“A LOG of wood with a book at one end and a real librarian at the other is a library,” was repeated to me some thirty years ago by Miss Mary Eileen Ahern. This somewhat enigmatic aphorism did not seem to me to be adequate as a definition. It came, as I believe, from the great John Cotton Dana. The conversation at which it was repeated was my first with a live example of those American librarians of whom I had read as a youth, and whose lot was the envy of librarians everywhere. They seemed to have learned the art of “selling” libraries and librarianship to their public in a manner which over here appeared to belong to the region of dreams only. Partly, it might be hazarded, because, as one of them said, “When English librarians meet they talk library methods; when American librarians meet they discuss publicity.” How intensely alive Miss Ahern seemed, how full of ideas, ideals, enthusiasms, how enquiringly humorous! This was a fitting introduction, which still remains with me, though no doubt it faded long ago from her mind, to the librarian who, as she herself wrote, for “a glorious third of a century,” edited that lively periodical, Public Libraries,—Libraries as it afterwards became. It was fitting, too, because she was a woman and so something then new for us, but for America typical, of librarianship. Search has found me no collected volume of her essays, but in the ten years, 1921–31, I have noted fifteen papers from her pen, and these must be only a very few in comparison with her whole work. America has had many fine women to influence its libraries, but surely none finer than she.
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