Arthur Elmore Bostwick

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Arthur Elmore Bostwick
Arthur Elmore Bostwick.jpg
Born (1860-03-08)March 8, 1860
Litchfield, Connecticut
Died February 13, 1942(1942-02-13) (aged 81)
Oak Grove, Missouri[disambiguation needed]
Occupation Librarian, writer, educator
Language English
Nationality United States
Alma mater Yale University

Arthur Elmore Bostwick (8 March 1860 in Litchfield, Connecticut – 13 February 1942 in Oak Grove, Missouri[disambiguation needed]) was a United States librarian and author.


His father died when he was 12, and his mother supplemented the family income by various means to afford his education at Litchfield Institute, and later at Yale University, where he received his B.A. in 1881, and his Ph.D. degree in 1883. He taught high school in Montclair, New Jersey, for two years, before engaging in literary work on Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography, Appletons' Annual Cyclopædia and Funk & Wagnall's Standard Dictionary. With his cousin John D. Champlin, he edited a popular Young Folks' Cyclopedia of Games and Sports (1890).

He started his library career in 1895 as chief librarian at New York Free Circulating Library, where his former boss William W. Appleton (1845-1924) had founded and chaired the library committee. He viewed libraries as venues for popular education, in contrast with many librarians at that time, like John Shaw Billings, who viewed them as mainly for reference use. In 1899, he moved to the Brooklyn Public Library. He accomplished much, though civil service struggles persuaded him to move back to former position in 1901, and in a merger with New York Public Library he became chief of circulation, with Billings as director. Here too he accomplished a great deal, but struggles with Billings persuaded him to move on and accept the opportunity to head the Saint Louis Public Library in 1909.

At St. Louis, he remained head librarian until 1938, and associate librarian until his death. He found the system with four branches, and expanded it to 19. In American National Biography, John Mark Tucker criticizes his service during World War I because he removed pro-German material from the library shelves. Joseph Alfred Boromé, in Dictionary of American Biography, praises his liberality during this time because he refused to halt circulation of German books.

Bostwick was president of the American Library Association 1907-08. In 1925, he visited China at the request of a library association there to inspect facilities and make recommendations. In 1885, he married Lucy Sawyer. They had three children.


  • The American Public Library, undertaken at Appleton's suggestion (1910)
  • The Different West, as seen by a Transplanted Easterner (1913)
  • Earmarks of Literature (1914)
  • The Making of an American Library (1915)



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