In the midst of the Civil Rights era in America, librarians were battling for and against segregated libraries in the South, however they were also battling over integration within their own ranks. Integration of the library profession was a long process that started in the early 20th century. Continue reading “Action, Not Reaction: Integrating the Library Profession”
The ALA Archives is always pleased when our records are used in publishing new historical research, and today is the official release date for the book When Books Went to War: The Stories that Helped Us Win World War II by Molly Manning, which includes research from records held at the ALA Archives. The book tells the story of the revival of mass-organized library services for the armed forces, which had been premiered during World War I but fallen into neglect during peacetime. The Victory Book Campaign was a joint effort from librarians, booksellers, publishers, and the US armed forces to not just rekindle the library program, but to greatly expand it. Librarians focused their efforts on organizing book donation drives, as demonstrated with this poster to the right.
Ms. Manning used the papers of Althea B. Warren, ALA President 1943-44, when researching this book. The ALA Archives holds additional records related to its work in the Victory Book Campaign, including reports, correspondence, and scrapbooks.
Today marks the 45th anniversary of the ALA founding the Freedom to Read Foundation, a non-profit organization that defends the First Amendment as it relates to libraries, books, the Internet, and library users. An off-shoot of the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom (itself founded only two years prior), the Freedom to Read Foundation focuses its efforts primarily on defending librarians, book publishers, teachers, and other people who are in court due to controversial material, while the Office of Intellectual Freedom focuses on outreach, advocacy, and raising awareness of First Amendment issues. Continue reading “Freedom to Read Foundation: 45 Years”
Three years before the founding of OCLC, and seven years before Michael Hart typed the first ebook for Project Gutenberg, the public got a tangible introduction to the potential use of computers in libraries at the New York World’s Fair. Even more uniquely, the Library/USA exhibit did not introduce people to the first commonly-spread use of computer technology in libraries, the online catalog, but instead to some of the library computer applications that would come much later, such as online encyclopedias and subject bibliographies. How did the ALA orchestrate this little slice of the future? Continue reading “Library/USA Exhibit at the 1964-5 New York World’s Fair”
Festschrifts are a common way to honor someone in academia, and line the shelves of many academic libraries. They typically contain academic essays related to the person’s life work, contributed traditionally by the person’s former doctoral students and colleagues. But what about a Festschrift that’s instead full of nothing but praise for the person being honored gathered from common workers in their field, and furthermore isn’t for an academic, but instead for a public-service librarian? This is the final issue of Libraries magazine, honoring one Mary Eileen Ahern. Continue reading “Miss “Public Libraries” Mary Eileen Ahern”
People go to librarians when they need help researching, but where do librarians go when they need help with their own research? This post will explore the history of the Library Science Library at the University of Illinois, one of a few dedicated library science collections in the United States.
Continuing our coverage of ALA during World War I, this post will highlight the now very rare uniforms of the first military librarians. The Library War Service was not unique in having a uniform, as many volunteer groups active in World War I had their own distinctive uniforms, notably the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. However, World War I was the first war when many women had the opportunity to wear a uniform while serving their country, and these particular uniforms are especially interesting: as they embody a time in which women were were first starting to get official status within the military, as well as beginning to exert more power in the leadership of librarianship in general and ALA in particular.
While the battles, uniforms, and weapons that made up a World War I serviceman’s life are very well documented in the history books, the day-to-day monotony of a soldier’s life doesn’t often get as much attention. The ALA Archives has recently migrated our collection of digitized lantern slides from World War I into the CONTENTdm system, which shows one way these men filled their downtime: reading.
If you’re a dedicated reader of our blog, you may know that during World War I the ALA sent over 10 million books and magazines to camp libraries and overseas for the use of servicemen. The collection development of these libraries was focused on having material that could help the men prepare for a job back home, such as books about business, engines, plumbing, carpentry, cement, and trains, but they also recognized that the servicemen needed entertainment, and stocked the libraries with magazines and “good, live fiction.” These library services still supported the servicemen after the armistice as well.
But what happened to all those books when the servicemen came home? The post-war life of the War Service books was very practical: ALA-managed libraries were transformed into military-managed libraries after the war. And as these military librarians eventually weeded them out of the collection or otherwise discarded them, War Service books were sold into private hands or distributed to public libraries for further use.
The ALA Archives holds a small selection of former War Service books as examples of how these books were marked and circulated during this important early ALA campaign. Here are a few pictures from the books in our collection:
Posters used by the ALA during its early history are now digitized for long-term preservation and access copies are available for viewing online. [Database currently down, 3/8/2019] Subjects covered in these posters include the ALA’s work with the Library War Service to the American military during World War I, the importance of the freedom to read used during World War II, celebrating the ALA 50 Year Anniversary (in 1926) and the Carnegie Centenary (in 1935), as well as librarianship recruitment and general library promotion during the early twentieth century. These posters provide important documentary evidence of both the work of the ALA and how the presentation of American libraries and librarianship has changed over the past century.