Gwen E. Owen is Community Relations Assistant for the Dayton (OH) Metro Library; she also refers to herself as an “ECD champion”! Writes Gwen, “We at the Dayton Metro Library are quite proud of our history, and Electra Collins Doren is our own historical celebrity!” Here’s a biographical sketch from Gwen and her colleagues, Tish Wilson (Assistant Director of Youth Services) and Nancy Horlacher (Local History Specialist):
Electra Collins Doren (1861-1927) was a true pioneer in the field of Library Science. She was also a pioneer as a professional and influential woman at the turn of the 20th century. A librarian, innovator, and suffragette, she established in Dayton, Ohio, one of the first library training schools in the nation, library book catalogs, and bookmobile services to outlying areas.
Electra Doren served as Chief Librarian for the Dayton Public Library from 1896 to 1905. During her tenure, the first branch libraries were begun. She formed a school library department, the forerunner of classroom libraries and teacher collections provided by the Dayton Metro Library today. She established a library training school at the Dayton Public Library, which was only the second program of its kind in the U.S. She oversaw a major reorganization from 1896-1899, during which all items were first classified under the Dewey Decimal System. After the reorganization, shelves were opened to the public for the first time. She was one of the founders of the Ohio Library Association (now the Ohio Library Council) and served as its President in 1906. She also held prominent offices in the American Library Association, including Vice President.
Over the years, Miss Doren collected many Ohio women’s suffrage materials, including diaries, scrapbooks and correspondence. This collection is the basis for the library’s Women’s Suffrage Collection today, which is the largest collection of suffrage materials in the U.S.
A branch library named in honor of E. C. Doren was dedicated in 1928 and still stands and serves its community today.
In 1997, Electra C. Doren was inducted into Dayton’s Walk of Fame, and in 1999 she was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame.