“Librarians Are More Freedom Fighters Than Shushers”: Carla Hayden

Carla Hayden, 2003 (Record Series 13/6/15, Box 4)

In a career that spans state and government agencies, Carla Hayden has always fought for the people who need library resources the most and championed their right to have equal access to these resources, free of any government intervention. In a June 2003 news release announcing Hayden’s tenure as ALA President, Hayden stated that, “Equity of access is not only one of the basic tenets of our profession but it encompasses all of our basic and pressing contemporary concerns as well. We need to recommit ourselves to the ideal of providing equal access to everyone, anywhere, anytime and in any format, particularly those groups who are already underserved.” [1] Continue reading ““Librarians Are More Freedom Fighters Than Shushers”: Carla Hayden”

Just for Fun: Librarianship Theater

Although a significant amount of an archivist’s work is spent communicating with donors and researchers, in addition to arranging and conserving or preserving a continuous influx of documents, there is always time for a little fun too.

Archives are not exclusively repositories for records of historic value; but, they are also home to a great variety of documented human experience! Don’t believe us? Then read on about early theater and librarianship connections!

Continue reading “Just for Fun: Librarianship Theater”

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”

Lotsee Patterson: Advocate for Library Services for Native Americans

Dr. Lotsee Patterson accepting a Beta Phi Mu Award in 2001. Image ALA0003570.

In 2005, the American Library Association announced that it was naming Dr. Lotsee Patterson as one of its honorary members, the Association’s highest honor. It is little wonder that the ALA gave this honor to Dr. Patterson given her lifelong passionate advocacy for quality library services and programs for Native Americans. Continue reading “Lotsee Patterson: Advocate for Library Services for Native Americans”

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”

The ALA Mexican Border Traveling Library Service

While most of the American Library Association Library War Service’s efforts were concentrated in camps and hospitals in the United States and Europe, there was also a need for books for the soldiers stationed along the Mexican border. Chalmers Hadley, the librarian of the Denver Public Library, surveyed the desire for books among soldiers at the border and found them wanting.

In early 1918, Hadley observed that, “It is vastly different to find thousands of men requesting books, and hanging on a promise of some … It will be a great misfortune to the men and a lost opportunity to the A.L.A. if the traveling libraries are not provided.” [1] To satisfy the demand for books, two traveling libraries were established by the ALA and headquartered in the San Antonio Carnegie Library and at the El Paso Public Library in Texas.

Continue reading “The ALA Mexican Border Traveling Library Service”

The Gift of Literacy: Lutie E. Stearns

In the middle of all of the holiday cheer, December is also a month for librarians across the country to think back on those who gave back to their communities.  The late Lutie Eugenia Stearns, born on September 13, 1866, influenced many within the field of librarianship.  With the holiday season upon us, who better to write about than a woman who selflessly dedicated her life to advocate for those whose voices went unheard?

Lutie Stearns began her career as a teacher in the Milwaukee Public Schools.  With her apt skills in book collecting, she soon caught the eye of the Milwaukee Public Library’s, Minnie M. Oakley.  After Minnie’s death in 1895, Stearns was then appointed head Librarian. Continue reading “The Gift of Literacy: Lutie E. Stearns”

Clara S. Jones: “Awareness is Not Burdened with Repression; It is Liberating”

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Clara Stanton Jones

During the 1975 American Library Association Annual Conference, Clara Stanton Jones was announced as the Vice-President and President-Elect of the American Library Association. Her term as President would start during the ALA’s 1976 Centennial Conference, a fitting celebration for the first African American President of the ALA.

Her experience as Director of the Detroit Public Library and personality made her well suited for the position of ALA President. E.J. Josey noted that: “Her years of service in the trenches in Detroit before being appointed director of the library system provided her with management skills as well as a desire to love and serve her fellow human beings.”[1] Jones’ career took her all over the world, but most of her activities were community driven, working on the revitalization and cultural development of Detroit.[2] Continue reading “Clara S. Jones: “Awareness is Not Burdened with Repression; It is Liberating””

Preserving the Nearly Immortal Life of A.A.L.S. Headquarters Tour Guide and Mascot “Prissy”.

It was a gray spring day in 1983 on Park Lane and although she didn’t know it yet, Association of American Library Schools (now the Association for Library and Information Science Education) Executive Secretary Janet Phillips had immortalized Tour Guide and Mascot “Prissy”.

An Image of a Two-Story White Townhouse.
ALISE Subject File, Photograph Album, Page 1A, Box 21, Record Series 85/2/6.

Continue reading “Preserving the Nearly Immortal Life of A.A.L.S. Headquarters Tour Guide and Mascot “Prissy”.”

Mary Wright Plummer

To continue our blog series highlighting pioneering women librarians, this next post will focus on Mary Wright Plummer (1856-1916).  A member of Melvil Dewey’s first class in librarianship at Columbia College, Plummer went on to establish an impressive career in librarian education, children’s librarianship, and international librarianship, and served as the ALA’s 2nd female president from 1915-1916.

Born to a Quaker family, Plummer attended Wellesley College from 1881-1882, studying languages and creative writing.  Her librarianship career began when she enrolled at the age of 30 in “the first class in library science on the planet”[1], Melvil Dewey’s 1887 class in the School of Library Economy at Columbia College.  Distinguishing herself immediately in her studies, she was selected to present her experience in library school at the American Library Association’s 1887 meeting (“The Columbia College School of Library Economy from a Student’s Standpoint,” printed in Library Journal, September-December 1887). Continue reading “Mary Wright Plummer”