Although I am writing this on Feb 8th the blog will probably put this down as Feb 9th.
About Mr. Munn: He is described as being the Father of the Australian and New Zealand library systems which is good. His other actions generated quite a lot of controversey. It was Munn’s notion that libraries should focus on quality books that changed the Carnegie library. Munn shunned popular fiction and turned the Carnegie Library into an academic library mostly because he disliked light reading of little academic significance. Should the librarian transform the library thus? It seems this was mostly a personal decision for Munn. That is relevant to some of our class discussions about librarians as gatekeepers and deciding what is appropriate. Some have argued that Carnegie wanted to indoctrinate people with books he thought were appropriate. Munn’s decision however, takes the library away from the public and gives it to the researcher. Perhaps indoctrination was too lofty a goal or just a whacky conspiracy theory.
Another odd idea of Munn’s was that libraries shouldn’t hire men. Library work had long been pink collar work but mainly because women could be paid less. Munn believed that men attempting to get into the field were looking for an easy paycheck and would not expand the field. This raises some wild questions about sexism. Are men who attempt to enter the field of library science pioneers striving to enter a field dominated by women because women could be paid less originally? The mind boggles.
Okay, probably not.
Doms, Keith (1993). “Munn, Ralph”. In Wedgeworth, Robert. World Encyclopedia of Library and Information Services (Third ed.). ALA Editions. pp. 595–6. ISBN 978-0-8389-0609-5.
Munn, Ralph (1949). “It Is a Mistake to Recruit Men”. Library Journal 118 (19): S10.