This week marks the first From the Bitch Library post that examines the history of female librarianship as well as the relationship between feminism and libraries.
Image: Melvil Dewey
Melvil Dewey, creator of the Dewey Decimal System, is oftentimes praised for having created a new job field for women in the US. In 1883, Dewey was hired as the head librarian at Columbia College (which later turned into Columbia University), and he soon convinced the trustees to let him open a library school. At the time, Columbia College only allowed women into a special women's college, so Dewey's plans to invite women to join the library school were controversial. His first class was comprised of 20 people, 17 of whom were women. While many have focused on Dewey's success in educating and opening up jobs for women, attention is rarely paid to why he felt women would make great librarians. Spoiler alert: he held some pretty sexist beliefs.