#libmadness round 2

Voting open now, through midnight Eastern tomorrow.

Some contests I’ve got my eye on: the children’s librarians smackdown (Rollins/Batchelder); cataloger v. cataloger (Dewey/Cutter); and the sword & sandals & scrolls matchup (Eratosthenes/Callimachus).

And also, of course, all of Andy Woodworth’s MARC madness, where voting is now open; once I write this post I’m going to do my bracket & vote for that.

Have at thee!


#libmadness: introducing the Library of Congress brackets

You know, I assumed it would be easiest to find photos for recent librarians. This has turned out not to be the case. Strange. (If you have suitably licensed photos — some of these librarians are quite recently deceased and doubtless some of you knew them — I would love a copy.)

Another note: Wikipedia articles on librarians, especially non-Anglophone librarians, are often incomplete or poorly sourced. (In some cases, there are better articles in other-language wikipediae, and the English one calls for qualified translators.) Surely this is something we librarians can do something about. If you know stuff about library history, or just like editing Wikipedia, have a look! The list of librarians and librarians by nationality pages are good starting points.

And now, the bracket:

Henriette Avram (1919-2006, USA)
Henriette AvramThe “Mother of MARC”; developed the MARC format, advocated for its international adoption, and led Library of Congress automation efforts, overseeing a technical services department of 1,700 employees.
Superpower: Software: she worked as a computer programmer at the NSA before moving into libraries.

E.J. Josey (1924-2009, USA)
Elonnie Junius JoseyHeld numerous library professorships and directorships. Authored a 1964 ALA resolution which prompted state library associations to integrate; became the first black member of the Georgia Library Association. Held numerous ALA offices, including President (1984-5). Prolific author on library issues. Recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees.
Superpower: Civil rights.

Charlemae Hill Rollins (1897-1979, USA)
Longtime head of the Chicago Public Library children’s department, known for her storytelling and outreach. Campaigned for children’s and YA books which fairly depicted black characters. Recipient of numerous awards.
Superpower: Literacy: learned to read by borrowing books from the library of her grandmother, a former slave, and by going to the school her parents established when none of the local (segregated) schools would let her attend.

Arnulfo Trejo (1924-2009, Mexico/USA)
Arnulfo TrejoOne of the first Hispanic librarians in the US. Founding president of REFORMA; active in recruiting Hispanics to librarianship. Founded organizations to provide library education to Hispanics and to sell Spanish-language books.
Superpower: Applied epic poetry. (The idea for REFORMA came from a documentary based on an epic poem.)

Judith Krug (1940-2009, USA)
Judith Krug, Banned Books Read-OutHeld numerous leadership roles in and out of libraryland, including as director of ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom; founder of Banned Books Week and the Freedom to Read Foundation. Fought for privacy and against censorship, the Communications Decency Act, and the Patriot Act.
Superpower: Reading under the covers.

Effie Louise Power (1873-1969, USA)
Influenced children’s librarianship as a librarian, author, speaker, and professor. Created standards for children’s librarianship. Opened the Cleveland Public Library’s first stand-alone children’s room. Proved, contrary to belief at the time, that children do like nonfiction.
Superpower: Literary patronage (of Langston Hughes).

Mildred Batchelder (1901-1998, USA)
Protege of Effie Louise Power and intense advocate of school libraries, where she sought quality facilities, partnerships with public libraries, and racial equality. Supported multicultural literature and non-print collections. The Batchelder Award is named for her.
Superpower: Strong opinions.

Charles Martel (1860-1945, Switzerland/USA)
Led the development of the Library of Congress classification system, based on Cutter’s Expansive Classification (Dewey refused to allow his system to be modified). He later adapted it and the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules to the Vatican’s archives, which he was invited to classify.
Superpower: Conquered Aquitaine and Burgundy; won the Battle of Tours. (…whoops. Wrong Charles Martel.)

#libmadness round 1: let the voting begin (and #marcmadness too!)

Hi, Internet. Sorry I’m behind schedule on the Library of Congress bracket; my daughter’s been sick this morning. If you’re jonesing for more bracketology, do check out Andy Woodworth’s MARC Madness!

I’ll get the LoC bracket up later today. In the meantime, why should ignorance stop anyone from voting? While it has been really interesting to learn about all these awesome librarians, far be it from me to stand between you and your ballot-stuffing.

(If you need a refresher on the competitors’ records in the other three brackets, check out the libmadness archives.)

Vote as often as you like. Campaign for your fave librarian. Enlist your friends! I’ll count votes through midnight (EDT) Sunday.


#libmadness: introducing the BPL bracket

  1. Melvil Dewey (1851-1931, USA)
    melvilInvented the Dewey decimal system. Founding member of Library Journal, the American Library Association, and the first library school (at Columbia).
    Superpower: Spelling. Er, spelin.
  2. John Cotton Dana (1856-1929, USA)
    John Cotton DanaPublic 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.
  3. Charles Coffin Jewett (1816-1868, USA)
    Charles Coffin JewettHead 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.
  4. Margaret Ridley Charlton (1858-1931, Canada)
    Margaret Ridley CharltonMedical 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.
  5. Charles Ammi Cutter (1837-1903, USA)
    Charles Ammi CutterCataloging 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.
  6. Justin Winsor (1831-1897, USA)
    Justin WinsorNoted 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.
  7. Ina Coolbrith (1841-1928, USA)
    Ina CoolbrithAs 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).
  8. 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!)

#libmadness: introducing the Bodleian bracket

  1. Thomas Bodley (1545-1613, England)
    Thomas BodleyFounded the Bodleian, and made it the first depository library; pioneering fundraiser.
    Superpower: Secret diplomatic missions to France.
  2. Antonio Panizzi (1797-1879, England)
    Sir Anthony Panizzi by George Frederic WattsAs 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…
  3. Gottfried van Swieten (1733–1803, Netherlands/Austria)
    Gottfried van SwietenLongtime prefect of the Imperial Library in Vienna. In 1780 introduced the first card catalog.
    Superpower: Music patronage, notably of Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven.
  4. Vespasiano da Bisticci (1421–1498, Italy)
    Monumento onorario a colombo, vespucci e toscanelli dal pozzo, lapidi organo e a vespasiano da bisticciProvided 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.
  5. Paul Otlet (1868–1944, Belgium)
    MundaneumEssayist 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.
    Superpower: Utopianism.
  6. James Bain (1842–1908, England/Canada)
    James Bain, via Toronto Public LibraryFirst 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.
    Superpower: Fundraising.
  7. Gottfried Leibniz (1646–1716, Germany)
    Gottfried LeibnizAs 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.
  8. Gerdina Hendrika Kurtz (1899–1989, Netherlands)
    Gerdina Hendrika KurtzAppointed 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.

#libmadness: introducing the Alexandria bracket

Are you psyched for Library Bracketology? Let’s meet the competitors in the Alexandria bracket!

  1. S.R. Ranganathan (1892-1972, India)
    ranganathan posterCataloger and theorist, noted for his five laws of library science and the colon classification system; considered the father of library science in India.
    Superpower: His entire LIS background before landing his first library job, as a sole university librarian? Reading an encyclopedia article. Oh, yes.
  2. Callimachus (310/305-240 BC, ancient Greek diaspora)
    The Library of AlexandriaCreated the Pinakes, the first library catalogue, for the Library of Alexandria.
    Superpower: Knows far too many words for “goat”.
  3. Eratosthenes (c.276-c.195 BC, ancient Greek diaspora)
    Portrait of EratosthenesThird chief librarian at Alexandria.
    Superpower: Being second-best in the world at everything.
  4. Anastasius Bibliothecarius (c. 810-c.878, Italy)
    Head of the archives of the Roman Catholic church.
    Superpower: Antipope.
  5. Zenodotus (fl. 280 BC, ancient Greek diaspora)
    This dude is not Zenodotus at all; he's Antisthenes the CynicFirst librarian at Alexandria; organized works by subject and author’s name — the first known alphabetical order.
    Superpower: Precedent-setting textual criticism: he divided Homer’s epics into 24 books each.
  6. M. S. Khan (1910-1978, Myanmar/Pakistan/Bangladesh)
    M.S. Khan, via wikimediaFounder and leader of Pakistani library associations; at Dhaka University, served as librarian, started a course in library science, and introduced the Dewey Decimal System.
    Superpower: His birthday (March 21) is Library Day in Bangladesh.
  7. Khalifa Mohammad Asadullah (1890-1949, India/Pakistan)
    National Library, CalcuttaFirst qualified librarian of the Government College, Lahore; Librarian of the Imperial Library, Calcutta for 17 years (now National Library of India); founder of the Indian Library Association and a library training program.
    Superpower: Is an honorary Khan.
  8. Iyyanki Venkata Ramanayya (1888-1979, India)
    Iyyanki Venkata Ramanayya, via wikimediaFounder/organizer of numerous library associations, journals, training programs, and conferences, as well as many public libraries.
    Superpower: Likely granted by Shiva, as Ramanayya donated land to build a temple to him.

Per the brackets, our weekend matchups will be:

  • Ranganathan vs. Ramanayya
  • Bibliothecarius vs. Zenodotus
  • Eratosthenes vs. Khan
  • Callimachus vs. Asadullah

Let the trash-talking begin.

Library bracketology! (#libmadness)

Over here in the US, it’s March Madness time. I know very few librarians who are 6 foot 5, 20-year-old men, but why should we miss out on the fun? So it’s time for…


That’s right! Famous librarians of history go mano-a-mano, you vote, and we’ll see who is the last librarian standing.

Over the next few days I’ll be introducing the candidates in more depth; here’s the full brackets of 32. (Not enough time to come up with 64.) We’ll do the first round of voting this weekend, as the NCAA tournament narrows its field from 32 to 16, and mirror their schedule thereafter, ending April 4.

Competitors must be:

  1. Dead. Didn’t want to hurt any living librarians’ feelings by voting them out of competition — but if you want to be inspired by the current generation, check out the recently announced 2011 Movers and Shakers.
  2. Notable as librarians: either primarily librarians, or important contributors to librarianship — no famous people who happened to also be librarians. Sorry, Beverly Cleary and Mohammad Khatami.
  3. Intriguing, as solely determined by me.

Voting will be here, via a Google Form or whatever other embedded poll-type technology I teach myself by Saturday; you choose the winner of each matchup. You’re encouraged to vote early, vote often, advocate for your favorite candidates, and place bets. Electoral chicanery and barfights are also OK by me.

(While you’re at it, ALA members should also remember to vote in the elections currently taking place there. You know, the ones with living people and real stakes.)

And introducing the competitors…

In the Alexandria bracket, representing librarians from around the world, modern and ancient: S. R. Ranganathan; Callimachus; Eratosthenes; Anastasius Bibliothecarius; Zenodotus; M.S. Khan; Khalifa Mohammad Asadullah; Iyyanki Venkata Ramanayya.

In the Bodleian bracket, representing (mostly) Europe: Thomas Bodley; Antonio Panizzi; Gottfried van Swieten; Vespasiano da Bisticci; Paul Otlet; James Bain; Gottfried Leibniz (yes, that Leibniz); Gerdina Hendrika Kurtz.

In the Library of Congress bracket, representing the modern US: Henriette Avram; E.J. Josey; Charlemae Hill Rollins; Arnulfo Trejo; Judith Krug; Effie Louise Power; Mildred L. Batchelder; Charles Martel (no, not that Martel).

In the Boston Public Library bracket, representing (mostly) the less-modern US: Melvil Dewey; John Cotton Dana; Charles Coffin Jewett; Margaret Ridley Charlton; Charles Ammi Cutter; Justin Winsor; Ina Coolbrith; Mary Cutler Fairchild.

So! Want to tell everyone why they should vote for your favorites? Did some poor librarian get totally robbed of a championship berth? Comment here, blog it out yourself, or take it to Twitter: #libmadness.