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Surveying the Field: The Research Model of Women in Librarianship, 1882–1898

Women who promoted library services to children in the United States in the late nineteenth century introduced the systematic use of survey research on library practice to the field of professional librarianship. They created a series of qualitative survey‐based reports, the Reading of the Young reports, which were presented at ALA conferences from 1882 to 1898. These reports both assessed the current state of and promoted the development of services to youth. The research model they developed was adopted by other women and men in librarianship for research on other aspects of the emerging field of public library service. The discourse of librarianship had been previously based on individual expertise, and their research model changed the field in two ways: first, by gathering empirical evidence about library practice, and second, by introducing a collaborative model of discourse. These findings about the influence of women during the early years of librarianship call for reexamination of historical explanations for feminization of the field.