Faxon’s Traveling Conference Albums

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1897 Photo Album

This “Traveling” Souvenir is sent to a few friends, and I hope it may give enough pleasure to offset cost of postage. (Preface, 1897 Photo Album)

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“To say that Mr. James lost his head would seem no more than the truth if we look at the picture, where he sits back to us in the foreground. He only removed it for a moment however in order to allow Miss Rathbone’s countenance to be seen.” (1897 Photo Album)

As described in an earlier blog post: Frederick Winthrop Faxon (1866-1936) was the early bard of the American Library Association.  Although he was not a librarian, he was memorialized as someone who “for almost forty years,[…] devoted himself to serving librarians and promoting the library idea.”[1] Attending 43 annual conferences throughout his lifetime, Faxon’s humorous reports enliven several years of the American Library Association Papers and Proceedings. Read More »

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Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015): Live Long and Prosper

Leonard Nimoy, 1976The ALA Archives staff found a picture of Leonard Nimoy (March 26, 1931 – February 27, 2015) in our Record Series 13/5/15.  ALA conferences have a long tradition of distinguished guests and author signings, and Nimoy was at the 1976 ALA Annual Conference, signing pictures for his newly released memoir I am Not Spock. Apparently he got tired of smiling for the camera.

This picture, and a write up of the event, was featured in American Libraries Vol. 7, No. 7 (Jul. – Aug., 1976), p. 473. Copyright of this image is currently unknown and is provided in low resolution.

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Action, Not Reaction: Integrating the Library Profession

Original caption: "LOS ANGELES, October, 1949 - Elementary school pupils William Bias, Elizabeth Coggins and Jerry Sekido think it's pretty interesting to watch Nellie Greene charge out their library books with the new Recordak charger on the Children's Traveling Branch, operated by the Los Angeles Public Library."

Original caption: “LOS ANGELES, October, 1949 – Elementary school pupils William Bias, Elizabeth Coggins and Jerry Sekido think it’s pretty interesting to watch Nellie Greene charge out their library books with the new Recordak charger on the Children’s Traveling Branch, operated by the Los Angeles Public Library.”

In the midst of the Civil Rights era in America, librarians were battling for and against segregated libraries in the South, however they were also battling over integration within their own ranks. Integration of the library profession was a long process that started in the early 20th century.  Read More »

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Snowed in at Midwinter: the ALA Players

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Party like it’s 1906! Image from the F. W. Faxon Collection

A recent acquisition to the archives is a small packet containing the bylaws and related documents of the ALA Players (“ALAP”).  As described in the ALA Archives transmittal form, the ALAP was established when a huge snowstorm descended during the Midwinter conference of 1978, causing the group to be snowed in and looking for ways to occupy their time.  The documents reflect the playful attitude of the members during their confinement.  The ALA Players “continued for many years with dancing on Tuesday (or other) nights of each conference.” Read More »

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Daniel W. Lester Library Postcard Collection

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A Carnegie Library at McPherson College, c. 1910.

In November the ALA Archives received a very generous donation of over 6,000 library postcards from Daniel Lester, now called the Daniel W. Lester Library Postcard Collection. The postcards made a cross country journey, courtesy of Larry Nix, from Mr. Lester’s home to the ALA Archives where they are now open for researchers to access. Read More »

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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.

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Freedom to Read Foundation: 45 Years

Patriotic library poster, c. 1990

Patriotic library poster, c. 1990

Today marks the 45th anniversary of the ALA founding the Freedom to Read Foundation, a non-profit organization that defends the First Amendment as it relates to libraries, books, the Internet, and library users. An off-shoot of the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom (itself founded only two years prior), the Freedom to Read Foundation focuses its efforts primarily on defending librarians, book publishers, teachers, and other people who are in court due to controversial material, while the Office of Intellectual Freedom focuses on outreach, advocacy, and raising awareness of First Amendment issues. Read More »

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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: Read More »

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Library Service for the Blind

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Painting by Denman Fink, commissioned by the ALA for the United War Work Campaign, 1919. Record Series 89/1/60, Box 1, Folder: “ALA Library War Service Special Publications (1919)”

“[T]he blind soldier is the spirit of war, of the battlefront, of France,” said Jerry O’Connor, a blinded Cantigny veteran from World War I, during his award-winning speech titled The Duty of the Blind Soldier to the Blind Civilian at the Red Cross Institute for the Blind’s Public Speaking Contest in 1920.  “We have the mud of the trenches upon our feet, gold chevrons upon our sleeves, and the scars of War upon our faces.  Whether we deserve it or not, people stare at us, send us gifts, invite us to their homes, give us sympathy.  Such circumstances place the blind soldier in a position where, when he speaks, he can be heard.  Consequently, if the conditions of the blind can be improved, the blind soldier should speak – and be heard.”  Identifying two major obstacles for blind people as “the habit of the public to look upon the blind man as incapable, sensitive, and helpless” and the lack of educational opportunities for the adult blind person, O’Connor called for public programs to address these obstacles for the blind.  One of the institutions responding to this call for action would be the American Library Association. Read More »

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Burton E. Stevenson: ALA Representative in Europe

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Found in RS 89/1/13, Box 2, Group #7 – Personnel

Burton Egbert Stevenson (1872-1962) was surprised to find himself named the foremost ALA representative in Europe for the Library War Services campaign during the first World War.  A college dropout from Princeton University and aspiring novelist, he fell into the library profession after marrying Chillicothe Public Librarian, Elisabeth Shephard Butler and accepting a librarian position at the same library in 1899. Read More »

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