The Value Proposition of the Corporate Library, Past and Present

Alistair Black, Henry Gabb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Corporate libraries of the kind we would recognize today began to appear around the turn of the twentieth century. They were a response to a rapidly changing corporate and commercial environment, acting as adjuncts to both the rise of systematic industrial research and the office management revolution that accompanied the implementation of scientific management. A survey of American corporate libraries in 1916 by the British manufacturer Rowntree and Company provides a snapshot of their operations and perceived value. The survey was repeated with a selection of today's corporate librarians. Their responses are strikingly similar to those of their early twentieth-century counterparts, despite intervening technological change. As it was a century ago, the value of the corporate library, even if it cannot be quantified, is accepted.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)192-225
Number of pages34
JournalInformation & Culture
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016


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