The Academic Library in the United States: Historical Perspectives

McFarland. Sept. 2022. 294p. ed. by Mark L. McCallon & John Mark Tucker. ISBN 9780786495870. pap. $75. PRO MEDIA
Sharing a deep concern over how librarians interact in academia, editors McCallen (professor of library information services, Abilene Christian Univ.) and Tucker (emeritus, Purdue Univ.) have compiled a reference of historical scholarship covering academic libraries, highlighting 14 works originally published from 1953 to 2015. These pieces, written by an array of prominent historians, form a cogent examination detailing the evolution of the academic library in the United States from 1638 to 2015, with sections on early book collections, professional education, university formations, diversity, and digital expansion. The work starts off with an introduction on the importance of historiography and then proceeds into the collection of texts. This well-researched book demonstrates impressive scholarship from beginning to end. The editors are to be applauded for stitching together the right voices in a volume that will be referenced for years to come. Santayana’s 1905 maxim, mentioned in this book’s foreword—“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”—certainly applies here, as the editors are committed to learning from the lessons of the past.
VERDICT This comprehensive and important work will be deeply appreciated by librarians and historians; a welcome addition to any higher-education library.
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