Timeline of women in library science

This is a timeline of women in library science throughout the world.

1796: Cecilia Cleve became the first female librarian in Sweden.[1]

1852: The first female clerk was hired for the Boston Public Library.[2]

1890: Elizabeth Putnam Sohier and Anna Eliot Ticknor became the first women appointed to a United States state library agency—specifically, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

1911: Theresa Elmendorf became the first female president of the American Library Association.[3]

1912: Lillian Helena Smith became the first trained children's librarian in Canada.[4]

1921: Pura Belpré became the first Puerto Rican librarian to be hired by the New York Public Library System.[5]

1923: Virginia Proctor Powell Florence became the first black woman in the United States to earn a degree in library science.[6] She earned the degree (Bachelor of Library Science) from what is now part of the University of Pittsburgh.[7][8][9]

1940: Eliza Atkins Gleason became the first black American to earn a doctorate in library science, which she did at the University of Chicago.[10]

1947: Freda Farrell Waldon became the first president of the Canadian Library Association, and thus, as she was female, its first female president.[11][12]

1970: Clara Stanton Jones became the first woman (and the first African American) to serve as director of a major library system in America, as director of the Detroit Public Library.[13]

1970: The American Library Association's Social Responsibilities Round Table Feminist Task Force (FTF) was founded in 1970 by women who wished to address sexism in libraries and librarianship.[14]

1971: Effie Lee Morris became the first woman and black person to serve as president of the Public Library Association.[10]

1972: Zoia Horn, born in Ukraine, became the first United States librarian to be jailed for refusing to share information as a matter of conscience (and, as she was female, the first female United States librarian to do so.)[15]

1973: Page Ackerman became University Librarian for the University of California, Los Angeles, and thus became the United States's first female librarian of a system as large and complex as UCLA's.[16]

1976: The Council of the American Library Association passed a "Resolution on Racism and Sexism Awareness" during the ALA's Centennial Conference in Chicago, July 18–24, 1976.[17]

1976: The Committee on the Status of Women in Librarianship (COSWL) of the American Library Association[18] was founded in 1976.[19]

1985: Susan Luévano-Molina became the first female president of REFORMA.[20]

1993: Jennifer Tanfield became the first female Librarian of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom.[21]

1999: Elisabeth Niggemann became the first female director general of the German National Library.[22]

2000: Lynne Brindley was appointed as the first female chief executive of the British Library.[23]

2002: Inez Lynn was appointed as the first female librarian in the London Library's history.[24]

2004: Anjana Chattopadhyay became the first Director of the National Medical Library in India.

2009: Anne Jarvis became the first female librarian in Cambridge University’s 650-year history.[25]

2012: Sonia L'Heureux became the first female Parliamentary Librarian of Canada.[26]

2016: Laurence Engel became the first female head of the French National Library.[27]

2016: Carla Hayden became the first female Librarian of Congress.[28]

2019: Leslie Weir became the first female Librarian and Archivist of Canada.[29]


  1. Du Rietz, Anita, Kvinnors entreprenörskap: under 400 år, 1. uppl., Dialogos, Stockholm, 2013
  2. Garrison, Dee (1972–1973). "The Tender Technicians: The Feminization of Public Librarianship, 1876-1905". Journal of Social History. 6 (2): 131–159. doi:10.1353/jsh/6.2.131. JSTOR 3786606.
  3. Thomison, Dennis (1993). "Elmendorf, Theresa West". In Robert Wedgeworth (ed.). World Encyclopedia of Library and Information Services (3rd ed.). Chicago: ALA Editions. ISBN 0-8389-0609-5., p. 280, The death of her husband had forced Theresa Elmendorf to end her unpaid status, and for the next 20 years she held the position of vice-librarian at the Buffalo Public Library. Her new role also meant an increased participation in the American Library Association; in 1911–12 she served as its President, the first woman to hold that position.
  4. "Famous Canadian Women's Famous Firsts - Academics and Librarians". Famouscanadianwomen.com. Retrieved 2016-08-10.
  5. Rivas, Librarian Vianela (2016). "How NYC's First Puerto Rican Librarian Brought Spanish To The Shelves". NPR.org. Retrieved 2020-10-24.
  6. 175 Years of Black Pitt People and Notable Milestones. (2004). Blue Black and Gold 2004: Chancellor Mark A. Norenberg Reports on the Pitt African American Experience, 44. Retrieved on 2009-05-22.
  7. "Claiming Their Citizenship: African American Women From 1624–2009". Nwhm.org. Archived from the original on 2012-02-27. Retrieved 2012-08-20.
  8. Celeste Kimbrough (2004-03-18). "University of Pittsburgh to Honor First African American Librarian In Plaque Dedication Ceremony April 2 | University of Pittsburgh News". News.pitt.edu. Retrieved 2012-08-20.
  9. "05-3180-Oberlin-Issue No.32" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-10.
  10. Smith, Katisha (2020-05-08). "13 Pioneering Black American Librarians You Oughta Know". BOOK RIOT. Retrieved 2020-10-24.
  11. "Waldon, Freda Farrell | HPL". Hpl.ca. Retrieved 2016-08-10.
  12. "CLA AT WORK". cla.ca. Retrieved 2016-08-10.
  13. Information, Sheryl James | University of Michigan School of. "Trailblazing librarian, U-M alumna Clara Stanton Jones elected to Michigan Women's Hall of Fame | Diversity, Equity & Inclusion | University of Michigan".
  14. "The Feminist Task Force".
  15. Egelko, Bob (2014-07-15). "Zoia Horn, librarian jailed for not testifying against protesters". SFGate. Retrieved 2016-08-04.
  16. Setzer, Dawn (2006-03-09). "Obituary: Page Ackerman, Former UCLA University Librarian". UCLA News. Retrieved 2006-12-13.
  17. "American Library Association Institutional Repository, News Release: American Library Association, Public Information Office, American Library Association, 50 East Huron Street, Chicago, Illinois 60611, 12 944-6780, From: Peggy Barber, Director, Public Infonnation Office, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Resolution on. Racism and Sexism Awareness" (PDF).
  18. "American Library Association, Committee on the Status of Women in Librarianship".
  19. Kathleen de la Peña McCook and Katharine Phenix, On Account of Sex: An Annotated Bibliography on the History of Women in Librarianship, 1977–1981 (Chicago: ALA, 1984) Katharine Phenix and Kathleen de la Peña McCook (1982–1986) (Chicago: ALA, 1989); later years by Lori A Goetsch; Sarah Watstein (1987–1992) (Metuchen: Scarecrow Press, 1993) Betsy Kruger; Catherine A Larson; Allison A Cowgill (1993–1997) Metuchen: Scarecrow Press, 2000).
  20. REFORMA (Association). National Conference (2001). The Power of Language: Selected Papers from the Second REFORMA National Conference. Libraries Unlimited. pp. 44, 45–. ISBN 978-1-56308-945-9.
  21. Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 21 Jul 1999 (pt 21)". Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 2016-08-12.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  22. "History". Deutsche National Bibliothek. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  23. "Woman to head British Library". The Guardian. 9 February 2000. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  24. yesterday. "History of The London Library". Londonlibrary.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-08-10.
  25. Healy, Alison (2009). "Cambridge library's first female librarian". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2020-10-24.
  26. "Meet Canada’s first female Parliamentary librarian: Sonia L’Heureux". The Hill Times, July 9, 2012.
  27. "Laurence Engel nommée à la tête de la BnF". Le Figaro (in French). 6 April 2016. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  28. "Carla Hayden is officially sworn in as the first woman and African-American librarian of Congress". Vox. 2016. Retrieved 2016-09-14.
  29. "Leslie Weir appointed as Librarian and Archivist of Canada". Librarianship.ca. 2019. Retrieved 2021-02-18.