Swoboda, Marian J.; Roberts, Audrey J. / Wisconsin women, graduate school, and the professions
Chapter 3: Women's contributions to the library school: 1895-1939, pp. 21-27 ff.
3. Women's Contributions to the Library School: 1895-1939 by Valmai Fenster In 1895 the University of Wisconsin-Madison inaugurated a summer course for library workers which became the basis for the full-time library school that was founded in 1906.1 This school provided important oppor- tunities for Wisconsin women because it opened librarianship as a field of professional endeavor during a period when very few other professions welcomed their membership. Indeed, between 1895-1939, over ninety-six percent of the students were women. Their contributions were a significant factor in the establishment and development of Wisconsin's library services, since the Free Library Commission, which administered the school during this time, used the program for library development throughout the state. During the final decade of the nineteenth century, library development in Wisconsin was hindered because of the lack of trained librarians. The state's small rural institutions relied on ser'ice from local women who were often untrained in library management. The nearest full-time library school was at the Armour Institute in Chicago, but it was expensive and many women could not afford the time or the money required to complete such a course. In 1895 a summer school was begun in Madison to train library workers. By 1905, 384 students, over ninety-five percent of whom were women, had attended the school.3 Its influence had reached far beyond the boundaries of Wisconsin, since forty-five percent of the students came from elsewhere in the United. States. This summer program was not considered the equivalent of the full-time schools, for it offered only a six-week course in library methods.4 Under the direction of Katharine L. Sharp (a young protege of Melvil Dewey) and Cor- nelia Marvin, her former student, the school trained workers to improve the organization of Wisconsin's small public and school libraries. Anna McDonnell of the Kellogg Public Library, Green Bay, remarked of her 1896 training that it filled up and rounded out her knowledge.5 So successful were the results of this summer school that, in 1905, Sena- tor J. H. Stout introduced a bill in the legislature which brought an appropria- tion to the Free Library Commission for the establishment of a full-time school. Founded in 1906, this was the ninth library school in the nation. The professed object of its program was to prepare librarians for general service, but the Commission's primary aim was to train students for the competent organization and administration of the state's small public libraries, most of which contained between four and eight -thousand volumes.6 Although the school gave preference to Wisconsin applicants, when vacancies occurred, students were often accepted from other states. In the years before World War II, the latter group represented 56 percent of all students. Mary Emogene Hazeltine, a graduate of Wellesley and a distinguished public librarian from Jamestown, New York, was appointed to head the new school. By 1909 a joint course with the university was established whereby stu- dents might take the school's program in their senior year and credit it 21
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