Research Strategies: The Reference Library of the ALA Archives (Bookcase Two of Two)

For specific inquiries about ALA members and history, a review of our reference library is due. The ALA Archives library is an easily over-looked resource rich with data and research strategies. After reviewing general reference books, some queries are specifically answered with the following resources. Read on to learn even more!

ALA Archives Bookcase Two
ALA Archives Bookcase Two

Since the ALA Archives at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign began in 1973, there has been a reference library supporting the archives. Currently, there are two bookcases of ALA and non-ALA publications about the ALA, librarianship, librarians, and libraries. This blog post is the second installment of a two-part narrative. Often, new library or information science scholars do not know all of the available tools of their trade as well as specialized reference sources. Below, let’s take a look at what is on our shelves and how those other books work for us.

Guide to American Library Association Archives, First Edition, 1979
Guide to American Library Association Archives, First Edition, 1979

First, recognition is due for two broad reference resources: Guide to the American Library Association Archives and National Catalog of Sources for the History of Librarianship. Published first in 1979 and in a second edition in 1987, on microfiche, the Guide provides record series descriptions for the ALA Archives and a subject index for record series. (The Guide was replaced by the current online database.) An accompanying paper booklet generally describes the ALA Archives’s history, archival holdings, and it includes a brief bibliography of “works relating to the history of ALA and its divisions.” In fact, this bibliography includes most of the books in the ALA Archives reference library.

Guide to American Library Association Archives, Second Edition, 1987
Guide to American Library Association Archives, Second Edition, 1987

Also on microfiche, the National Catalog supplements the Guide as “a listing of  collections or record series arranged alphabetically by state and by repository.” While the Guide was a helpful tool for browsing ALA Archives holdings, the National Catalog aids researchers in locating archival materials outside of the ALA Archives. National Catalog includes a paper booklet that provides a general overview of National Catalog‘s purpose, uses, and an essay about the value of archival research in library history research by Marion Casey.

National Catalog of Sources for the History of Librarianship, 1982
National Catalog of Sources for the History of Librarianship, 1982

Naturally, there are books about general and specific moments or periods of library history. Of course, we have a collection of books covering ALA history too! Remembering that early ALA historical narratives are found in early ALA publications like the Handbooks, the ALA has published longer scholarship too. The ALA Archives reference library has three categories of books: ALA history; Division, Round Table, or Association histories; and Biographies.

Image of Non-ALA Publications about ALA History
Non-ALA Publications about ALA History (1 of 2)

ALA history books include:

  • American Library History: A Bibliography by Michael H. Harris and Donald G. Davis, (1978);
  • Raking the Historic Coals by Edward G. Holley, (1967);
  • A Century of Service: Librarianship in the United States and Canada by Sidney L. Jackson, et al., eds., (1976);
  • Federal Policy and Library Support by Kathleen Molz, (1976);
  • A History of the American Library Association, 1876-1972 by Dennis Thomison, (1978);
  • Fifty Years of the American Library Association by George B. Utley, (1926);
  • The Politics of an Emerging Profession: The American Library Association, 1876-1917 by Wayne A. Wiegand (1986);
  • and American Library History: 1876-1976 by Howard W. Winger, ed., (1976).
Image of Non-ALA Publications about ALA History
Non-ALA Publications about ALA History (2 of 2)

Divisional or unit histories include:

  • In Retrospect: A History of the Division of Cataloging and Classification of the American Library Association, 1900-1950, (1950);
  • American Overseas Library Technical Assistance, 1940-1970,  by Beverly J. Brewster, (1976);
  • The Shaping of American Library Education by Charles D. Churchwell, (1975);
  • The Association of American Library Schools, 1915-1968: An Analytical History by Donald G. Davis Jr., (1972);
  • The Library Services and Construction Act: An Historical Overview from the Viewpoint of the Major Participants by Edward G. Holley and Robert F. Schremser, (1983);
  • Missionaries of the Book: The American Library Profession and the Origins of Cultural Diplomacy by Gary E. Kraske, (1985);
  • The American Library Institute, 1905-1951: An Historical Study and Analysis of Goals by Sister Tressa Piper, (1975);
  • and Books for Sammies: The American Library Association During World War I by Arthur P. Young, (1981).
Image of ALA Publications about ALA History
ALA and non-ALA Publications about ALA History

Biographies include:

  • Confessions of a Lapsed Librarian by R. C. Benge, 1984;
  • Ainsworth Rand Spofford: Bookman and Librarian by John Y. Cole, ed., 1984;
  • Perspectives on the Past: an Autobiography by Robert B. Downs, 1984;
  • Ellsworth on Ellsworth by Ralph E. Ellsworth, 1980;
  • The Power and Dignity: Librarianship and Katherine Sharp by Laurel A. Grotzinger, 1966;
  • John Cotton Dana: A Sketch by Chalmers Hadley, 1943;
  • The Age of Jewett: Charles Coffin Jewett and American Librarianship, 1841-1868 by Michael H. Harris, ed., 1977;
  • Charles Evans: American Bibliographer by Edward G. Holley, 1963;
  • Mostly in the Line of Duty: Thirty Years with Books by Herman Liebaers, 1980;
  • Random Recollections of an Anachronism by Keyes DeWitt Metcalf, 1980;
  • Charles Ami Cutter: Library Systematizer by Francis Mitska, ed., 1977;
  • Melvil Dewey by Fremont Rider, 1944;
  • Carl H. Milam and the American Library Association by Peggy Sullivan, 1976;
  • Louis Round Wilson, Librarian and Administrator by Maurice F. Tauber, 1967;
  • “Two Decisive Decades–1952-1972: Special Issue Honoring David Clift” from American Libraries, 1972;
  • and Leaders in Academic Librarianship by Wayne Wiegand, ed., 1983.
Image of Dissertations about the ALA or Librarianship
Dissertations about the ALA or Librarianship

Finally, before dissertations and thesis about the ALA or librarianship were available online, some authorized microfilm-xerography facsimiles were acquired by ALA Archives. Our titles include:

  • Andrew Carnegie’s Role in American Public Library Development by George Sylvan Bobinski (1966);
  • An Analysis of American Overseas Library Technical Assistance, 1940-1974, by Beverly J. Brewster, (1974);
  • Audiovisual Concerns and Activities in the American Library Association, 1924-1975 by Evelyn Geer Clement (1975);
  • The Origin and Development of The Association of College and Research Libraries, 1889-1960 by Charles Edward Hale (1976);
  • Cataloging and the American Library Association, 1876-1956 by Eugene Russell Hanson (1974);
  • The Association of Research Libraries, 1932-1962 by Frank M. McGowan (1972);
  • The Development of American public Library Architecture From 1850 to 1940 by Donald Ervin Oehlerts (1975);
  • and The History and the Development of the American Library Association, 1876-1957 by Dennis Vincent Thomison (1973).

All of the above resources feature research utilizing materials in the ALA Archives. For specific queries that may not be found in general database keyword searches, it is recommended to review the endnotes, footnotes, and other citations found in the materials above. Also, preliminary bibliographic lists can be quickly compiled by consulting the bibliographies of the works above.

We wish you well with your research into LIS and ALA history, and we welcome you to come visit us at the ALA Archives. See you next month!