Third World Libraries, Volume 1, Number 1, Summer 1990
In this volume K.C. Harrison has gathered 18 items, all but two of which had been previously published. They had appeared in periodicals, conference proceedings, newsletters, foundation papers, and as chapters of books. Eleven of the 18 items originally appeared between 1980 and 1984, one in 1988, and the remaining six between 1975 and 1978. This latter group includes two items not previously published.
The author has had a rich, intensive, and fruitful career. He was Librarian of Westminster City Library, but always made the effort — and was given the opportunity — to devote himself to international library affairs. He has been active in the (British) Library Association, in IFLA and its subsections such as INTAMEL (International Association of Metropolitan City libraries), in UNESCO, and in the Commonwealth Library Association (COMLA). From its inception in 1972 to 1984 he was president of COMLA. As president of the organization he travelled widely, was frequently the principal speaker at its conferences and always made himself available for advice and counsel. Several of the addresses he gave are included in the volume under review. There is understandably some repetition in the presentation of materials relating to the organization and to the objectives of COMLA.
Harrison’s contributions were particularly significant in the international public library area. He gave an excellent picture of the “Origins, Development and Tasks of INTAMEL.” But his interests covered not only public libraries but all types of libraries and many aspects of librarianship. This is evident from his succinct yet comprehensive survey of “Library and Information Services in Bermuda: A Profile.” Another example is the article “Finland Revisited: Solid Lessons from a Remote and Watery Land.” A unique experiment, described in “Books for Developing Countries: The Ranfurly Contribution,” deserves special recognition. The author notes the extraordinary efforts by Lady Ranfurly, wife of the Earl of Ranfurly, one–time Governor–General of the Bahamas, in establishing and maintaining this largely privately supported undertaking. [See “Further Reading” (at http://www.worlib.org/vol01no1/reading_v1n1.shtml) in this issue for more about the Ranfurly Library Service.— Ed.]
Some of the other topics discussed in this collection are book selection and censorship; the library’s place in extending literacy; library service to minorities and the handicapped; and the libraries’ share in the social and cultural progress of Africa. In all of these instances he urges that libraries play a central, not just a peripheral role.
Throughout the book Harrison has given credit to colleagues and other individuals who have furthered the growth of international librarianship and of literacy. He pays special tribute to two librarians. In the article “McColvin, IFLA and International Librarianship” he notes the many outstanding contributions of Lionel Roy McColvin to British and international librarianship. McColvin passed away in January 1976. The other internationalist whom Harrison honors is Frank M. Gardner, who died in July 1980. Gardner is particularly remembered for his work in refining and completing the IFLA Standards for Public Libraries.
The awareness has continuously grown among librarians that familiarity with library patterns applied in other than their own countries is highly valuable. Many members of our profession have become convinced that the knowledge of foreign library practices and settings leads to a better understanding of librarianship in their home countries. In his Foreword to the volume under review, Lester Asheim supports this notion. He observes — and I share this view — that international and comparative librarianship is most effective in making librarians conscious of different and enlightening viewpoints within our field and he sees this publication “as providing that opportunity to many librarians who have not had the good fortune to participate in the foreign experience at first hand.”
Fritz Veit received a doctorate in law from the University of Heidelberg, and a Ph.D. in librarianship from the University of Chicago. He directed the libraries of Chicago State University from 1949–73, and has been an adjunct professor at Rosary College since 1950. Dr. Veit has written widely on issues affecting academic libraries.
Veit, Fritz. “Review of International Librarianship. By K.C. Harrison (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1989).” Third World Libraries, Volume 1, Number 1, Summer 1990.
© 1990 Fritz Veit.
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