Category Archives: Library History

Ghosts of Disasters Past: Floods, Hurricanes, and Earthquakes of American Library History

Libraries of all kinds have suffered damages and loss due to environmental disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods. As hurricane season comes to a close (officially June 1 to November 30), it’s a good time to reflect on disaster planning. Hurricanes Florence and Michael caused significant damage in the United States this year, and Puerto […]

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Out of the Closet & Onto the Shelves: Librarians and the Oldest Gay Professional Organization in the U.S.

June is pride month, which means that our exhibit Out of the Closet & Onto the Shelves: Librarians and the Oldest Gay Professional Organization in the U.S. is up in the Marshal Gallery at the University of Illinois Library. This exhibit documents the early history and development of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round […]

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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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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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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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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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“The First Convention of the Kind”: The 1853 Librarians’ Convention

Before the first American Library Association Conference in 1876, there was the 1853 Librarians’ Convention. The idea was first presented in 1852, in Charles Norton’s Norton’s Literary Gazette and Publisher’s Circular, though it would take another year for the idea to take root. After much correspondence a group of librarians put out an official proposal […]

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Celebrating National Bookmobile Day at the ALA Archives

A relatively new addition to National Library Week, the first National Bookmobile Day was celebrated in 2010, to recognize over one hundred years of service that bookmobiles and direct-delivery outreach services have contributed to bringing information, technology, and resources to all readers.[1]

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

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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The Library Science Library at the University of Illinois, 1944-2009

People go to librarians when they need help researching, but where do librarians go when they need help with their own research? This post will explore the history of the Library Science Library at the University of Illinois, one of a few dedicated library science collections in the United States.

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