Food for thought on "Apostles of Culture"
Sources and Evidence
Pawley outlines two criticisms of “Apostles of Culture” as generalizing from a sample of only eight women and the overuse of library leader ideas as expressed in library literature (xxii). The criticisms outlined by Pawley led me to think about issues related to evidence and sources utilized by Garrison. First there is the issue of citation omissions. On page 145 the third paragraph has what appears to be a direct quotation from Dewey that is not linked to a citation. In another case Garrison says “As late as 1893 children under the age of twelve were barred from almost half the large public libraries in the nation” (p.207) but does not cite a source. On page 224 Garrison provides many library statistics but does not cite them to a specific location in a source. Do these omissions indicate a larger problem in Garrison’s ability to cite sources or are they insignificant and should be ignored? Another related evidence and source criticism focuses on the use of sources.
Following on the critics Pawley cites about the use of library literature, as a major source is the case on page 194 where Garrison discusses the popular view of librarians in 1860 and 1900. These popular views are interesting in themselves but following the notes one finds that both of the descriptions of librarians come from various articles published in Library Journal. Is Library Journal the best source to demonstrate the “popular concept” of a librarian? If Library Journal is a good source what makes this the case? If not, what other source would be more convincing?
East and West
Statistics about the number libraries appear thought the book provide insights into the development of libraries over time and seems to suggest that many of the early libraries appeared on the East Coast. There seems to be a possible issue of difference between library development in the East and the West of the United States. Garrison points out “Less predictable, however is the degree of dominance New Englanders enjoyed in the highest levels of library leadership. Sixth-four per cent of the selected library leaders of 1885 were of New England birth, 34 percent from Massachusetts alone” (p.17). Does this suggest a possible problem of bias in the selected librarians reviewed or could it be argued that the library leaders selected comprised a representative sample?
In other parts of the book Garrison says, “The shift from the genteel East to a more democratic West was symbolized in another way in 1895, for the annual conference was held in Dana’s home city of Denver” (p.95); and “Dana found sympathetic listeners among those librarians who were farthest west from Boston” (p.96). Do these quotations seem to suggest a larger East and West difference that might have played a role in library development?
In the use of language Garrison at times uses clear and evocative language and in other places uses language in potentially troubling ways. Some examples include:
“One can safely assume …” (p.21).
“Windsor, along with Melvil Dewey at Columbia University, led a revolution in library practice that transformed the university library from a repository of knowledge to a workshop for scholars” (p. 25).
“During his [Charles Ammi Cutter] eight years at the Harvard Library he married a young library assistant, probably the first woman to be employed in the Harvard cataloging section, and quickly sired three children” (p.32).
Are their any judgments or criticisms we should draw from such examples? If so, what can we conclude?