by Katie Ginnane
In honor of Banned Books Week, the Georgia State Law Library brings you a list of famous librarians, some of whom might surprise you. Before, and sometimes after, these masters of microfiche became famous for their various pursuits, they spent their nine to five in the quiet of a library. Among this list are a founding father and and former first lady, so librarianship truly leads to great opportunities!
Laura Bush– This former first lady attained her Masters of Library Science from University of Texas at Austin in 1973. She was employed both in a Houston public library and at Dawson Elementary School. She has been quoted as saying, “I worked as a teacher and librarian and I learned how important reading is in school and in life.”
Ben Franklin– Not just an inventor, this founding father conceived of the idea of a subscription library, which would pool funds from members to buy books available to all. He implemented his idea with the Library Company of Philadelphia, which continues today with 500,000 rare books, 160,000 manuscripts and 75,000 graphic items. Ben Franklin also hired the first American librarian, Louis Timothee.
Mao Zedong– Prior to his reign over China, this dictator worked as an assistant librarian at Peking University, where he was also a part-time student. After, Mao became headmaster of school in Changsha.
Lewis Carroll– Before he crafted Through the Looking Glass and inspired Jefferson Airplane, this famous poet and writer worked as a sub-librarian at Christ Church, a college in Oxford. He would later teach there. Mr. Carroll, whose real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodson, was also a mathematician. Lewis Carol’s famous book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was banned by one of our other famous librarians, Mao Zedong.
Madeleine L’Engel– Prior to publishing A Wrinkle in Time, this author volunteered at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine as a librarian, where she was later the writer in residence. Later, she would go on to publish dozens of both fiction and non-fiction books. “A Wrinkle in Time” is also on several banned books lists.
J. Edgar Hoover– This former head of the F.B.I. worked in the Library of Congress while attending law school at George Washington University. At the Library of Congress Mr. Hoover worked as a messenger, cataloguer and a clerk during his tenure at the library. In 1919, he left the library to become a special assistant to the Attorney General.
Philip Larkin– This famous poet also made a career out his librarianship. Larkin worked as the librarian for many institutions in England, from from the public library in Wellington, Shropshire to the University of Hull library. Larkin is credited with making the University of Hull library the first library with an automated online circulation system in Europe.