Black receives 2013 Library History Essay Award

Alistair Black
Alistair Black, Professor Emeritus

GSLIS Professor Alistair Black is the recipient of the Library History Essay Award for 2013. The prize is awarded annually by the Library and Information History Group of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) to the best essay on library history relating to, or published in, the British Isles in the previous calendar year. Black’s essay is titled, “Organizational Learning and Home-Grown Writing: The Library Staff Magazine in Britain in the First Half of the Twentieth Century” and appears in Information & Culture, Volume 47, Number 4 (2012).

The abstract reads:

Staff magazines in British public libraries emerged in the early-twentieth century. Unlike staff magazines in private enterprises, which pre-date them by two decades, library staff magazines were more truly the product of employees, inaugurated and operated as they often were by staff associations. This study is based on an analysis of staff magazines in three public library systems—Croydon, Sheffield, and Leeds—in the first half of the twentieth century. Against backdrops of growing popular education, organizational enlargement, changing management styles, and increasing professionalization, the library staff magazine provided opportunities for employees to write. This writing was undertaken as a pastime, as a form of organizational learning and networking, as a contribution to labor and occupational solidarity, and, finally, as a vehicle for personal professional advancement and professional identity formation, though one which contained an element of “othering” of the public as well as of junior and female staff.

“I’m tremendously pleased to have my work honored in this way,” said Black. “I’d like to pay tribute to the wonderful work done over the years by the body that has given me the award, the UK’s Library & Information History Group. I would also like to thank the journal Information & Culture for giving me a platform to broadcast my research, and the publishing house Emerald for funding the prize.”

Black’s research focuses on the history of libraries, librarianship, and information management. At GSLIS, he teaches courses in information history, library buildings and society, historical foundations of the information society, public library history, and libraries in film.