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Title:National Planning for Public Library Service: The Work and Ideas of Lionel McColvin
Author(s):Black, Alistair
Subject(s):Library science --History
Information science --History
Abstract:Lionel McColvin (1896–1976) is regarded as one of the most infl uential fi gures in the history of British librarianship. In the specifi c context of 150 years of public librarianship in Britain, his reputation as a visionary inflfl uence is second only to that of the nineteenth-century pioneer Edward Edwards, while in the twentieth century his reputation is unsurpassed. McColvin was the major voice in the mid-twentieth-century movement to reconstruct and modernize public libraries. He is best known as author of The Public Library System of Great Britain: A Report on Its Present Condition with Proposals for Post-war Reorganization, published in 1942 at a moment of intense wartime efforts to assemble plans for social and economic reconstruction. The “McColvin Report,” as it came to be termed, was a landmark in the struggle to de-Victorianize the public library, not least by emphasizing the institution’s universalism and its function as a national, not just a civic, agency. This article briefl y describes McColvin’s notable contribution to twentieth-century librarianship, resulting from his work as a public librarian, as a leading fi gure in the Library Association, and as an infl uential player in the international library movement. The article’s core aim is to offer a critical appraisal of McColvin’s vision for public libraries by placing it in the context of the project to build a better postwar world. This project was defi ned by the conceptualization and development of a welfare state in Britain, the underlying values of which can be seen to correspond to McColvin’s national plan for a rejuvenated public library system. McColvin drew on the spirit of the time to produce a plan for public libraries that was shot through with social idealism and commitment and with a confi dence in the need for intervention by the state—values that perhaps provide lessons for current and future library and information policymakers and professionals.
Issue Date:2004
Publisher:Graduate School of Library and Information Science. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Citation Info:In Library Trends 52(4) Spring 2004: 902-923.
Publication Status:published or submitted for publication
Rights Information:Copyright owned by Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 2004.
Date Available in IDEALS:2007-07-23

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