Today LJ turns 135, no mean feat. I’m sitting here with the yellowed, rather crumbly Vol. 1, No. 1, dated September 30, 1876. For that one year only, it was the American Library Journal, cofounded by Melvil Dewey (yes, that Dewey). It was also the Official Organ of the American Library Association (until 1906), also founded in 1876, also by Dewey.
How does it feel to be so old? More important, how’d you survive so long?
There are some clues in Dewey’s essay on “The Profession,” in that first issue and in an editorial in the same issue.
“It is not enough if the librarian” is a keeper of books, a curator, a disseminator.
“[W]e look for a throng of people going in and out of library doors as in the markets and stores….It is in the interest of the modern library, and of those desiring to make its influence wider and greater, that this journal has been established.”
“In a word, the American Library Journal hopes to collate for the librarian every view or fact which may be of use or interest in his work, to the saving of time, money, and effort for him, and, as a final aim, to the advancement of this honorable profession.”
We still write for that profession, in Dewey’s day and beyond largely dominated by men, now largely female-dominated.
We’re proud to practice advocacy journalism and to enhance the influence of those who work in libraries. And we still deliver the views, including critique, and facts and products that help librarians in their work. The formats have changed and the content has broadened, but the basics are still the same.
It feels good to be so old.