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Herbert Putnam

Herbert Putnam, an American librarian, was born 1861-09-20 in New York City, where his father George Palmer Putnam was a noted publisher. He died 1955-08-14 in Woods Hole, MA. He graduated from Harvard in 1883, studied law at Columbia, and was admitted to the bar in 1886. He was librarian at the Minneapolis Athenaeum, 1884-1887, and the Minneapolis Public Library, 1887-1891. He practised law in Boston, 1892-1895, and was librarian of the Boston Public Library, 1895-1899 where he did much to improve that library's collection of photographs. He was appointed elected president of the American Library Association in 1898 and again in 1904, and was appointed librarian of Congress in 1899 by President William McKinley. He was the first experienced librarian to hold the post. He held the post until 1939 when he retired with the title of librarian emeritus to be succeeded by the poet Archibald MacLeish. Early during his administration, Putnam introduced a new system of classifying books, that continues to this day as the Library of Congress classification. He also established an interlibrary loan system, and expanded the Library of Congress's role and relationships with other libraries, through the provision of centralized services.

He became an overseer of Harvard in 1902.

Adapted from The Americana.

Additional sources

Jefferson's Legacy: A Brief History of the Library of Congress
Julie K. Brown, Making Culture Visible