A librarian at the card files at a senior high school in Minnesota, 1974. Photo: David Rees
From The Library Assistant’s Manual, a guide by Theodore Koch “issued on the occasion of the 61st annual meeting of the Michigan State Teachers’ Association, Ann Arbor, October 30–November 1, 1913.”
Qualities that unfit one for library work in general are physical weakness, deformity, poor memory, a discontented disposition, egotism, a lack of system in one’s method of work, and inability or unwillingness to take responsibilities, a tendency to theorize, criticize, or gossip, inability to mind one’s own business, fussiness, and long-windedness.
One librarian advocates listing the virtues and personal qualities of the staff and apprentices by having a questionnaire like the following filled out for each assistant:
Has she tact?Has she enthusiasm?Has she method and system?Is she punctual?Is she neat?Is she kind?Is she a good disciplinarian?Is she sympathetic?Is she quick?Is she willing to wear rubber heels?Is she a good worker?Is she accurate?Has she a pleasing personality?Has she a sense of responsibility?Is she patient?Is she courteous?Has she self control?Is she cheerful?Has she a knowledge of books?Are her vibrations pleasant?Has she executive ability?Can she speak French, German, Spanish, Italian, Yiddish?Has she social qualifications?Can she keep a petty cash account?What are her faults?
Mr. Herbert Putnam, Librarian of Congress, gives the following advice to aspirants for library positions:
“First, secure the best possible general education, including, if possible, a college course or its equivalent; second, acquire a reading knowledge of at least French and German; third, add to this a training in a library school; fourth, if a choice must be made between the special training in a library school and a general course in a college, choose the general course, but make every effort to supplement this by the special course if only for a brief period; fifth, if an opportunity occurs for foreign travel, utilize it; sixth, if you have not been able to contrive either a thorough general education or special training, your best opportunities in library work will be in a small library where your personal characteristics may be such as to offset these other deficiencies; seventh, without at least a fair reading knowledge of French and German you cannot progress beyond the most subordinate positions in a large library.”
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