While HEW management was considering scaling down its central library, a concern arose in an entirely different quarter that would significantly affect the library. The Nixon administration, which entered office in 1969, expressed strong interest in establishing an educational research office separate from the Office of Education. It believed that autonomy would enhance the quality of government-sponsored education research. Thus, in 1972, Congress created the National Institute of Education. Independent of the Office of Education, it, along with the Office of Education, formed part of a new Education Division of HEW.
The legislation creating NIE did not specifically mention a library. However, the NIE Planning Unit, which had been created to consider the new NIE's organizational structure, viewed some type of library as essential for NIE to carry out it authorized research functions. Two members of the Planning Unit, Susan Stairs and Dorothy Christiansen, were directed to study what type of library would be appropriate for the new NIE.
Stairs and Christiansen surveyed three options for library service: a branch library of the HEW library, analogous to the then-existing OE branch library; a national library on the order of the National Library of Medicine; and an in-house research library similar to the library of the National Institutes of Health. They criticized the branch model as being too limited for projected NIE needs. Also they believed that any ties to the HEW bureaucracy would be inhibitive. Regarding the national education library model, Stairs and Christiansen looked upon it as too extensive for NIE's immediate needs.
Stairs and Christiansen advocated the in-house research library model, which was the most common type of library in HEW. Such a library would not report to HEW or any division outside NIE. Initially, the services provided by the NIE library would be directed to the "needs of the in-house staff." But it was assumed that eventually the library would provide a "number of services to the educational community and other interested individuals."
The NIE library would have a "working collection focusing on recent developments in the field of education. A concerted effort will be made to match the collection to the needs of the in-house research staff; subject orientation will be based on NIE in-house research programs." The focus of the collection, thus, would be on contemporary education works without the development of a historical collection. Historical works would be "available through interlibrary loan with the HEW Department library or other Washington area libraries."
Stairs and Christiansen added, however, that their proposal was for the present and that the library might someday expand beyond their prescribed limits. "If the NIE proves to be a significant force in education, it may wish to consider establishing a National Education Library at some time in the future." If in the future a decision was made to create a national education library, Stairs and Christiansen suggested that the NIE library should acquire the education collection of the HEW library, pointing out that "The fact that the HEW Department Library is understaffed and short of space should enhance NIE's prospects for implementing this plan."
At about the same time that the Planning Unit was providing theoretical justification for an NIE library, steps were being taken to create a library within the Education Reference Center (ERC). The Education Reference Center had been created in the Office of Education in 1970 to provide computerized searches for the Office of Education staff. The Education Reference Center was one of the components of the Office of Education that became part of the new NIE in the fall of 1972.
A December 1972 draft memo by ERC staff member Patricia DuVal [Coulter] stressed the close connection that ERC should have with a library. "An essential resource for ERC is close access to or its own library or resource center. The establishment of an NIE Library or Resource Center could serve a dual role of providing NIE staff with easy access to the core literature in the field of education and current awareness materials which at the same time provide an indispensable resource for the ERC."
In January 1973, the plan for the close connection between ERC and a projected library was communicated by Ernest Russell, Assistant Director for Administration in NIE, to Thomas Glennan, the Director of NIE. Russell's memo stated that a "periodical collection and a reference book collection . . . operating in conjunction with the . . . computer retrieval center would form the basis for an educational informational center of excellence."
By the beginning of February 1972, ERC began to formally develop plans for a library. The library effort was directed by Patricia DuVal Coulter, who would become the first librarian of the NIE library. A room was provided for Coulter in the Reporters Building in Southwest Washington, where ERC was temporarily housed, to collect materials. It was not large enough, however, to contain a book collection. By the middle of March, library furniture and equipment had been ordered, but the physical location of the library had not yet been determined.
By chance, a space designer`s suggestion to use the library furniture of the Center for Urban Education, which was being closed down after nine years in New York City, led to the decision to move that entire library to NIE. The library collection from the Center for Urban Education consisted of 23,000 volumes and 100 periodicals, particularly strong in urban sociology, black studies, and innovative educational methods. This would provide the new NIE library with a strong collection at little cost.
In May 1973, the NIE Division of Educational Resources, which included the library, moved to the Matomic Building at 1818 "H" Street, N.W., where sufficient space was available to display a book collection. The book collection from the defunct Center for Urban Education arrived and was placed on shelves, many of which had also been obtained from the Center. The NIE library could now begin to function as a true library.
ERC planners had initially visualized the projected NIE library as small in size compared to the old Office of Education library and devoted strictly to the needs of NIE staff. For example, Patricia DuVal's [Coulter] draft of December 1972 portrayed the future library as containing "a periodical/newspaper collection of form [sic] 75 (minimum) to 550 periodicals; a reference or book collection of 2500+ volumes; an NIE archival collection; an NIE product/program display and the ERIC microfiche collection." However, very soon after the library began full operations in March 1973, the acquisition of the large education collection in the HEW library began to be NIE's aim. As Ernest Russell wrote in a memo to the Department of HEW in April 1973: "Should the Department decide to disperse the DHEW Library, we are most willing to accept responsibility for the education collection. We will make adequate provision for maintaining, building and staffing the collection."
As mentioned earlier, numerous HEW management surveys had called for a reduction in size of the HEW library. By 1973, this desire to reduce the size and scope of the HEW library had reached a critical point. HEW management proclaimed that the sole purpose of the HEW library was to aid HEW headquarters and that the attainment of this purpose required the removal of books "in subject areas unrelated to the Headquarters mission." With NIE officials pushing to acquire the education collection, the most adamant being Alan Moorehead, chief of the Division of Educational Resources that included the library, the HEW leadership agreed to transfer the education-related books of the HEW library to the incipient NIE library.
The transfer was made with the stipulation that the NIE library would provide services for the entire Education Division. Actually, this agreement was a restatement of existing policy, since the dissemination component of NIE had already been designated as the "dissemination arm for all of the Division of Education."
Before the transfer, however, the Office of Education staff in Southwest Washington had depended on library services from the HEW library, which was within walking distance. Now they would have to rely on the physically distant NIE library. To address this change, the branch library at 400 Maryland Avenue, S.W. was turned over to NIE and enlarged. During the 1970s, the NIE branch library would have a collection of 3,000 books, far beyond what the former HEW branch had contained.
While picking up books from the HEW library, boxes of books that had been part of the original Henry Barnard collection were discovered. Inquiring into the matter, Alan Moorehead found out that HEW did not possess the complete collection and that other parts had been boxed up and left at the University of Maryland (College Park) and at Federal City College (Washington, D.C.). Through Moorehead's efforts, the NIE library was able to obtain these parts as well.
By the end of 1973 the NIE library was able to recover most of what had been the book collection of the old Office of Education library. However, there was insufficient shelving at the Matomic Building for this collection, and it was kept in storage, with only the books from the Center for Urban Education being accessible to library users.
NIE plans had called for the move of the library to the Brown Building on 19th and M Sts., N.W. with the rest of NIE staff in 1974. This move did not take place because staff from the Office of Economic Opportunity remained on three floors of the Brown Building. As a consequence sufficient space was found near the Brown Building at the Marsh Building (later called the Riviere Building) at 1832 M St., N.W. The books obtained from the HEW library now could be put on shelves and were available to library users. On March 1, 1974, ceremonies formally established the National Institute of Education Educational Research Library as the principal federal library in the field of education.
The early period of the NIE library from 1974 to 1977 saw the library engaged in numerous activities. It developed publications on historical book and textbook collections. It maintained an archives of reports and products sponsored by NIE. Furthermore, the library received greater financial support than it would in later years. Individuals affiliated with the library have looked upon this period as the library's golden age.
The reorganization of NIE in 1978 authorized by NIE Director Patricia Graham included the designation of the library as the National Library of Education. Despite this designation by NIE management, no effort was made to get Congress to officially legislate this name, as was the case with official national libraries. Neither was an effort made to expand the resources of the library, which would be necessary if it were to approximate the comprehensiveness of the authentic national libraries.
In fact, the library staff widely believed that the status of the library had been reduced as a result of the reorganization. The reorganized NIE had added an additional bureaucratic layer between the library and the NIE Director's office. Moreover, the rating of the head librarian's position was reduced from a GS-14 to a GS-13. This caused the departure of Patricia Coulter and her replacement by Charles Missar.
Regarding funding, the library had previously been funded out of salary and expenses money, but in the reorganized NIE it relied on program funds. When this change was being planned, NIE management had alleged that it would lead to increased library funding. In actuality, a drastic decline occurred, with the library's budget dropping from $352,000 in FY 1978 to $250,000 in FY 1980. (The real funding decline was even steeper than these money figures reveal since inflation at the time reached double digits.)
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Last Modified: April 3, 2006 (jer)