Melvil Dewey (1851-1931, USA) Invented the Dewey decimal system. Founding member of Library Journal, the American Library Association, and the first library school (at Columbia). Superpower: Spelling. Er, spelin.
John Cotton Dana (1856-1929, USA) Public library leader who advocated for access and usability: open stacks, broad collections of local relevance, and the first business collection and children’s library room (though he disapproved of storytime). Founding president of the Special Library Association. Superpower: Tibetophilia: as founding director of the Newark Museum, started its internationally notable Tibetan art collection.
Charles Coffin Jewett (1816-1868, USA) Head librarian at Andover Theological Seminary, Brown University, the Smithsonian, and the Boston Public Library. Advocate for alphabetically ordered catalogs enriched with bibliographic information beyond titles, and for a national union catalog. Superpower: Missed connections: had he made the boat he’d intended to, he would have been a missionary instead of a librarian.
Margaret Ridley Charlton (1858-1931, Canada) Medical librarian. Founding secretary of the Medical Library Association. May have studied under Dewey. Superpower: Naming: she ditched her given maiden name in favor of Ridley, honoring an ancestor who’d been burned at the stake.
Charles Ammi Cutter (1837-1903, USA) Cataloging innovator. Created a catalog for Harvard with both an author index and a classed catalog; recataloged the Boston Athenaeum; developed the Expansive Classification, which influenced the Library of Congress system; developed the Cutter number system still in use. Founding director of the Northampton, MA public library, where he instituted bookmobiles, traveling exhibits, and open stacks, and worked closely with children and schools. Also famed for his futuristic article “The Buffalo Public Library in 1983”. Superpower: Brains: he entered Harvard at 14.
Justin Winsor (1831-1897, USA) Noted for his innovative use of library statistics as superintendent of the Boston Public Library. Created bibliographies and enriched the catalog to aid public education. Pushed for branch libraries and more extensive hours. As the Librarian at Harvard, continued to push for accessibility. Founder of ALA and Library Journal. Superpower: History: he was a prolific writer of books and articles on history, some quite influential, and also a founder of the American Historical Association.
Ina Coolbrith (1841-1928, USA) As a public librarian in Oakland, cultivated a warm reading-room atmosphere and was a central figure in literary circles. Used a novel faceted classification scheme. Superpower: Poet laureate of California (the first poet laureate in any state).
Mary Cutler Fairchild (1855-1921, USA)
Hired as a cataloger by Dewey, subsequently taught cataloging professor and was a key administrator when he founded the first library school. Organized the New York state library for the blind. Twice president of the American Library Association. Surveyed the status of women in the profession in 1904; found that, while they were a large percentage of the membership, they lagged in salary and leadership positions. Superpower: Apparently, invisibility. (If you’ve got an image suitable for her I’d love to see it!)