Once upon a time, not-so-little boys and girls in this area who dreamt of becoming librarians would have been directed to apply to The Graduate Library School (GLS) of The University of Chicago, if, you know, they had good enough grades to get in and enough money to pay for it. However, it closed in 1989.
In 1926, the Carnegie Corporation provided $1,000,000 to establish The Graduate Library School at The University of Chicago. This came in response to a 1923 report sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation, Training for Librarianship, by Charles C. Williamson. In 1927, George A. Works, author of College and University Problems, became the first Dean of the Graduate Library School.
Mary Jo Lynch, then Director of the Office for Research at the American Library Association (ALA), wrote in the Spring, 1984 issue of Library Trends that in a 1929 speech before the Chicago Library Club, Works explained, “The Board of Education for librarianship has applied the term ‘graduate school’ to any library school requiring college graduation on the part of those seeking admission. From a certain viewpoint, this is undoubtedly a legitimate use of the term. It is, however, a connotation different from that which the word commonly has in university circles. Graduate work means research, and research means extension of the boundaries of knowledge ….Manifestly, this is a very different objective from those that actuated the existing graduate schools as defined by the Board of Education for librarianship. Those schools are primarily concerned with passing on to their students a body of principles and practices that have been found useful in the conduct of libraries. The authorities of the University of Chicago were not interested in the establishment of a school of that type. They were interested in a library school only if it were to be a graduate school in the sense that its primary objective was the extension of the boundaries of knowledge relating to libraries and librarianship.”
In 1928, the GLS began to admit students into its doctoral program – the first doctoral program in library science offered in the U.S. The first person to receive a Ph.D. in library science from the GLS was Eleanor Upton in 1930. Her dissertation was “A Guide to 17th Century Materials in the Reports of the Historical Manuscripts Commission of Great Britain to Date.”
In 1929, Works resigned as dean. According to Mary Jo Lynch, this was at least in part because he faced a great deal of “opposition in the field” in implementing the Carnegie Corporation’s vision of a library graduate school. She cited John V. Richardson, Junior’s The Spirit of Inquiry: The Graduate Library School at Chicago, 1921-51, which was published by theALA in 1982.
In 1932, Louis Round Wilson (1876-1979) was appointed Dean of the Graduate Library School. Wilson was a librarian and philologist who had established his reputation as Librarian of and Professor of German at the University of North Carolina (UNC). He increased the collection at the UNC Library by more than six-fold between 1901 and 1932 and established the University of North Carolina Press in 1922. He retired as dean in ’42 and returned to Chapel Hill, where he wrote The University of North Carolina: 1900-1930: The Making of a Modern University.
Wilson’s students at the University of Chicago went on to become head librarians at a number of important institutions. In a 1999 article in American Libraries, Wilson was named “100 of the most important leaders we had in the 20th century.”
In 1931, the GLS began publication of The Library Quarterly, financed, in part, by the Carnegie Foundation.The Library Quarterly was meant to be a “journal of investigation and discussion in the field of library science.”
Zena Bailey Sutherland (1915-2002) was a faculty member at the GLS and editor of the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books from 1958 to 1985. She reviewed over 30,000 children’s books for the Bulletin and as Children’s Book Editor for the Saturday Review and the Chicago Tribune. She authored six editions of Children and Books.
“The Zena Bailey Sutherland Papers 1953-2003” archival collection occupies sixteen linear feet (32 boxes) at the University of Chicago Archives. The repository is the Special Collections Research Center of the University of Chicago Library. “The University of Chicago Graduate Library School Records 1928-1979” archival collection occupies 6.5 linear feet (13 boxes) at the Special Collections Research Center. “The Library Quarterly Records 1931-1945” archival collection occupies 5.5 linear feet (11 boxes) at the Special Collections Research Center.
The University of Chicago Library is actively seeking alumni of the GLS. They have an upcoming event in the Harold Washington Library Center’s Winter Garden in March. Eric Halvorson, AM ’75, is the volunteer “class correspondent” of the GLS Newsletter, but as far as I can tell the last issue was in spring of 2009.