Research paradigms determine the ways the history iswritten and the consequent research products. By analyzing the present historiography paradigms in library history, their characteristics and limitations, this study proposes new paradigms based on library archives in the periods of Late Qing Dynasty and Republican China.
Current historiography has three paradigms: cognition, identification and recognition, represented respectively by progressive history emerging after the Enlightenment, ethnohistory and postmodern history. The mainstream library historiography paradigms are cognition and identification, which focus on the grand,the significant, and the macrohistory. While recognition history, as a newlyemerging paradigm, highlights the often neglected or suppressed “others”. Typical schools of recognition history include the new cultural history, microhistory, and social history, etc. The ideas of subjective literature and objective literature are introduced to classify library history materials based on whether they are created by scholars to promote thinking or recorded facts. This study examines present library literature and finds that most publications are concerned about academic history of library as a science and library elites’ history.
Current research and historiography on library history have the following features and limitations: first, the majority of them are about scholarly thinking. Second, they are written by elites. Third, they emphasize the macrohistory of Library Science. Fourth, they focus on academic changes and interactions among scholars. Library archives basically are concerned about social history of libraries rather than academic history, and make it possible to study libraries from the perspectives of social aspects and micro aspects, and enable research to touch on new areas and deepen present study. This study proposes to examine library history from the perspective of bottom level librarians rather than elites, from social history rather than academic history.
Through analysis of the differences of the three research paradigms and their application, this study points out stereotypes and weaknesses in present library history. Two cases, the National Roosevelt Library Planning Committee and the Boone Library School’s operation in Chongqing, are introduced to demonstrate the application of post modern theories. This study proposes that the introduction of new paradigm will improve present research and intensify understanding of Chinese library history. 1 tab. 19 refs.