University of Chicago Graduate Library School

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The University of Chicago Graduate Library School (GLS) was established in 1928 to develop a program for the graduate education of librarians with a focus on research.[1] Housed for a time in the Joseph Regenstein Library, the GLS closed in 1989.[2] GLS faculty were among the most prominent researchers in librarianship in the twentieth century. Alumni of the school have made a great impact on the profession including Hugh Atkinson, Susan Grey Akers, Bernard Berelson, Eliza Atkins Gleason, Virginia Lacy Jones, Elizabeth Homer Morton, Benjamin E. Powell, Charlemae Hill Rollins, Peggy Sullivan, Maurice Tauber and Tsuen-hsuin Tsien. In February 2016, Carla Hayden (PhD, 1987) was nominated by President Obama to serve as Librarian of Congress. She was confirmed in July 2016.[3]


Early in the 20th century, the Carnegie Corporation of New York began offering grants to change the direction of library education and scholarship. Of particular interest was the creation of an institution analogous to the Harvard Law School or the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The result was a sensation: the 1926 endowment of a research-oriented program offering only the Ph.D. degree,[4] With an emphasis on investigation fostered among students, studies conducted and conferences held at GLS provided a center for intellectual inquiry in the development of 20th century librarianship. The Library Quarterly, a scholarly journal focused on research, was launched in 1931 to provide an outlet for the publication of rigorous research.

Structure and focus[edit]

The Graduate Library School (GLS) at the University of Chicago changed the structure and focus of education for librarianship in the twentieth century. Funded by the Carnegie Corporation [5] the GLS set forth policies to establish an institution to educate students imbued with the spirit of investigation. Prior to establishment of the GLS education for librarians had been an apprenticeship model.[6] Douglas Waples wrote of the policies that would differentiate “The Graduate Library School at Chicago” from schools in the apprenticeship mode.

John V. Richardson, Jr.[7] has written of the establishment and the first 30 years of the GLS in The Spirit of Inquiry: The Graduate Library School at Chicago, 1921–51.

Joyce M. Latham has written of the role of GLS faculty in the development of the Chicago Public Library noting "In their final report on the status of CPL, A Metropolitan Library in Action, Carleton B. Joeckel and Leon Carnovsky devoted significant attention to the role of the public library in adult education." [8]

A list of the Dissertations, Theses, and Papers demonstrates the range of early inquiry.[9]

The faculty of the GLS were innovators in the use of computers for library functions. In 1982 Don Swanson described the Microsystem for Interactive Bibliographic Searching (MIRABILIS) for the general library community in Library Journal [10]


Faculty who taught at the GLS included many scholars who conducted foundational research in librarianship including Lester Asheim, Abraham Bookstein,[11] Lee Pierce Butler, Leon Carnovsky, Margaret Egan, Sara I. Fenwick, Herman H. Fussler, Frances E. Henne, Carleton B. Joeckel, W. Boyd Rayward, Jesse Shera, Don R. Swanson, Peggy Sullivan, Zena Sutherland,[12] Tsuen-hsuin Tsien,[13] Robert W. Wadsworth, Douglas Waples, Louis Round Wilson,[14] Howard W. Winger, and Victor Yngve. Louis Round Wilson's tenure as professor and dean from 1932-1942 has been viewed as the golden age of education for librarianship [15]

The Library Quarterly[edit]

The faculty of the Graduate Library School established the journal, The Library Quarterly in 1931. The work of the GLS faculty to establish a scholarly journal focused on research has been carefully detailed by Steve Norman.[16]

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books[edit]

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books was established in 1945 at the Graduate Library School by Frances E. Henne[17]


  1. ^ Association of American Library Schools. New Frontiers in Librarianship; Proceedings of the Special Meeting of the Association of American Library Schools and the Board of Education for Librarianship of the American Library Association in Honor of the University of Chicago and the Graduate Library School, December 30, 1940. [Chicago]: The Graduate library school, the University of Chicago, 1941.
  2. ^ "Chicago GLS to close." Library Journal 114, (February 15, 1989): 111.
  3. ^ McGlone, Peggy, "Carla Hayden confirmed as 14th librarian of Congress," Washington Post July 13, 2016.
  4. ^ Buckland, Michael. "Documentation, Information Science and Library Science in the USA." Information Processing and Management 32, no. 1 (1996): 63-76.
  5. ^ F. P. Keppel (1931). "The Carnegie Corporation and the Graduate Library School: A Historical Outline". The Library Quarterly. 1 (1): 22–25. doi:10.1086/612840. JSTOR 40039626.
  6. ^ Shera, Jesse Hauk. 1972. The foundations of education for librarianship. New York: Becker and Hayes.
  7. ^ Richardson, J.V. (1982). The Spirit of Inquiry: The Graduate Library School at Chicago, 1921- 51. Chicago: American Library Association.
  8. ^ Latham, J. M. (2011). Memorial Day to Memorial Library: The South Chicago Branch Library as cultural terrain, 1937–1947. Libraries & the Cultural Record, 46(3), 321–342.
  9. ^ Dissertation, Theses, and Papers of the Graduate Library School, University of Chicago, 1930-1945: A Bibliography. , 1946. Print.
  10. ^ Swanson, Don R. 1982. "Miracles, Microcomputers, and Librarians". Library Journal. 107, no. 11: 1055-59.
  11. ^ "Congestion at Card and Book Catalogs: A Queuing-Theory Approach. The Library QuarterlyVol. 42, No. 3 (Jul., 1972), pp. 316-328
  12. ^ "Zena Sutherland, 86, Expert On Literature for Children". New York Times. 15 June 2002. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  13. ^ Tsien, Tsuen-hsuin. Written on Bamboo and Silk; The Beginnings of Chinese Books and Inscriptions. University of Chicago Press, 1962.
  14. ^ Jesse H. Shera," 'The Spirit Giveth Life': Louis Round Wilson and Chicago's Graduate Library School." The Journal of Library History 14, No. 1 (Winter, 1979), pp. 77-83.
  15. ^ Shera, Jesse Hauk. " 'The Spirit Giveth Life:" Louis Round Wilson and Chicago's Graduate Library School." The Journal of Library History 14 (winter 1975): 77-83. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1979.
  16. ^ Steve Norman (1988). "The Library Quarterly in the 1930s: a journal of discussion's early years". The Library Quarterly. 58: 327–351. doi:10.1086/602047. JSTOR 4308292.
  17. ^ Wedgeworth, Robert. World Encyclopedia of Library and Information Services. Chicago: American Library Association, 1993, p.346.

Coordinates: 41°47′32″N 87°35′59″W / 41.7922°N 87.5998°W / 41.7922; -87.5998