Showing posts with label Carnegie library history. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Carnegie library history. Show all posts

Saturday, October 14, 2017

PHOTO ESSAY ON ONTARIO'S EDWARDIAN PUBLIC LIBRARIES (1989)

An illustrated address I originally gave at the Canadian Library Association library history interest group session at Edmonton in June 1989. Thanks to Pearl Milne, University of Guelph Library, for her digital assistance with these photographs.

Photographs can be used in historical accounts for many different purposes. Often, they serve to illustrate the reality a writer wishes to capture, an effective and time-honoured technique. But they also may be used in their own right, not just as adjuncts to the literary record, but as original sources. Images are part of a broader methodological trend, one that has historians utilizing many non-traditional sources both to establish information about people, places, and events, or to develop new lines of inquiry. Of course, visual history is not new in itself, what has changed in the past twenty years is that more rigorous use of photographs as historical sources has evolved.

Uxbridge Library, c 1887
Historical photographs are being used now in a variety of critical ways in research and teaching.(1) In some cases, they may establish or verify facts, an important consideration when traditional documents are lacking or present discrepancies. Visual histories depicting social or cultural values of an era or place are becoming more frequent; in these works, photographs frequently help to determine the text which may be supplemented by other resources. Sometimes, photographs can be used to reinforce historical interpretations shaped with other source materials. In library history all these photographic dimensions can be employed when different aspects concerning the history of public libraries are analyzed or narrated.(2)

Many photographs pertaining to library history exist at local libraries, museums, and archives across Ontario. Although there is no comprehensive catalogue or index to holdings, they can be as valuable as surviving textual sources because they can be used to formulate new ideas about libraries or to reinterpret a period. For instance, historical works frequently refer to the four decades between 1880 and 1920 as "Victorian" or "Edwardian" or as a "Progressive Era." This period is normally characterized as one of growth and progress for Ontario public libraries, an expansive theme culminating in the revised Public Libraries Act of 1920. Like most eras, the years between 1880-1920 were ones of transition for libraries, a view confirmed by many photographs.

By 1914, distinctively modernist trends were emerging in Ontario's libraries; the Victorian synthesis of ideas and methods common to mechanics' institutes and their immediate successors, free libraries, was giving way to modern trends. Simply put, the public library in the first decade of the twentieth century was modifying its functions and assuming additional roles in society, a process allowing it to serve more people and redefine its character as "modern" at a time when Modernism, a conscious cultural rejection of the past by twentieth century artists and scientists, was beginning to sweep western nations. At the same time, Ontario was becoming an urban province directed by new values. Historical photographs of libraries help indicate the extent of these fundamental changes.
1 - Toronto Mechanics' Institute

Victorian Heritage

In the Edwardian era there was a mixture of old and new in many Ontario libraries, particularly in cities. The physical reminder of mechanics' institutes, a symbol of nineteenth-century ideals, survived in a few places, notably Toronto where the old institute building, built in the Italian Renaissance style of the 1850s at considerable cost, lingered on, first as an undersized central library, then, after the larger reference library opened on College Street in 1909, as a community branch at the intersection of Church and Adelaide. It finally closed its doors just before the Great Depression.

2 - Toronto Church St. Branch, 1924
Other pre-Carnegie structures, specially commissioned as free libraries, existed in larger centres at Hamilton and London. London's library, designed by the local architect Herbert Matthews in 1895, reflected the popularity of eclectic exteriors, in this case a Romanesque facade with conical towers, rounded arches, and smooth-faced red brick cladding. It was a late-Victorian revival style that imparted a sense of permanence and strength, solid qualities most communities were anxious to express in the educational facilities they were striving to build at this time.


3 - London Public Library
4 - Hamilton Public Library, c.1905
Interiors of Victorian free libraries were usually spartan: for example, in Hamilton, a building completed at a cost of about $45,000 in 1890, furnishings in the reference section, general reading room, and ladies' reading room were basic staples. These rooms flanked a main corridor leading to a large counter behind which stretched a closed stack room capable of accommodating 50,000 books. The separate reading area for women was a fashionable (and space consuming) fin-de-siecle enhancement that recognized the increasing number of women registering as borrowers. Children under 16 years were less fortunate; generally, they were denied borrowing privileges. In this respect Hamilton's library, led by Richard Lancefield, was relatively liberal; its board began to lower the age restriction for children before 1900. Children's rooms and storytelling would be future projects.

6 - Claremont Library, c.1895
5 - Dundas Library, c.1896
In the smaller communities throughout rural Ontario, libraries had to make do with more modest resources: rented offices, donated property or rooms, or combined business quarters. The small, one-room, subscription library managed by volunteers and part-time staff was commonplace. For instance, at Dundas the library occupied part of the old Elgin House block on busy King Street. In the police village of Claremont, the library operated from a commercial storefront for several years under the guidance of the incumbent shoemaker-librarian, Mr. James Jobbitt, who resigned in 1903.

7 - Streetsville Library
At Streetsville, affairs were more upscale. In 1901 the board of management received a gift comprising part of a small frame commercial building. It converted the space into a serviceable one-room library housed with a jewelry shop. Streetsville was considered advanced by small town Ontario standards: it operated on a free basis without an age limitation for children, possessed a card catalogue, and used the decimal classification system at a time when the Education Department still clung to an outdated class system adapted from mechanics' institutes.

Edwardian Progress

Sarnia Library, c. 1903 
When Carnegie grants became readily available, architects, trustees, and workers began transforming the organization of interior space and the interrelationships between staff and patrons. Improved functions, programs, and arrangements for access were under active development between 1900-10: there were larger branch libraries, children's services, improved reference service, better classification and cataloging schemes, and open access to collections. The familiar Victorian free library conventions--the emphasis on physical custody of books, on printed catalogues for holdings, and on public reading rooms; the use of indicators (a British practice) for circulation status in lending departments; and a desire to offer lectures or evening classes for the technical education of working classes--was ebbing. Libraries were changing their methods, expanding the scope of their public services, and re-evaluating their connections with another developing field, adult education. The modern public library as we know it today was emerging.

8 - Laying Toronto Reference Cornerstone
Carnegie gifts to local communities for library buildings not only attracted public attention at openings and the laying of cornerstones but also stimulated rhetoric about the merit of libraries. The Globe covered one Toronto ceremony, presided over by Ontario's Lieutenant-Governor and Chief Justice William G. Falconbridge, the board chairman, on 27 November 1906:
His Lordship stated that there was no question in this day of the value of free libraries to communities. The objection that a preponderating number of works of fiction circulated through a free library, instead of more solid reading, was not a serious objection in the mind of the Chief Justice, who admitted that he was no enemy to novel reading. . . .
10 - Free Public Library, Belleville, 1911
The box deposited in the corner-stone contained, among other things, a catalogue of the central circulating library, copies of the Toronto daily papers, Canadian coins, and a scroll containing names of those directly interested in its construction. This type of ceremony was re-enacted on many occasions during the Carnegie years. Sometimes a benefaction other than Carnegie's was invoked, for example at Belleville, Henry Corby, a Conservative member of Parliament, donated money for a library which opened January 1908 in the remodelled Merchants' Bank building.

9 -  Berlin Library, c.1905
11 - St. Thomas Library, c.1905
After 1900, the interior organization and services of libraries began to change dramatically. At Berlin (now Kitchener), the traditional plan of housing a stack room behind a barrier surmounted by grill work and railing originally was followed, but later the board decided to permit open access to the collection except for fiction. A special area set off for children and use of the decimal classification were enterprising steps here. The same rationale about safeguarded free access to all books except works of fiction also applied at St. Thomas. The interior here was more ornate: classical busts and handsome wood columns graced the main corridor leading to the circulation desk, the reading room directly across from it, and the reference section at the end of the hall.

12 - Sarnia interior, c.1905
Sarnia's library was constructed along similar lines, but here the board adopted unrestricted access to all books, a bold move in 1903, although the building design easily allowed this measure. The board was fortunate to employ Patricia Spereman, who developed children's services and conducted story hours. She had trained in librarianship at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and became a pioneer in children's work in Ontario and Canada.

13  Sarnia Story Hour, 1907
14 - Guelph Public Library, c.1905
Carnegie exteriors were celebrated (or detested) for their Beaux Arts style featurin-g classical columns, steps, porticos, and domes. It was an exuberant style with classical lines and elements that promoted civic grandeur even in smaller cities which served as markets for the surrounding rural populace. Guelph's library was an Ontario leader in these regards and noted for its lack of functional interior space. However, some architects were influenced by local factors. In Cornwall, where a significant French-speaking community existed, a French chateau appearance was conveyed by the entrance, roof, and small corner tower.

15 - Cornwall Public Library ,1906
Some architects were able to use Beaux Arts features in a restrained fashion; perhaps the most capable was Alfred H. Chapman, who in association with Wickson and Gregg, designed Toronto's reference library on the corner of College and St. George streets at a cost of more than $250,000. This two-storey structure featured large windows flanked by Corinthian pilasters, soft yellow brick, and main entrance set off to one side. By the standards of the day and even during the bleakness of the Great War, it was an approachable "people place."


16 - Toronto Reference Library, 1915

* * * * *
In the years immediately preceding the First World War, therefore, Ontario's public libraries went through unprecedented change. The assumptions and characteristics common to Victorian free libraries--an adult clientele, priority on the safekeeping of books, limited services for users, systems of retrieval based on printed catalogues and indicators, classification and cataloguing systems that applied subject categories and accessioning practice developed in mechanics' institutes, and revival architectural styles--were being challenged and supplanted. The pace of change obviously had quickened in Edwardian Ontario, but faith in the library's contribution to societal progress, a belief that eventual improvements in society would ensue by assisting personal initiatives and stimulating their success, was unshaken. The service ethic became the most important constant in this era, a powerful rationale that spurred new library developments in a society that prized individual effort and public duty.

It is difficult to convey the spirit of any era or activity, but a review of pictures in this brief photo study reveals that it was time for libraries and librarians to look ahead, to question old views and methods, and to adopt fresh ideas.

PICTURE CAPTIONS AND CREDITS
 
Assistance with digitizing these photographs was kindly rendered by Pearl Milne of the University of Guelph Library.

Fig.1 The Toronto Mechanics' Institute before 1884 [AO, S-1178].
Fig. 2 An old Toronto library: the Church street branch, 8 Feb. 1924 [NAC,PA-86436].
Fig. 3 London Public Library, n.d. [NAC, PA-32789].
Fig. 4 View of Hamilton Public Library interior, c.1905 [AO, S-2042].
Fig. 5 Public library at Dundas, c.1896 [AO, S-6934].
Fig. 6 Palmer & Jobbitt store-library at Claremont, c.1895/1903 [AO, S-13475].
Fig. 7 Streetsville's new library, n.d. [AO, S-16035].
Fig. 8 Chief Justice Falconbridge laying the cornerstone of the public reference library in Toronto [AO, S-1252].
Fig. 9 Free Public Library, Belleville, 1911 [NAC, C-21464].
Fig. 10 Berlin Public Library interior, c.1905 [AO, S-2044].
Fig. 11 Central corridor of St. Thomas Public Library, c.1905 [AO, S-2055].
Fig. 12 Lending desk and stack room at Sarnia, c.1905 [AO, S-2057].
Fig. 13 After the Story Hour, 2 March 1907 [AO, S-2058].
Fig. 14 Sham pillars: Guelph Public Library, c.1905 [AO, S-2035].
Fig. 15 Cornwall Public Library, 20 Oct. 1906 [AO, S-2032].
Fig. 16 Toronto Reference Library at 214 College Street, 13 March 1915 [NAC, PA-61384].

AO: Archives of Ontario
NAC: National Archives of Canada
NOTES

1. For discussions on the use of photographs see:
Carol E. Hoffecker, "The Emergence of a Genre: the Urban Pictorial History," Public Historian, 5 (4) 1983: 37-48;
Walter Rundell, Jr, "Photographs as Historical Evidence: Early Texas Oil," American Archivist 41 (4) 1978: 373-398;
Stuart T. Miller, "The Value of Photographs as Historical Evidence," Local Historian 15 (8) 1983: 468-473;
Timothy J. Crimmins, "Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words? Illustrated Urban Histories," Journal of Urban History 13 (1) 1986: 82-91; and
W. Gillies Ross, "The Use and Misuse of Historical Photographs: A Case Study from Hudson Bay, Canada," Arctic Anthropology 27 (2) 1990: 93-112.
For library applications see Boyd Childress, "Library History, University History, and Photographic History: Some Considerations for Research," Journal of Library History 22 (1) 1987: 70-84.

2. Recent Canadian works include:
Margaret Beckman, John Black and Stephen Langmead, "Carnegie Libraries in Canada," Canadian Library Journal 38(6) 1981: 386-390 and The Best Gift; a Record of Carnegie Libraries in Ontario (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1983);
David R. Conn and Barry McCallum, "Heritage to Hi-Tech; Evolution of Image and Function in Canadian Public Library Buildings," in Peter F. McNally (ed.), Readings in Canadian Library History (Ottawa: Canadian Library Association, 1986), pp. 123-149;
Margaret Penman, A Century of Service; Toronto Public Library 1883-1983 (Toronto: Toronto Public Library, 1983); and
Barbara Myrvold, "The First Hundred Years: Toronto Public Library 1883-1983," in McNally, Readings , pp. 65-79.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Review—Libraries in the Life of the Canadian Nation (1946) compiled by Canadian Library Council, Inc.

Libraries in the Life of the Canadian Nation. Part I, Public Libraries: An Interim Report Presented to the Organizational Conference of the Canadian Library Association by the Canadian Library Council, Inc., June, 1946. Canadian Library Council, 107 p.

At the end of the Second World War the pattern of public library service in Canada varied tremendously--from the acclaimed Toronto Public Library, a North American leader in services and collections, to cities such as Fredericton and Quebec City that had no municipally supported service. Halifax had a room in a municipal building. In Manitoba, only Winnipeg and Brandon had a tax-supported library. Estimates varied, but across the country, almost 10% of people living in cities, about 60% living in towns and villages, and about 95% living in rural areas were without direct library service. To remedy the situation, the newly formed Canadian Library Council, Inc. (CLC), developed a survey to ask all libraries about their community services. The result, Libraries in the Life of the Canadian Nation, pointed the way to postwar planning by cooperatively planning services on a regional basis in many rural areas where there were no libraries or by federating small services (especially the ubiquitous 'association public library') that could not develop effective, expanded, progressive library services.

The CLC had been formed to create a Canadian library association across the nation, a bilingual organization that would proselytize a course of action to develop library services and advocate for a National Library in Ottawa. To this end, its small, capable executive, led by Margaret Gill from the National Research Council, Ottawa, organized a national meeting at McMaster University in June 1946 to rally librarians, trustees, administrators, adult educators, school authorities, and anyone interested in books and media.

We meet in Hamilton in June, 1946, to consider 'libraries in the life of the Canadian nation' at a conference called to organize a Canadian Library Association [CLA]. It is to be hoped that from the decisions of this gathering will come a policy of realistic and courageous nation-wide promotion of effective library service through public, university, school, special and government libraries, not overlooking the establishment of a national library.

Libraries in the Life of the Canadian Nation provided the basis for the newly minted CLA to advance its ideas in briefs to provincial and federal governments in the immediate years after 1945. Today, many decades later, the report's information serves to remind us that libraries were present in their communities in many ways through community cooperation in the first part of the 20th century. The range of groups allied with libraries was diverse and extensive. The types of services, of course, depended on local funding, donations, or limited provincial grants. A small sample of the report's replies gives an impression of the state of public library service and interaction with community life and agencies from west to east:

New Westminster: "The University Women's Club has, for a number of years, donated about $30.00 worth of books to the Boys' and Girls' Department. Of recent years this gift has been to the Young Moderns' Alcove. The books are chosen by the Children's Librarian and bear a special book plate."

Calgary: ". . . has its teen-age groups divided into 2 sections, Junior High School and Senior High School or Young Adults. There is a librarian in charge of the library work with this first section who spends full time on the work. Grades 7 to 9 are served--they have a separate room know as the John Buchan Room. A librarian spends part-time on the work with the young adults, grades 10 to 12. This section has an alcove in the circulation department know as "The Corral."

Regina: ". . . provides information, catalogues, etc., about education and documentary film: it also provides loan of films but not preview facilities. Films as part of the regular library programme is used for special subject display. The library provides collections of photographs, but not of lantern slides, films strips, photostats or microfilm. The library does not have a reading machine or a film projector. Copies of its materials are provided by typescript."

Manitoba libraries under 5,000 population: "Only 1 (Gimli Icelandic Library) is housed in a separate building. 1 has a room (125 feet of shelf space) in the post office and Red Cross building. . . .6 are in need of larger quarters. Kenton, Gypsumville and Shoal Lake hope to build community halls (the latter 2 as [war] memorials) which will house the library. Langruth hopes to have a municipal building in which the library will be located. Neepawa has plans to take over the room used by the Red Cross when that organization finishes with it."

Toronto: "Two radio programmes. 'Stories for You'--Sundays, 5 o'clock, CJBC, since Jan. 1945. 'Junior Story Period'--sponsored by Dept. of Education, during Fall terms, 1944, 1945. 'One of our most rapidly growing projects is our service to parents of pre-school age children. Hundred of parents take advantage of this service every week.'
Toronto Beaches branch: "An active drama organization. Professional and student concerts. Co-operation in the field of music."

Montreal Children's Library: ". . . public relations--talks, articles, radio programmes, displays, etc.--have been an important part of the work of Committee and Librarian in an effort to make citizens more conscious of the value of libraries and their lack in this city. We were started as a 'demonstration'."

Moncton and Saint John: "Both have a Friends of the Library group and Saint John has held open house for the community." . . .Both have a separate reference room, but neither has a reference librarian. Saint John has the following specialized collections: Loyalist biographical material; local and provincial history in scrapbook form; Maritime history in manuscript (typewritten)."

Reserve Mines: "This is a small library mainly supported by our Co-operative Institutions--with a modern equipped School Library branch in the school building. The librarian is a graduate in Library Science. . . . [this library supplies books to] Women's Institutes, Farm Forum Groups, Citizen's Forum Groups, Labor groups, church groups, study clubs, adult education groups."

Prince Edward Island Libraries: ". . . serves 23 community libraries, 4 deposit stations (56 collections loaned to Women's Institutions or community groups during 1945) and 272 schools. They do not give book van service. The library is housed in 3 rooms in Prince of Wales College, Charlottetown. . . . The headquarters library selects and purchases all books and catalogues them. It maintains a central deposit of books to answer reference questions and to supply special requests. . . . Headquarters library assistance with community activities: loan service to [several groups]; talks on the library; book displays at various meetings."

Libraries in the Life of the Canadian Nation documented proactive library work that was happening on a sporadic basis across the country at the end of WW II and it showed what additional roles libraries could play with better organization and financial support. In many ways, the data in this report supported the ideas about library development recommended by the 1933 Commission of Enquiry. Unlike the previous report, issued in the depths of the Great Depression, Libraries appeared during improved national economic circumstances, and, even more importantly, it could used by the newly formed Canadian Library Association to assert its ideas and plans for the future growth of libraries.

Further reading on the Canadian Library Council:


Nora Bateson, Rural Canada Needs Libraries (S.l.: Canadian Library Council, 1944)

Friday, October 21, 2016

THE CARNEGIE CORPORATION ADVISORY GROUP ON CANADIAN COLLEGE LIBRARIES, 1930–35

The history of Canadian university and college libraries remains an understudied subject. To be sure, the "golden age" of rapid expansion of facilities and progressive professional development after 1960 has attracted attention. But, despite decades of interaction between Canada's educated elite (students, administrators, and faculty) and campus libraries and librarians, the period prior to 1960 is mostly the record of individual librarians (usually directors), iconic buildings, and underdeveloped collections. In the general history of all Canadian libraries that emphasizes the public library movement, the Carnegie building program between 1900-25, regional library growth after the 1930s, the postwar formation of the Canadian Library Association (1946) and establishment of the National Library (1953), and the dramatic contrast between library development in Quebec and English-speaking provinces, there seem to be no major events or themes of similar consequence pertaining to libraries in higher education.

In the legacy of Carnegie philanthropy, too, colleges and universities reside outside the usual historiographical library tradition. For example, there was only one Canadian library, Victoria in Toronto, that benefited from Carnegie building grants for university libraries prior to World War I. However, there is one significant period when the Carnegie Corporation of New York contributed significantly to the development of Canadian university and college libraries. During the Great Depression (1932 to 1935), 34 libraries in institutions of higher education shared in book grants totaling $214,800 (approximately $4,000,00 in 2016) as a result of a national (Canada and Newfoundland) examination conducted by an advisory group established by the Corporation. The ways in which the Canadian Advisory Group investigated and inspected potential recipients, evaluated whether they complied with conditions set, and distributed grants typically followed the policies and procedures established by an earlier American Advisory Group funded by the Corporation. Carnegie and university records document how financial aid was awarded and directed to the advancement of undergraduate print collections. Our sources can also be used to study the Canadian group in relation to the role of American philanthropic college library work, attempts by Canadian administrators to adapt library collections and organization to local circumstances, and trends in the improvement of undergraduate library services on a national scale.

You can read my article on this interesting, mostly unknown story and its contribution to the development of Canadian libraries in higher education in the latest fall 2016 issue of Historical Studies in Education/Revue d'histoire de l'éducation. HSE covers all aspects of education, from preschool to university education, informal and formal education, and methodological and historiographical issues.

The Carnegie book program was of short duration. For the first time on a national scale, it drew attention to the need to improve undergraduate library resources and elevate the status of the library in educational institutions. The book grants were tied to the caliber of local library services and looked for a number of effects and results.

  •  to awaken university administrators to the potential of a good library;
  • to provide books required for collateral reading in connection with the courses and materials faculty designated for their own instructional needs;
  • to promote the library more as a service-oriented partner with faculty and less as a passive repository of books;
  • to supply books for voluntary student reading and encouragement of their use;
  • to employ professionally educated librarians to ensure that acquisitions could be easily accessible through proper cataloguing and classification systems;
  • to promote wide-ranging book selection covering all fields of knowledge;
  • to educate students in the use of library resources, thereby better integrating holdings with academic programs.
Of course, there were many different results across Canada. In a few cases, universities reorganized their libraries to more effectively serve students. New undergraduate reading areas (sometimes called junior divisions) were established to house new holdings. A few major careers, e.g. Marjorie Sherlock from Alberta, were begun with the book stimulus program. On the whole, for a period prior to the Second World War the Carnegie program fostered library development in different ways and heightened awareness of the library's potential to undertake new directions that had not previously been in evidence. After 1945, many universities and colleges would revisit the library ideas that were planted in the difficult Depression years.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Review—Libraries in Canada: The Commission of Enquiry (1930-33) and creation of a national perspective on libraries

Libraries in Canada: A Study of Library Conditions and Needs by John Ridington, chair; Mary J. L. Black, and George H. Locke. Toronto: Ryerson Press; and Chicago: American Library Association, 1933. 153 p. index.

In the spring of 1933, thousands of printed copies of Canada's first national survey of libraries were delivered to the offices of newspaper and magazine editors; school and university officials; federal, provincial and municipal politicians; as well as librarians and trustees. It marked the culmination of three years of work by Carnegie-funded commissioners who had traversed Canada in 1930 at the outset of the Great Depression. Led by John Ridington, the chief librarian of the University of British Columbia, the Commission had sought to ascertain the state of Canadian libraries and made recommendations to improve conditions. The three commissioners were primarily interested in public libraries but also included chapters on government and universities and colleges.

How was the report received? What impact did Libraries in Canada have? A case can be made that it influenced library development for many years and was a landmark Canadian study that set a standard for library surveys, reports, briefs, and planning documents in the era before social science techniques and data gathering took hold in library science.

According to one American reviewer in The Library Quarterly, Ridington, Black, and Locke had produced a "human story" about library progress (or lack thereof) and aspirations for future growth that might inspire contemporaries to attain higher standards and to provide a blueprint for planning. A friend of Ridington, Edgar Robinson, noted that "tangible results," in the form of Carnegie funding for a regional demonstration in Prince Edward Island, were already in evidence. Decades later, the Canadian librarian who has provided the most extensive study on the work of the Commission, Basil Stuart-Stubbs, described its report as a "vision document" that spoke to the community at large and realized its vision decades later--the establishment of a national library, regional libraries, improved library legislation, published standards, better funding. Even a national library association, which the commissioners felt impossible to establish in the Depression, would eventually be formed in 1946. None of the commissioners lived to see their ideas become conventional principles: Locke died in 1937, Mary Black in 1939, and Ridington in 1945.

Libraries in Canada (LIC) attracted some modest press and magazine attention in 1933. A Saskatoon Star-Phoenix editorial on March 14th indicated the lowly state of library service in many regions of Canada might come as a shock to those who were comfortable with present service levels. It noted the three basic improvements the Commission advocated: 1) the development of larger administrative units of service or cooperation between urban-rural libraries in regions; 2) the extension of services via branches, bookmobiles, etc; and 3) the need for better trained staff. On March 25th, Toronto Globe lamented that the report offered up a general "discouraging picture" and editorialized that Canadians were "book hungry." Some papers, such as the Montreal Gazette, highlighted comments about local conditions: it reported "Parish Libraries Plan Commended," on March 15th and followed with "[McGill] Library School is Doing Great Work," on March 16th. The April and May issues of the Canadian Bookman and Canadian Forum also commented briefly on the work of the surveyors for their readers.

While explicit "next steps" and tangible results were not immediately forthcoming, the Commissioners' ideas were sketched on a national canvas for the first time. Their work prompted Canadian librarians and educators to rise above parochial thinking. After LIC suggested reduction of postal subsidies for book loans by mail, British Columbia and Ontario librarians reiterated this position in Briefs to the dominion government's study on federal-provincial relations (the Rowell-Sirois Report) a few years later. A special postal "book rate" became reality in 1939 and still exists today. Although LIC admitted formation of a national association was not feasible during the Great Depression, new steps were undertaken to form a national body with support from A.L.A in 1934. Eventually, a national association came into being in 1946. After the Second World War, the concept of regional libraries took hold across the country. The establishment of more library schools and library training in colleges was firmly implanted by the late 1960s. To be sure, many improvements in libraries can be traced backed to LIC, in part because the report was brought to the attention of decision-makers such as Quebec Premier, Louis-Alexandre Taschereau, and the Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King. While the Commission could be faulted for not doing more extensive work on university-college libraries and school libraries, few could argue that the $10,000 Carnegie grant was not well spent.

Further, Libraries in Canada pointed the way to conducting more published analysis on library problems, especially on a geographic basis. Previous studies, especially in British Columbia, had focused mostly on specific provincial concerns. Now a national study unveiled and legitimized ideas -- principles, even -- that could be developed on a broader basis. Studies in the later 1930s such as Nora Bateson's two works, Carnegie Library Demonstration in Prince Edward Island (Charlottetown, 1936) and Library Survey of Nova Scotia (Halifax, 1938); and Norma W. Bennett, Library Service in Saskatchewan (Saskatoon, 1937) benefited greatly from LIC. More than a decade on, another national study by the Canadian Library Council, Libraries in the Life of the Canadian Nation, published at Ottawa in 1946, revisited numerous ideas from the Commission of Enquiry. Many of the subsequent studies began to utilize data gathered on a biennial basis by the Dominion Bureau of Statistics, a resource that LIC neglected. But, by this time, the influence of the initial efforts by Ridington, Black and Locke had taken hold. It was the power of words and ideas rather than explication of numbers and facts that prevailed.

The concluding chapter of Libraries in Canada is available at Libraries Today.

More reading:

Review by Edgar S. Robinson and Harold L. Leupp, Bulletin of the American Library Association 27, 4 (April 1933), 197-198

Review by Clarence B. Lester, Library Quarterly 4, 4 (Oct. 1934), 662-66

Basil Stuart-Stubbs, "1930: the Commissioners' Trail," Feliciter 47, 3 (2001), 140-41

Basil Stuart-Stubbs, "1933: The Commission Speaks," Feliciter 48, 3 (2002), 126-28

Basil Stuart-Stubbs, "1934: CLA Redux . . . Almost," Feliciter 49, 3 (2003), 161-64