Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Dr. Dock Alexander Boyd (1939-2011): Director, Library Science Professor, Past ALA Council Member, and Past President of BCALA

Originally from Williston, South Carolina, Dr. Dock Alexander Boyd was born on October 5, 1939, to Alexander and Octoria Boyd. He was the oldest of seven children. After serving in the United States Air Force, Dr. Boyd attended the University of Illinois- Urbana-Champaign, receiving his bachelor's degree in the Teaching of English and then in 1968, he received his master's degree in library science. Dr. Boyd held positions at Alabama State University and at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign.

In 1980, Dr. Boyd received his doctorate in library science from Rutgers University. He served as an assistant commissioner at the Chicago Public Library from 1984 to 1988. Dr. Boyd was the first African American director of the Newark Public Library, a position he held from 1988 until his retirement in 2004. In addition, Dr. Boyd served as president of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA) from 1992 to 1994. Moreover, Dr. Boyd was the first African American professor at the University of Alabama School of Library Science.

During his career, Dr. Boyd made several contributions to library science literature. He wrote the chapter, "Reflections on Being a (Minority) Librarian in Our Time" for The Black Librarian in America Revisited.  Also, Dr. Boyd co-authored an article with Catherine J. Lenix-Hooker, "Afrocentrism: Hype or History?" which appeared in Library Journal in 1992.

Other accomplishments of Dr. Boyd:

  • Helped found the BCALA Literary Awards
  • Member of the ALA Council
  • President of the New Jersey Library Association, 1997-1998
  • Member of the Public Library Association (PLA)
  • Served on the board of the Schomburg Corporation
  • Member of the New Jersey Center for the Book's advisory council
  • Member of the executive board of Infolink

Dr. Dock Alexander Boyd passed away on October 25, 2011, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The American Library Association (ALA) Council issued a memorial resolution in Dr. Boyd's memory at the 2012 ALA Annual Conference.

Sources: "BCALA Presidents." Black Caucus of the American Library Association, 11 Apr. 2011. Web. 11 Nov. 2011. ; Holman, Jos N. "BCALA- Dr. Alex Boyd - BCALA Leaders and Past President." Message to BCALA Listserv. 28 Oct. 2011. Email. ; Finnerty, Ed. "Kalamazoo- Area Births, Deaths and Divorces for Oct. 28, 2011." Kalamazoo Gazette. Kalamazoo Gazette, 28 Oct. 2011. Web. 11 Nov. 2011. ; "Obituary: Dock Alexander Boyd." The Star Ledger (New Jersey) 30 Oct. 2011: n. pag. Web. 11 Nov. 2011. Grant, George, comp. "Boyd, D. Alex." The Directory of Ethnic Professionals in LIS. Winter Park: Four-G. Publishers, 1991. 26-27. Print. ; Boyd, D. Alexander. "Reflections on Being a (Minority) Librarian in Our Time." The Black Librarian in America Revisited. Ed. E.J. Josey. Metuchen: Scarecrow, 1994. 133-140. Print. ; Boyd, Alex and Catherine J. Lenix-Hooker. "Afrocentrism: Hype or History?" Library Journal 117.18 (1992):46-49; Council of the American Library Association. "Memorial Tribute for Dr. Dock Alexander Boyd." American Library Association Institutional Repository, American Library Association, 2012. PDF; "Former NJLA Presidents." New Jersey Library Association, n.d. Web. 17 July 2024.

Sunday, July 7, 2024

Curley C. Jones (1941-2015) and the University of Utah's J. Willard Marriott Library

Curley C. Jones was the first African American professional librarian to work for the University of Utah, where he served for 39 years before retiring in 2011. 

Curley Cleveland Jones was born on February 23, 1941, in Rossville, Tennessee. His parents were Cleve and Susie Palmer Jones.  Jones studied library science at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Geneseo, receiving his Master of Library Science (MLS) in 1971. In addition, he received a Certificate of Advanced Study in Librarianship in 1977 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Jones also had degrees from Saints Junior College in Lexington, Mississippi; Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Mississippi; and the University of Utah.

In 1972, Jones began his library career at the University of Utah's J. Willard Marriott Library. He worked there as the Educational Librarian, and did collection development for education, educational psychology, general reference, African American studies, religion, and law. 

 In addition, to his service at the University of Utah, Jones was active in several associations:

  • Member of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA).
  • Member-at-Large for the Reference and User Services Association's Management and Operation of User Services Section's (RUSA MOUSS) Reference Services in Small and Medium Sized Research Libraries Discussion Group 
  • Historian for the Salt Lake City Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NCAAP).
Jones also wrote Black Bibliography in 1974 as part of the University of Utah's Bibliographic Series.

Curley Cleveland Jones died on March 3, 2015, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Sources: Jones, Curley. Black Bibliography. Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah, 1974; "Staff Directory." University of Utah J. Willard Marriott Library. University of Utah, n.d. Web. 8 Dec. 2010; Goldberg, Beverly. "African Americans 'Stretch the Envelope' at the First Black Caucus Conference." American Libraries (Nov. 1992):833-835; "Honor Roll of Donors." GSLIS Alumni Newsletter, 2003-2004. [Urbana-Champaign, IL]: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, 2004. 40; Email messages from Curley Jones, BCALA Listserv,14 Dec. 2010 and 15 Dec. 2010; Email message from Marcellus Turner, BCALA Listserv, 6 Dec. 2010.; Email message from Billy C. Beal, BCALA Listserv, 6 Dec. 2010; "Curley Jones Obituary.", Mar. 2015. Web. 7 July 2024; Harris, Linda S. "Minutes: ALA Midwinter Meeting, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, January 26, 2003." RUSA MOUSS Reference Services in Small and Medium Sized Research Libraries Discussion Group, 2003. Web. 7 July 2024; Seale, Colleen. "Minutes: ALA Annual Conference, Toronto, Canada, June 22, 2003." RUSA MOUSS Reference Services in Small and Medium Sized Research Libraries Discussion Group, 2003. Web. 7 July 2024.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

The Carnegie Free Public Library of Georgetown, Guyana

On May 15, 1906, businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie granted $10,400 (equivalent to £7,000 at the time) to Georgetown, Guyana for the construction of a public library. Construction of the library began in the spring of 1908. 

The Carnegie Free Public Library of Georgetown opened for service in September 1909. Emily Murray was its first library director, leading the institution from 1909 until 1940.

The library expanded its outreach beginning with the Rural Library Service in 1950; library services to prisons in 1966; mobile library service in 1970; service as the nation's copyright library in 1972; computer services in 1993; and internet services in 2002. 

The Carnegie Free Public Library of Georgetown is now the National Library of Guyana. The Publication and Newspapers Act of 1972 enabled the former Carnegie Library to function as the nation's national library. The National Library of Guyana has branches in Bagotville, Corriverton, Linden, New Amsterdam, and Ruimveldt.

The library celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2009.

Sources:  Stephenson, Yvonne V. "Guyana." World Encyclopedia of Libraries and Information Services. Ed. Robert Wedgeworth. Chicago: ALA Editions, 1993. 332-333.; Allicock, Dmitri. "The 1909 National Library of Guyana." Oh, Beautiful Guyana. 6 May 2014. Web. 27 May 2023.; Mattar, Carol. "Guyanan Studies Local Public Library." Journal Herald (Dayon, Ohio) 21 June 1974: 31.; Caribbean Libraries in the 21st Century: Changes, Challenges, and Choices. Ed. Cheryl Peltier-Davis and Shamin Renwick. Medford, New Jersey: Information Today, Inc., 2007. 183.; Persaud, Petamber. "The Andrew Carnegie Vision: Still Alive 108 Years Later." Guyana Times International, Inc. 22 Sept. 2017. Web. 27 May 2023.; "The National Library,1909-2009." Guyana Chronicle. 6 Sept. 2009. Web. 27 May 2023.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

South Carolina State University Connections: Emily America Copeland and Rossie Brower Caldwell

Emily America Copeland became chair of the library science department at South Carolina State College (now South Carolina State University) in 1946. Ms. Copeland was a 1942 graduate of the library school at Atlanta University (Clark-Atlanta University). She held library positions at Spelman College, Atlanta University, Finley High School (Chester, South Carolina). Gammon Theological Seminary, the Woodstock Branch of the New York Public Library, Albany State College, and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Florida A&M University). From 1958 to 1976, Ms. Copeland was the chair of Florida A &M University Library Science Department.

Sources: Walker, Lillie S. "Black Librarians in South Carolina." The Black Librarian in the Southeast: Reminiscences, Activities, Challenges. Durham: NCCU School of Library Science, 1980. 94. Print.; Copeland, Emily America. "Lady Emily." The Black Librarian in America. Metuchen: Scarecrow, 1970. 77-91. Print.; Caldwell, Rossie B. "South Carolina State Library Group." Handbook of Black Librarianship. Ed. E.J. Josey and Marva L. DeLoach. 2nd ed. Lanham: Scarecrow, 2000. 73. Print.; "Emily A. Copeland." Florida A & M University. Blackbaud, Inc., 2022 Web. 28 May 2022.

Rossie Brower Caldwell was a librarian and professor at South Carolina State University from 1957-1983. Ms. Caldwell was also a librarian at Reed Street High School, Emmett Scott High School, and Wilkinson High School. She received her MLS from the University of Illinois.

Sources: Walker, Lillie S. "Black Librarians in South Carolina." The Black Librarian in the Southeast: Reminiscences, Activities, Challenges. Durham: NCCU School of Library Science, 1980. 96-97. Print.; Caldwell, Rossie B. "South Carolina State Library Group." Handbook of Black Librarianship. Ed. E.J. Josey and Marva L. DeLoach. 2nd ed. Lanham: Scarecrow, 2000. 69-74. Print.; Clanton, Deborah. The Papers of Rossie B. Caldwell [Finding Aid]. South Carolina State University Historical Collection, Miller F. Whitaker Library, South Carolina State University, 2000. Print.; "Caldwell, Rossie Brower." The Directory of Minority Professionals in LIS (Library and Information Science). Comp. George C. Grant. Winter Park, FL: Four-G Publishers, Inc., 1991. 36-37. Print.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

A Family of Librarians: The Gaytons of Seattle, Washington

This blog post focuses on three members of the Gayton family who were librarians: 

In 1946, Willetta Esther Riddle Gayton (1909-1991) became the second African American to receive an undergraduate degree in librarianship from the University of Washington. Ms. Gayton was also the first African American librarian to work in the Seattle public school system. She passed away on March 29, 1991.

Sources: Henry, Mary T. "Gayton, Willetta Esther Riddle (1909-1991)." History Link - The Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History. 29 Apr. 2010. Web. 10 Oct. 2010.; Lewis, Peter. "Willetta R. Gayton, 81, Librarian." The Seattle Times 10 Apr. 1991: n. pag. Web. 13 Jan. 2011.

Guela Gayton Johnson (1927-2018) was the first African American librarian to manage a branch library in the eighteen-branch library system of the University of Washington. The branch was the University of Washington Social Work Library, which Ms. Johnson managed until her retirement in 1992. 

Sources: "Guela Gayton Johnson, former School of Social Work Librarian and Community Leader, Dies." School of Social Work, University of Washington. 26 Oct. 2018. Web. 11 May 2022; Henry, Mary T. "Obituary - Guela Gayton Johnson." The Seattle Medium. 24 Oct. 2018. Web. 11 May 2022; Henry, Mary T. "Johnson, Guela Gayton (1927-2018)." History Link - The Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History. 28 June 2010. Web. 11 May 2022; "Guela Gayton Johnson, Retired Manager, Social Work Library, University of Washington, Seattle." African American Librarians in the Far West: Pioneers and Trailblazers. Ed. Binnie Tate Wilkin. Lanham: Scarecrow, 2006. 109-121. Print.; Henry, Mary T. "Gayton, Willetta Esther Riddle (1909-1991)." History Link - The Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History. 29 Apr. 2010. Web. 10 Oct. 2010.

John T. Gayton (1866-1954) of Seattle was the U.S. District Court Librarian from 1933-1953. He was appointed by President Franklin Roosevelt. Mr. Gayton was the father-in-law of Willeta Esther Riddle Gayton and the grandfather of Guela Gayton Johnson.

Sources:  Henry, Mary. "John T. Gayton (1866-1954)." Black 21 Jan. 2007. Web. 11 May 2022; Henry, Mary T.  "Gayton, John T. (1866-1954)."History Link - The Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History. 8 Nov. 1998. Web. 11 May 2022; "Guela Gayton Johnson, Retired Manager, Social Work Library, University of Washington, Seattle." African American Librarians in the Far West: Pioneers and Trailblazers. Ed. Binnie Tate Wilkin. Lanham: Scarecrow, 2006. 109-121. Print.; Henry, Mary T. "Gayton, Willetta Esther Riddle (1909-1991)." History Link - The Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History. 29 Apr. 2010. Web. 10 Oct. 2010.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Educators and Libraries: Isaac Fisher (1877-1957)

Isaac Fisher (1877-1957), a native of East Carroll Parish, Louisiana and the son of former slaves, was the valedictorian of Tuskegee Institute's (Tuskegee University) graduating class of 1898. Fisher was also the first African American to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship. He was awarded the fellowship in 1926.

In addition to being a Guggenheim Fellow, Fisher was an educator, speaker, writer, editor, and conference organizer. He was often called upon to deliver speeches and keynote addresses at graduations, programs, conventions, and other events. Some of Fisher's speeches include:

  • "Will America Absorb the Negro?" -- Delivered in Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1893 to raise money for the train fare he needed to travel to Tuskegee, Alabama to attend Tuskegee Institute (Tuskegee University).
  •  "Has the Negro Kept Faith?" -- Delivered at the 1910 centennial celebration of the life of abolitionist Theodore Parker.
  • "The Unfinished Task." Delivered in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1934 at Crispus Attucks High School.

Fisher served as editor of The Southern Workman (published by Hampton Institute (now Hampton University)), The Fisk University News (published by Fisk University), and The Negro Farmer (published by Tuskegee Institute). In addition, Fisher once served as Tuskegee Institute's official news correspondent and had the honor of interviewing George Washington Carver (ca. 1864?-1943), a professor of agriculture at the institute and the 1923 winner of the Spingarn Medal.

As an educator, Fisher taught at the Schofield School in Aiken, South Carolina; served as principal of the Swayne Public School in Montgomery, Alabama; was principal of the Branch Normal College (University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff) in Pine Bluff, Arkansas; taught journalism and argumentation (debate) at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee; and headed the Department of Research and Publications at Florida A & M College (Florida A & M University) in Tallahassee, Florida.

His connection with libraries:

  • While a student at Tuskegee Institute, Isaac Fisher built his own private library with the assistance of Margaret Murray Washington (1865-1925) the wife of Tuskegee Institute founder Booker T. Washington (1856-1915).

  • In 1904, seeking to improve access to books and other information sources for students at Branch Normal College, Isaac Fisher made a request to Andrew Carnegie for funds to build a library for the college. However, Fisher's request was denied.  The reason given: "not a good business investment to give a library to a school which constructed only three buildings -- a classroom building, a girls' dormitory, and an industrial shop -- in twenty-nine years" (from page 1 of the Wednesday, June 6, 1906 issue of the Pine Bluff Daily Graphic, a local newspaper).

  • On Friday, June 1, 1934, Isaac Fisher gave his speech "The Unfinished Task" at the graduation ceremony for Crispus Attucks High School, a high school for African Americans in Indianapolis, Indiana (the school is now integrated).  Housed inside the high school was the Crispus Attucks Branch of the Indianapolis Public Library, one of three library branches located in predominately African American neighborhoods in Indianapolis. The Crispus Attucks Branch Library was in operation from 1927-1959.

Fisher passed away on Friday, August 23, 1957 in Minnesota.

Sources: "200 Attucks Graduates in Commencement Exercises ; Prof. Isaac Fisher Speaks." Indianapolis Recorder (Indianapolis, Ind.) 2 June 1934: 1, 3. Print. ; "Attucks Class Gets Diplomas: Need of Providing for Material Things Stressed by Virginian." Indianapolis Star (Indianapolis, Ind.) 2 June 1934: 12. Print. ; "Branch Normal: Closing Exercises of State Colored School One of Greatest Successes in History of the Institution --- The Great Work Accomplished by Principal Isaac Fisher." Pine Bluff Daily Graphic (Pine Bluff, Ark.) 6 June 1906: 1. Print. ; "Isaac Fisher Again Winner: Colored Man Awarded Prize in Magazine Contest : Nine Thousand Competed." Indianapolis Recorder (Indianapolis, Ind.) 19 Sept. 1914: 1, 4. Print. ; "Mr. Fisher Wins Again" The Advocate (Charleston, W. Va.) 24 Feb. 1910: 3. Print. ; "Changes Made at Hampton." The Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pa.) 7 July 1934: 11. Print. ; "Hamptonians in N.Y. Hear Isaac Fisher on Gen. Armstrong: Founder's Day Program Draws Large Audience in Harlem." New York Age (New York, N.Y.) 2 Feb. 1935: 2. Print. ; "Hampton Commencement." New York Age (New York, N.Y.) 7 June 1917: 7. Print. ; "Moton Sketches Progress of Negroes on Ever of Tuskegee Anniversary." The Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Ala.) 12 Apr. 1931: 10. Print. ; "Fisher Hits 'Making the News'; Press Friendly, Cooperative When Program is Genuine." Indianapolis Recorder (Indianapolis, Ind.) 21 Aug. 1937: 13. Print. ; "Fisher Writes Moving Picture Drama." Indianapolis Recorder (Indianapolis, Ind.) 16 Oct. 1915: 4. Print. "Commencement Programs Announced by Manual, Broad Ripple, and Attucks." Indianapolis Star (Indianapolis, Ind.) 29 May 1934: 6. Print. ; Wheeler, Elizabeth L. "Isaac Fisher: The Frustrations of a Negro Educator at Branch Normal College, 1902-1911." The Arkansas Historical Quarterly 41.1 (Spring 1982): 3-50. Print. 

Friday, June 26, 2020

1928 Indiana Library Association Meeting and the Hotel Lincoln

African American librarians experiencing discrimination and prejudice while attending library conferences was not unique to the 1936 ALA Conference in Richmond, Virginia. Similar incidents have happened at other library conferences.

During the 1928 Indiana Library Association Meeting (now the Indiana Library Federation Conference) in Indianapolis, Indiana, the Hotel Lincoln changed its rules and allowed African American attendees to use the hotel's elevators. This made it easier for African American librarians to attend sessions of the conference held on the higher floors of the building. However, one rule stayed in place: African Americans were not allowed to book rooms at the hotel and had to seek accommodations elsewhere.

The Hotel Lincoln, named for United States President Abraham Lincoln, was built in 1918 and was located on the corner of West Washington Street and Kentucky Avenue in downtown Indianapolis. The hotel hosted numerous conferences and conventions during its years of operation, and was where Robert F. Kennedy and his campaign crew stayed during the Indiana Primary in 1968. The hotel was torn down in 1973. 

Sources: Howard, Edward Allen. "Indiana Library Association." Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science. Ed. Kent Allen, Harold Lancour, and Jay Daily. Vol. 11. New York: Marcel Dekker, 1974. 447. Print. ; "Indiana Library Association 37th Annual Conference and Indiana Library Trustees Association 20th Annual Conference: Indianapolis, November 21, 22, 23, 1928." Library Occurrent 9.1 (1929): 2-9. Print. ; Secker, William R. "The New Fireproof Hotel Lincoln, Indianapolis." Hotel Monthly 20.305 (1918): 44-55. Print.

Update 7/27/2020: