School library management (1920) and my grandfather

Searching for something else, I came across Martha Wilson’s School Library Management  book. It was originally published in 1920 but you can now buy a copy reprinted in 2008,  if you are into historical school library books. Interesting section on the school’s librarian and Wilson writes that “the librarian should combine the qualities of both the librarian and the teacher, and must be able to think clearly and sympathetically in terms of the needs and interests of high school students”. Wilson also states that the personality (Wilson’s emphasis) is very important and that “enthusiasm, power to teach and inspire” are vital. Interestingly, Wilson adds that the salary of the librarian should not be less than that of an English teacher and that, if there is a shortage of librarians and too many English teachers, then the librarian’s salary should be higher! The librarian should not be involved in any clerical work at all, Wilson argues, but the technical work  to be done includes cataloguing and classifying books, establishing a charging system, “attending to the proper binding and rebinding of books” and keeping statistics. So some things have changed and others have not in the school library world. Try your English teachers on the salary aspect.

Reading the local paper  here in Dunbar, I came across the section on 100 years ago (not in the online version as far as I could see) and there was a story of a young man named Harry McGoff who was a farm servant (note the terminology for farm worker in 1909) in Haddington (next town to Dunbar) and he was unloading hay from a cart. Unfortunately, he stepped back, forgetting about the trapdoor and fell 12 feet and was taken to hospital. This was my grandfather and he was probably 15 years old at the time. He later became an official of the Scottish Farm Servants Union, a thankless task, given the power of the farmers and the insecure nature of a farm worker’s position.


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