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The Library School—Division of Librarianship

Emory University acquired a library school in November 1925, when the Carnegie Library Training School of Atlanta merged with the University. The school itself had grown out of the founding of the Atlanta Public Library with a gift from Andrew Carnegie in 1899. To meet the fledgling library's need for trained staff, a class in apprentice librarianship had been offered at the start. But the demand grew so quickly that by 1904 the class had become the Southern Library School, underwritten by Carnegie to the tune of $4,000 a year for three years. In 1907 the school was incorporated as the Carnegie Library Training School of Atlanta, and Carnegie increased his annual subsidy to $4,500 to keep the school afloat indefinitely. Under the direction of its alumna Tommie Dora Barker ('09LS-'30H), who became director in 1915, the school merged with Emory in 1925.

Classes continued in the library downtown until the school moved to the Asa Griggs Candler Library on the Druid Hills campus in 1930. The Carnegie Corporation and the Julius Rosenwald Fund then gave $50,000 each, to be matched by the University, and Clara Howard, the first woman dean at Emory, was appointed Dean of the Library School of Emory University. With the school's move to Druid Hills, it began accepting men for the first time, and a college degree became the standard for admission.

Accredited in 1926 by the Board of Education for Librarianship of the American Library Association, the school was one of the oldest library schools in the Southeast, offering the degree of bachelor of arts in library science for its postgraduate work. In 1936 Tommie Dora Barker again took charge of the school, first as dean and then, in 1948, as director of the Division of Librarianship when the school became part of Emory's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. That year the bachelor's curriculum was changed to a master's degrees program. Two more division directors would follow Barker—Evalene Jackson, who served from 1954 to 1965, and A. Venable Lawson, who served from 1965 until the division's closing two decades later.

By 1986, technology and economics were beginning to catch up with the Division of Library and Information Science, as it was then called. The national context of training for librarianship had changed dramatically with the advent of new electronic media and the rise of pressing issues of materials preservation, bibliographic control, and records management. Few programs in the country were preparing to address many of these crucial questions, and those making the best run at the problems were doing so in highly interdisciplinary ways. At Emory, meanwhile, the division had become less central to the principal scholarly endeavors of the arts and sciences. After intensive study by a visiting committee, the administration and the trustees determined that it would take the investment of more resources than the University had available to move the division into the first rank of library schools, and in early 1987 the trustees accepted the administration's recommendation to close the division. Emory awarded its last master of library science degrees in 1988.

 


Source:  Hauk, Gary S.  A Legacy of Heart and Mind:  Emory Since 1836.

 

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