Open These Hallowed Doors

Public libraries in the American South prohibited African-Americans from using their collections and facilities under the unjust system of segregation that existed before the Civil Rights Movement of the Sixties, as shown in this virtual exhibit by the Digital Public Library of America and in Dr. Cheryl Knott’s excellent book published last year, Not Free, Not for All: Public Libraries in the Age of Jim Crow.

Fortunately, some courageous African-American protestors challenged segregation in libraries, and a soon-to-be-published title is recounting many of their stories.

This past week, Dr. Wayne Wiegand, the “Dean of American Library Historians,” delivered a lecture entitled, Open These Hallowed Doors: The Desegregation of Public Libraries in the American South, at the Virginia Commonwealth University’s James Branch Cabell Library.  His lecture recounted stories from “court records and newspapers of young black resilience, energy and determination to desegregate Jim Crow–era public libraries.”  In addition, Robert Williams, one of the protesters at the Danville (VA) Public Library during 1960, attended the event and shared his experiences.

Dr. Wiegand has composed a book about the protestors, The Desegregation of Public Libraries in the Jim Crow South:  Civil Rights and Local Activism, that will be published by Louisiana State University Press in Spring, 2018.

Dr. Wiegand also recently published a related article, “Any Ideas?: The American Library Association and the Desegregation of Public Libraries in the American South” in LHRT’s peer-reviewed journal, Libraries: Culture, History, and Society.  In the abstract, Dr. Wiegand notes that ALA “chose to look past the issue of racially segregated public libraries in the South rather than confront, challenge, or even discuss it. Not until the early 1960s did a few vocal members of the nation’s library community outside the association’s control force ALA to finally address the issue.”

We can all look forward to the debut of The Desegregation of Public Libraries in the Jim Crow South and learning more about the local activists who pushed for integration and equality in library services.  Stay tuned to the blog for more updates!


Brett Spencer

Editor, LHRT News and Notes




Calling All LIS Students!

Dear Students,

It’s hard to believe that we’re at the end of another semester!  Hope your papers, theses, book reviews, presentations, and other class projects are going well.

I would like to invite you to submit your library history-related projects  “as is”  to LHRT News and Notes, the official blog of ALA’s Library History Roundtable.

I’ll be quite happy to consider your papers in their current form.  We can work together to make edits, if needed, so that we can publish your papers on the blog.

Why submit to LHRT News and Notes?

>Sharing your paper in an open access blog helps fellow library history buffs learn about your topic.

>Populating the blog supports LHRT’s mission.

>Submitting to LHRT News and Notes is friendly and non-intimidating.

>Publishing in an official ALA blog boosts your resume.
The LHRT News and Notes blog (which has examples of past LIS students’ works) is located at:

Good luck on those final projects, and I hope you’ll consider sending them to the blog!  All submissions can be emailed to me at   Please feel free to contact me with any questions.
Best Wishes,
Brett Spencer
Editor, LHRT News and Notes


A Short History of the National Library of Wales–Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru

Happy Spring!

Many thanks to Dr. Calista Williams, who has written a splendid essay about the National Library of Wales (NLW) for LHRT News and Notes, offering discoveries from her recently completed thesis:

Of special note, she highlights how the NLW interacted with the political and social movements of its time.

Please enjoy this library historiography, and consider submitting a post about your library’s history.  I know many graduate students out there are finishing papers this time of year, please consider submitting your work:

Best Wishes,
Brett Spencer
Editor, LHRT News and Notes

E-Reading Women’s History: Digital Histories of Women and the Book

Hi blog readers,

LHRT member Rachel Ivy Clark sent this message out on the LHRT list earlier today and I thought some of our blog readership might find it of interest:

“A friend of mine is part of a panel at this year’s Berkshire Conference of women historians. Due to some travel snafus, one of the panels has had to drop out, and she is in need of a third panelist. The topic seemed like it might be relevant to members of LHRT.

The panel is scheduled for 9:30 on Thursday, June 1 at Hofstra University on Long Island, NY.

The panel abstract is below. Interested parties should contact Stephanie Richmond at

E-Reading Women’s History: Digital Histories of Women and the Book

Monica L. Mercado, Colgate University
Gender and Abolitionist Texts: Corpus Linguistics Analysis of Annual Reports and Abolitionist Literature
Stephanie J Richmond, Norfolk State University
Mapping Women’s Networks: Insights from Recipes and Historical GIS
Rachel A Snell, University of Maine

Session Abstract

Digital history methods have revolutionized the way in which historians are able to analyze and display the results of years of historical research. The papers in this panel use a variety digital tools to analyze women’s engagement with books and printed materials, drawing on both gender histories and the field of the history of the book. Stephanie Richmond’s project mines the texts of antislavery women’s reports, novels and short stories for connections between antislavery, antiracism and women’s rights in the 1830s. Rachel Snell’s paper uses GIS tools to map the networks of women’s recipe sharing in the mid-nineteenth century. Each of these papers juxtaposes the comfortable form of the print book with the power of digital humanities tools to tease out, display and connect words, people and places held within the texts created and used by women.”



Brett Spencer

Editor, LHRT News and Notes

Celebrating National Library Week 2017

Happy National Library Week!

LHRT News and Notes blog has received several histories in celebration of National Library Week.  Please click here to read the full essays and enjoy the historic photos:

A Short History of Kirby Library
By Ana Ramirez Luhrs
“The Kirby Library is a remarkable library in more ways than one..if only all our libraries could preserve their rich histories so successfully”

A Brief History of the Medical Library of the University of Missouri
By Taira Meadowcroft and Terri Hall
“The history of the J. Otto Lottes Health Sciences Library is a reminder that libraries–by continually expanding and enhancing their informational support to lab researchers as well as the frontline professionals in the war against disease—have played a key role in the medical revolution of the past several decades that has given us many of the cures that we all enjoy today.”

The Santa Monica Public Library: An Illustrated History
By Kathy Lo
“A beautiful example of local library history…richly illustrated, the author showcases SMPL as a center of local culture…from the Women’s Christian Temperance Union of the nineteenth century to the environmental design campaigns of the twenty-first century…”

History of the Margaret H. McAllen Memorial Archives of the Museum of South Texas History
By Phyllis Kinnison
“one archives grew from a collection of land deeds to a robust, museum-based research library…now serves patrons from many fields who are interested in Mexican history, United States history, and the history of how the two national cultures streamed together in the Borderlands to produce a rich heritage.”

In Vivid Colors: The Impact and Relevance of the Browne Popular Culture Library at Bowling Green State University
By William Blick
“illustrates how libraries helped sustain the rise of social history scholarship over the past several decades…The Library has blossomed through generous gifts over several decades to become ‘a landmark for cultural critics and scholars’ as Mr. Blick notes.   The collection now includes everything from an E.T. mask to McDonald’s Happy Meal toys”

Help the blog ring in National Library Week by sending a blurb, essay, or picture of your library’s history!  Please send your submissions to Brett Spencer, LHRT News and Notes Editor, at

Brett Spencer
Editor, LHRT News and Notes