Tag Archives: American Library Association

National Library Week: “For a Better-Read, Better-Informed America”

National Library Week letterhead detail

Sponsored by the National Book Committee, Inc., and in cooperation with the American Library Association, the first National Library Week was launched on March 16-22, 1958.  Citing a 1957 survey showing that only 17% of Americans polled were reading a book, the inaugural National Library Week slogan was “Wake Up and Read!”  The National Library Week […]

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Faxon’s Traveling Conference Albums

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) 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 […]

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Snowed in at Midwinter: the ALA Players

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 […]

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Library Service for the Blind


“[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 […]

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Burton E. Stevenson: ALA Representative in Europe

ala 0000337

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 […]

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Library/USA Exhibit at the 1964-5 New York World’s Fair

Three years before the founding of OCLC, and seven years before Michael Hart typed the first ebook for Project Gutenberg, the public got a tangible introduction to the potential use of computers in libraries at the New York World’s Fair. Even more uniquely, the Library/USA exhibit did not introduce people to the first commonly-spread use […]

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40 Years of ALA Archives at the U of I

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, […]

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“To meet him was to always meet an old friend:” F. W. Faxon


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 […]

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Madam President

Before women were allowed to vote in US elections, the American Library Association found its leadership in Theresa West Elmendorf.  In 1911, over thirty years after the founding of the ALA, Elmendorf was elected the first female president of the association.

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A Testimony of Friendship

On April 13, 1942, General Manuel Ávila Comacho, President of the Republic of Mexico, spoke at the formal dedication of the Biblioteca Benjamin Franklin in Mexico City.  The dedication of the library, made possible by a grant from the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs to the American Library Association, was attended by Mexican officials, American embassy […]

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