Abington Township Public Library Bookmobile, 1986, RS 99/1/15
Another significant collection at the American Library Association Archives is the Library Building Photographs, Record Series 99/1/15.
Compiled from numerous creators and spanning over one hundred years of documentation, these images offer both a broad geographic and historical perspective of libraries. These buildings range from magnificent classic libraries to quirky traveling book mobiles. Read More
Promotional poster for the ALA 50th Anniversary
Posters used by the ALA during its early history are now digitized for long-term preservation and access copies are available for viewing online. Subjects covered in these posters include the ALA’s work with the Library War Service to the American military during World War I, the importance of the freedom to read used during World War II, celebrating the ALA 50 Year Anniversary (in 1926) and the Carnegie Centenary (in 1935), as well as librarianship recruitment and general library promotion during the early twentieth century. These posters provide important documentary evidence of both the work of the ALA and how the presentation of American libraries and librarianship has changed over the past century.
“Your Next Job and Where to Look For It,” Record Series 89/1/13
Veterans Day honored the signing of the armistice on November 11, 1918, bringing an end to the fighting of the Great War. Angela Jordan has already detailed the work done by the American Library Association during the war, however the ALA’s role did not end on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The time after the signing of the armistice would actually account for one of the busiest periods for the ALA during the war. Read More
Book Week Publicity, circa 1940. One of many photos at the ALA Archives.
With its approaching centennial in 1976, the American Library Association noticed the increased interest in the history of the librarianship and the association by historians, writers and archivists. Because of this greater awareness in their records, the ALA expressed concern over the management of their archives and the preservation of their history. At the time, most of the ALA archives were housed in a warehouse in Chicago and, while it was conveniently located near ALA Headquarters, the records were not easily accessible. The ALA Librarian and staff had worked hard to care for the archives, however it was a great task in addition to their other obligations. 
Cover of “Catechism for Librarians”
The more things change, the more they stay the same, or so you will think when you look at this laundry list of key considerations Katherine L. Sharp outlines for someone setting up a library in her writing “Catechism for Librarians.” Unlike a religious Catechism, she outlines not what to believe but a series of questions a librarian must answer for herself. Despite being only 3 by 5 inches in size, 24 pages long, and never published, these 180 questions still provide a reasonable guide to someone setting up a library today. And their relevance is still more interesting when you consider that this was written in 1891, with no knowledge of the sweeping changes in librarianship and technology that were to come. A few of the more prescient questions are presented here in their modern context: Read More
Katharine Sharp and other librarians at an unknown event, c. 1900. Caption on the back reads: “Mr. Brunden, our host, Miss ‘Public Libraries’ Ahern; Mr. Dewey (with the Placid look upon his face); Miss K. L. Sharp; Miss M. McIlvaine.”
For an educated woman at the turn of the century, there were few options for a intellectually satisfying career, as Katharine L. Sharp discovered as a newly minted college graduate in 1885. She taught foreign languages at a high school in Illinois for two years, but then she took a position as Assistant Librarian at the Scoville Institute and seems to have found her calling. Believing so strongly in the burgeoning field of professional librarianship, she enrolled in the new New York State Library School in 1889, where she studied under Melvil Dewey.  Read More
“Open Your Mind To A Banned Book,” 2003.
This week is the 31st annual Banned Books Week, an event when the American Library Association and numerous other sponsors encourage the reading of banned and challenged books. The week was first inspired by the success of the Banned Book Exhibit at an American Booksellers Association (ABA) convention in 1982, which featured almost 500 banned and challenged books. Read More
As part of her 2007-08 presidential term, Loriene Roy initiated an oral history program for retiring librarians, “Capturing Our Stories.” So far this program, which is still on-going, has produced 35 recordings with full transcripts, which have now been added to the ALA Digital Archives and made available to researchers online.
Librarians interviewed range from school librarians to public library directors to catalogers, from California to New York. One librarian of note interviewed is Sanford Berman, author of Prejudices and Antipathies, famous criticism of the sexism and racism inherent in the Library of Congress subject headings of the 1970s. Berman’s personal papers are also held in the ALA Archives.
Explore the full holdings of these oral histories here.
If you’re interested in helping with the “Capturing Our Stories,” you can find more information at the project website.
In honor of the upcoming American Library Association Conference:
A TOAST TO THE TRAVEL COMMITTEE
(Tune: “Lord Goffrey Amherst was a soldier of the King.”)
Oh, here’s to Mr. Faxon and our jolly A. L. A.
And the travel committee too,
And here’s to Mr. Phelan, who has left us by the way,
And forsaken our merry crew,
And here’s to Mr. Brown, who came direct from Brooklyn town;
To chaperone the party was his cue.
And here’s to Mr. Wellman, who’s our leader all the way,
and last, but not least, HERE’S TO YOU.
Chorus: A. L. A., A. L. A.,
‘Tis a name that’s known
From sea to sea,
A. L. A., A. L. A.;
From the A. L. A. are we. 
A Group of Librarians in Colorado
Record Series 99/1/14