Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dr. Lucille Cole Thomas: The First and Only African American President of the New York Library Association (NYLA)

*Submitted by Dr. Lucille Cole Thomas

Lucille Cole Thomas is the first and only African American president of the New York Library Association (1977-1978), and the first African American to serve as president of the School Library Media Section (SLMS) (1973-1974) of the New York Library Association (NYLA). In addition, she was the first African American elected president of the New York City School Librarians Association (1970-1972) and The New York Library Club (1977-1978). Dr. Thomas received her library science degree from Columbia University (1957), where she was active as president of the alumni association. She is also a graduate of New York University and Bennett College.

A member of the American Library Association (ALA) since 1965, Thomas has served on the ALA Council and Executive Board. In 2003, at the Annual ALA Conference in Toronto, she was awarded ALA's highest honor, "Honorary Member." Thomas' international library service includes president of the International Association of School Librarianship (IASL) (1989-1994), NGO Representative of International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) to the United Nations, and the chair of several committees.

In 1982, she was one of five educators from the United States to participate in the French Ministry Cultural Exchange Program. One week was spent in Paris, France visiting cultural institutions and interacting with officials. In 1990, the American Library Association (ALA) and the International  Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) selected Thomas as the only librarian representative to the "World Conference on Education" in Jomtien, Thailand. Among the 2,000 delegates from 150 countries participants, Thomas represented all libraries. Her report was included in the final conference report. In 2002, she testified before the United States House of Representatives' Committee on Education and the Workforce during its reauthorization hearing on the Museum and Library Service Act (click here to view transcript of hearing).

In 1974, Dr. Thomas founded "School Library Media Day (NYLA)", and in 1985, "School Library Media Month (AASL/ALA)". From 1993 to the present, Thomas serves as Trustee of the Brooklyn Public Library (NY), an appointment by the mayor of the city of New York. During that time she was elected president for three years. The Queen College School of Library and Information Studies (CUNY) named an award, the Lucille Thomas Library Award, in her honor in 2010.


Thomas, Lucille Cole. "Public Libraries in the 21st Century: Challenges and Solutions." The 21st Century Black Librarian in America: Issues and Challenges. Ed. Andrew P. Jackson, Julius C. Jefferson, and Akilah S. Nosakhere. Lanham: Scarecrow, 2012. 79-84. Print.

"Lucille C. Thomas: She Helps Make Librarians 'Master Builders and Creators'."American Libraries 32.3-4 (1978): 83. Print.

"Lucille C. Thomas Named 2007 Freedom to Read Foundation Roll of Honor Award Recipient." Freedom to Read Foundation. American Library Association, 8 June 2007. Web. 11 July 2012.
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"Minutes." IFLA Section on Library Services to Multicultural Populations. IFLA, 6 July 2012. Web. 11 July 2012.
[Minutes from the 2001 Meeting in Boston and the 2001 Midwinter Meeting in Granada can be accessed: ]

Queens College School of Library and Information Studies Student Handbook, Fall 2010. New York: Queens College School of Library and Information Studies, 2010. 22.Print.
[See: http://www.Qcpages.qc/ ]

Equipping Museums and Libraries for the 21st Century: Hearing before the Subcommittee in Select Education of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, House of Representatives, One Hundred Seventh Congress, Second Session, Hearing Held in Washington, DC, February 14, 2002. Washington: U.S. G.P.O., 2002. Print.
[Also available: ]

Thomas, Lucille C. "School Libraries in the New York City Schools." Bookmark 50.1 (1991). Print.  
[This special issue of Bookmark is also called School Library Media Program Connections for Learning ; Abstract found here: ]

Dawson, Alma. "Celebrating African American Librarians and Libraries." Library Trends 49.1 (2000): 59. Print.
[Also available at: ]

"Breaking New Ground: Bedford Library Reopens & Ninth Annual Gala Event." Brooklyn Public Library. Brooklyn Public Library,14 Nov. 2005.Web. 12 July 2012.
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"Annual Report 2009 Brooklyn Public Library." Brooklyn Public Library. Brooklyn Public Library, 2010. Web. 12 July 2012.
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Thomas, Lucille C. "World Literacy and the Role of Libraries." IFLA Journal 19.2 (1993): 162-167. Print.

Nottingham, Sharon. "Lucille Thomas: A Legend from Brooklyn to the World." The Bulletin of the New York Library Association 44.3 (1996): 15-16. Print.

Thomas, Lucille. Chapter in What Black Librarians are Saying. Ed. E.J. Josey. Metuchen: Scarecrow, 1972.

Thomas, Lucille. "Ethical Considerations in an Age of Technology." School Library Media Annual, 1985. Ed.Shirley Aaron and Pat Scales. Littleton: Libraries Unlimited, 1985. 423-431. Print.

Staino, Rocco. "Lucille Thomas on the 25th Anniversary of School Library Media Month." School Library Journal. School Library Journal, 7 Apr. 2010. Web. 11 July 2012. []


  1. great blog:)loved going through:)

  2. The Section of School Librarians, formerly the School Library Media Section of the New York Library Association are very proud of the accomplishments of Dr. Thomas. We thank her for all her work for the library profession.