Category Archives: ALA History

Increasing Morale: Hospital Library Service in WWI

World War I spread tragedy and despair across the world, but the American Library Association worked to brighten the spirits of wounded soldiers. In 1917, the American Library Association provided library services to wounded soldiers and delivered books, newspapers, and magazines to more than 200 army and navy hospitals.  The ALA was able to send […]

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The A.L.A. and Armed Services Librarianship

After the success of supporting library service for soldiers during World War One and Two, A.L.A. members have been a part of the expansion of public library services including armed services librarianship across the country and overseas. Read on to learn more about armed services librarianship!

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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 […]

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The Books They Read: Library War Service in WWI

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

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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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“Public Library of the High Seas”: ALA and the American Merchant Marine Library Association

The connection between the ALA and the American Merchant Marine Library Association (AMMLA) is a little-known example of collaboration and cooperation between organizations. AMMLA developed out of the World War I Library War Service and ALA’s efforts to provide books and resources to men aboard U. S. vessels. (For more information about the Library War […]

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Activism and Advocacy in ALA: Women’s Organizations

Found in RS 13/6/17

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 […]

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New Digital Exhibit: Celebrating the Organizers!

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 […]

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“Beyond the Hopes or Plans”: ALA at the 1893 World’s Fair

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 […]

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