Ghosts of Disasters Past: Floods, Hurricanes, and Earthquakes of American Library History

Libraries of all kinds have suffered damages and loss due to environmental disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods. As hurricane season comes to a close (officially June 1 to November 30), it’s a good time to reflect on disaster planning. Hurricanes Florence and Michael caused significant damage in the United States this year, and Puerto Rico is still rebuilding following last year’s Hurricane Maria.

The ALA Archives holds many photographs and records documenting past disasters. Here is a look at a few of them. If these photos scare you, be sure to check out ALA’s Disaster Preparedness and Recovery resources to make sure your library is ready with a disaster plan. We hope you won’t need it! Continue reading “Ghosts of Disasters Past: Floods, Hurricanes, and Earthquakes of American Library History”

Library Life: The Arthur Plotnik Photographs

Arthur Plotnik (second to the left) and other members of American Libraries editorial staff.

This spring, the American Library Association Archives acquired a generous donation of photographs from Arthur Plotnik, a photographer, journalist, writer, and librarian. Plotnik is the former editor of ALA’s flagship magazine, American Libraries, and his career with the American Library Association spanned over twenty years. Before coming to ALA, Plotnik worked at the H.W. Wilson Company, the Library of Congress, was a staff writer and reviewer at Albany’s Times-Union, and served in the US Army reserve. He is married to artist, Mary Phelan, who has claim to University of Illinois Library fame for her portraits of University Librarians Hugh Atkinson and Robert Downs. Continue reading “Library Life: The Arthur Plotnik Photographs”

Publications: Jewish Caucus Newsletter

Forty two years ago, at the 1976 Midwinter Convention, the recently established Jewish Librarians Caucus (now Jewish Information Committee) also founded a publication which would serve as an information rich resource on world issues from a Jewish perspective and issues affecting Jewish librarians and their communities. Other archival holdings also document a history of Jewish librarian leadership.

Read on to learn more about the Jewish Caucus Newsletter!

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Richard Lee’s Cartoons: Illustrations of Librarian Humor

Richard Lee cartoon for American Libraries, 2005.

The ALA Archives holds many treasures in unexpected places. The Issue Photographs files of American Libraries magazine in one such place, holding materials like original art and illustrations, such as original cartoons by Richard Lee. Lee’s cartoons for American Libraries are a treasure trove of classic and original library humor and were mostly published in the 1990s and 2000s, though many of the jokes are still relevant to libraries today. Continue reading “Richard Lee’s Cartoons: Illustrations of Librarian Humor”

Nathaniel L. Goodrich Scrapbooks, 1881-1902

We have recently processed the materials of a particularly interesting record series, The Nathaniel L. Goodrich Scrapbooks, 1881-1902 (97/1/77). Born in 1880, Nathaniel L. Goodrich was the Librarian at Dartmouth University for 38 years—from 1912 until he retired in 1950—and was granted full professorship in 1943. He passed away on April 30, 1957, exactly 60 years ago. The record series includes four scrapbooks dating back to the early twentieth century, which had been discarded from the Dartmouth College Library in Hanover, New Hampshire. In the scrapbooks, Goodrich had collected and arranged an assortment of materials relating to library buildings.

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Publications: Library War Service Publications

While the ALA War Service supplied great amounts of reading materials to soldiers abroad, a great amount of administrative reading materials were produced too. These can be found in Record Series 89/1/60, which contains promotional pamphlets and administrative reports.

Read on to learn about Library War Service publications!

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Research Strategies: Finding African American History Materials at the ALA Archives

February is African American history month and we at the ALA Archives want to help you optimize your research into African American and African history. In this month’s blog post, we’ll take a tour through ALA Archives holdings and we’ll use multiple strategies for finding information.

Read on to learn more about locating African American history materials at an archives!

Continue reading “Research Strategies: Finding African American History Materials at the ALA Archives”

“Public Library of the High Seas”: ALA and the American Merchant Marine Library Association

The connection between the ALA and the American Merchant Marine Library Association (AMMLA) is a little-known example of collaboration and cooperation between organizations. AMMLA developed out of the World War I Library War Service and ALA’s efforts to provide books and resources to men aboard U. S. vessels. (For more information about the Library War Service, please see our research guide). After the war ended, the library service for American servicemen was turned over to the War and Navy Departments, and the Library War Service Committee hoped that it’s work aboard U.S. ships would be taken over by either shipowners or another organization [1]. Finally, after the request from ALA to form a peace-time library service for this purpose, Alice Sturdevant Howard, Chief of the Social Service Bureau of the Recruiting Service of the United States Shipping Board, organized the American Merchant Marine Library Service in 1921 [2]. To aid the effort, ALA donated the leftover book stock used in the Merchant Marine Service as well as some unexpended funds [3]. Continue reading ““Public Library of the High Seas”: ALA and the American Merchant Marine Library Association”

Access for All!: Select A.L.A. Resources for People of All Abilities

Libraries around the world have progressively become more aware of the services they provide for users with disabilities. According to the ALA, they “recognize that people with disabilities are a large and neglected minority in the community and are severely underrepresented in the library profession.”[1] Continue reading “Access for All!: Select A.L.A. Resources for People of All Abilities”