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.
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!
Be like librarians Andrews and Strohm, admiring impressive foundations of organic entities (like libraries, archives, and trees) much larger than ourselves!
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
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
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!
- Choose one of the following photographs below
- Strike a pose and take a picture!
- Tweet your photo to @ALA_Archives with #LifeImitatingArchives
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.” 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
In 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!