When Books Went to War: Librarians in WWII

Fundraising poster for the WWII Victory Book Campaign
Fundraising poster for the WWII Victory Book Campaign

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.

We Thought We Heard the Angels Sing

This is Our War - Let's Read about it!
Library promotional poster from World War II

For Veteran’s Day, the ALA Archives wanted to share how books can sometimes take us to strange and wonderful places.  James Whittaker’s We Thought We Heard the Angels Sing (a book about soldiers during WWII who survived a plane crash over the Pacific and were stranded on a life raft for weeks) took Suzanne Kelley and her students on a pursuit of knowledge that connected them with the WWII veterans from the book.  These veterans became a part of the students’ lives for years to come.  This is Ms. Kelley’s letter to the American Library Association from this past September: Continue reading “We Thought We Heard the Angels Sing”

Early ALA Posters now Digitized and Online

A woman in classical robes holds books under one arm while holding aloft the ALA seal, superimposed over a map of the United States.
Promotional poster for the ALA 50th Anniversary

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.

Continue reading “Early ALA Posters now Digitized and Online”

American Library in Paris

As described by Director Dorothy Reeder, the American Library in Paris was a “war baby, born out of that vast number of books sent to the A. E. F. by the American Library Association in the last war.  When hostilities ceased, it embarked on a new mission, and has served as a memorial to the American soldiers for whom it has been established.”[1] Continue reading “American Library in Paris”