Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Forrest B. Spaulding was one of the three men brought into the Circulation Department shortly before World War I to end the monopoly of women on the branch staff. 

Keyes Metcalf in his memoir Random Recollections of an Anachronism noted that Spaulding (a co-worker) had been expelled from several preparatory schools and had no college education.  Nonetheless, Spaulding started his library career working at the Newark Public Library, 1911-1912.   In 1912, he enrolled in the two-year program of the NYPL Library School and earned both a certificate (1913) and diploma (1914).

Forrest Spaulding joined the NYPL staff as a First Assistant at Jackson Square in 1913 and was promoted to Branch Librarian in 1914.  In 1916-1917 he headed the NYPL Traveling Library Department.  He then resigned and spent most of his career as head of the Des Moines (Iowa) Public Library. 

Among his accomplishments after leaving NYPL, Spaulding created the first Library Bill of Rights for the Des Moines Public Library (a year before ALA promulgated its own similar statement), and in 1939 he was mentioned as one of the candidates for the Librarian of Congress vacancy. 

Spaulding is one of several prolific authors in my study.  I have identified 26 articles he wrote for the professional literature, 1920-1948.  Many of his articles focused on the library profession, administration, federal libraries and federal aid to libraries.   In addition, he edited Library Logic a publication of Gaylord Brothers, 1924-1926.

On reflection, Keyes Metcalf concluded that Spaulding “was an unusually good example of how a man interested in books but with comparatively little formal education could become a very useful librarian.”

Today would be Spaulding’s 119th birthday.

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