Showing posts with label rural libraries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rural libraries. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

ANGUS MOWAT AND ONTARIO'S RURAL LIBRARIES, 1937-40

Well, after years of research, I have published something on Angus Mowat, Ontario's irrepressible Inspector (later Director) of Public Libraries for three decades. And in the latest issue of Ontario History, a favourite regional journal for professional and local historians alike. The tweet just came out --> Great news! The Spring 2014 issue of ONTARIO HISTORY has been printed and is now available! More info: http://bit.ly/13AA8xu

"An Inspector Calls: Angus Mowat and Ontario's Rural Libraries, 1937-40" Ontario History (Spring 2014, vol. CVI, no. 1) covers a short period just before the Second World War when Mowat began his lengthy career in the Ontario civil service. Mowat was an inspirational voice for public library work during the Great Depression. In 1937, after he became the Inspector of Public Libraries in the Ontario Department of Education, he helped revive spirits and raise service ambitions in smaller libraries. Building on the "modern library" concept popularized after World War I, he re-energized trustees, librarians, and library workers with hundreds of visits to promote local efforts in the immediate prewar period. His inspections encompassed the advisement of trustees on management and financial processes; the promotion of librarianship and staff training; the development of adult and children’s collections; the reorganization of functional building space; the formation of county systems; and support for new school curriculum reading reforms. Mowat’s wide-ranging inspection method not only brought renewed optimism it laid the groundwork for genuine progress in the provincial public library system after 1945.

During the waning depression era, Mowat travelled to all parts of the province encouraging library development and making many friends. Unquestionably, he stimulated thought about enhanced services and helped libraries cope at a critical time. When his army duty (1940-44) ended, he resumed inspections with his usual enthusiasm; however, his term as Inspector ended when he became Director of Public Libraries in 1948. The regime of library inspections lingered into the 1950s, but Mowat’s new title signified his expanded role in advancing provincial policies, financing, and legislation for Ontario’s public library "system." By the time he retired in 1960, a colourful, personal period in Ontario’s public library organization had given way to more systematic, modern administration.

The article covers (1) Depression Era Public Library Service; (2) The Beginning of Inspections in Summer 1937; (3) Library Boards and Trusteeship; (4) Librarianship and Collections; (5) Library Accommodation and Buildings; (6) Library Cooperation; and (7) The End of Inspections in Summer 1940. Mowat's ups and downs in rural Ontario took many turns! Mowat was a library enthusiast for sure -- an administrator with an eye to the irreverent, but always able to cast a serious judgement or offer sage advice when necessary. By the time of his retirement party in 1960 at the Park Plaza, public libraries had undergone many changes and, although he retained many older ideas about how to do things, he was not adverse to try something new.

In recognition of Mowat's efforts, a provincial award, the Angus Mowat Award of Excellence, recognizes a commitment to excellence in the delivery of Ontario public library service. The award is made annually for services that can be old, new, and ongoing.