“Beyond the Hopes or Plans”: ALA at the 1893 World’s Fair

Ribbon1893

New York Library Club ribbon for the 1893 ALA Annual Conference. RS 5/1/15

With the approaching 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago on the horizon, Frank P. Hill addressed the American Library Association at the 1890 Annual Conference and proposed several suggestions for the ALA to showcase an exhibit at the fair. Hill proposed that for the fair, “That a model library, showing modern methods of classifying and cataloging books, be arrange in one of the room of the building.”[1] He also immediately suggested that Mary S. Cutler be put in charge, who was later placed on the planning committee with Hill himself.

The Chicago World’s Fair was an opportunity for libraries and the American Library Association to be represented on an international stage to educate visitors of the inner workings of a public library. And by holding the 1893 Annual Conference in Chicago, members were given the chance to see the World’s Columbian Exposition and observe the exhibit.

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Research Strategies: Navigating a Record Series Structure

One method for searching the holdings of an institutional or organizational archives (like the ALA Archives) is through a review of the record series structure. Like a library’s classification system, a record series structure is developed to help conceptualize where archivists may file documents or records. In addition to keyword searches, a review of how archivists file donations is a helpful strategy for locating items. Read on to learn how to search an archives without using a keyword search!

A Photograph of Clement Andrews and Adam Strohm at Santa Cruz, Calfornia, around the time of the 1911 Pasadena, California, ALA Annual Conference

Be like librarians Andrews and Strohm, admiring impressive foundations of organic entities (like libraries, archives, and trees) much larger than ourselves!

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Research Strategies: The Reference Library of the ALA Archives (Bookcase Two of Two)

For specific inquiries about ALA members and history, a review of our reference library is due. The ALA Archives library is an easily over-looked resource rich with data and research strategies. After reviewing general reference books, some queries are specifically answered with the following resources. Read on to learn even more!

ALA Archives Bookcase Two

ALA Archives Bookcase Two

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Research Strategies: The Reference Library of the ALA Archives (Bookcase One of Two)

For general inquiries about ALA members and history, a review of our reference library is due. The ALA Archives library is an easily over-looked resource rich with data and research strategies. Before beginning archival research, some queries are efficiently answered with the following resources. Read on to learn more!

Image of Bookcase One at ALA Archives

Image of Bookcase One at ALA Archives

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Life Imitating Archives

Attending the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida? Take a moment to recreate some ALA Annual Conference moments and Tweet it to the ALA Archives!

  1. Choose one of the following photographs below
  2. Strike a pose and take a picture!
  3. Tweet your photo to @ALA_Archives with #LifeImitatingArchives

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“Call for a Library Conference”: The 1876 ALA Conference

Accession Logbook

Register with the first members of the ALA listed.

Despite the relative success and enthusiastic reception of the 1853 Librarians’ Convention, it failed in its goal to establish a permanent organization of librarian professionals. The next attempt to create a permanent association occurred again in 1876.

An anonymous letter to the London publication, Academy, noted that it was strange “that no attempt should have been make to convene a Congress of librarians.”[1] The letter was then reprinted in Publishers’ Weekly by Frederick Leypoldt and mentioned again in an issue of the Nation. From there the idea picked up momentum, drawing the attention of highly regarded librarians such as Melvil Dewey. Read More »

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Celebrating 140 Years of the ALA

ALA1876In celebration of the 140th anniversary of the American Library Association, the ALA Archives, spearheaded by Salvatore De Sando (ALA Archives Assistant), will be tweeting correspondence about the 1876 Conference. The source materials come from a scrapbook of letters and publications for the first ALA conference in 1876 in Philadelphia, October 4-6. The archives will be tweeting the written words from correspondents, such as Melvil Dewey, Justin Winsor, William Poole, and other founders of the ALA.

The tweets start on May 18th and will continue through the summer. Follow us on Twitter @ALA_Archives and our hashtag #ala1876.

The ALA Archives will be debuting a digital exhibit, Celebrating the Organizers: 140 Years of Library Conference Planners in Letters and Images at the ALA Archives, on October 6th. 140 years to the day when “the register was passed around for all to sign who wished to become charter members”and the American Library Association was founded.

The ALA Archives will also be holding a small 140th birthday party on October 6. More details to come in the fall!

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Oh the Things You Will Find…Preserving Materials at the ALA Archives

Every archivist has encountered a collection that has given them a hard time or left them with a puzzled look on their face as they ponder where to start. As an archivist, preserving materials is one of the most important tasks that we face in our jobs.  Here at the ALA Archives, we receive collections with materials that range from oversized posters, 100 year old documents, and pictures, and it is our job to keep these historic materials in the best shape as possible.

While working on reprocessing a collection that included Executive Board minutes from ALA meetings, I encountered an interesting situation. The documents were all bound together by different materials, some screwed together with metal, some with plastic, and it was my job to get the potential paper damager out.

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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] Read More »

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Behind the Scenes at the Archives: Processing a Poster Series

A.L.A President (2013-14) Barbara Stripling’s Presidential Initiative Libraries Change Lives produced a great amount of posters from libraries across the country that have recently arrived at the A.L.A. Archives.

Libraries Change Lives Posters, Record Series 19/3/13.

Libraries Change Lives Posters, Record Series 19/3/13.

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