Songs of the Library Staff: the Cataloger

Sam Walter Foss (1858–1911) was a journalist, poet, and librarian (at the Somerville Public Library in Massachusetts) who, in 1906, wrote a series of poems that were delivered at an American Library Association conference that was held at Narragansett Pier, Rhode Island. The poems were collectively called The Song of the Library Staff. The poems, which described some functions that occur in a repository of knowledge, were eventually published as a single volume. The following is the first in a series of poems that will be circulated through the fall semester.

Be sure to say hello to the Cardinal Cushing Library Cataloging staff: Jennifer Woodall and Mallory Witzig.


“Oh, joy! To see the Library staff perpetually jogging, And to see the Cataloger in the act of cataloging.

(“Catalogs—Log-books for cattle, “was the school-boy’s definition,—A Statement not to be despised for insight and precision) Every language spoke at Babel in the books that pile Her table, Every theme discussed since Adam—song or story, fact or fable! And she sweetly takes all Knowledge for her province, as did Bacon, All the fruit that’s dropped and mellowed since the Knowledge tree was shaken, All the ologies of the colleges, all the isms of the schools, All the unassorted knowledges she assorts by Cutter’s rules; Or tags upon each author in large labels that are gluey Their place in Thought’s great

Pantheon in decimals of Dewey; Oh, joy! To See the Library staff perpetually jogging, And to see the Cataloger in the act of cataloging.”



Image by: Merle Johnson

Works Cited:

“Foss, Sam Walter.” Compton’s by Britannica. Britannica Online for Kids.Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2016. Web. 22 July 2016. .

Foss, Sam Walter. (1906). The Songs of the Library Staff. New York: John R. Anderson. Retrieved from:;view=1up;seq=7.

Peabody Essex Museum. “The Song of the Library Staff” by Sam Walter Foss. Rerieved on July 22, 2016.  Retrieved from:


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