creation of the American Library Association Board of Education for Librarianship in 1924 and continues until the drafting of new standards in 1950; and the Third is marked by a demographic shift as women were progressively replaced by men. As library education enters its Second century questions remain as to whether there are fewer opportunities for women or fewer women prepared to grasp opportunity.


"Comparative Methodology as a Means for Assessing the Impact of Feminization and Professionalization on Librarianship." pp. 66 - 77, in Library Lit 16-:  The Best of 1985. ed. by Bill Katz. Metuchen, NJ:  Scarecrow Press, 1986. (reprinted from International Library Review 17:  5-16 (1985).
Attempts to draw on comparative studies from other disciplines in order to suggest a methodological framework which would enable scholars to arrive at a fuller understanding of the feminisation process as it affected 1 profession-library science. Includes a list of notable theoretical studies which have failed to encourage the production of specific comparative studies. Asserts that in order to relate feminisation to professionalisation within a given country, the status of librarianship in other countries must also be examined using 5 social indicators: legal rights, education, social integration, economic position and socio-psychological position. Suggests also that many other changes, considered milestones in the professionalisation process, can be presented in a comparative chronology that shows participation of women in the library field. Compares the situation in the USA, the UK and France.
"Towards a History of Women in Librarianship: A Critical Analysis with Suggestions for Further Research." Journal of Library History 17:163-185 (Spring 1982).
Discusses the findings of research into the role of women in librarianship in the USA. Topics covered include: areas of librarianship where women have proved themselves innovative and resourceful; female participation in professional associations; the extent to which librarians dropped their careers on marriage; and whether or not there was a connection between the mechanical nature of library education and the predominance of women. Gives details of a number of sources for a history of women librarians from the fields of library history and women's history, and discusses the interpretation of the evidence provided by these sources.

Biographical Work

"The Lady and the Antelope: Suzanne Briet's Contribution To The French Documentation Movement."  Library  Trends  53 (Spring 2004)  in press
During her thirty years at the Bibliothèque Nationale (BN), Suzanne Briet (1894-1989) made important theoretical, organizational, and institutional contributions to the documentation movement in France.  This paper attempts to place her  documentation work within the context of the far-reaching reform of  French libraries, with special attention to the transformation of  the BN.  Like her colleagues in special libraries, Briet embraced modernity and science.  However, because of her strong orientation toward humanistic scholarship, she viewed  documentation service and bibliographic orientation as an enhancement rather than a rejection of  the scholarly traditions  of  the national library.  This paper will focus on her efforts to integrate the innovative ideas of the documentation movement into the practice of librarianship at the Bibliothèque Nationale.

" 'No Philosophy Carries So Much Conviction as the Personal Life':  Mary Wright Plummer as an Independent Woman."  Library Quarterly  70  (January 2000): 1-46.
During her 30 year career, Mary Wright Plummer (1856-1916) directed the Pratt Institute Free Library, founded two library education programmes, and became the second woman elected president of the American Library Association. Known for her innovative ideas, she was also a leader in local and state library associations, and by 1900 she was recognized as one of the most internationally visible American librarians. Plummer made several trips abroad, but it was her 1894-1895 residence in Europe that profoundly affected her thinking on both a personal and a professional level. Taking a feminist approach to biographical study, focuses on Plummer's metamorphosis from a dependent adult daughter of a wealthy Quaker family to an internationally respected library leader who attempted to create an independent life without abandoning her strong family ties

"Alice I. Bryan (1902-1992)". Dictionary of American Library Biography, Second supplement. ed by  Donald G. Davis, Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2003. pp.43-47.
Alice  I. Bryan (1902---1992) -- Known for her achievements as a psychologist, scholar, library educator, and feminist,  Alice  I. Bryan  devoted most of her career to the Columbia University School of Library Service (SLS) where she played  an important role in the development of the doctoral program.   Although she published innovative articles on bibliotherapy  and the psychology of reading as well as research in  psychology,  she is now best remembered for her monumental study of public library personnel (The Public Librarian, New York: Columbia University Press, 1952).   In analyzing the results of this survey based on responses from 2,395  public library staff members, Bryan not only provided benchmark data, but also documented the unfairness of the dual career structure in a field where ninety-two percent of the public librarians were female, but directorships of major public libraries nearly always went to men.   Keenly aware of the barriers that still faced professional women of her generation, Bryan systematically  attempted to advance her own career by  obtaining impeccable educational credentials (she held three degrees in psychology  from Columbia University as well as a master's in library science from the University of Chicago).   She also drew attention to discrimination  against women in psychology and librarianship, and through her writing and activism, attempted to promote equal opportunities for women.   As a result, she was considered a role model to younger women in both fields.    After Bryan's death, Phyllis Dain, a former student and colleague at SLS, wrote: "As a professional woman.Alice Bryan stood for something very precious -intellectual integrity and high scholarship. .She was living proof that able women could be tough thinkers, and that they could be scholars and professors and reach the top of their profession." A decade  earlier, two feminist  psychologists, Agnes  O'Connor and Nancy  Felipe Russo, identified Alice Bryan as one of the women "pioneers" who contributed to the growth of American psychology.

"Frances Clarke Sayers (1897-1989)". Dictionary of American Library Biography, Second supplement. ed by  Donald G. Davis, Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2003. pp 192-196.
Frances Clarke Sayers (1897-1989) - An outspoken advocate for excellence in children's literature, Frances Clarke Sayers was also an author, critic, eloquent storyteller, and educator.  Because she played each of these roles with passion and conviction, she became one of the most influential American children's librarians of her generation.  During the first part of her career she was most closely associated with the New York Public Library (NYPL) where she worked from 1918 to 1923 under the dynamic and formidable Anne Carroll Moore, later replacing her as head of children's services at NYPL(1941-52).  Sayers also lectured on children's literature and children's librarianship at many institutions of higher education (including the University of California at Berkeley(UCB)and at Los Angeles(UCLA), Columbia, the University of Michigan, the New School for Social Reseach, and Pratt Institute).  She spent the last years of her academic career at UCLA where she joined the faculty of the library school.  In 1965 she retired to Ojai, California where she continued to write and edit books for children and adults.

Four Lives paper: presented at  Gendering  Library History,  an International conference sponsored by John Moores University and the Association for Research in Popular Fictions. May 15, 1999, Liverpool, England
Four short biographical sketches of women librarians at the turn of the century:  Mary Wright Plummer,  Giulia Sacconi-Ricci,  MSR James, and Marie Pellechet.

Mentoring and Empowerment
"Toward  A  New  Model  of  The  Information Professions:  Embracing  Empowerment." Journal of Education for Library and Information  Science   38 (Fall 1997): 283-302
In redefining the information professions for the twentyfirst century, it is important to consider the core values embraced by these fields and to examine the relationship of professionals to their clients and to other professions. Because other models have failed to take account of professional client interaction, presents a new client centred typology of the professions. Special emphasis is given to the empowering professions (such as psychology, social work, education, and librarianship), which all share the goal of enabling their clients to use knowledge for the purpose of taking control of their own lives. After offering a critique of the unquestioned assumptions and androcentric biases underlying modern theories of professionalization, presents a feminist perspective that validates the ethic of care in professional practice and acknowledges the importance of those professional activities whose goal is to diffuse knowledge, not to guard or control it.
"Women as Visionaries, Mentors and the Agents of Change." in Occasional Papers of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois, no. 196 1994:105-130.
Paper presented in a collection in honour of the Centennial of the Illinois University at Urbana-Champaign, Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Traces the important role played by women librarians in the development of the professional education for librarians in the period, 1887 to 1923 and the subsequent decline in their influence from this time onwards. From the earliest period, women librarians have acted as mentors to students and colleagues, establishing intergenerational mentoring patterns that, as exemplified by the Illinois University Library School, continue to the present. Examines the role of women in librarianship and professional library education in light of contemporary feminist research with the hope that a truly feminist profession may be realized
Aspirations and Mentoring in an Academic Environment: Women Faculty in Library and Information Science. with Joanne Passet as second author.  Westport, CT:  Greenwood Press, 1994. The overarching goal  of this study is to examine the dynamic social processes and significant relationships, such as mentoring, that have shaped the career goals and aspirations of female library educators.  We also analyze the kinds of mentoring and peer support that enable women to succeed.   In the first phase of the study focus group interviews were conducted with women library educators at three schools in the East, three in the Midwest and two on the West Coast.   We then conducted open-ended  telephone interviews with  a weighted sample of 100 women from all regions of the country.  The book also includes a review of the literature on mentoring and commentary by five prominent library educators.

"Unwritten Rules: Mentoring Women Faculty." with Joanne Passet as second author Library and Information Science Research 15:117-141. (July 1993) abridgment of paper that received the 1992 Jesse Shera Research Award from the ALA Library Research Round Table.
Examines the role of mentoring in the lives of one group of academic women: women faculty in library and information science; during the past 50 years, based on the work of scholars in anthropology, sociology, and women's studies. Written from a feminist's perspective, this qualitative, cross generational study applies the interpretive approach to social science that emphasizes the importance of perceptions, beliefs and values. The lives of these women clearly underscores the value of mentoring and peer support in adjusting to, and advancing within, the academic environment.

Reading, Gender Issues and the Modernization of Libraries in France
Biographical Work

"The Lady and the Antelope: Suzanne Briet's Contribution To The French Documentation Movement."  Library  Trends  53 (Spring 2004)  in press.
During her thirty years at the Bibliothèque Nationale (BN), Suzanne Briet (1894-1989) made important theoretical, organizational, and institutional contributions to the documentation movement in France.  This paper attempts to place her  documentation work within the context of the far-reaching reform of  French libraries, with special attention to the transformation of  the BN.  Like her colleagues in special libraries, Briet embraced modernity and science.  However, because of her strong orientation toward humanistic scholarship, she viewed  documentation service and bibliographic orientation as an enhancement rather than a rejection of  the scholarly traditions  of  the national library.  This paper will focus on her efforts to integrate the innovative ideas of the documentation movement into the practice of librarianship at the Bibliothèque Nationale.

Historical Studies

"Literacy,  Equality and  Community:  Libraries,  Philanthropy, and the Literacy  Movement in Contemporary  France," Libraries & Culture  (Spring, 1996).
Considers the role of voluntary associations in the modern French literacy movement in the context of previous traditions of private sector support for reading and libraries. Deals mainly with the period since World War 2, with an emphasis on the decade and a half from 1977 to 1992 when the contemporary literacy movement got underway. Activities of nonprofit groups are discussed, and their efforts to promote libraries, literacy and reading are categorized according to whether their primary role is seen as that of a catalyst, partner, or provider of services substituting for those not adequately supported by government. The contributions of the groups to the public discourse on literacy is also examined.

"l'Heure Joyeuse, the First Children's Library in France:  Its Contribution to a New Paradigm for Public Libraries." Library Quarterly   63:257 - 281 (July 1993).
L'Heure Joyeuse, the children's library set up in Paris in 1923 as a gift of an American philanthropic group, played a unique role in the transformation of French public library service. Because the establishment of L'Heure Joyeuse preceded the acceptance of the open access, user centred public library in France, the model children's library served as an exemplar of a new paradigm of librarianship. Analyses the way in which the l'Heure Joyeuse was used as a means of testing the viability of adapting the Anglo American approach to public library service in France.



"Americans in France: Cross-Cultural Influence and the Diffusion of Innovations." Journal of Library History   21:315-333 (Spring 1986).
The impact of USA librarianship on the dramatic changes in the philosophy and practice of public librarianship in France from 1900 to 1950 is analysed in terms of specific stages identified in the theory of the diffusion of innovation



"Au service des lecteurs: l'action des premières bibliothécaires francaises." Bulletin d'Information de l'Association des Diplomés de l'Ecole de Bibliothécaires Documentalistes. Numero Special Femmes Bibliothécaires   no. 22:3-16 (Novembre 1983).
Based on a talk given at the alumni association of the school for librarians and documentatists at the Institut Catholique in Paris, this article discusses the important contributions of  the first women to work  as professionals in French libraries.  A number of women assumed significant leadership roles during the period between the two World Wars , but often servered as non-positional leaders who worked closely with their male colleagues most active in the reform and modernization of French public libraries. This special issue of the the journal  also contains interviews with some of the first French women trained at the American Library School in Paris,  including Victorine Verine who discusses her library and book mobile service in Soissons  after  World War I.  
"Women Librarians in France:  The First Generation."  Journal of Library History  18:407-449 (Fall 1983). Winner of the 1981 Justin Winsor Award offered by the Library History Round Table of the American Library Association. 
Contribution to an issue devoted to women in library history: liberating our past. Describes the feminisation of librarianship in France with special emphasis on the period 1890-1914, the position of women in libraries, librarianship as a career and women in research and academic libraries. Argues that a combination of economic, social and cultural factors compelled women to enter the field of librarianship after World War I and also proved conducive to a series of reforms which culminated in a more positive image of librarianship as a profession. Stresses that the reforms were acheived by the combined efforts of men and women. Claims that libraries benefitted in part from the climate of reconstruction following World War I and that the increased opportunities in the period between the wars meant continuing improvement to which women librarians contributed dramatically

WORK IN PROGRESS: American Books in France: Cultural Exchange and Cold War Politics
ABSTRACT  for paper to be presented at SHARP 2004:

Large numbers of  American books were first imported into France by the Library War Service of American Library  Association (ALA) whose goal was to provide reading materials for U.S. troops during  World  War I. In 1919 when ALA offered to give its  25,000 volume library  in Paris to a local board if  funds could be raised for its support, both French and American donors responded enthusiastically to the appeal.  Set up in 1920 under a bi-national board,  the American  Library in Paris soon became a  mecca  for French students,  journalists and scholars as well as the American expatriate community that included writers such as Gertrude Stein and Edith Wharton. Despite considerable hardships, the library  managed to remain open through the German occupation and after the liberation, it once again became an active literary center. The post-war period also witnessed a renaissance of  French interest in the U.S., and  brought new  readers eager to find works on American science and technology as well as literature and culture. To meet these needs, the library's nonfiction collections were greatly expanded through a unique partnership with the U.S. government--first with the European Co-operation Administration, and after 1953, with the United States Information Agency (USIA).  In addition, USIA set up its own library in Paris,  subsidized branch libraries in the provinces, established a book translation program, and made numerous gifts of books to individuals and institutions.

The goal of this study is to analyze the changing role of American books in France from the 1920s through 1960s--when massive budget cuts at USIA curtailed activities and forced the closing of most of the branches set up outside Paris.  During the height of  the Cold War, when  anti-American sentiments were frequently expressed by Parisian intellectuals,  there were also numerous  French students, scholars, and scientists who were vitally interested in the United States.   Drawing on oral interviews as well as archival research in France and the U. S.,  this  study  will contribute  to understanding American cultural relationships with France,  and will  offer an assessment  of  role of  books in cultural exchange between the two countries.

Libraries and Librarianship in Africa
Libraries in Senegal:  Continuity and Change in an Emerging Nation. Chicago, American Library Association, 1981, p. 280.
Areas covered include: Earliest French libraries; West African libraries and archives; Popular libraries, archives and scientific documentation; Library development during the transitional years; Independence: new uses of the past; Senegalese cultural goals and general libraries.
"Books and Libraries  as  Instruments of Cultural  Diplomacy In Francophone Africa During  the Cold  War." Libraries & Culture 36 (Winter 2001):58-86.
Contribution to an issue devoted to the proceedings of an international conference 'Books, libraries, reading, and publishing in the Cold War' (Paris, Jun 1998), organized by the IFLA Round Table on Library History. Analyzes and compares British, French and American book related programmes in cultural diplomacy offensives directed at Francophone Africa during the Cold War. Starting with antecedents and early history of the power of books as weapons, pays particular attention to Senegal, examining themes of book donations, book exports and translation programmes, as well as library institutes and concomitant collection bias.
"Library Research and Publishing in Francophone Africa." IFLA Journal 13:45-53 (January 1987).
Surveys the development of library research and publishing in francophone Africa from 1954 to the present. The formation of new library associations and their publications, the journals of library schools, and the student journals are covered. Covers the problems and potential of publishing in Africa and makes several recommendations for its development.
"The Role of External Aid in West African Library Development." Library Quarterly  54:1-16 (January 1986).
International agencies, bilateral assistance programmes, individual institutions, and philanthropic foundations have contributed to improving West African library service in a variety of ways. 4 basic categories of library aid can be identified, depending on whether outside resources are directed toward: personnel development; collection development; library construction; or multipurpose project. Discusses selected examples of each type of assistance in order to place library assistance projects within the broader context of the relationship between developed countries and the Third World.
"The Colonial Legacy in West African Libraries: A Comparative Analysis." pp. 173-245, in Advances in Librarianship   vol. 12 New York: Academic Press, 1982.
"Libraries for the General Public in French Speaking Africa: Their Cultural Role, 1803 - 1975." Journal of Library History   16:210-225 (Winter 1981).
Paper presented at Library History Seminar VI 'Libraries and Culture', Austin, Texas, 19-22 Mar 80. The cultural role of libraries varies in theory, in practice and in law. Discusses the underlying theory or philosophy of public library service as it evolved in Francophone Africa to the mid-70s. Sections include: Libraries as an antidote to exile, Libraries for extending French culture, and The movement for public libraries.
"The A.O.F. Archives and the Study of African History." Bulletin de l'Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire, Série B 42 (1980): 277-298.
Provides a  historical overview of the development of the archives for the federation of colonies known as French West Africa.

(back to top)