1879 – 1892

Ada North began as a clerk in the Iowa legislature in 1870, and was named state librarian by Governor Samuel Merrill from 1871-1878, one of the first women in the U.S. to hold a State office.  Then, after briefly serving as Des Moines’ city librarian, she came to Iowa.  She was the first professional librarian to serve as head of Iowa’s library.

North set about to change the image of the librarian from one who collected and preserved books to one who fostered their use, both extensively and intelligently.  She maintained regular contact with students in the classroom by offering sessions on the use of the catalogs, reference works, and other library aids.  North introduced the first card catalog, instituted use of the Dewey Decimal classification system, and completely reclassified the entire collection.