Tuesday, June 21, 2011

ALA History: 1936 American Library Association Meeting in Richmond, Virginia

During the 1936 American Library Association Meeting in Richmond, Virginia, African American librarians were not allowed to stay at the conference hotel, eat at the dining sessions, or visit the exhibits. This was due to Virginia's segregation laws.

The unfair treatment in Richmond, Virginia of African American conference attendees, prompted the American Library Association (ALA) to pass a resolution to never hold any of its conferences in cities that discriminated against any of its members because of their race. It also forbade any state affiliate that practiced racism to become an affiliate of ALA.


Sources: Jordan, Casper Leroy, and E.J. Josey. "A Chronology of Events in Black Librarianship." Handbook of Black Librarianship. Ed. E.J. Josey and Marva DeLoach. 2nd ed. Lanham: Scarecrow, 2000. 7. Print. ; Battles, David M. The History of Public Library Access for African Americans in the South, or, Leaving Behind the Plow. Lanham: Scarecrow, 2008. 80. Print. ; Jones, Reinette. Library Service to African Americans in Kentucky: From the Reconstruction Era to the 1960s. Jefferson: McFarland, 2006. 134. Print. ; Preer, Jean L. “‘This Year -- Richmond!’: The 1936 Meeting of the American Library Association.” Libraries & Culture 39.2 (2004): 137-160. Print.

 
Update 12/23/2012: 

1 comment:

  1. Minor correction: this was 1936. Here's an excellent article on the conference: Preer, Jean L. “‘This Year--Richmond!’: The 1936 Meeting of the American Library Association.” Libraries & Culture 39, no. 2 (Spring 2004): 137-160.

    Preer quotes the policy change approved by the Council that December: "in all rooms and hotels assigned to the American Library Association hereafter for use in connection with its conference or otherwise under its control, all members shall be admitted upon terms of full equality." (p.153) It would be interesting to know how other professional associations dealt with the issue at the time.

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