|Title:||Columbia University Library Office Files circa 1862-1988. [Bulk Dates: 1890-1988]|
|Physical description:||235 linear feet (circa 278,000 items in 559 boxes, 1 volume, & oversize folder).|
|Language(s):||In English, French, German, and Spanish.|
Collection is currently being processed, arrangement being determined.
Series I: Correspondence has been arranged.
This series is arranged in three subseries:
The office files of the University Librarian's office of Columbia University Libraries, 1889-1948. Although chiefly the correspondence of the Library Office administrative staff, there are also forms, notices, regulations, and papers concerned with policy statements of various departments and cooperative projects in which the library participated. The correspondence and related materials cover the period, 1890-1928. In addition, there are financial records for book funds, 1944-1946; for budgets, 1916-1930 and 1935-1938; for salaries, 1889-1919; and a personnel and financial analysis, 1929-1948. There are also some administrative memoranda, 1910-1916; and annual reports of the Librarian and Supervisors, 1913-1925; committee files for the Study Committee, 1968-1969; Representative Committee of Librarians, 1973-1977; Standing Committees, 1966-1970; Division Heads Meetings, 1966-1970; Committees superceded by the Professional Advisory Committee, 1970-1972; Butler Library floor plans and furnishings; Director's Office memoranda and related files, 1943-1964; Reader Services' memoranda, 1946-1953; Supervising Librarians minutes, 1953-1958; Technical Services memoranda, 1946-1953; and printed materials: LIBRARY COLUMNS, COLUMBIA LIBRARY WORLD; and Burgess-Carpenter Library Correspondence, 1950-1975.
The records that comprise the Columbia University Library Office Files, Correspondence (1898-1926) include the institutional correspondence and related professional material from the office of the university librarian and other members of the library staff. The files track a series of changes in the university library's administration, beginning with the movement of the library uptown in 1898 to its new location within Low Library in the Morningside Heights campus and conclude in 1926 with the hiring of a new permanent head of the library, Charles C. Williamson, after a series of interim library directors. During this period, the library underwent significant changes with the institution of new efficiency measures, changes in classification systems and record-keeping (as the library instituted a modified version of the Dewey Decimal System in the early 1900s, and transferred to card-catalogs in 1904), and changes in institutional structure as new departmental and divisional libraries were established and new administrative divisions––like Accessions, Cataloging, Shelving, Serial, and Reference Departments––emerged and were codified during the first decades of the century. Canfield’s efforts were to maximize the accessibility of library collections, conducting reports and surveys on the state of public libraries making efforts to establish for systematic surveys of special collections across the U.S. and to campaign to make government documents more publically accessible.Subseries 1.1: General Correspondence
The general correspondence is arranged in alphabetical order and contains primarily correspondence sent and received by the university librarians, along with other library staff. Individually named and general alphabetical files are arranged in one alphabetical sequence by correspondent name or subject heading and chronologically within each letter of the alphabet by year. Notable subjects in this subseries include correspondence on budgets, library statistics, collections, and staff. Important subjects filed under sub-files are interspersed within the general alphabetical correspondence and are noted parenthetically.Subseries 1.2: Salary Letters 1900-1916
This subseries contains letters relating to employee salaries and personnel files during the period from January 1900 to November 1916. Within this subseries, items are filed alphabetically under the individual's or organization's name. Includes sub-files on Barnard College, along with related personnel and administrative files for Miss M.O. Cox, Frederick W. Erb (Loan Department), Miss Harriet B. Prescott (Catalog Department), Dr. V.G. Simkhovitch (Bibliography), and Miss Margaret Van Zandt (Order Department). For salary letters outside this range, or additional information, such as salary reports and library statistics, consult Subseries I.1, General Correspondence.Subseries 1.3: Correspondence between Librarian and President circa 1898-1914
This subseries includes correspondence between the head librarian and the university president. In addition to correspondence between James H. Canfield, William Dawson Johnston, Seth Low, and Nicholas Butler, this subseries includes annual library reports and reorganization plans and special folders on the October 1907 Inspection Trip and a special file of letters between the librarian and the president on Carnegie Retirement Pensions, with extracts from correspondence with department heads.Subseries 1.4: Material for Columbia University Library History
This subseries contains correspondence filed in preparation for a possible history of the Columbia University Libraries. Among the letters are correspondence on library funding, library collections, library buildings, and library regulations and policies. While the subseries contains a few duplicates of items from 1874 and 1862 in the first folder, the bulk of this subseries consists of material between from September 1899 to February 1902. Folder 6 includes a filing memorandum with notes on subjects covered in the history.
Series I of the collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least
two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript
Library reading room.
More information and link to off-site request form
Permission to publish materials must be obtained in writing from the Librarian for Rare Books and Manuscripts.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Columbia University Library Office Files; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
Melvil Dewey papers, circa 1870-1931. Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University
Butler Library Reference Department Files, 1904-1959. Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University
Columbia University Libraries. Rare Book and Manuscript Library; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division
Cataloged 05/05/89 Christina Hilton Fenn
Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion June 26, 2009Finding aid written in English. Finding aid adheres to that prescribed by Describing Archives: A Content Standard
|Nat'l / Int'l Archives:|
|Nat'l / Int'l Archives:|
|Academic libraries--New York (State)--New York.||Portal||CLIO||ArchiveGRID|
|American Library Association.||Portal||CLIO||ArchiveGRID|
|Butler, Nicholas Murray, 1862-1947.||Portal||CLIO||ArchiveGRID|
|Canfield, James Hulme, 1847-1909.||Portal||CLIO||ArchiveGRID|
|College and research libraries.||Portal||CLIO||ArchiveGRID|
|Columbia University--Alumni and alumnae.||Portal||CLIO||ArchiveGRID|
|Dewey, Melvil, 1851-1931.||Portal||CLIO||ArchiveGRID|
|Johnston, William Dawson, 1871-1928.||Portal||CLIO||ArchiveGRID|
|Library science--United States--History.||Portal||CLIO||ArchiveGRID|
|Low, Seth, 1850-1916.||Portal||CLIO||ArchiveGRID|
The Columbia University Library played an important role in the changing nature of the library and of American library management and administration more broadly. During the 1880s, under the direction of Melvil Dewey as the head librarian, the university became the site of the first school for professional librarian training, Melvil Dewey’s School for Library Economy, which opened its doors to students in 1887. The library became a locus for the increasing professionalization of the field of library management as over the course of the 1890s, graduates of Dewey’s school––many of them women––moved into staff positions within the library. The l890s marked the beginning of a period of transformation in the structure of Columbia University and its library. In the 1890s, the university established a number of its professional schools and graduate schools. Under the leadership of George Baker, from 1889-1899, the Columbia University Library expanded its collection, and James Hulme Canfield oversaw the growth of the library from the small library of Columbia College to the large metropolitan research library.