Visits by mid-twentieth century British librarians to the United States
- Alistair Black
Visits by British librarians to the United States is an overlooked aspect of trans-atlantic cultural exchange. After outlining the early history of international conferences at which British and American librarians would have met, examples are selected from the formative era of professional librarianship of visits by British librarians and library promoters to study the institutions and processes of their American counterparts. The core of the project is formed by description and analysis of separate visits to the United States made by three mid-twentieth century British librarians: Dr J. E. Holstrom, head of the Information Department, Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), in 1948; Margaret Scoffield, Librarian of Aireborough Public Libraries, Yorkshire, in 1949; and F. G. B. Hutchings, Chief Librarian of Leeds Public Libraries, Yorkshire, in 1951. In various ways, these three visitors fulfilled the tripartite role of observer, ambassador and tourist. Finally, consideration is given to the extent to which the three travelers endorsed or resisted American library culture and American culture per se.