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Library and Information Science Instructors

History

All early libraries were intended for the use of small, elite groups. The Industrial Revolution and other social changes in the 18th and 19th centuries upset the old social order, and new generations of working people were able to acquire an education. Their desires called for a new kind of library, one that not only would preserve the best works of earlier times but also would be an educational facility for the common people. To this end, associations of young mercantile workers, apprentices, mechanics, and clerks began to form libraries. In 1731, Benjamin Franklin and a group of his friends organized the Library Company of Philadelphia, the earliest library of this kind in the American colonies. The first public library, supported from public funds and open to all readers, was established in Boston in 1854. By 1876, there were 342 public libraries in the United States.

Despite the steady growth of public and private libraries in the United States, it was not until 1887 that Melvil Dewey, the originator of the Dewey Decimal System, established the first library school—the School of Library Economy—at Columbia University in New York. Until that time, librarians received their training through an apprenticeship at a library or by taking classes, formal training, or some other type of instruction at a university library.

The Association of American Library Schools was founded in 1915 to represent the interests and professional concerns of library educators. Today, it is known as the Association for Library and Information Science Education.

In 1926, the first graduate library school was established at the University of Chicago. The university also offered the first doctoral program in library studies.

Today, nearly 60 master's programs in library and information studies are accredited by the American Library Association, as well as hundreds of programs that offer certificate, associate's, and bachelor's degrees in library and information science.

As the field of information science becomes more complex due to technological innovations and specialization, library science educators will continue to be in demand to teach tomorrow's librarians and information professionals.