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Publications: Library War Service Publications

While the ALA War Service supplied great amounts of reading materials to soldiers abroad, a great amount of administrative reading materials were produced too. These can be found in Record Series 89/1/60, which contains promotional pamphlets and administrative reports.

Read on to learn about Library War Service publications!

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Commemorating the Library War Service

With centennial of the United States’ entry into World War I coming up on April 6, the American Library Association Archives is commemorating the centennial of the Library War Service, which was formed shortly after the US entered the Great War. Keep an eye on our blog, social media, and our site for the different ways that we’re remembering the Library War Service! Read More »

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The Books They Read: Library War Service in WWI

Found in record series 89/1/13, box 6.

ALA book campaign advertisement

During the course of U.S. involvement in World War I, the American Library Association collected $5 million in donations for the Library War Service, a service that accumulated a collection of ten million publications and established thirty-six camp libraries across the United States and Europe. It was the ALA Library War Service’s mission to provide “a book for every man.”

The Library War Service accomplished a great deal in a short time. According to the June 1918 War Library Bulletin, there were 385,310 books shipped overseas. At that time, there were also 237 small military camps and posts equipped with book collections and 249 naval and marine stations and vessels supplied with libraries. [2] The books were well-received by soldiers and sailors alike, and unmistakably utilized widely. Vice-Admiral Albert Gleaves of the US Navy wrote:

“Do the sailors read very much? Do the soldiers read very much? I know from personal observation that the books were in constant demand, and that they were in constant circulation. They were placed as a rule near the troop compartments for the soldiers, and for the sailors they were placed in their compartments. The books were allotted to them and they would draw these books; they were not responsible in any way for their condition or what became of them. If the books were lost, that was profit and loss to the A. L. A., and didn’t concern the sailor man. There was no compulsion, no restraint; they had free access to these books.” [3]
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Publications: The Newsletters of Women in Libraries and Women Library Workers

Since 1970 the Women in Libraries Newsletter (and Women Library Workers Journal, 1975-1993) have provided information resources for women working in libraries. Older issues are still information rich for current and future readers.

Read on to learn more about the art and history of Women in Libraries and Women Library Workers Newsletters!

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“First Your Country, Then Your Rights”: African American Soldiers in WWI

In honor of Black History Month and the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I, it is only fitting to discuss the service of African Americans in the war and to highlight a few materials we have here at the archives that illustrate their contributions.

In 1917, Congress passed the Selective Service Act, which Woodrow Wilson then signed into law, thus initiating the draft. It required all young men, regardless of race, to register for service [1]. Subsequently, more than 2.2 million black men registered over the course of four draft calls [2], of which nearly 370,000 were then inducted into the Army [3].

W.E.B. Du Bois was one of many African American leaders and activists who saw the war as a chance to advance racial progress, hoping that racial equality would follow at the war’s end when Americans saw their loyalty and service to their country. He urged black men to put the fight for civil rights on hold during the war, writing in The Crisis, “first your Country, then your Rights!” [4].

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Research Strategies: Finding African American History Materials at the ALA Archives

February is African American history month and we at the ALA Archives want to help you optimize your research into African American and African history. In this month’s blog post, we’ll take a tour through ALA Archives holdings and we’ll use multiple strategies for finding information.

Read on to learn more about locating African American history materials at an archives!


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Publications: The Black Caucus Newsletter

Since 1974, the Black Caucus Newsletter has provided a lot of support and information to Black librarians (with a little humor too).

Read on the learn more about the art, humor, and history of the Black Caucus Newsletter!

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The ALA Mexican Border Traveling Library Service

While most of the American Library Association Library War Service’s efforts were concentrated in camps and hospitals in the United States and Europe, there was also a need for books for the soldiers stationed along the Mexican border. Chalmers Hadley, the librarian of the Denver Public Library, surveyed the desire for books among soldiers at the border and found them wanting.

In early 1918, Hadley observed that, “It is vastly different to find thousands of men requesting books, and hanging on a promise of some … It will be a great misfortune to the men and a lost opportunity to the A.L.A. if the traveling libraries are not provided.” [1] To satisfy the demand for books, two traveling libraries were established by the ALA and headquartered in the San Antonio Carnegie Library and at the El Paso Public Library in Texas.

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Publications: COGNOTES

Since 1972, COGNOTES has published ALA annual and midwinter conference news. Printed at ALA Headquarters and produced by volunteers, COGNOTES is staffed by New Members Round Table (NMRT) members and non-members. This is an ALA publication rich with information about experiences and events at ALA conferences.

Read on to learn more about the art and history of COGNOTES!

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The Gift of Literacy: Lutie E. Stearns

In the middle of all of the holiday cheer, December is also a month for librarians across the country to think back on those who gave back to their communities.  The late Lutie Eugenia Stearns, born on September 13, 1866, influenced many within the field of librarianship.  With the holiday season upon us, who better to write about than a woman who selflessly dedicated her life to advocate for those whose voices went unheard?

Lutie Stearns began her career as a teacher in the Milwaukee Public Schools.  With her apt skills in book collecting, she soon caught the eye of the Milwaukee Public Library’s, Minnie M. Oakley.  After Minnie’s death in 1895, Stearns was then appointed head Librarian. Read More »

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