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Honoring Our Past

Is librarianship a profession? Professor E. Croft Long believed it was. He was a professor of physiology at Duke University Medical Center when his article was published in the April 1962 Bulletin of the Medical Library Association (BMLA). He states that medical librarianship deserves respect because libraries are worthwhile and important, because librarians are “purveyors of an indispensable commodity—information—and because they are altruistically motivated” [1]. He makes another interesting statement with a quotation from the Wall Street Journal: “[I]n the public mind, the librarian is no longer prim, spinsterish, carrying with her the faint aroma of library paste and peering shyly at the work with blinking, book-strained eyes” [1]. (How long has it been since you used library paste?!) He continues by saying, “[F]ive years from now, information storage and its retrieval by machine methods will not only be a fait accompli, but will be commonplace. Ten years from now the librarian who cannot program a digital computer will be archaic” [1]. Remember, this was written in 1962, and the Biomedical Communication Network went online in 1968!

Long states that professionalism is the destiny of medical librarianship. He believes that the “plain uncommon sense of librarians will ensure that the tail is never permitted to wag the dog” [1]. He views librarianship as able to define its own frame of reference, its own standards, its own achievements, and its own aspirations. He challenges us to enlarge that frame, raise our standards, multiply our achievements, and fulfill our aspirations.

Would that we could enjoin more faculty to write such words about us. It will lift your spirits, so please read the article. Thank you, Dr. Long!


  1. Croft LE. Professionalism in the library. Bull Med Libr Assoc. 1962 Apr;50(2):203–6.

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