Fifty years ago on this day, ALA announced the transfer of its archives to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The genesis of the ALA Archives can be arguably traced back to 1910 with the acceptance of the S. Grant Hastings Papers and to the 1940s when serious discussions at headquarters on how to deal with their archives started. However, it is with establishment of the archives at the University of Illinois that an organized and accessible archives was realized.
Since the initial transfer of materials in 1973, the archives has seen significant growth in its collection, digital resources, staffing, and programming. The archives physical collection has expanded to over 3,900 cubic feet, along with tens of thousands open access digital items and collections available for research. This is thanks to the generous support of the ALA and its continued investment in its heritage and the history of the profession in general. Because of the partnership between ALA and the University, the ALA Archives has grown to be one of the most significant primary source collections in the history of American librarianship, serving researchers from across the country and around the world.
The Rabbits’ Wedding, by Garth Williams, is a children’s book about two rabbits getting married in a forest. While there doesn’t seem to be much to object about the book, in 1959, Alabama State Senator E.O. Eddins wanted it removed from Alabama public libraries. The reason was because the rabbits in the story were of different fur colors, black and white, and he viewed it as “integration propaganda.”
Emily Wheelock Reed, the Director of the Public Library Service Division of Alabama, met with Eddins and the Alabama State Senate Interim Taxation Committee to discuss the upcoming budget in March of 1959. Eddins, however, wanted to speak about several books in the public libraries that he thought dealt with segregation and communism. Reed deflected, but she was confronted by Eddins again several months later and he demanded The Rabbits’ Wedding be removed from the libraries. Reed refused to abide by his demands . Continue reading “The Rabbits’ Wedding: Emily W. Reed and the Freedom to Read”→
Out of the Vault is the newsletter of the University Archives, which covers the activities and staff of the archives and its programs, including the American Library Association Archives! The Summer 2023 issue can be found here: https://emails.illinois.edu/newsletter/35/343747435.html.
ALA Archives Notes is an addendum blog post to the newsletter with additional information relating to the ALA Archives.
As noted at the top of the Summer 2023 issue of Out of the Vault, the ALA Archives is celebrating its 50th anniversary! As we hit this milestone, we want to encourage all researchers, including ALA staff, members, scholars, students, and the public, to access our materials. The Archives was established at the University of Illinois in 1973 by University Archivist Maynard Brichford with the specific intent on making ALA’s history accessible! Before the archives were transferred to the University of Illinois, they used to reside in a warehouse in Chicago, where they could not be easily accessed. Read more about it here: https://www.library.illinois.edu/ala/2013/10/14/40-years-of-ala-archives/.
The ALA Archives is excited to display materials on intellectual freedom at the ALA Annual Conference this year! This exhibit will run from Friday afternoon through Sunday morning by the ALA members lounge, near the exhibit hall. However, we know that not everyone will get a chance to view the exhibit or look at the documents as carefully as they would like. This blog post will give you a chance to enjoy the exhibit materials remotely, and perhaps even see documents that didn’t make it into the case. Click on the images to view the documents closer or to access the full version of the item.
In 2001, the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) and the Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA) partnered to host the first and only National Conference on Asian/Pacific American Librarians. It was held before to the ALA Annual Conference and took place in San Francisco with programming running from June 13-15. The theme, Shared Visions: Heritages, Scholarship, Progress, was chosen “with a sincere commitment to representing the rich diversity of East, South and Southeast Asian and Pacific American ethnicities, cultures and communities.”
The conference was years in the works, a “labor of love by many members of the [APALA] and [CALA].” Planning Committee co-chair, Ken Yamashita, would note that he gained inspiration after seeing the success of the Black Caucus of the ALA and REFORMA’s conferences. Solid plans started to take shape during the 1998 ALA Midwinter Meeting, when members from CALA and APALA met with the ALA Office for Literary and Outreach Services. Originally the group had hoped to hold the conference in 1999, alongside the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans, but decided to push the date to 2001.Continue reading “Shared Visions: The National Conference on Asian/Pacific American Librarians”→
Out of the Vault is the newsletter of the University Archives, which covers the activities and staff of the archives and its programs, including the American Library Association Archives! The first issue can be found here: https://emails.illinois.edu/newsletter/43/391280343.html. ALA Archives Notes is an addendum blog post to the newsletter with additional information relating to the ALA Archives.
As noted in the Spring 2023 issue of Out of the Vault, University Archivist Emeritus William Maher received the Midwest Archives Conference’s Emeritus Membership Award. Professor Maher retired from the University of Illinois Archives in December 2022 after 45 years of service. His contributions to the University Archives and the archives profession as a whole cannot be overstated. He is also a tireless supporter of the ALA Archives. Continue reading “Out of the Vault, Spring 2023 – ALA Archives Notes”→
During the summer of 1918, Charles Green, a librarian from the Massachusetts Agriculture College, served as the Acting Librarian for Camp Johnston in Jacksonville, Florida. While his tenure was brief, the Charles R. Green Papers in the ALA Archives reveal Green’s rapid appointment and promotion. It also shows how quickly circumstances could change within the ALA’s Library War Service and the adaptability of its volunteers.
Camp Johnston presented unique challenges for a librarian. Not only was it a large base, but it was also a school that taught technical, engineering, and scientific subjects to servicemembers. These challenges led the camp’s librarian, L.W. Josselyn, to send a distressed letter to ALA. His letter from May 18, 1918, opened with, “A crisis has come in the work here which will have to be met within the next ten days at the very latest. I shall try to put the whole problem before you.Continue reading “Charles R. Green at Camp Johnston: “We Can Find Such a Man””→
One fixture of ALA’s Midwinter Meeting, and now the LibLearnX conference, is the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Observation and Sunrise Celebration. The event celebrates the life and legacy of Dr. King, featuring a keynote speaker, representatives from National Associations of Librarians of Color, the ALA President, and the singing of “We Shall Overcome.” The celebration started in 2000, but efforts to observe the MLK Jr. Holiday during the Midwinter Meeting started long before.
Who was one of the first Mexican American librarians in California? Who was one of the co-founders of REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking? Who was the first Mexican American women to hold the office of ALA Executive Director? If you answered, “Elizabeth Martinez,” you’d be correct!
Elizabeth Martinez was born on April 14, 1943 in Pomona, California. Growing up in Orange County, she always wanted to promote cultural understanding no matter what field she worked in. Martinez didn’t originally focus on working in libraries, but they held a special place in her heart since she was a child, as she often went to her local public library. However, while pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Latin American studies at UCLA, she took a course in children’s literature to fulfill a credit. This course opened her eyes to the world of librarianship and her goal was set. She then graduated from the University of Southern California with a Master’s in Library and Information Science in 1966, becoming one of California’s first Mexican American librarians.
Halloween is quickly approaching and during this spooky season, we at the ALA Archives have been meditating upon one of ALA’s old headquarters, the McCormick Mansion. In 1945, ALA purchased the Cyrus Hall McCormick Mansion at 50 E. Huron Street in Chicago to use as its new headquarters. However, by 1955, ALA was investigating other options and by 1960, ALA was ready to not only ready to move out of the mansion, but also tear it down.
Why would ALA want to move out of the McCormick Mansion so quickly and destroy it? Was it because the mansion was, well, a mansion and not a suitable office space? And they wanted to use the land to build a proper office building that would be their home for over 50 years? Or … was it because the mansion was haunted?
We have zero proof that the McCormick Mansion was haunted. No accounts of books suddenly being shelved out of order, cardigans being mysteriously moved, or card catalog drawers opening and shutting on their own. All we have are photographs of an eerie looking mansion filled with librarians and staff.
We may never know the true reason why ALA tore down the McCormick Mansion, other than the abundance of reports, studies, plans, and even a film about needing a better office space, much of which we hold at the ALA Archives. However, there is a trace of the mansion that still remains. Forged from the staircase, is a gavel, now in the possession of the ALA Archives. Who knows what spirits may linger within the object? Or is it just a wooden gavel, one of many that ALA had made to give to staff as an award for their service? This and many other questions will go unanswered and probably unasked until next Halloween.