Category Archives: ALA History

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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“Call for a Library Conference”: The 1876 ALA Conference

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 […]

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Celebrating 140 Years of the ALA

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 […]

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Behind the Scenes at the Archives: Processing a Poster Series

A.L.A President (2013-14) Barbara Stripling’s Presidential Initiative Libraries Change Lives produced a great amount of posters from libraries across the country that have recently arrived at the A.L.A. Archives.

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Clara S. Jones: “Awareness is Not Burdened with Repression; It is Liberating”

During the 1975 American Library Association Annual Conference, Clara Stanton Jones was announced as the Vice-President and President-Elect of the American Library Association. Her term as President would start during the ALA’s 1976 Centennial Conference, a fitting celebration for the first African American President of the ALA. Her experience as Director of the Detroit Public […]

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Preserving the Nearly Immortal Life of A.A.L.S. Headquarters Tour Guide and Mascot “Prissy”.

An Image of a Gray and Black Haired Dog Looking Towards the Camera.

It was a gray spring day in 1983 on Park Lane and although she didn’t know it yet, Association of American Library Schools (now the Association for Library and Information Science Education) Executive Secretary Janet Phillips had immortalized Tour Guide and Mascot “Prissy”.

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Happy Birthday, Melvil!

The ALA Archives staff wants to say happy birthday to Melvil Dewey, who is a mere 164 years old today! Dewey might be most famous for his Dewey Decimal Classification system for library books, though many American libraries now use the Library of Congress classification system, the Dewey Decimal System is still being used today. […]

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Founding the ALA Archives, 1966-1973

Photograph of ALA Archives Stacks in 2015.

On November 11, 1966, Headquarters Librarian Ruth White wrote to Associate Executive Director Alphonse Trezza: The archives for ALA are now stored in many places. There has never been an established policy for retention and disposition of ALA and divisional correspondence and publications. Neither has there been a systematic program for collection of archival material. In […]

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