Education for librarianship in Turkey, which was established at Faculty of Letters, Ankara University in the academic year 1954-1955, has lasted 60 years, with the contributions of national and foreign collegues and scholars, and organizations such as ALA, the Ford Foundation, and the Fulbright Commission.
The years from 1945-1956 saw the appearance of some shortlived library programs and courses. These include the “course for public servants in the libraries of People’s Houses” launched in the spring of 1945; “courses offered by the Directorate of libraries”; courses for those working in libraries with manuscripts launched in 1952; two courses for “children’s libraries” attended by teachers in the period 1954-1956 and the “course in librarianship” given by the Gazi Training College (Ötüken, 1957b: 33-34). These courses played a role in the recognition of librarianship as a distinct profession in Turkey, but the first regular and longer-term education in librarianship began through the initiative of Adnan Ötüken at Ankara University from 1942 to 1952 (Ötüken, 1957b: 9, 24).
“Elective Course”at Ankara University Shortly after, in 1952, through the efforts of few academics who understood the importance of education for librarianship, the Board of Professors reinstated librarianship as an “elective course” under the Department of Turkish Language and Literature at Ankara University (Ötüken, 1957b: 25).
In 1953, librarianship was introduced as an elective course under the Department of Turkish Language and Literature, and the foundations of the Institute of Librarianship were laid. Prof. Akdes Nimet Kurat, the Dean of the Faculty, and Prof. Afet Inan were important figures who supported the idea, and the project also had financial support from the Ford Foundation (Ötüken, 1957b: 25-26).
Institute of Librarianship
Emily Dean, , who was then the librarian of the United States Information Agency helped establish librarianship as a distinct academic branch. Stressing the need for a library school in Ankara University, Dean stated, “in Turkey librarianship is not classed as a profession, and the librarian is often looked on as a menial who take care of the books. Until well-trained librarians are available in considerable numbers, libraries in Turkey can not be reorganized or improved.” (Scepanski, 2004: 4). Dean suggested establishing a librarianship institute in the Faculty of Political Sciences and applied to the Ford Foundation for assistance.
Despite the Foundations’ positive response, the Faculty of Political Sciences declined, citing other priorities and an inadequate budget. The idea was then proposed to the Faculty of Letters (Altundag , 1960: 7-12). Because libraries have a role in shaping the future of nations,the US had earlier, while the US army occupied Japan, prepared a Ford Foundation project to establish librarianship as a field of study in higher education in Japan. Following its experience in Tokyo, the Foundation presented its Ankara Project to ALA and ALA then set up a committee in Ankara to carry out the project (Ötüken, 1957b: 25-26; Ersoy and Yurdadog, 1963; Karakas, 1999: 378-379). The Institute of Librarianship of the Faculty of Letters opened in the first semester of the academic year 1954-1955, with courses taught by Adnan Ötüken.
Prof. Robert Bingham Downs, Director of Libraries at the University of Illinois, as well as a faculty member in the library school there, was sent to Turkey in November 1954 by the Ford Foundation, and began teaching the second semester of that year. Downs describes this school as, “the first to teach librarianship in the Near and Middle East” (Downs, 1956: 260). Downs returned to the US in 1955 and the Ford Foundation sent Prof. Elmer Mori Grieder, of Stanford University. Grieder remained at the Institute until 1957. Grieder’s colleagues included Adnan Ötüken and Berin U. Yurdadog who had been recruited to the Institute as an assistant in 1955 (Ötüken, 1957b: 27-28; Haberler 1955: 165).
Osman Ersoy, who became an assistant professor at the Institute in 1955, was sent to the University of Chicago library school on a scholarship from the Ford Foundation, returning to teach at the Institute in 1956. In 1957 both Grieder and Adnan Ötüken left the Institute, and in September 1957 Dr. Lewis F. Stieg was appointed to the faculty (Haberler, 1957: 131,133), followed in 1958 by Norris McClellan (Ersoy, 1959b: 76). In 1958 the Institute of Librarianship had its first graduates and an “Emily Dean Thesis Award” was awarded to three students (Haberler ,1958. 182; Ersoy and Yurdadog: 1963). Stieg left the country in June 1959 and Norris McClellan in July of the same year (Ersoy, 1959b: 76, 78).
Department of Librarianship
The most significant event in 1960 was the decision by the Board of Universities to convert the Institute of Librarianship into a “department,” on the ground that the Institute was not equipped to for advanced degrees (Haberler, 1960: 81). The new curriculum for the Department of Librarianship was adopted in July 1960 ( Final Report from 1962: 573). In 1960, courses in librarianship began to be offered for the first time at secondary school level (Haberler, 1960: 188).
Dr. Carl Milton White and Prof. Anne Ethelyn Markley, who were the last academic staff visiting Turkey through the Ford Foundation,began teaching in the academic year 1959-60 and left Turkey in June 1961 (Haberler, 1961: 88-89). The teaching programme that continued with Ford Foundation support until 1961 kept going, after 1961, with the contribution of academic staff sent through the Fulbright Foundation (Ersoy, 1969: 228).
On 23 September 1961, Miss Nance O’Neall arrived in Ankara through the Fulbright assistance as “specialist” in the Department of Librarianship (Haberler, 1961: 154). She taught “school libraries”, “public libraries”, “children’s literature” and “principles of books selection” and left the country on at the end of the academic year (Haberler, 1963: 73). She was replaced by Dr. Ralph Hopp (Haberler, 1963a: 73). The next year, Dr. Arthur Monroe McAnally replaced Hopp (Haberler, 1963b: 239; Haberler, 1963c: 236). Finally, in 1964, McAnally returned to the US at the end of the school year (Sefercioglu, 1969b: 174). Turkish scholars succeeded their American colleagues, and have taught at the undergraduate, masters, and doctoral levels at Ankara University, Faculty of Letters, Department of Librarianship, since 1964.
The profession of librarianship in Turkey now enjoys an educational system that meets international standards, thanks to the efforts of both national and expatriate colleagues, scholars and academic staff. The Department of Librarianship (now called the Department of Information and Records Management) at Ankara University is now a huge plane tree celebrating its 50th year. Skilled and knowledgeable graduates helped establish other programmes: Istanbul University in 1964, Hacettepe University in 1972, and Baskent University in 2002). In 2002 the names of these departments were changed to “Department of Information and Records Management.”
Cooperation between Ankara University and EU Universities in the Socrates-Erasmus Programme’s “Credit Transfer System” (ECTS) led to programme changes that were introduced in academic year 2004-2005.
Today, with its graduates holding various academic titles, undergraduate, master and doctoral programmes carefully reviewed and updated in line with international developments and norms, young and dynamic teaching staff and bright students who further motivate and feed this staff, the Department stands as a distinct institution enjoying a legacy of 60 years in strenuous efforts to ensure the recognition of librarianship as a discipline and to educate both theoretically and practically the very needed skilled persons to carry librarianship forward in the country. We hereby express our sincere acknowledgement to all, including the Ford Foundation in the first place and many other colleagues and scholars either Turkish or foreign, who contributed much to the establishment and further development of our Department. We look forward to celebrate further anniversaries too.