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In May, 1916, Librarian William W. Bishop and the director of the Extension Division, William D. Henderson, brought before the Regents a suggestion that the University furnish an information service for debating organizations and other educational groups throughout the state. The Library Extension Service was established at the next monthly meeting of the Regents. An appropriation for its support was included in the General Library budget for 1916-17, and funds for its annual announcement were provided through the budget of the Extension Division.

Each year since the formation of the Michigan High School Debating League in 1917, the Library Extension Service has collected and organized the information on the topic specified for debate. The pamphlets and briefs, bibliographies, and clippings have then been distributed to the schools without charge. Quantities of free material have often been available, but the number of member schools grew from the original 66 to 327 in 1939-40, and the costs of the service were necessarily increased. Accordingly, funds were provided through the Extension Division, to which membership dues of the League were paid. Other organizations joined with the League to form the Michigan High School Forensic Association in March, 1933, and the Library Extension Service began to supply information for extempore speaking, oratory, and declamation as well as material for the annual debates (see Part II: University Extension Service).

Public-speaking classes have required the most attention, but classes in the social sciences, in English, and in current affairs also have been furnished with material supplementing textbooks and local library resources. The University has furnished communities that have inadequate local libraries, or none at all, with the core materials for class and reference work. As the facilities of the Library Extension Service were increased and as its work became more widely known, many adult-education groups such as granges, parent-teacher associations, women's clubs, and child-study groups, began to depend upon it for their study materials. Likewise, within the University, older units and newer bureaus and divisions which have been concerned with developing extramural study rely upon the Library Extension Service, regarding it as a medium for transmitting special lectures, study outlines, and reading lists. The University of Michigan Broadcasting Service, the School of Education, and the Bureau of Alumni Relations are typical of the University agencies with which the Library Extension co-operates in this way (see Part II: University Broadcasting Service, School of Education and State Service, and Bureau of Alumni Relations). Closely correlated as its work is with that of the University Extension Service (see Part II: University Extension Service), the Library Extension Service prepares the library materials for use in the institutes, in the special lecture series, and in the regular extension courses.

It has also provided steady assistance for a new branch of work undertaken by the University as an emergency measure in 1934-35, with the help of the Federal Government — the freshman or community colleges, from which have developed the present supervised correspondence study courses under the joint direction of the University Extension Service and the Works Progress Administration.

The Library Extension Service has had charge of a special collection of books purchased for this purpose through a gift from the Rackham Fund.

From the carefully planned activities which make up the greater part of Library Extension work there have developed other and varied kinds of service which might be called collateral. Files of pamphlets and clippings have been maintained as a basis for the hundreds of reading lists and bibliographies compiled every year in response to specific individual requests, in order to help correspondents make good use of the magazines and books in their local libraries. A large collection of pictures, mounted on heavy paper and covering a wide range of subjects, has been built up, chiefly for use in the teaching of history, literature, and art.

The making of study-club outlines — some covering one subject for a single meeting but most of them sufficient for a year's study — has become such an important specialty that many club officers regularly rely upon the Library Extension Service for assistance with their programs.

The requests from teachers, students, and club officers have become so numerous that in the last five years more than five thousand letters a year have been sent out. Preparation of this correspondence demands much attention, for usually each letter contains an analysis of the specific problem presented, or suggestions for using the library material, which is being sent. Although the range of information, which the Library Extension Service can furnish is constantly being increased, many letters are received which can be adequately answered only by specialists in other offices and departments of the University. On the other hand, faculty members and staff members in other University offices frequently ask the Library Extension Service to answer requests for assistance they receive.

Edith Thomas


Alumni Reading Lists. Ann Arbor: Univ. Mich. Press, 1931.

Alumni Reading Lists; Second Series. Ann Arbor: Univ. Mich. Press, 1934.

Library Extension Service, Univ. Mich., 1933-40.

A List of Selected Books for Secondary School Libraries. Ann Arbor: Univ. Mich., 1938 (Univ. Mich. Offic. Publ., 39, No. 71).

President's Report, Univ. Mich., 1921-40.

Proceedings of the Board of Regents …, 1916-40.

What to Read. Comp. by Edith Thomas, Fred L. Dimrock, and Nelis R. Kampenga. Ann Arbor: Univ. Mich. Press, 1939.

The University of Michigan: An Encyclopedic Survey, Page 349

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