Archive for September, 2011

ALA’s Dodranscentennial, 1951

September 29th, 2011
To celebrate its seventy fifth anniversary in 1951the American Library Association chose to use this occasion not to reflect on its past but to increase its relevancy to the present. It selected the theme "The Heritage of the U.S.A. in Times of Crisis" for its anniversary celebration and for the annual conference which took place in Chicago. It sought to engage the American public and America's libraries in a discussion of this theme. The 75th Anniversary Committee of ALA which was chaired by Ralph E. Ellsworth was able to get three books published to support its anniversary theme. One of those books This American People by Gerald Johnson (Harper Brothers, 1951) was also excerpted in the July 31, issue of Look Magazine. Look Magazine also distributed 2,000 posters to libraries to promote the theme. ALA received a $150,000 grant from the Fund for Adult Education of the Ford Foundation to conduct a follow-up library discussion project which it called the "American Heritage Project".

Also part of the seventy fifth anniversary was National Library Day which occurred on October 4, 1951, on the anniversary date of the start of the meeting of librarians in Philadelphia which resulted in the founding of ALA. Although special observances of this day were held in Philadelphia, National Library Day was promoted as a day to promote libraries throughout the nation and was a precursor to National Library Week which began in 1958. In the ALA Bulletin for September, 1951 Ellsworth told ALA's members: "It should be made clear that the ultimate purpose of all activities concerning observance of ALA's 75th anniversary is to get more books read by the public. Observance of National Library Day in each community, therefore is a challenge to the librarian to further this purpose." In addition to President Harry Truman's proclamation of National Library Day, the governor's of 27 states and Puerto Rico officially proclaimed October 4, 1951 as National Library Day.

Throughout 1951 the ALA Bulletin (the source for most of the information in this post) kept ALA members informed of anniversary activities with frequent updates by Ellsworth. A special cover for the ALA Bulletin with a seventy fifth anniversary motif was used on all issues. In honor of the seventy fifth anniversary of ALA, the Library Journal identified forty individuals for a "Library Hall of Fame" in its March 15, 1951 issue. It is also noteworthy that there was an unsuccessful attempt to get a postage stamp in honor of ALA for this occasion. The ALA Archives maintains the conference records for the seventy-fifth conference.

#occupywallstreet homework

September 28th, 2011
During class on September 13, we discussed the current issue of Adbusters magazine, including their project #occupywallstreet.


Yesterday, September 27th, I asked students whether they thought #occupywallstreet had actually happened. Most of you said no. Then I asked if you thought it was still going on. Even more of you said no.

Your homework for Thursday, in addition to the reading on KUSF, is to answer the following three questions:

1. What's happening with #occupywallstreet?
2. What was the source or sources you used to find out what's happening?
3. Why did you use this source or sources?

You should be able to fit your answers within one-third of a sheet of paper. Your homework is due at the beginning of class.

September Birthdays of Former Library Leaders

September 27th, 2011
September has some significant birthdays of former library leaders.

Julia Wright Merrill (1881-1961) born on Sept. 11, 1881 (130 years ago). Wright was a national leader in the extension of public library service and was the first Executive Secretary of the Public Library Association of the American Library Association. She has been inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame and the Ohio Library Hall of Fame.

Lutie Eugenia Stearns (1866-1943) born on Sept. 13, 1866 (145 years ago). Stearns was a state and national leader in the promotion of public library service. While at the Wisconsin Free Library Commission she tirelessly traveled the state establishing traveling libraries and free public libraries. In 1951 she was one of 40 of America’s most significant library leaders selected by the Library Journal for inclusion in a “ Library Hall of Fame". She was in the first group of library leaders inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame.

Margery Closey Quigley (1886-1968) born on Sept. 16, 1886 (125 years ago). While Director of the Montclair (NJ) Public Library, Quigley developed nationally acclaimed programs that served as a model for other libraries. Her book Portrait of a Library (1936) and later a documentary film of the same name helped make the Montclair Public Library "the best known American suburban library in the world". She taught courses on library publicity at Columbian University and other library schools. She is included in the Dictionary of American Library Biography (Libraries Unlimited, 1978).

George Herbert Putnam (1861-1955) born on Sept. 20, 1861 (150 years ago). Putnam was the eighth Librarian of Congress (1899-1939). In that capacity he reorganized the Library and greatly expanded its national role especially in relation to the national library community. Under his leadership the library instituted an interlibrary loan program and produced printed catalog cards for the nation's libraries. The United States has not honored a librarian on a postage stamp. Putnam was one of my possibilities for this honor.

Edwin Hatfield Anderson (1861-1947) born on Sept. 27, 1861 (150 years ago). Anderson's entry in the Dictionary of American Library Biography (Libraries Unlimited, 1978) written by Phyllis Dain reads in part: " Through quiet but forceful leadership of several of the foremost library institutions of his day, Edwin Hatfield Anderson exerted a powerful if indirect influence over librarianship. As the first librarian of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, he shaped it into a many-faceted agency embodying the latest ideas and ideal of community service; as New York state librarian and director of the New York State Library School, he revitalized the State Library and stabilized the school; as director of the New York Public Library, he guided one of the great libraries of the world through a time of prodigious growth." Photograph of Anderson in ALA Archives.

Joseph Green Cogswell (1786-1871) born on Sept. 27, 1786 (225 years ago). Cogswell is best known for his role in building the collection of the Astor Library in New York City, one of the institutions that merged to form the New York Public Library. I have a couple of postal items in my collection related to Cogswell which I have written about previously. One is an 1855 letter written by Cogswell which contains his philosophy of library service. The other is an 1848 letter introducing Cogswell to Anthony Panizzi of the British Museum.

ALA’s Jubilee, 1926

September 26th, 2011
Drexel Institute, Philadelphia, site of ALA's 50th anniversary sessions 
The leaders of the American Library Association recognized the significance of its fiftieth anniversary in 1926 and celebrated accordingly. The primary site for ALA's annual conference, October 4-9, 1926 was Atlantic City, New Jersey, but arrangements were also made to have commemorative sessions in Philadelphia on October 6, the date that ALA was founded in 1876.  The attendance in Atlantic City was 2,224, the largest ever for an ALA conference. Of that number 1,200 traveled to Philadelphia for the commemorative sessions which took place at Drexel Institute (see postcard above).  They were treated to presentations by Richard R. Bowker and Melvil Dewey, two of the founders of ALA. America was also celebrating the sesquicentennial of the American Revolution with an International Exposition in Philadelphia in 1926 .  As it had at some previous world expositions, ALA sponsored an exhibit which was located in the Palace of Education and Social Economy at the exposition. Included in the exhibit was an eighty-foot map of the Cleveland Public Library system which was intended to demonstrate how a large public library served the public. Also in the exhibit was a printing press which printed out book lists and brochures which were distributed to exposition attendees. A model library included 2,000 adult books, 500 juvenile books, and 100 reference books. The ALA conference sessions in Atlantic City had an international theme with presentations by foreign librarians. It was at this conference that the concept of an international organization of library associations was brought forth resulting in what is now the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). Also at this conference ALA elected George H. Locke of the Public Library as its new president, the first and only time a Canadian has been elected president of ALA. The source for much of the information in this post is A History of the American Library Association 1876-1972 by Dennis Thomison (ALA, 1978).

ALA’s 25th Anniversary, Waukesha, WI, 1901

September 24th, 2011
ALA's 1901 meeting took place in this hotel
1901 ALA conference attendees in front of State Historical Society, Madison, WI
Next month will mark the 135th anniversary of the founding of the American Library Association in Philadelphia in 1876. I thought I would take a look back at some of ALA's previous significant anniversaries in a lead up to that important milestone. ALA was 25 years old when it met at the Fountain Spring House (see postcard above) in Waukesha, Wisconsin in 1901. There wasn't a lot of hoopla at ALA's 23rd annual conference (there were no meetings in 1878 and 1884) related to its silver anniversary.  President James Carr did make note of the anniversary in the president's annual address and reported that there were now a thousand members of the association. That number included sixty-nine of the original charter members of ALA.  The Waukesha conference had the second largest number of attendees at a conference up to that time, a total of 454. The conference ran from July 3-10 and overlapped the Fourth of July which was kept free of general sessions. Monday, July 8th, was designated as "Madison day" and more than 300 attendees boarded a train for the Wisconsin Capital where they were met by carriages that took them on a tour of the city. A highlight of Madison day was a visit to the recently completed building of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin which housed both the Society's library and the library of the University of Wisconsin. A contemporary report of the ALA Waukesha conference was published in the July, 1901 issue of Library Journal. The image of the ALA conference attendees in front of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin building in Madison, WI is from the Wisconsin Historical Society Digital Collection (Image ID 45544).