Foster Mohrhardt: Connecting the Traditional World of Libraries and the Emerging World of Information Science

Melissa H Cragin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Foster Edward Mohrhardt was a librarian in federal libraries for much of his career and served as the director of the National Agricultural Library from 1954 to 1968. Throughout his long library career, he used the freedom of his directorship to participate in a variety of high-level projects across organizations. This role served both to advance the prestige of the National Agricultural Library and to promote his personal goal to develop national and international library networks to support scientific communication. He worked actively throughout his career to bring librarians and documentalists together to address information problems outlined by practicing scientists and policymakers at a time when there was contention and competition between librarianship and documentation, which was then emerging as a new discipline. Mohrhardt considered librarianship an international endeavor, requiring cooperation and creativity to increase access to information produced in other countries. He saw libraries as essential to the growth of science and successful service necessarily tied to the development of national and international information systems. He mobilized people and resources to develop agricultural and research libraries and expand librarianship throughout the world. In light of current trends in scientific communication, and reemerging tensions concerning the role of libraries in information systems development, Mohrhardt's work is a significant model for increasing the prevalence of library expertise in current scientific data management activities. As a diplomat who bridged librarianship and documentation, his career as a librarian and an organizational leader deserves renewed attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)833-852
Number of pages20
JournalLibrary Trends
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences


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