In the latest issue of Cilip’s Library + Information Gazette (11-24 July 2008), LoL found, on page 5, an article she was very pleased about. Under the heading “History Today?”, Rob Westwood demands that “Library History should make a return to the curriculum”. Because the history of our profession makes us understand the future of it better. Westwood argues that “the time of excessive change” of our profession is by now means new or unique. Looking back in the history of libraries, one finds that they are rather “constantly in a state of developmental flux”:
With our hands on this balustrade we would see that there is no particular threat from a rise of ‘leisure industries’ and that HTML should be no more feared or adored than the scroll, the codex, the videotape or anything else one might label as a ‘paradigm shift’.
As librarians, we can only profit by knowing our own professional history: “A knowledge of Library History makes librarianship exciting and consequently contribues to the dynamism and importance of our service”.
Yes, LoL finds library history also very exciting and has already complained about the fact, that it is no longer taught at library schools on this blog, some time ago (see post). And therefore, she wholeheartedly supports Rob Westwood’s claim:
Bring Library History back to library school. It deserves its own module and not to be crowbarred into existing classes. A healthy understanding of our history can only lead to a healthy design for our future.
As a start, why not read Jochum’s Kleine Bibliotheksgeschichte or Edward Miller’s Prince of Librarians. The Life and Times of Antonio Panizzi of the British Museum, which LoL has just added to her LibraryThing library (yes, she’s warming up to that one 🙂 ) .