|Born||Caroline Maria Hewins
October 10, 1846
|Died||November 4, 1926|
Caroline Maria Hewins (October 10, 1846 - November 4, 1926) was an American librarian.
American Libraries includes Caroline Hewins as one of the 100 Most Important Leaders we had in the 20th Century for her work as a librarian, where she is noted for her contributions to children's library services  She was a librarian at the Hartford Young Men's Institute, which is now known as the Hartford Public Library in Hartford, Connecticut for more than fifty years. An author as well as librarian, she contributed not only to the expansion of children's library services across the U.S., but also the expansion of her library's membership, as well as its transformation from a subscription library to a free public library.
Caroline Hewins was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts on October 10, 1846. She was the oldest of nine children. In the autobiographical book, A Mid-Century Child and Her Books, Hewins writes that after a bit of moving around, her family settled in West Roxbury when she was about seven years old. As a child she attended a private school and later went to the Girls’ High and Normal School. She writes that she worked at a local library after graduation. She briefly describes that during this time she learned about the inner-workings of the library and how it was managed and funded.
Caroline Hewin's childhood education consisted of private schooling through high school. After receiving her high school diploma, she began attending the Girls’ High and Normal School where he graduated, although at first she described having some difficulty adjusting to her new educational environment. In 1911 she was the first woman to get a degree from Trinity College (Connecticut) when she received an honorary Master of Arts Honoris Causa.
Caroline Hewins was a librarian at the Young Men's Institute of Hartford, now the Hartford Public Library, where she was employed from 1875 until her death in 1926. Before this, she worked as a staff librarian at the Boston Athenaeum. In 1895 Hewins started her own library branch in the North Street Social Settlement House. Her commitment to the success of the branch and her appreciation of the work going on there was so strong that she moved in and resided there for twelve years.
Contributions to the field of library science
Contributions to children's library services
Caroline Hewins is most often credited for her contributions to children’s library services. Before her time, library services to children barely existed. Children younger than 12 years old were often not allowed to patron libraries when she began her career as a librarian. Despite this, one of her most significant accomplishments was her success in adding a children’s room in 1904 before the end of her career at the Hartford Public Library. The idea of having a children's room at a library was very influential. Soon after, other libraries followed her example and began the addition of children’s rooms.
Three years after arriving at the Young Men’s Institute of Hartford, she began to include reading lists for children in the libraries new bulletin. And in 1882, she published “Books for the Young”, an influential guide and list of recommended books for libraries to have available for children. Many future librarians and booksellers used this list. It was so influential that it was picked up and revised by the American Library Association for later use. Soon after accepting the librarian position at the Hartford Young Men’s Institute, she began inviting children to the library. She extended the services of the Institute to local schools by persuading them to find the means to pay the yearly fee for membership, that way the schools could have books from the library brought to them, allowing students to take advantage of the library right from the classroom.
Connecticut state library association
In 1891 Caroline founded the first Connecticut State Library Association. Hewins writes that among her duties as secretary of the library association, she would oversee the operations of the West Roxbury library in the absence of the regular librarian.
Campaigning for free public libraries
In Caroline M. Hewins and Books for Children, Jennie D. Lindquist writes that when Caroline Hewins first began working at the Young Men’s Institute of Hartford, the library charged a fee of at least several dollars per year for membership. At the time, membership was the only way at the time to take advantage of the services of the library. In the late 19th century, several dollars was not a small amount of money, and as a consequence the library did not have a very large membership. But she worked at reducing the fee to one dollar per year, and library membership increased dramatically. And finally in 1892 membership became free.
Aside from her contributions to children’s library services, Caroline Hewins also campaigned for the creation of public libraries and spoke of the importance of free libraries throughout Connecticut. In New England Women: Their Increasing Influence, Margaret Bush writes that Caroline traveled in Connecticut to encourage the creation of libraries and talked to people about the importance of children’s services.
Caroline Hewins died on November 4, 1926 from pneumonia at the age of 80.
The legacy of Caroline Hewins continued through the Caroline M. Hewins Lectures, so named by Frederic G. Melcher. The lectures began in 1947 and continued until 1962. She is also remembered through the Hewins scholarship, available to assist women who want to become children’s librarians attain their educational goals. In late 1925, shortly before her death, she started the scholarship and it continues today.
- Kniffel, L.,Sullivan,P., & McCormick,.E (1999). 100 of the most important leaders we had in the 20th century. American Libraries, 30(11), 38.
- Lindquist, J. D. (1950). Caroline M. Hewins and Books for Children. In S. Andrews (Ed.), The hewins Lectures: 1947-1962. p.67: The Horn Book, Inc.
- Aller, S. B. (2007). Hartford's First Lady of the Library. Hog River Journal, 5, 7.
- Hewins, C. M. (1926). A Mid-Century Child and Her Books. p.p.5-6 Detroit: Singing Tree Press, Book Tower.
- Hewins, C. M. (1926). A Mid-Century Child and Her Books. p.p.30,79. Detroit: Singing Tree Press, Book Tower.
- Hewins, C. M. (1926). A Mid-Century Child and Her Books. p.38-40. Detroit: Singing Tree Press, Book Tower.
- Hewins, C. M. (1926). A Mid-Century Child and Her Books. p. 37. Detroit: Singing Tree Press, Book Tower.
- Murray, Stuart. The Library: An Illustrated History. New York, NY: Skyhorse Pub, 2009.
- Lindquist, J. D. (1950). Caroline M. Hewins and Books for Children. In S. Andrews (Ed.), The hewins Lectures: 1947-1962. p.73: The Horn Book, Inc.
- Rathbone, J. A. (1949). Pioneers of the library profession. [Feature]. Wilson Library Bulletin, 23, 775-779.
- Lindquist, J. D. (1950). Caroline M. Hewins and Books for Children. In S. Andrews (Ed.), The hewins Lectures: 1947-1962. p.76: The Horn Book, Inc.
- Lindquist, J. D. (1950). Caroline M. Hewins and Books for Children. In S. Andrews (Ed.), The hewins Lectures: 1947-1962. p.71: The Horn Book, Inc.
- Melcher, F. G. (1962). Introduction to Caroline M. Hewins and Books for Children. In S. Andrews (Ed.), The Hewins Lectures: 1947-1962: p.p.65-66: The Horn Books, Inc.
- Bush, M. (1996). New England book women: their increasing influence. (Caroline Hewins, Anne Carroll Moore, Alice Jordan, and Bertha Mahony)(Imagination and Scholarship: The Contributions of Women to American Youth Services and Literature). Library Trends, v44(n4), p719(717).
- Lindquist, J. D. (1950). Caroline M. Hewins and Books for Children. In S. Andrews (Ed.), The hewins Lectures: 1947-1962. p.72: The Horn Book, Inc.
- Melcher, F. G. (1962). The Caroline M. Hewins Lectures. In S. Andrews (Ed.), The Hewins Lectures: 1947-1962: p.vii: The Horn Books, Inc.
- Caroline M. Hewins Scholarship: A Scholarship for Children's Librarians. Retrieved September 22, 2009, from http://www.hplct.org/hewinsscholarship.htm