A Testimony of Friendship

Biblioteca Benjamin Franklin, January, 1944

On April 13, 1942, General Manuel Ávila Comacho, President of the Republic of Mexico, spoke at the formal dedication of the Biblioteca Benjamin Franklin in Mexico City.  The dedication of the library, made possible by a grant from the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs to the American Library Association, was attended by Mexican officials, American embassy staff, and Mexicans and Americans active in the library organization.  Presentations and receptions occurred throughout the week for library organizers and contributors, university representatives, and the public. Continue reading “A Testimony of Friendship”

Libraries During the Great Depression

The Works Progress Administration (later called the Works Projects Administration, or WPA) was created in May 1935 as part of the new Deal to provide jobs to the unemployed during the Great Depression. In addition to building public roads and supporting community arts projects, the WPA, with help from the ALA Library Extension Board, supported public libraries by sponsoring bookmobiles and providing workers for demonstration projects that extended library services to rural communities. Continue reading “Libraries During the Great Depression”

A Book for Every Man

New York City, New York Book Collection, February, 1919
Record Series 89/1/13

Within a few weeks of America’s entrance into World War I, the American Library Association undertook an enormous campaign to send books and other reading materials to American forces at home and abroad. Continue reading “A Book for Every Man”

Have Books, Will Travel

The beginning of the Twentieth century marked the start of expansion for American libraries. A nationwide movement to establish county library systems began in 1898.  This coincided with the spread of branch libraries, which began to appear in large cities in the early 1890s. The growing number of library buildings was due in large part to Andrew Carnegie, who built libraries in 1,412 communities. The first part of the century also saw a broader range of services as librarians reached out to groups that had previously been ignored by the library: children, immigrants, minorities, soldiers, the sick and the handicapped, the working class, and isolated rural community dwellers. Continue reading “Have Books, Will Travel”