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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Clara S. Jones: “Awareness is Not Burdened with Repression; It is Liberating”

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Clara Stanton Jones

During the 1975 American Library Association Annual Conference, Clara Stanton Jones was announced as the Vice-President and President-Elect of the American Library Association. Her term as President would start during the ALA’s 1976 Centennial Conference, a fitting celebration for the first African American President of the ALA.

Her experience as Director of the Detroit Public Library and personality made her well suited for the position of ALA President. E.J. Josey noted that: “Her years of service in the trenches in Detroit before being appointed director of the library system provided her with management skills as well as a desire to love and serve her fellow human beings.”[1] Jones’ career took her all over the world, but most of her activities were community driven, working on the revitalization and cultural development of Detroit.[2] Read More »

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Preserving the Nearly Immortal Life of A.A.L.S. Headquarters Tour Guide and Mascot “Prissy”.

It was a gray spring day in 1983 on Park Lane and although she didn’t know it yet, Association of American Library Schools (now the Association for Library and Information Science Education) Executive Secretary Janet Phillips had immortalized Tour Guide and Mascot “Prissy”.

An Image of a Two-Story White Townhouse.

ALISE Subject File, Photograph Album, Page 1A, Box 21, Record Series 85/2/6.

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Mary Wright Plummer

To continue our blog series highlighting pioneering women librarians, this next post will focus on Mary Wright Plummer (1856-1916).  A member of Melvil Dewey’s first class in librarianship at Columbia College, Plummer went on to establish an impressive career in librarian education, children’s librarianship, and international librarianship, and served as the ALA’s 2nd female president from 1915-1916.

Born to a Quaker family, Plummer attended Wellesley College from 1881-1882, studying languages and creative writing.  Her librarianship career began when she enrolled at the age of 30 in “the first class in library science on the planet”[1], Melvil Dewey’s 1887 class in the School of Library Economy at Columbia College.  Distinguishing herself immediately in her studies, she was selected to present her experience in library school at the American Library Association’s 1887 meeting (“The Columbia College School of Library Economy from a Student’s Standpoint,” printed in Library Journal, September-December 1887). Read More »

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Happy Birthday, Melvil!

ALA0000303The ALA Archives staff wants to say happy birthday to Melvil Dewey, who is a mere 164 years old today!

Dewey might be most famous for his Dewey Decimal Classification system for library books, though many American libraries now use the Library of Congress classification system, the Dewey Decimal System is still being used today. Dewey was active in the library profession and was also one of the founders of the American Library Association, opened the School of Library Economy at Columbia College, called for the formation of the ALA Council, and was involved in the founding of the Spelling Reform Association. Read More »

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Founding the ALA Archives, 1966-1973

On November 11, 1966, Headquarters Librarian Ruth White wrote to Associate Executive Director Alphonse Trezza:

The archives for ALA are now stored in many places. There has never been an established policy for retention and disposition of ALA and divisional correspondence and publications. Neither has there been a systematic program for collection of archival material. In 1949 the Committee on A.L.A. Archival and Library Materials made a detailed report, but there is no record of action being taken on the report. Certainly the recommendations have been carried out only spasmodically, if at all. As stated at the beginning, the result is that many divisions have their own archives, some archival material is in Central Files, some if in the library, and some is in the hands of officers, past officers and past headquarters…

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American Archives Month: Tell Your Story

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October is American Archives Month! But what does that mean for the American Library Association? The ALA Archives staff wants to encourage all ALA offices, divisions, committees, and round tables to start a conversation with the archives about depositing your records, both physical and digital.

We especially want to hear from ALA units that haven’t transferred their records to the archives yet. New committees, task forces, round tables, and sections can start by sending us their founding documents, including bylaws, charters, correspondence, meeting minutes and agendas, and even selfies of the members! Read More »

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