Happy Women’s History Wednesday! As we near the end of 2013, I have a few programming notes to share about WoLH:
- we have finished posting everything that was submitted during our Call for Submissions in March! If you submitted a post before our March 25th deadline and you haven’t seen it yet, please e-mail me (womenoflibraryhistory at gmail) so I can investigate.
- as of this writing, we have 444 followers, which seems auspicious! We’ve also received comments via e-mail and Facebook as folks see librarians they remember from their own pasts. If you have a favourite post or have seen an old friend on the blog, we’d love to hear about it!
- today, we’ll feature another reblog from My Daguerreotype Librarian, our librarian-history Tumblr friends. Next week, I hope you’ll indulge me as I share a story from my own community. After that, we’ll probably turn down the lights a bit until next year. An index and some highlights from this year’s posts are also forthcoming.
- if you are interested in helping with next year’s project, or if you have ideas for the future of Women of Library History, please get in touch via e-mail (womenoflibraryhistory at gmail). We would also love to see you at the Feminist Task Force meetings at Midwinter in Philadelphia—I’ll post more schedule information as that gets closer.
It’s been a real joy to hear everyone’s stories and share them with the world of Tumblr and the Internet at large this year. Thank you all for submitting and listening!
Today’s submission comes from Tina Perricone, Celeste’s widow. The black-and-white photo below was taken by Denis Manness and published in Synergy Magazine.
Celeste West (1942-2008) quite deservedly belongs in whatever women in library hall of fame there might ever be. In “Unbossed and Unbought: Booklegger Press—the First Women-Owned American Library Publisher”*, Toni Samek describes West’s concern with self-censorship among librarians and the limitations of a philosophy of neutrality. West founded “Booklegger Press, the first women-owned American library published, [which] became a key communication tool for some of librarianship’s leading alternative voices in the 1970s, countered mainstream library publishing, challenged limitations to freedom of expression within librarianship, introduced a wave of alternative library publishing that persists to this day, served as an open forum for library workers’ dissent, and advanced women’s library causes, as well as those of other alienated library groups, such as gays and lesbians, politically active library school students, individuals interested in library unions, and alternative library publishers.”
Library Juice Press published a book about her in 2010; here is the paragraph that they have describing her:
She Was a Booklegger: Remembering Celeste West is a compilation of reflections and tales from friends and other admirers who were influenced and inspired by this larger than life feminist librarian, lesbian, publisher, and activist.
Arlene Luster submitted today’s post. She writes, “I met Mary Carter at my first ALA conference in San Francisco, where she was manning an Armed Forces Librarians Roundtable exhibit. I signed a query sheet to go overseas as a military librarian in June, and in October of the same year I got a phone call from the Personnel office saying I was name requested for a position in Japan! […] After my career as a Naval Regional Librarian I was promoted to become the Command Librarian for Headquarters Pacific Air Forces (PACAF)where I stayed for 23 yrs. My admiration for Mary Carter continued when I was in the position she began before World War II.”
Mary J. Carter was an Air Force Librarian extraordinaire! As Command Librarian for Headquarters Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) at Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu, she was in charge of providing technical assistance to more than 40 military libraries in the Western Pacific region. The region consisted of libraries in Japan, Hawaii, Korea, Philippines, Okinawa, Guam, Alaska, Vietnam, and Thailand, as well as remote areas in China. Through her efforts, she assured that the most professional library service was available to military personnel and their families as well as civilians working on these bases. She concentrated on providing the best libraries especially in overseas areas because these libraries were the only institutions available in the English language.
This post was submitted by Jim DeArmey (Information Services Coordinator at the Baltimore County Public Library) and Deborah Wheeler (retired Assistant Director for Public Services at BCPL).
After receiving her Bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and her MLS at what was then the Drexel Institute of Technology, Jean Barry Molz began her career at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore. There she spent time as a librarian in the Business and Economics department, Executive Assistant to the Director, and Branch Manager. With that foundation, she accepted the position of Assistant Director at the Baltimore County Public Library where, from 1964 through 1996, she made a lasting contribution to shape the future of public library service in America.
With Director Charles Robinson, Jean Barry Molz brought the then-controversial “give ‘em what they want” concept of collection development to public libraries. During her time at BCPL, Jean Barry Molz shepherded the library system through a series of changes that would serve as a model to other libraries. She implemented centralized collection selection and moved the library catalog from a card file to a microfilm system and finally to a fully online system. These and other developments grew from her unwavering dedication to providing the best possible library service. Charles W. Robinson once said of her, “Jean Barry Molz is very adaptable to anything but inefficiency and stupidity, which she does not suffer gladly. She is a highly capable, knowledgeable and ethical professional whose attitude of service to the public is matched by her proficiencies as an administrator and as a librarian.”
This post comes from Kathleen McCook; she is joined in her submission of Oralia Garza de Cortés by Barbara Immroth, a professor in the School of Information at the University of Texas Austin who adds, “I was Oralia’s graduate school academic advisor for her library degree and have watched her career since she graduated.” Much of the information in this post comes from the REFORMA website.
Oralia Garza de Cortés holds a Masters in Library and Information Science from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a literacy consultant, writer, and Latino children’s literacy advocate.
Garza de Cortés, whose career spans over thirty years, has also worked as a children’s librarian for the San Antonio, Austin, and Houston public library systems.
Garza de Cortés served as the national president of REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking, in 2000. One of her most important legacies was the establishment of the Children’s Services Committee (CSC). Garza de Cortés is the co-founder of the Pura Belpré Award which is the premier children’s literature award for Latino/Latina authors and illustrators. Her leadership made it possible for the Pura Belpré award offered annually.
Garza de Cortés is also the author of numerous publications on children’s services. She has advocated for El Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros, an annual national literacy event.She is author of “Developing a Culture of Literacy through El día de los niños /El día de los libros.”
Oralia Garza de Cortés’ sustained and continuous dedication over the years to children’s literacy, Latino literature, cultural pluralism, and library services to children and Spanish-speaking people has been recognized by her selection as Arnulfo D. Trejo Latino Librarian of the Year (LOTY) award in 2010.
The Otranto Road Regional Library Staff and Friends (Otranto Road Regional Branch, Charleston County Public Library, SC) got together to submit information about their long-serving Branch Manager, Deborah R. Harris. Here are some of the many justifications they provided for Deborah Harris’s importance to their system (where she has worked since 1983) and their branch (which she has managed since 1991):
Deborah Harris is an exemplary, compassionate and visionary leader who inspires her staff to excel in their roles and responsibilities. She openly talks and shares on a daily basis with her staff so that they are informed and are a part of the decision-making process. She is also a community-oriented person who believes in community outreach. Her demeanor exemplifies professionalism, precision, order and accuracy at all times.
Today’s post was submitted by Elizabeth DeCoster, User Services Librarian at Goucher College. The image above comes from the Goucher College Library archives.
Sara L. Siebert, known as “Bunny”, graduated from Goucher College, Baltimore in 1941. She joined the Enoch Pratt Free Library of Baltimore in 1943 and spent her whole career there, retiring as their Young Adult Coordinator in 1997.
During her distinguished career, she served as the president of ALA’s Young Adult Library Services Association (1961-1962). In 1971 she won ALA’s Grolier Award for reading services to “economically disadvantaged” children. (American Libraries, 2008)
Bunny Siebert died in 2008, but she is memorialized in the Siebert Center of the current Goucher College Library, which provides students with teacher preparation materials and houses the library’s children’s and young adult collection.
(2008, October 15). Sara “Bunny” Siebert. Library Journal. p. 20
(2008, September). Sara L. Sibert. American Libraries. p. 65
This post was submitted by Mary Rueff, Assistant Director and Volunteer Coordinator at the Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library in Zionsville, Indiana. Pictured above is Lora Hussey.
Our Library celebrated our 50th anniversary / birthday year between August 2012 and August 2013. We have three main matriarchs who have played an important role in our history: Lora Hussey, Olive Hoffman and Mary Mayfield. As you may notice, two of these women’s names are in our Library’s name.
You can read all about them at the Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Library’s blog, where they were highlighted during Women’s History Month and the library’s anniversary year. It’s a dramatic story!
Some Hoffman relatives contested Lora’s will and Olive Hoffman, Lora’s first cousin, and a staunch supporter of Lora’s dream for her family home, fought off the relatives. Eventually, after two years in the courts, the lawsuit was settled and Lora’s dream for a public library in her home could proceed. It took more than five years from Lora’s death in April 1957 for the Hussey Memorial Library to open in the Hussey home on August 5, 1962. Olive, while never a member of the Library Board, was heavily involved in making sure that the plans for “Lora’s Library” stayed on track. Most of Lora’s personal library, in addition to other donations, was cataloged and placed on the shelves for opening day.