Publications: A.L.A. Headquarters Staff Association Files and Headquarters Publications

When some researchers want to know about life at the A.L.A. Headquarters, then I recommend reading the Headquarters Staff Association Files (Record Series 2/4/80) and Headquarters Newsletters, (Record Series 2/4/10). In particular, like other previously highlighted publications,  there is much creative expression and good will to be found at the A.L.A. and in the archives.

Read on to learn more about the art and history of A.L.A. Headquarters Staff publications!


Since at least 1947, there have been multiple publications produced by or with Headquarters Staff. From 1947 to 1948, headquarters staff read a two-sided, green bulletin titled In the Mill. This publication featured meeting, office, and personal announcements. From 1948 to 1951, edited by A.L.A. Executive Secretary John Mackenzie Cory, the ALA Bull continued the green sheet style and reporting until Mr. Cory’s departure to New York Public Library.

From mid-October 1951 to 1972, the blue and black ink on white paper A.L.A. Headquarters Reporter began as a “memo to the ALA Executive Board and Headquarters Staff”. While from 1955 to 1958, the A.L.A. Staff Association produced the Headliner on blue, green, yellow, and pink paper. For 1955 and 1957, the issues were printed on legal-size paper and the 1957 issues include sketches related to adjacent articles.

*Research tip: All researchers should examine physical copies of publications, whenever possible. Often, physical copies include handwritten notes and attached information which help us know more about a document or the people who used it. While many publications are either born digital or scanned to produce a digital copy, there is additional value in keeping original copies in an archives under trained archival administration. Digitized copies do not always include attached notes or other documentation; however, a professionally trained archivist would maintain the original documents to be kept in original order with the original attachments–to preserve the experience of accessing the documents at the time of their deposit.

In 1972, HQ Review replaced Headquarters Reporter in name and in design. The new issues were stapled packets featuring travelogues, creative writing, and essays written by staff. During the first decade, Betty Obey contributed cover designs and art work.

*Research tip: Documentation of creative works helps researchers know about the personalities of people. Beyond collecting meeting minutes and formal reports, archives staff do attempt to preserve some of fleeting personal experiences of the people who created our holdings.

Meanwhile, since 1969, Highlights … For the ALA Headquarters Staff was released featuring the Executive Director and Personnel Officer as editors. From 1969 to 1971, the publication featured a formal masthead printed in red ink on white paper. In 1972, the publication returned to the original style–black ink on colored sheets. By the 1980s, the publication was printed in a two-column news format with a new masthead too.

Research tip: Changes in layouts and content can be clues for understanding changes in conditions surrounding the people who produce the documents which we learn from today. Publications are easily over-looked sources of many different types of information about an organization. The information value of publications and other items in an archives is limited only to the imagination of the researcher.

Finally, in the early 2000s, ALA Staff Association News became the new publication with a new look too. Issues were multiple-paged and included the first color photographs too.

Copies Available at Your ALA Archives

Physical copies of In the Mill, ALA Bull, Headliner, Highlights, HQ Review, and Staff Association News publications are available for viewing at the ALA Archives and additional unlisted publications are available too. Please view the Record Series 2/4/10 database record entry, for information about which issues we have and which issues you think we could use.

Got Something to Donate to the Story So Far?

Many wonderful people work at A.L.A. headquarters and so many of their great stories are untold. What we have in the A.L.A. Archives is just the beginning to explore a great amount of institutional knowledge–and we’re always working to keep-up with our colleagues at headquarters. Have you ever visited or worked at A.L.A. headquarters? We welcome you to share your part of ALA history in the comments or to contact us. We and our readers would like to hear from you.