Magazine article American Libraries

This Month, 99 Years Ago. (Events)

Magazine article American Libraries

This Month, 99 Years Ago. (Events)

Article excerpt

IN JANUARY 1903, RUMORS BEGAN circulating that Minneapolis Public Library Director James Kendall Hosmer was about to resign in order to devote more time to his historical scholarship. But who to succeed him? Many favored 37-year-old First Assistant Librarian Gratia Countryman, who had been at the library since 1889 and was president of the Minnesota Library Association. In fact, MPL insiders recognized that Countryman--and not Hosmer--had actually been running the library for the past several years.

When MPL board member Jacob Stone, chair of the search committee organized shortly after Hosmer announced his resignation, said he favored a male for the position, Countryman's friends came to her defense. University of Minnesota President Cyrus Northrup let it be known that he credited Countryman for guiding a bill through the state legislature that provided increased appropriations for MPL. Librarian of Congress Herbert Putnam, a former MPL director who had originally hired Countryman, was more forthright. "I have a very clear opinion as to what your board ought to do," he wrote Stone on April 25, 1903; "It is to elect Miss Countryman librarian. …

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