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Dissertation Information for John Christian Larsen

- John Christian Larsen

- Ph.D.

- Library and Information Science

- University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (USA) (1967)

- Russell E. Bidlack

- Wallace J. Bonk
- Robert Mark Warner
- Norma L. Jones

MPACT Status: Fully Complete


Abstract: This study records the history of the Michigan State Library and invesitgates the extension of its ervice to all Michigan residents. First established in Detroit, the territorial capital, the Library followed the state government to lansing in the mid-nineteenth century. The 113 years covered in this work span the period when the State Librarianship was a patronage prize awarded by the Governor. The growth of the Library reflects both the history of Michigan and the national movement toward local library service for all citizens. Its development is shown against the changing background of the state's political and economic conditions. Consideration is also given to identifyng the officials placed in charge of the expanding library.

The work begins with an examination of the begininigs and operation of the Legislative Council Library, the territorial predecessors of the Michigan States Library . As early as 1830, only two years after the Library came into being, the Legislative Council began to authorize purchse of more than the law books and government publications which usually composed the holdings of American state and territorial libraries in the first half of the nineteenth century. In early statehood, Michigan's precaious finances directly affected the Library. To economize the Library was placed under the control of the Secretary of State trhoughout the 1840's, with temporary appointments of "Assistant librarians" during legislative sessions. In the 1850's, the Library was administered by Librarians with two-year terms of appointment, although few completed their tenure. Not until the appointment of J. Eugene Tenney in 1859 were the constant changes ended and Library activities regularly recorded. In 1869, Tenney was succeeded by his wife, who became the first female state librarians in the United States. Her appointment set a precedent in Michigan which has been followed to the present day.

Despite an attempt to add a public display of nature specifmens and other miscellanea in the 1870;s, the Library's collection remained typical in its restriction to state officials until the appointment of Mary C. Spencer in 1893. Mrs. Spencer's appointment brought the modern concept of state library service to Michigan. Almost at once, the State Library opened its collection to all resident, and the Library gained fame as Michigan became the second state to provide "traveling" libraries for residents without library service. In quick seccession existing libraries throughout the state became "associate libraries" entitled to receive Library books and documents, the State Board of Library Commissioners was created to encourage development of puiblic libraries, field vists to struggling libraries and organized instruction in library skills were inaugurates, a legislative reference department was set up, and publication of library news bulletins began. A reorganization of state government caused abolition of the State Board of LIbrary Comissioners in 1921, but an extension division within the Library soon replaced it.

During the 1930's, a combination of partisan politics and the depression brought unrest to the State Library. Before state aid to libraries became permanently established, rapid changes in the Librarianship resulted in creation of the State Board of Libraries in 1937. Appointment of the state Librarian was transferred from the Governor to the State Board. In 1941, the first professionally trained State Librarian was named, and partisan disturbance in the Library ended permanently.

The history of the Michigan State Library is a history of the development of its services, demonstrating the extent to which a progressive state library can reach all resident. Michigan State Library history illustrates the fulfillment of a state library's responsibility not only to serve state government, but also to offer its materials and its counsel to all.

MPACT Scores for John Christian Larsen

A = 0
C = 1
A+C = 1
T = 0
G = 0
W = 0
TD = 0
TA = 0
calculated 2008-01-31 06:18:27

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Students under John Christian Larsen

- None

- Philip John Weimerskirch - Columbia University (1977)