Library DrawingThe CONNector

JANUARY 2000Volume 2 Number 1

Godard Looks Ahead

Mark Jones, State Archivist

Old Library Building
The old State Library; this room currently serves as the Senate Chambers of the Capitol

In this issue, it is fitting that we look back at the 1900 report of the state librarian written by George S. Godard. In 1898, Charles J. Hoadly hired George Godard as an assistant. In 1898, Hoadly became very sick, and Acting Librarian Godard wrote the report for the year ending September 30, 1900, intended as a special brief to the legislature for more support. In it, he gave his perspective on challenges facing the State Library. A couple excerpts will show that problems often get recycled. At the end of this century, we are still faced with similar challenges. Remember that in 1900 the State Library was in the Capitol.

Collecting Policy
"The process of specializing our libraries to increase their utility is a necessary step of human progress. As the wants of society become more complex and new centers have arisen each possessing its own libraries, the State Library which might in the early days receive everything, can make itself more useful by selecting its specialties and leaving to others more favorably situated to be more general in their aims."

In other words, Godard addressed the issue of a need for a specific collecting policy. "There are two lines" of collecting, he wrote that "have a peculiar and special place in a State Library, viz:-Whatever pertains to the science of government for the aid of those who are to administer government, and whatever illustrates the history, character, resources and development of the State."

"When the library was broght [sic] to its present spacious room from its congested quarters in the Old State House, it was believed that abundant provision had been made for the shelving of books for years to come. Not only has all the shelving then provided been occupied, but other cases since added are also filled to overflowing, to such an extent, that for some time the work of the Librarian has been not only much increased and seriously handicapped but as many of the books are arranged in heaps or in two or more rows upon a shelf they are thereby exposed to much extra handling and wear."

Elsewhere in the report, Godard mentions that the books and pamphlets "are stored in four rooms" in the Capitol. He drops the hint in 1900 that a separate building is needed. It took ten years to fund and construct the current structure at 231 Capitol Avenue.

Connecticut History
"The fact that a large amount of historical matter relative to the State and its people is fast disappearing, either by destruction or by purchase by persons and institutions outside of the State, emphasizes the fact that Connecticut is not living up to her opportunities and duty.

"The State Library is the center [for Connecticut items], and in it should be collected not only records of the past, but also of the future. As the value of this record depends upon the completeness of the material collected, too much attention cannot be given to it."

Charles J. Hoadly died on October 19, 1900. Nineteen days later, George Godard became the State Librarian. In this year, therefore, we acknowledge the century anniversary of Godard's appointment.

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