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From 1919 through 1925, the American Library Association produced a series of resources to support popular topical reading in libraries in innovative subject bibliographies known as Viewpoints: Essays in Interpretive Bibliography. Each publication is a bibliography rich with recommendations and summaries of publications available in many public libraries. Read on to learn more about Viewpoints!

In 1919, Viewpoints in Travel was published. Written by Vice-Director of the Pratt Institute Josephine A. Rathbone (A.L.A. President 1931-1932), this publication includes 64 pages of book titles sorted by subject, ranging from “adventures” to “women in many lands”. At the book’s end, there is an author index (from K. M. Abbott’s Old Paths and Legends of the New England Border to Zeynep Hanım’s A Turkish Woman’s European Impressions and a geographical index (from Africa to Zanzibar) too. The cover art was drawn by A. L. Gustill. The recommended books were selected from previous A.L.A. resources and some of the supplementary notes were borrowed from the Buffalo Public Library‘s Open Shelf List too.

In 1921, Viewpoints in Biography was published. Written by New York Evening Post librarian Katherine Tappert, this publication includes 53 pages of book titles sorted by subject, ranging from the “Adams Family” to “The West”. At the book’s end, there is an author index and a biographical subject index too. Some of the recommended titles were selected from Anna Robeson Brown Burr’s The Autobiography: A Critical and Comparative Study to Waldo Hilary Dunn’s English Biography.

In 1922, Viewpoints in Essays was published. Written by Los Angeles Public librarian Marion Horton, this publication includes 47 pages of book titles sorted by subject, ranging from “Observations and Reflections” to “Collections of Essays”. At the book’s end, there is an author index and a book title index too. The recommended titles were selected from many contemporary library resources, including A. L. A. Catalog and Supplement (Record Series 13/15/12), Booklist (Record Series 13/3/4), Book Review Digest, Best Books, Buffalo Public Library‘s Open Shelf, the Pittsburgh Catalog, and Monthly Bulletin. In fact, the author attributes “part of the preliminary collection of titles” as the work of the Los Angeles Library School Class of 1920!

In 1925, Viewpoints in Modern Drama was published. Written by Brown University assistant librarian Francis K. W. Drury, this publication includes 93 pages of play titles in English (from “Abraham Lincoln” by John Drinkwater to Stefan Zweig’s “Jeremiah”) and books on plays too. At the book’s end, there is a single alphabetical index which includes both book titles with author names. The recommended titles were compiled from earlier bibliographies, including John M. Clapp’s Plays for Amateurs, as wells as both Samuel Marion Tucker’s many contemporary bibliographies and those of Clarence Stratton too.

For half a decade, the Viewpoints series, under editor Josephine Rathbone, produce a variety of interpretative bibliographies for librarians and libraries alike. Equally as various as the publications themselves, were the authors and their collaborators from across the U.S. in libraries everywhere.

Copies Available at Your ALA Archives

Physical copies of Viewpoints are available for viewing at the ALA Archives. Please view the Record Series 13/10/21 database record entry, for more information.

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Many people have been involved in the long history of A.L.A. publications and bibliographic work. Do you have any information about early book list bibliography participants, collaborators, publications, or beneficiaries? Please contact us through social media. We and our readers would like to read about it.

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Children listening to a story from Mrs. Rosetta Martin from the Boston Public Library bookmobile. 1961. Found in RS 18/1/57 Box 5.

The ALA Archives has an exhibit up this month up in the Marshall Gallery at the University of Illinois Library. Traveling Libraries: The Library Extension Board and Rural Library Service explores the varied history of the Library Extension Board and library extension services in the United States. You can see of preview of the exhibit content here, but be sure to stop by the Marshall Gallery June 1-30 to view the exhibit. You can also visit the American Library Association Archives to find more materials from the Library Extension Board.

Caption on back reads, “Picture taken at a deposit station of the Tennessee Regional Libraries near Hohenwald, Lewis County, Tenn. […]” 1955. Found in RS 18/1/57 Box 10.

The Library Extension Board formed in 1925 to help libraries develop and extend adequate library service to reach those without access. Originally known as the American Library Association’s Committee on Library Extension, the Library Extension Board worked to bring library service to under-served areas, which were often rural and remote communities, and people who could not easily access library materials held by county, regional, or state libraries. Extension service included branch libraries, and librarians also utilized bookmobiles and deposit stations to bring books to communities. Library extension service brought a variety of materials to patrons including books on vocational instruction, which allowed people to improve their businesses and farms, books for children that were considered a supplement to their education at county schools, and pleasure reading materials for adults and children alike.

Tennessee Valley Authority bookmobile in Philadelphia, Tennessee. No Date. Found in RS 18/1/57 Box 5.

Deposit stations, small collections of library materials in stores and other central locations, were a key part of library extension service. These usually consisted of a few shelves of books in a public location that community members could check out themselves or from an attendant. Deposit stations were a smaller alternative to branch libraries, and were maintained by county, regional, or state librarians who periodically replenished and changed out the books available. Deposit stations could be found in outdoor deposit boxes (similar to today’s community take-a-book, leave-a-book libraries) or in businesses, and especially grocery and general stores. Deposit stations in shops placed library access in community spaces where people could access books and library materials conveniently as part of their regular errands.

Caption reads, “Books delivered from Fresno County Free Library by dog team during
winter months to camps in high Sierras.” Fresno County, California
No date. Found in RS 18/1/57 Box 11.

Bookmobiles were (and still are!) a popular and well-known method of library extension service. Book trucks based out of county and state libraries traveled far and wide making stops at schools, community centers, and rural homes. Some vehicles were refitted buses which patrons would enter to choose books. Others had panels that opened to reveal packed shelves, or shelves that rolled out of the back of the van. Bookmobiles a versatile alternative to building branch libraries, as they could be cheaper to staff and maintain while bringing library service to a wider geographic area than a branch library could serve. Librarians with book trucks also replenished deposit stations, and librarians on horseback (or traveling by dog team, as seen above) took books beyond the reach of paved roads to replenish remote deposit stations.

Tennessee Valley Authority Pack Horse Library. Ca. 1938. Found in RS 29/5/13.

To see more materials from on the Library Extension program, visit our exhibit in the Marshall Gallery of the University of Illinois Library, on view June 1-30, and visit the ALA Archives to see the full collection!

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From 1911 until 1930, the American Library Association produced a series of manuals about library administration and services known as the Manual of Library Economy. Each installment is rich in the experienced perspectives of library leaders of its time. Read on to learn more about Manual of Library Economy!

In American Library History, Boston Athenaeum librarian Charles Knowles Bolton describes the establishment of many early libraries and library collections in North America. In The College and University Library, New York State librarian J. I. Wyer Jr. defines the differences between college and university libraries, and the author describes the functions of each library department. In Proprietary and Subscription Libraries, Charles Knowles Bolton describes the history and administration of such libraries as well as their similarities with free public libraries. While in The Free Public Library, Isabel Ely Lord, of the Pratt Institute Free Library, describes the broadening functions of free public libraries.

In Special Libraries, Bureau of Railway Economics librarian R. H. Johnston describes the historical emergence of special libraries and their purposes. In Elements of the Library Plan, Herbert S. Hirshberg outlines the most important components of library building plan design. In Administration of a Public Library, St. Louis Public librarian Arthur E. Bostwick describes the administrative constraints of libraries in relationship with municipal and public control. While in Training for Librarianship, Library School of the New York Public Library principal Mary W. Plummer (A.L.A. President 1915-1916; A.L.A. Vice President, 1900-1911) describes the early history of library education programs in the United States.

In Branch Libraries and other Distributing Agencies, Cleveland Public librarian Linda A. Eastman (A.L.A. President 1928-1929) explains how library services have been brought to populations outside of urban city centers to reach more people. In Book Selection, Wisconsin Free Library Commission librarian Elva L. Bascom explains the principles and practice of book selection to meet the diverse needs of library community populations. In Order and Accession Department, Tacoma Public librarian Franklin F. Hopper describes the operations of library materials orders departments. While in Classification, Corinne Bacon, of the H. W. Wilson Company, explains the development and use of classification systems in libraries.

In The Catalog, Harriet E. Howe describes library catalogs and their use in libraries. In Shelf Department, Pratt Institute Library School vice director Josephine Adams Rathbone (A.L.A. President 1931-1932) explains shelf-lists, care of books on shelves, book-supports, labels, and inventory. In Loan Work, Cleveland Public librarian Carl P. Vitz describes different types of library loan systems with examples in New York and Illinois. While in The Reference Department, New York Public librarian Charles F. McCombs describes the different historical services of reference departments.

In U. S. Government Documents (Federal, State, and City), New York State librarian J. I. Wyer describes different types of government documents, as well as both their arrangement and cataloging. In Bibliography, Columbia University librarian Isadore Gilbert Mudge describes the types and uses of bibliographies in library work. In Pamphlets and Minor Library Material, readers can learn about the classification and cataloging of non-book collections in libraries. While in Bookbinding, Wilmington Institute Free librarian Arthur L. Bailey describes the materials and practices of bookbinding repair in libraries.

In Library Work with Children, Brooklyn Public librarian Clara Whitehill Hunt explains the planning and administration of libraries for children. In Library Work with the Blind, New York State librarian Mary C. Chamberlain writes the history library materials and services for blind people. In Publicity for Small Libraries, New York Public librarian Carl L. Cannon describes multiple types of publicity program options, including book lists, exhibits, library events, and newspapers. While in Library Printing, University of Minnesota librarian Frank K. Walter describes the elements of good printing, steps in producing printed materials, and costs too.

For over two decades, the Manual of Library Economy series continued for over thirty issues, published in multiple editions, and other publication series were produced alongside this series too. The early twentieth century saw a great expansion of A.L.A. publications guiding and supporting libraries and librarians across the country and the world.

Copies Available at Your ALA Archives

Physical copies of Manual of Library Economy publications are available for viewing at the ALA Archives. Please view the Record Series 13/10/3 database record entry, for more information.

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Many people have been involved in the long history of A.L.A. publications and library leadership. Do you have any information about early Manual of Library Economy participants, collaborators, publications, or beneficiaries? Please contact us through social media. We and our readers would like to read about it.

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During the early 1900s, as great waves of immigrants continued to come to the United States, the American Library Association’s Committee on Library Work with the Foreign Born produced a series of resources to support library services for new immigrants. Each publication is rich in the experienced perspectives of library leaders of its time. Read on to learn more about early foreign born American literacy publications!

In 1929, after years of meeting to share information to better inform librarianship practice, the Committee on Library Work with the Foreign Born (1918-1948), then chaired by Massachusetts Free Public Library Commission librarian Edna Phillips, published a handbook titled Reading Service to the Foreign Born.

The handbook was a collection of expert essays, including:

  • “The Approach to the Foreign Born Reader” by Cleveland Public Broadway Branch librarian Eleanor E. Ledbetter;
  • “Lists for Americanization Workers”, compiled by the Committee;
  • “Dealers in Foreign Books”, compiled by the Committee again;
  • “Program to Coordinate Work in Adult Education by Libraries and Schools”, by the Massachusetts Department of Education;
  • “Cataloging Foreign Literature” by Detroit Public librarian and Chief of the Cataloging Department Adelaide F. Evans;
  • “Racial Organizations with Educational Programs”, by Foreign Language Information Service Chief of the Division of Individual and Organization Service Marion Schibsby;
  • and “National Organizations that Promote Americanization and Inter-Racial Understanding”, compiled by Massachusetts Federation of Women’s Clubs Department of Americanization Chief Mrs. Charles H. Danforth.

The first pamphlet of the series, first published in 1924, The Polish Immigrant and His Reading, by Cleveland Public Broadway Branch librarian Eleanor E. Ledbetter, is a 40-page guide to Polish immigrants’ library needs. This work is divided into two sections: “The Polish immigrant and his reading” which is a series of short essays on Polish immigrant culture, history, literature, and immigration history to the U.S.; “Suggested list of titles for a beginning collection in the Polish language” which is a series of short book lists of Polish language reading materials organized by genre.

The second pamphlet of the series, published in 1925, The Italian Immigrant and His Reading, by Cleveland Public Alta Branch librarian May M. Sweet, is a 64-page guide to Italian immigrants’ library needs. In fact, in the pamphlet’s forward, researchers will read that the time of publication, May Sweet had been working with Italian immigrants for twenty years, and she took it upon herself to learn Italian–which she even used to personally evaluate every book in the book list. Like the previous pamphlet, this work is divided into two sections: “The Italian immigrant and his reading” which is a series of short essays on Italian immigrant culture, history, literature, and immigration history to the U.S.; “Suggested list of titles for a beginning collection in the Italian language” which is a series of short book lists of Italian language reading materials organized by genre.

Seven years later, the author produced a supplement Italian Books for American Libraries too. The 35-page supplement also includes an essay describing contemporary challenges facing Italian booksellers and Italian bookbuyers, to aid librarians building Italian libraries.

The fourth pamphlet of the series, published in 1929, The German Immigrant and His Reading, by St. Louis Public librarian Melitta D. Peschke, is a 32-page guide to German immigrants’ library needs. This pamphlet is unique, because while it does not include a table of contents and forward, the first section begins written directly to the reader, describing the challenges and benefits of growing up in a multilingual American childhood. Like its predecssors, this work is divided into two sections: “The German immigrant and his reading” which is a series of short essays on German immigrant culture, history, literature, and immigration history to the U.S.; “Suggested list of titles for a beginning collection in the German language” which is a series of short book lists of German language reading materials organized by genre.

In four installments, the Committee on Work with the Foreign Born produced a series of carefully compiled resources for American librarians working with growing diverse immigrant populations. The Committee continued to advocate and support immigrants for an impressive thirty years, from the end of World War One through the end of World War Two. Library resources like these help readers understand how American librarians have historically responded to the needs of their library communities and the ever expanding story of library access in United States.

Copies Available at Your ALA Archives

Physical copies of early Library Work with the Foreign Born committee publications are available for viewing at the ALA Archives. Please view the Record Series 29/45/14 database record entry, for more information.

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Many people have been involved in the long history of A.L.A. publications and library leadership. Do you have any information about early library materials and services for new immigrants? Please contact us through social media. We and our readers would like to read about it.

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During the late 1800s and early 1900s, as great waves of immigrants came to the United States, the American Library Association and librarians produced a series of resources to support library services for new immigrants. Each publication is rich in the experienced perspectives of library leaders of its time. Read on to learn more about early foreign language book lists!

Separate from the Foreign Book List series, in 1912, the A.L.A. reprinted Aids in Library Work with Foreigners, compiled by Providence Public librarian Marguerite Reid and Haverhill Public librarian John G. Moulton, for the League of Library Commissions from the Massachusetts Library Club Bulletin. Besides being filed in Record Series 13/10/4, this publication is a useful overview of early U.S. library work with foreign born library user populations. Marguerite Reid wrote most of the book lists, while John G. Moulton expanded them. The publication begins with the essay “Our New Americans” which describes different immigrant populations in the U.S. and multiple opportunities open to libraries to include both materials and services to them.

In Selected List of German Books, Wisconsin State Library Commission librarian Emma Gattiker compiles a 58-page list of German books for a small library. This number includes an essay by the author describing the experiences of librarians and German-speaking populations in Wisconsin. In Selected List of Hungarian Books, New Jersey Public Library Commission librarian J. Maud Campbell compiles a 12-page list of Hungarian books, with the aid of “Immigrant” Editor Dr. Michael Singer and Passaic Magyar Casino members too.

In Selected List of French Books, Vassar College Professor Jean Charlemagne Bracq compiles a 35-page list of French books, and it includes designations for books recognized by the French Academy, books written from Catholic perspectives, and books written from Protestant perspectives too. In Selected List of Norwegian and Danish Books, Norwegian author and Library of Congress librarian Arne Kildal compiled a 20-page list of Norwegian and Danish books too.

In Selected List of Swedish Books, Swedish Royal librarian Dr. Valfried Palmgren compiles a 45-page list of Swedish books. In fact, almost twenty years later, with the support of the American Scandinavian Foundation, Dr. Palmgren’s bibliography was updated by Aksel G. S. Josephson to a 58-page list.

In Selected List of Polish Books, Buffalo Public librarian Mrs. Jozefa Kudlicka compiles a 20-page list of Polish books. While in Selected List of Russian Books, Massachusetts Free Public Library Commission librarian J. Maud Campbell also compiles a 86-page list of Russian books, with the aid of Shaniawsky University Library Economy lecturer Mrs. Haffkin-Hamburger and Dr. Aurelius Palmieri too.

Contemporary with the Foreign Book List series, there were other foreign language bibliographic projects too. For example, as early as 1898, McGill Normal School (now McGill University) Madame Sophie Cornu as well as Tulane University Howard Memorial librarian and Fisk Free librarian William Beer co-authored the 28-page A List of French Fiction. While over twenty years later, Sarah Graham Bowerman compiled the separate 41-page list Recent French Literature too.

For seven issues, the Foreign Book List series provided guidance for U.S. libraries seeking guidance with developing small libraries for their multilingual populations. Multiple US-based and international compilers were sought for the project. Researchers today benefit from reviewing these early bibliographies for insights into how U.S. librarians helped support early multilingual library populations and what kinds of books might have been read by these growing communities too.

Copies Available at Your ALA Archives

Physical copies of early foreign language book list publications are available for viewing at the ALA Archives. Please view the Record Series 13/10/4 database record entry, for more information.

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Many people have been involved in the long history of A.L.A. publications and library leadership. Do you have any information about early foreign language book list participants, collaborators, publications, or beneficiaries? Please contact us through social media. We and our readers would like to read about it.

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Although a significant amount of an archivist’s work is spent communicating with donors and researchers, in addition to arranging and conserving or preserving a continuous influx of documents, there is always time for a little fun too.

Archives are not exclusively repositories for records of historic value; but, they are also home to a great variety of documented human experience! Don’t believe us? Then read on about early theater and librarianship connections!

Why Not? A Drama with a Purpose

For centuries, two great actors sharing influence on the national stage have been theaters and libraries. Among the many A.L.A. members, at least a few have written or performed in theater related to librarianship.

At least as early as October 1925, in Wisconsin, librarians wrote and performed a play to demonstrate county library service for the audience of the Wisconsin Federation of Women Clubs. As former Mexican Board Traveling Service Service Librarian Harriet C. Long (Record Series 89/1/27) describes in a January 1926 Wisconsin Library Bulletin article “WHY NOT? A Drama with a Purpose”, the performance was repeated successfully at multiple sites across the state, including the State Conference of Social Work at Stevens Point, the Madison Women’s Club Good Book Week celebration, and a Fond du Lac County Club meeting too.

With a fictional county map hanging on a wall, the audience was invited to imagine that they were taxpayers at their local county meeting, and they were invited to participate in asking questions. The librarian performers were both on-stage and sitting in the audience with attendees. The performance began with scripted lines to guide the discussion; however, audience participation was anticipated and performers were free to respond extemporaneously. Each librarian performer played the role of a different county stakeholder, ranging from a farmer, to a shopkeeper, to public school administrator, to a housewife, and a lawyer. Each community member asked the fictional County board for explanations of how county library service would benefit them.

Bringing Up Nine

Meanwhile, the one-act “Bringing Up Nine” January 1929 adaption of a 1923 work “Any Book You Want–Uncle Sam bring it to your door” by another Wisconsin librarian writer and playwright, Mary K. Reely, was published by the A.L.A. in 1930. The 1923 work described how the parcel post system worked and the services of traveling libraries.

The 1929 “Bringing Up Nine” takes place in a farm house sitting room, where a mother of nine children is visited by friend who is astonished by the role books play in helping the mother maintain a calm, orderly household.

In the second half of the act, the guest is also informed about how the services of the county library and traveling library have enabled the family to access many more books than they could have managed on their own.

If that weren’t enough information, then the rear cover of the book answers frequently asked questions about county library services and management.

Copies Available at Your ALA Archives

Physical copies of the publications are available for viewing at the ALA Archives. Please view the Record Series 29/5/11 database record entry, for more information too.

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Do you have information about a historic ALA publications or theatrical library performances which more of us should know about? Let us know through email, phone, or social media. We and our readers would love to read about it.

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From 1919 through 1940, during the period between both World Wars, the American Library Association and librarians produced an annual series of resources to support library collection development known as Booklist Books. Each publication is a helpful overview of suitable books for general library communities published each year. Read on to learn more about Booklist Books!

For 22 years and often published in March, The Booklist Books series (Record Series 13/3/12) provided guidance for U.S. librarians seeking assistance with selecting the right books for their library communities. Not to be confused with the annual New York State Library Best Books series, the A.L.A.’s The Booklist Books was compiled from the A.L.A.’s monthly Booklist (Record Series 13/3/4). But, the The Booklist Books staff did not always work alone. Over time, a variety of librarians had contributed specialty lists too. In fact, from 1919 until 1933, Pratt Institute Free Library Head of Applied Science Reference Department Donald Hendry alone contributed the Technical Books section. For the publication’s first 4 years, the book list was organized into 4 sections, including general literature, fiction, children’s books, and technical books, followed by an alphabetical author and title index too. In 1921, the series was retitled Booklist Books, and in 2 years it would undergo another formatting change.

In 1923, Booklist Books had acquired book covers printed on colored paper, and the book list was reorganized to include many additional sections. The new organization included: libraries and authorship, philosophy and religion, sociology, philology, science–useful arts, technical books, fine arts–amusements, literature, history, geography and travel, biography, fiction, children’s books, and, of course, an alphabetical author and title index too. In 1927, Los Angeles Public Library Art and Music Department Head Miss Gladys Caldwell contributed the list “Music Books and Scores for Small or Medium-Sized Libraries”.

During the 1920s, more guest contributions would follow. In 1928, A.L.A. Committee on Hospitals Chair Miss Perrie Jones contributed the list “Hospital Libraries”. In 1929, Cleveland Public Library Stevenson Room Head Miss Jean Roos contributed “Thirty Books for Young People”.

During the 1930s, even more guest contributions would follow too. In 1934, following Donald Hendry’s retirement, Seattle Public Library Technology Division Head Florence M. Waller compiled the “Technical Books” list. While for the following year, in 1935, Denver Public Library Technical Department Head Margaret Blakely contributed the “Technical Books” list.

Also during the 1930s, new to Booklist Books was the inclusion of printing press information on the title page. From these notes, readers get a glimpse into local printing press history too. Those publishers included: for 1933, it was The Wallace Press (Chicago); and for 1934 to 1935, it was The Blakely Oswald Printing Company (Chicago).

During the second half of the 1930s, at least one more guest author would contribute to the project before the publication ended in 1940. That year was 1936, when Detroit Public Library Technology Department Chief Charles M. Mohrhardt contributed to the both “Technical Books” and “Business Books” from then on and until the end of the publication.

For 22 years, Booklist Books provided a great amount of annual guidance to public librarians seeking recommendable books for their library communities. Although the publication ended, its parent The Booklist has continued strongly ever since.

Copies Available at Your ALA Archives

Physical copies of Booklist Books are available for viewing at the ALA Archives. Please view the Record Series 13/3/12 database record entry, for more information.

Got Something to Donate to the Story So Far?

Many people have been involved in the long history of A.L.A. publications and library leadership. Do you have any information about Booklist Books participants, collaborators, publications, or beneficiaries? Please contact us through social media. We and our readers would like to read about it.

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Glyndon Greer giving a speech at the Coretta Scott King Award breakfast in 1974.

2019 marks the 50 year anniversary of the founding of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards. This book award commemorates the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and honors his wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood. The award is given out every year to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.(1)

It was founded by librarians Glyndon Flynt Greer and Mable McKissick, and publisher John Carroll during the 1969 American Library Association Annual Conference in Atlantic City. According to McKissick, “We [her and Greer] met at the booth of John Carroll. Since it was the day before the Newbery/Caldecott awards, the discussion turned to Black authors …”(2) and their lack of representation. It is reported that Carroll overhead the conversation and asked, “Then why don’t you ladies establish your own award?”(3)

According to Greer’s sister, Greer, McKissick, Carroll, and Harriett Brown spent that evening discussing the fact that there was no award for African-American authors and illustrators. Together, they established the Coretta Scott King Award. While it remained unknown, Greer worked on gaining support from publishing companies, writers, and private companies, including Coca Cola, Johnson Publishing, and Encyclopedia Britannica.(4)

The following year, the award was presented at the New Jersey Library Association’s annual banquet on May 9, 1970. Lillie Patterson was the first recipient and was recognized for her book, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Man of Peace.(5) The award was presented one more time at the New Jersey Library Association meeting before it was presented at a breakfast at the 1972 ALA Annual Conference.

Coretta Scott King and Clara S. Jones at the celebration for the Coretta Scott King Award at the 1984 Annual Conference in Dallas.

Under the leadership of Greer, the award task force continued to operate on its own, until 1979 when the Coretta Scott King Award Task Force found a home with the Social Responsibilities Round Table. In regard to this occasion, Greer’s sister wrote, “[Greer’s] dream was fulfilled in 1979 in Dallas, Texas … With this accomplishment, she could rest easy, knowing that the Award had finally reached a level of notoriety and became a permanent part of the American Library Conference schedule agenda.”(6)

However, the award was not officially recognized by ALA until the 1982 Annual Conference. At the Council meeting, Awards Committee chair, Janice Feye-Stukas, “pointed out the award … has been in existence for 12 years,” and recommended its approval as an ALA award.(7) Council approved the award, and the Executive Board, on the motion of EJ Josey, Jane Anne Hannigan, Herbert Biblo, and Ella Yates-Edwards, also gave its approval.(8)

The award remained with SRRT until it changed affiliations to the Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table. Fran Ware, the CSK committee chair, noted that “joining EMIERT was initiated because their activities closely mirror those of the Coretta Scott King Task Force.”(9)

Since its conception fifty years ago in 1969, the award has expanded. In 1974, the committee honored George Ford as the first illustrator to receive the award for his work on Ray Charles. Further additions include the John Steptoe Award for New Talent established in 1995, and the Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement established in 2010.

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards brought an award to ALA that celebrates and recognizes black authors and illustrators in children and youth literature. But perhaps just as importantly, it stands as an example of librarians taking action and coming out with tangible results. From a conversation between two librarians and a publisher over the lack of an award for black authors, came a prestigious award celebrating its 50th year.

This year, the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee is celebrating its 50 year anniversary. Keep track of their activities on their website: http://www.ala.org/rt/emiert/cskbookawards/csk50. And help preserve the memories of the award and its committee! If you are a former or current member of the committee with files and photographs of its activities, consider contacting the American Library Association Archives to preserve this important piece of ALA history.

Pat Cummings giving her acceptance speech at the Coretta Scott King Award breakfast at the 1984 Annual Conference. Seated from left to right at E. J. Josey, Coretta Scott King, and Effie Lee Morris.

  1. Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee, “The History of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards,” Ethnic & Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table, http://www.ala.org/rt/emiert/cskbookawards/about.
  2. “Mable R. McKissick – A Profile,” July 13, 1982, Record Series 10/2/6, Box 4, Folder: SRRT-Coretta Scott King Award, 1973-86, American Library Association Archives.
  3. Carolyn L. Garnes, “The Power of an Idea: A Salute to Coretta Scott King Book Award Founders,” Ethnic & Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table, http://www.ala.org/rt/emiert/cskbookawards/csk50/Founders
  4. “How I Remember Glyndon,” Susie Flynt Shurney, Record Series 10/2/6, Box 4, Folder: SRRT-Coretta Scott King Award, 1973-86, ALA Archives.
  5. American Libraries, Vol. 1, No. 2 (May 1970), pg. 21.
  6. “How I Remember Glyndon,” Susie Flynt Shurney, Record Series 10/2/6, Box 4, Folder: SRRT-Coretta Scott King Award, 1973-86, ALA Archives.
  7. Council Meeting Minutes, July 11-14, 1982, pg. 127, Record Series 1/1/1, Box 37, Folder: Minutes, Annual Conference, 1982, ALA Archives.
  8. Executive Board Meeting Minutes, July 11-13, 1982, pg. 157, Record Series 2/1/1, Box 22, Folder: July 11-13, 1982, ALA Archives.
  9. SRRT Newsletter, Issue 146/147 (June 2004), pg. 7.
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From 1908 until 1921, the American Library Association produced a series of publications about library administration known as Library Handbooks. Each installment is rich in the experienced perspectives of library leaders of its time. Read on to learn more about Library Handbooks!

At the same time as the Library Tract series (Record Series 13/10/1), the A. L. A. Publishing Board issued the Library Handbook series to provide additional resources on library administration for librarians and library advocates alike.

Wisconsin Free Library Commission librarian Miss Lutie E. Stearns (Record Series 97/1/31) compiled the Essentials in Library Administration for new librarians and library trustees who needed a less technical and more high-level description of library administration. The author revises the previous publication Handbook of Library Organization of the Library Commissions of Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin, as an extension of the first two Library Tract numbers to supplement both Why Do We Need a Public Library? and How to Start a Public Library. This is the largest issue with over one-hundred pages, an alphabetical subject index, and sample forms for library administration use too.

While Aids in Book Selection, an expanded new edition of 1903 “Aids in Book Selection” published by the Pennsylvania Library Commission, by Drexel Institute Library School founder Alice Bertha Kroeger and Sarah Ware Cattell, guides librarians to become familiar with the best aids in book selection. Some recommended aids include general lists (i.e. the A.L.A. Catalog), book reviews, trade bibliographies, catalogs or bulletins from libraries, publishers, or booksellers, to name a few.

In Binding for Small Libraries, the A.L.A. Committee on Bookbinding compiled a list of suggestions for how small libraries could prioritize and bind different types of publications in their collections. Some suggestions include periodicals, newspapers, and books (fiction, juvenile, reference), as well as general remarks about good practice binding habits or tips.

While Mending and Repair of Books, compiled by Iowa Library Commission librarian Margaret Wright Brown, and later revised by Cleveland Public Library Supervisor of Binding Gertrude Stiles, is written for inexperienced book menders in small libraries without a conservation or preservation department. This number includes information about necessary repair tools, as well as ways to mend book components (i.e. pages, leaves, sections, and joints), and ways to clean book stains.

Reprinted and revised from different editions printed by the Minnesota Library Commission and the University of Nebraska Library, the U.S. Government Documents in Small Libraries, by future A.L.A. President J. I. Wyer Jr., identifies useful government serial publications and it includes a recommendation for the arrangement of government documents.

While How to Choose Editions, by Providence Public Librarian William E. Foster, provides a six-point guide to help librarians select the best print edition for public library readers. Those points include the accuracy of the text to the original publication, the reputation of the editor, the size of the book, the legibility of the typeface, the quality of the paper-and-ink, and the durability of the binding.

In A Normal Library Budget and its Units of Expense, by James V. Brown Librarian O. R. Howard Thomson, the author describes the challenges of public library finances and he provides recommendations based on publicly available information from libraries in cities like Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Williamsport.

While in Manual for Institution Libraries, compiled by Public Library Commission of Indiana Assistant State Organizer Carrie E. Scott, with assistance by the A. L. A. Committee on Library Work in Hospitals and in Charitable and Correctional Facilities, provides a guide for institution library administration. The publication answers five questions, including “What books shall I Select?”, “How shall I arrange them?”, “How shall I keep track of them?”, “How shall I get them to the readers?”, and “How shall I keep them in good condition?”

Finally, in Some Principles of Business-Like Conduct in Libraries by St. Louis Public Librarian and past A. L. A. President (1907-1908) Arthur E. Bostwick, the author defines “business-like conduct” and he emphasizes the value of the approach to library services and administration.

The Library Handbook series continued for a total of ten issues, published in multiple editions over the course of a decade, and other publication series were produced alongside this series too. The early twentieth century saw a great expansion of A.L.A. publications guiding and supporting libraries and librarians across the country and the world.

Copies Available at Your ALA Archives

Physical copies of Library Handbooks publications are available for viewing at the ALA Archives. Please view the Record Series 13/10/2 database record entry, for more information.

Got Something to Donate to the Story So Far?

Many people have been involved in the long history of A.L.A. publications and library leadership. Do you have any information about early Library Handbooks participants, collaborators, publications, or beneficiaries? Please contact us through social media. We and our readers would like to read about it.

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From 1900 until 1910, the American Library Association produced a series of publications about general issues in library administration known as Library Tracts. Each installment is rich in the experienced perspectives of library leaders of its time. Read on to learn more about Library Tracts!

Published by Houghton, Mifflin, and Company of Boston, and printed by The Riverside Press of Cambridge, Massachusetts, the first two Library Tract numbers describe purpose and the establishment of public libraries. Why Do We Need a Public Library, is a compilation of extracts from papers and addresses. The authors include the Connecticut Public Library, J. N. Larned, W. E. Foster, James Russell Lowell, W. I. Fletcher, Melvil Dewey, Sir Walter Besant, Andrew Carnegie, and Joseph LeRoy Harrison.

While Worcester County Law Library’s George E. Wire’s How to Start a Public Library is a twelve-page essay that gives general advice for starting a public library. Mr. Wire advises learning about state statutes concerning libraries, to organize a group of supporters, to advertise the idea in the community, to anticipate anti-library arguments, establish the organization, organize the trustees, hire a librarian, choose a library model, and plan to grow the library overtime rather than build too much too soon.

The next two Library Tract numbers describe library spaces. In Wisconsin Free Library Commission Secretary Frank A. Hutchins’ Traveling Libraries, the author identifies major causes of traveling library failures (uninteresting books and limited funding for collection development) and he advises how traveling libraries can be administrated effectively.

While in A.L.A. Endowment Fund Trustee Charles C. Soule’s Library Rooms and Buildings, the author describes optimal designs for libraries of various sizes and spaces, including one room libraries, multiple-room libraries, adapting a current building into a library, building a new small library, and building a new large library.

The next two Library Tract numbers explain library administration issues. In New York State Library School alumni Charles Ammi Cutter’s Notes from the Art Section of a Library, the author explains collection development in the administration of an art section. Adapted from a talk to a published essay, Mr. Cutter explains that art objects share purposes with other public library objects, as they serve to: 1) please or recreate; 2) instruct or enlighten; 3) improve and elevate both morally and spiritually. The author explains each of these ideas as they guide the development of an art section’s collections to meet the needs of library users, using examples from art history, architecture, portraits, water colors, engravings, etchings, wood engravings, original drawings, book illustrations, photographs, and more.

While in Wisconsin Free Library Commission member (who you read about earlier in our colleague Madison Well’s blog post) Miss Lutie E. Stearns’ Essentials in Library Administration, the author revises the previous publication Handbook of Library Organization of the Library Commissions of Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin, as an extension of the first two Library Tract numbers. This is the largest issue with over one-hundred pages, an alphabetical subject index, and sample forms for library administration use too.

The Library Tract series continued for a total of ten issues, published in multiple editions over the course of a decade, and other publication series were produced alongside this series too. The early twentieth century saw a great expansion of A.L.A. publications guiding and supporting libraries and librarians across the country and the world.

Copies Available at Your ALA Archives

Physical copies of Library Tracts publications are available for viewing at the ALA Archives. Please view the Record Series 13/10/1 database record entry, for more information.

Got Something to Donate to the Story So Far?

Many people have been involved in the long history of A.L.A. publications and library leadership. Do you have any information about early Library Tract participants, collaborators, publications, or beneficiaries? Please contact us through social media. We and our readers would like to read about it.

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