History - The 1930's

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The Texas State Library and Historical Commission continued to publish Texas Libraries and News Notes - The Bulletin of the Texas Library Association began publication in 1924 and articles on government information and documents librarianship began appearing in 1925. As the quality of News Notes improved, so did the substantive information devoted to documents topics and the importance of documents collections in the libraries of the 1930's.

"During these years [1923-1932] several Texas colleges began offering library science courses, and those offered at TSCW [Texas State College for Women] and at Our Lady of the Lake were accredited by the American Library Association in 1938 and in 1943 respectively. North Texas State College began to offer courses leading to a degree in 1939 . . . During the remainder of the depression decade, Texas libraries participated in the Federal Works Program, but union catalogs were not made nor bibliographic centers built up as was done in some states. These late thirties will be remembered for the plan drawn by the Committee on Library Planning to fit into the program of the Texas Planning Board . . . In 1937, one request from the plan was written into a bill and introduced into the Legislature. This bill for increased appropriation for the State Library was passed by the Senate but lost in committee in the House. The Peoples Library Movement backed a similar bill in 1939 with similar results." ("As Others See Us: The Background," by Fred Folmer, Texas Library Journal, vol. 30, no. 2, June 1954, pages 108-109.)

Current Federal Depository Libraries who joined the Program during the 1930's are: Texas Tech University, 1935 and East Texas State College (now the Texas A&M University, Commerce), 1937.

The following excerpts are included to chronicle Texas interest in government information and documents librarianship.

Items of Interest from the 1930's

January, 1930 (News Notes, vol. 6, no. 2, page 1) "Report of Library Progress" - Texas Christian University Library, Fort Worth Texas

Submitted by Arthur R. Curry, Librarian

[Excerpt] The growth of the library's book collection must be judged in part by the accession number at the given date through successive years: The date of February 28th was used for this record. The present number (November 12, 1929) is 33,686. Besides these books, we have about 2,000 books yet unaccessioned, and had about 15,000 government documents in addition.

April, 1931 (News Notes, vol. 7, no. 2, pages 5-6) "Report from Public Libraries"

"El Paso: [Excerpt] . . . The book collection contains 45,620 bound volumes and 30,620 documents and pamphlets, 18,176 pictures circulating, 2,015 find arts, non-circulating used for exhibits and groups student art. There are 982 maps. The reference department has been crowded afternoons and evenings during the fall and winder months. There were 5,213 recorded questions from students in the Public Schools requiring approximately 15,464 references. Club programs, book lists, and references for many individuals and study groups constituted the daily work of this department. 2,572 questions were answered through Government and State documents . . . "
"Houston - The Year's Work, 1930: [Excerpt] . . . 3,253 gifts of books as well as papers, documents, maps and art objects from interested friends . . . Interesting books in the collections are: . . . Report on the United States and Mexican Boundary Survey 1857 and 1858, in two volumes. The Houston Public Library is a depository library for all road maps issued by the United States Highway Commission and has received 120, Selected maps on display in the lobby have attracted much attention . . . ."

October, 1932 (News Notes, vol. 8, no. 4, pages 3-6) "Texas State Documents"

By Octave F. Rorgan, Texas State Library

[Note: This is the first full-length article devoted to documents appearing the News Notes. For those interested in the scope and history of state documents distribution, this article is of great value. The first and second paragraphs of this 3 page article are reprinted here and will strike a cord of recognition with every documents librarian. Ms. Rogan has a delightful writing style, and like so many documents librarians, finds humor even within statistical reports - " . . . In idle curiosity much fun my be gleaned from reports carefully compiled for serious purposes. Take that of the Prison Board . . . That the Baptists, Methodists and Catholics are by far the predominant churches in the State is the only complimentary interpretation to be placed upon the 534 Baptists, 313 Catholics and 164 Methodists that entered the penitentiary in 1929. That ten persons over 70 years of age entered in 1929 is a warning that evil doing recognizes no age limit." - page 5]

"Someone has said that Texas State documents are so voluminous and dry that bridges could be made of them. Voluminous? Yes. During the past fiscal year biennium of 1928-30 the State of Texas published around two hundred fifty titles, not to mention legislative bills, resolutions and daily journals. Business forms and routine circulars are not included, as they are not regarded as State documents. Dry? That depends partly on the reader's interest. Useful? They are indispensable to those who know. No one begrudges the quarter of a million dollars, more or less, that the State invested the last biennium in printing them.
The great mass of scientific, scholarly, practical, and popular information is printed by the State with no thought to make any money for itself or for any of the investigators and scribes through whom the information is dug out and assembled. The State knows that its work is good, and its publications are part of the purpose to benefit directly or indirectly the nearly six million people within its jurisdiction and to do its bit toward furthering human knowledge as a whole. With the exception of the court reports, rarely is a Texas State document copyrighted. To copyright it would defeat the purpose. Anyone desiring to quote from or use in any way any information or even wording is welcome to do so. The more widely the information is disseminated, the more useful the publication becomes. With unusual exceptions, the person ordering a Texas State document does not even pay postage. The State investigates, complies the results, prints them, wraps them up, licks the postage stamps, and sends them over the State with not even a charge for its good will. Naturally, ethical considerations, as in everything, demand that undue advantage be not taken. Madam Grundy recalls only one instance in which a Texas State document was stolen, reprinted under personal manes, and sold for profit . . . ."

July, 1932 (News Notes, vol. 8, no. 3, page 10) "A Key to the White House Conference"

"The publication of the White House Conference on Child Health and Protection, when complete, will represent the most comprehensive library of childhood which has yet been assembled. More than half of the total forty volumes are now off the press. Each new book appearing sets in motion again the every-widening circle of interest in the Conference findings.
The reports in the volumes now available are serving as guides for workers in many specialized fields of child welfare. One volume, however, White House Conference, 1030 - tells the whole story of the Conference briefly and in a very readable fashion, and is finding its way onto book shelves in private homes as well as into the reference libraries of leaders of civic and social groups.
As a large edition of the book was published, it has been possible to make an attractive board edition available at fifty cents, including postage. There is also a cloth edition at $2.00. The book may be obtained through the Conference office, Interior Building, Washington, D.C."

January, 1933 (News Notes, vol. 9, no. 1, page 14) "A Layman Selects His Christmas Presents"

Submitted by Hubert Roussel, [Rice College]

[Note: This little article will bring a smile to all documents librarians who have their own secret list of humorous titles hidden away and proves that "stupid pet trick" style newspaper articles on government pamphlets are not a new idea.]

"Wonders of our Washington government are never so clear to these dim, fading eyes as they become at this particular season. As Christmas approaches each year, the mail brings to our door a form letter from some member of congress, calling attention to free bulletins printed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Our representative says, with a generous wave of the hand, that "while the supply lasts" we can have any five for the asking. Incidentally, the supply never seems to run low.
This year, probably owing to rigid governmental economy, we have only a total of 586 subjects to choose from. We are really beginning to fell the depression at last. However, though the list is a little disappointing, we shall try to skimp along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and have chosen the five booklets we would like in our stocking on Christmas morning - provided we then have any stocking.
First of all, we are ordering No. 844 Attracting Birds in the Middle Atlantic States," to give our Aunt Fanny Elizabeth. Aunt Fanny has been trying for years to attract a bird living in Nashville, whom she met at the World's Fair in St. Louis. The government out to give her a lift.
Then, for our very own, we would like No. 1003, "How to Control Billbugs," which are giving us plenty of trouble. For our daughter, Steve, aged three months, we are ordering No. 984, bearing the title of "Rag-Doll Seed Tester." We figure we can manufacture the rag doll without including the seed tester, or if we do have to include the seed tester, we can probably explain it to Steve and it won't matter a lot.
For fourth choice we are torn between volume No. 1429, entitled "Emmer and Spelt," which apparently is certain to be made into a movie with Marie Dressler and Wallace Beery as stars, and No. 1436, whose title is "Why Potatoes Run Out." We'll probably end up taking No. 1436, but sooner or later we want to read "Emmer and Spelt." Maybe it has run as a Liberty serial and you can lend us the old back numbers.
Anyhow, we are dead set in the matter of last choice. Our final selection (and yours, we imagine) is booklet 1593, called simply "Trembles." This is the malady that attacks us about four in the morning, when we suddenly waken and start thinking of last month's bills. If the government knows any way to prevent this ailment, it will certainly be rendering a service. Also, we would like it to get down on its knees and help hunt for the bolts we have shaken out of a bed with a couple of payments still due.
Incidentally, there is one pamphlet in this year's lists that appears rather a waste of good effort on the part of some government bard. "Making Cellars Dry" is the title. [Note: this is an obvious reference to the call to repeal Prohibition during the 1932 Presidential election.] . - From the Houston Post."

March 1938 (Texas Libraries, vol. 4, no. 3, pages 1) "Texas Libraries"

"In issuing this pamphlet, the Texas Library and Historical Commission is reviving Texas Libraries which was published irregularly from November 1909 through October 1920, the last issue being vol. 4, nos. 1-2. In its relation to libraries, particularly the smaller libraries, the Texas State Library feels the need of an organ through which certain helpful information and suggestions of general interest can be carried to all libraries of the state."

March 1938 (Texas Libraries, vol. 4, no. 3, pages 3-4) "Free and Inexpensive Material"

[Note: The materials listed were pamphlets from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, the U.S. Public Health Service, the U.S. Farm Credit Administration, and the U.S. Narcotic Bureau - Treasury Dept.]

September 1938 (Texas Libraries, vol. 5, no. 1, page 7) "Government Publications of Unusual Interest"

[Note: The materials listed were booklets and pamphlets from the Children's Bureau Publications, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture featuring advice for the home and farm.]

December 1938 (Texas Libraries, vol. 5, no. 2, page 5) "State Departments Publications Check List"

[Excerpt:] "Did you ever hear of this service to libraries? Do you know that libraries may obtain valuable publications of State Departments through the document shipments system of the Texas State Library? The Texas State Library makes these shipments three or four times a year and you may receive either (1) the package containing all documents, or (2) a copy of the check list alone . . . Since most of these publications are important, all librarians should take time to examine them when received, and advise patrons of the information contained in them . . . ."

[Note: The Check list included items form a variety of boards and agencies.]


Additions and Corrections to this History are welcomed. Texas Library Association, Government Documents Round Table; All contents copyright © 1996-2005. All rights reserved.

Last Updated: Saturday, January 29, 2005
Created on Mar 27, 2011 | Last updated May 19, 2014