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.”  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.
San Antonio Carnegie Library
El Paso Public Library
Since 1972, COGNOTES has published ALA annual and midwinter conference news. Printed at ALA Headquarters and produced by volunteers, COGNOTES is staffed by New Members Round Table (NMRT) members and non-members. This is an ALA publication rich with information about experiences and events at ALA conferences.
Read on to learn more about COGNOTES!
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. Read More
This holiday season is a great chance to consider the many historic professional gifts of A.L.A. members to colleagues past, present, and future: professional publications rich with information for all. However, there is so much A.L.A. produced literature that it may not be possible for one to read everything in a lifetime. So this ALA Archives gift to you is a strategy (or two) for navigating the many different historic publications of the A.L.A.
A poster of an ALA publications list , circa 1925, in Record Series 13/2/22, Box 1.
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 . 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 . To aid the effort, ALA donated the leftover book stock used in the Merchant Marine Service as well as some unexpended funds . Read More
One method for searching an institutional or organizational archives is through a review of publications about the organization. Some external publications capture ephemeral information about an organization and complement other archival information. Such formal or informal publications can be produced by the organization, by institutions, by groups, or by people. Read on to see some examples of what an archives may hold in a Record Group 0!
Donald G Davis Jr.’s 575-page Dissertation, (which fills half of a standard archives box!), found in Record Series 0/2/2, Box 1.
Theresa West Elmendorf, the first female president of ALA, elected in 1911.
There are several units within the American Library Association that support women in the library profession and as a whole. Many of these groups arose during the second wave of feminism in the 1960s-80s in response to political and social movements outside of the ALA. Women in librarianship wanted the predominately-female profession to be regarded with the same respect and pay scale as other professions as well as more equity in ALA leadership.
One of the first major committees that is still around today is the Committee on the Status of Women in Librarianship (COSWL). This committee came about after several years of advocating by ALA members and the eventual approval at the 1976 Centennial Conference in Chicago. Initially, a proposal was presented during the 1974 Annual Conference and then discussed by Council during the 1975 Midwinter Meeting. The ALA Executive Board endorsed a set of guidelines put forward in 1976, drafted by a standing committee appointed by the ALA president. The committee has a list of seven responsibilities, all of which support the growth of women inside and outside of the field of librarianship. COSWL also sponsors several research projects, publications, and subcommittees related to women in libraries, such as the Advance Women in Library Management, Minority Women Oral History Project, and the COSWL Study. ALA currently maintains a list of resources on the COSWL homepage related to women’s issues.
Now that we can locate record series, we can learn how understanding and searching record series descriptions are important tools for research. Let’s appreciate the anatomy and physiology of these database records and supplemental resources.
A Screen Capture of a Current ALA Archives Record Series Database Record
Celebrating the Organizers!: 140 Years of Library Conference Planners in Letters and Images at the ALA Archives
Today is the official 140th birthday of the American Library Association and we are kicking it off the with opening of our new digital exhibit Celebrating the Organizers!: 140 of Library Conference Planners in Letters and Images at the ALA Archives.
A special thanks to ALA graduate assistant Salvatore De Sando for all his hard work on this exhibit! And thanks to ALA graduate students Sharon Pietryka, Leanna Barcelona, and Madison Well for their help.
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.” 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.