- Thomas Bodley (1545-1613, England)
Founded the Bodleian, and made it the first depository library; pioneering fundraiser.
Superpower: Secret diplomatic missions to France.
- Antonio Panizzi (1797-1879, England)
As head librarian at the British Museum, doubled its collection and designed its iconic reading room. Devised and implemented a new cataloging code. Advocated for the public’s right to learn. Knighted for his service as a librarian. Termed the “Prince of Librarians.”
Superpower: Drama: was tried in absentia for subversive political activism in Italy, committed to death, and sent the bill for his hanging (he refused to pay; Italy later made him a senator); feuded with his trustees; popular with the ladies…
- Gottfried van Swieten (1733–1803, Netherlands/Austria)
Longtime prefect of the Imperial Library in Vienna. In 1780 introduced the first card catalog.
Superpower: Music patronage, notably of Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven.
- Vespasiano da Bisticci (1421–1498, Italy)
Provided catalogs, books, and advice to library founders; collected and organized the Duke of Urbino’s library.
Superpower: Luddism: disliked the emerging printing press, despite having written 300 biographies.
- Paul Otlet (1868–1944, Belgium)
Essayist on information science. Created the Universal Decimal Classification, a faceted adaptation of Dewey, and introduced 3×5 index cards to European card catalogs. Organized the Universal Bibliography Repository, with 15 million facts on index cards, used to answer reference questions by mail. Early adopter of new media.
- James Bain (1842–1908, England/Canada)
First chief librarian of the Toronto Public Library. Advocated for inclusion of fiction in the collection, despite controversy; also sought comprehensive coverage of Canadian history and literature. Founding member of the Ontario Library Association.
- Gottfried Leibniz (1646–1716, Germany)
As head of various ducal libraries in Germany, independently re-invented book indexing; called (unsuccessfully, but well ahead of his time) for publishers to distribute abstracts of their new books; helped design what may be the first building specifically intended as a library.
Superpower: Mathematics: is best known as one of the inventors of calculus.
- Gerdina Hendrika Kurtz (1899–1989, Netherlands)
Appointed as Haarlem city archivist despite legal and social pressure against female employment; wrote a book on the history of the city archives; hid Jewish groups’ archives during World War II.
Superpower: Documentary photography, recording the history of German-occupied Haarlem.
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