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Ex Libris Association's
Chronology of LIS education in Canada
from 1904 to 2004

National Library of
Canada's celebration of its
50th anniversary

Explore the career of
Lillian H. Smith
Canada's foremost children's librarian

A detailed history of the
Toronto Public Library
from 1810 to the present day by Date and Event

Read about the history of the Lambton County Library bookmobiles since the 1930s

History of the Atlantic Provinces Library Association dating to 1918

This is Libraries Today

Libraries Today is a web site for people interested in the history of Canadian libraries and librarians, especially in the province of Ontario. As well, there is a concern with contemporary library political, administrative, economic, and social issues that are relevant to library history. The theory, study, and methodology for the history of libraries in an international context also comes into consideration.

What influence does the study of the "past" have on the "present?" Libraries Today strives to convey there is a dual function that critical history performs: it helps us understand how past thoughts and actions were shaped and it provides us with a deeper awareness of present courses of action leading to contemporary change. In this context, contested definitions and analyses of past events, facts, trends, and changes can be examined using historical methods and critical theories. As well, we can gain an understanding of various explanations for causes and consequences, the use of narratives and evidence, and different versions of the past.

We are constantly reinterpreting "history" (as past and as an historical account) using new concepts which emerge from uncovering more evidence and rethinking accepted facts in the light of new ideas and research methodology. "History" can be taken to mean what we accept happened in the past (or, conversely, what did not take place); it can also mean what is written as a result of dialogue between historians -- what took place (events); why or how things happened (explanations); who was involved (personages); and when did events occur (chronological dimension).

There are many areas where research can enlarge our knowledge of the history of libraries: biography; public library administration; the impact of international technological innovation; services for children; rural services; the influence of larger urban libraries; and the professionalization of librarianship. Currently, there is a resurgence of interest about the role of library history in the education of librarians, the interpretation of public library development since 1850, the impact of gender, and the future prospects of library history in general.

Historical knowledge and inquiry can help us to analyze problems by identifying and defining issues and problems. As well, historical understanding helps us to comprehend cause-and-effect relationships and to avoid judging the past (and by extension "today") in terms of current norms and values. By looking at past library events and examining facts in Ontario and across Canada we can develop alternative approaches to contemporary conditions based on a better awareness of the likely consequences. Historical memory is one of the keys to self-identity,

Last modified on Monday, 26-May-2014 13:19:16 EDT

Created February 1996 | Book requests or comments to: Libraries Today | top of this page |