Silence and Acceptance: The Lesbian Experience at the New York Public Library, 1901-1950

Silence and Acceptance: The Lesbian Experience at the New York Public Library, 1901-1950

SundayJune 3, 2:00pm-3:00pm
Location: Staten Island Museum at Snug Harbor, 1000 Richmond Terrace, Building A (NYC)
FREE with Museum Admission

Archivist and historian Bob Sink presents his research examining the sexual identity of the women working in the New York Public Library branch system in the first half of the 20th century. Using Adrienne Rich’s notion of the “lesbian continuum,” he has been documenting personal aspects of their lives to ascertain how many of the librarians would fit this description. In his own words, “I hope that this study indicates that the silence about sexual identity that existed in the period before the LGBTQ civil rights era can be breached by historians—not just for a few famous women but for rank-and-file librarians as well.”


Apple Cakes in Library History (From OCLC)

If you have not run across it already, please enjoy this wonderful and funny library history story written by Kem Lang at OCLC.  She recounts the story of some brave catalogers who created an OCLC record containing an apple cake recipe:

The Legendary “Apple Cake” Record Story

Bon Appetit!


An Apology for Segregated Libraries–ALA draft resolution May 11, 2018

Dear readers,

Please see the important draft resolution below scheduled for discussion by the American Library Association Council at this summer’s New Orleans Conference.  It is currently being endorsed by a variety of ALA divisions and offices.  Thank you very much to Dr. Wayne Wiegand for sending this information to us.


ALA draft resolution May 11, 2018

Whereas the system of “Jim Crow” laws and customs officially existed into the 1960s—a century after the official end of slavery in the United States; [1] [2]

Whereas virulent racism, disenfranchisement, Black Codes, and racial segregation laws imposed a rigid system of officially sanctioned racial segregation in virtually all areas of life, including access to public libraries; 1 2

Whereas, despite the work of African American librarians, including Clara Stanton Jones, E.J. Josey,Albert P. Marshall and Virginia Lacy Jones,and the allies who stood with them  to proactively fight segregation, a large majority of the nation’s library community failed to address the injustices of segregated library services until the 1960s; [3]

Whereas the nation’s library press reported nothing about the 1939 Alexandria (VA) Public Library sit-in by five young African Americans that took place two months after the American Library Association passed a Library Bill of Rights; 3

Whereas the American Library Association filed no amicus curiae briefs in any of the local, state, and national lawsuits filed in the 1950s and 1960s to desegregate public libraries;3

Whereas the American Library Association continued to accept into membership those public libraries practicing segregated services well into the 1960s; 3

Whereas a genuine apology is an important and necessary first step in the process of reconciliation;

Whereas an apology for decades of injustices cannot erase the past, but a recognition of the wrongs committed and injustices ignored can help the nation’s library community confront the ghosts of its past: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the American Library Association

(1) Acknowledges the fundamental injustice, cruelty, and inhumanity that segregated libraries effected on African Americans;

(2) Apologizes to African Americans for wrongs committed against them in segregated public libraries;

(3) Commends African Americans who risked their lives to integrate public libraries and forced public libraries to live up to the rhetoric of their ideals for their bravery and courage in challenging segregation in public libraries;

(4) Welcomes all African Americans to libraries, recognizing in particular those who were forced to use segregated libraries,

(5) Encourages libraries to defend, in their policies and in their actions, the ALA Code of Ethics principle 1 – “We provide the highest level of service to all library users through appropriate and usefully organized resources; equitable access; and accurate, unbiased, and courteous responses to all requests,”[4] and;

(6)And be it further resolved that this resolution be printed in full in American Libraries and widely distributed to the Black media.

[1]  United States. Cong. House. Apologizing for the Enslavement and Racial Segregation of African-Americans. 110th Cong. 2nd sess. H. Res. 194. (2007-2008). 154 Cong. Rec. H7224. Washington: GPO, 2008.

[2] United States. Cong. Senate. Apologizing for the Enslavement and Racial Segregation of African-Americans. 111th Cong. 1st sess. S. Res. 26. (2009-2010). 155 Cong. Rec. S6761. Washington: GPO, 2009.

[3] Shirley A. Wiegand and Wayne A. Wiegand, The Desegregation of Public Libraries in the Jim Crow South: Civil Rights and Local Activism, (Baton Rouge, 2018), LSU Press.

[4] Code of Ethics of the American Library Association.

Another Great Post From ALA Archives: Jewish Caucus Newsletter

Salvatore De Sando at the ALA Archives recently posted about the Jewish Caucus Newsletter: “at the 1976 Midwinter Convention, the recently established Jewish Librarians Caucus (now Jewish Information Committee) also founded a publication which would serve as an information rich resource on world issues from a Jewish perspective and issues affecting Jewish librarians and their communities…”

Check out his post and several digitized images at Publications: Jewish Caucus Newsletter


The Evolution of Feminine Sexuality in Print Culture: A Look at Print Culture from the 18th Century to the 21st Century

Our latest submission comes from a book arts perspective. Samantha Huff traces changes in the portrayal of women in print culture over centuries, and how these changes both reflected and shaped cultural beliefs about women.

Her paper features several advertisements from various time periods accompanied by analysis:





LHRT/RUSA-HS Joint Tour of Southern Food & Beverage Museum & Library at ALA Annual

Here is a delicious and fun opportunity for those attending the ALA Conference this summer:
Saturday, June 23 3:00-5:00
1504 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd

The Library History Round Table and the Reference & User Services Association History Section invite all members and guests to a tour of the Southern Food & Beverage Museum and Library in New Orleans. It’s the 10th Anniversary of SFBM, and June is spotlight on the library month!

We’ll also be meeting for a no-host happy hour and dinner at Toups South (the museum restaurant) after the tour. Toups South is also open for lunch from 11:00-3:00, if you want to get there early.

Adults: $10.50 per person

Students (with ID), Military, and Seniors over 60: $5.25 per person

RSVP to so that we can know how many to expect

LHRT Conference Schedule!

The Library History Round Table’s schedule for the 2018 ALA Annual Conference is now available:

LHRT Executive Board Meeting    6/24/2018,  8:30-10:00 AM,  MCC  Rm 222

LHRT Edward G. Holley Memorial Lecture  6/24/2018,  10:30-11:30 AM, MCC Rm 278

  • Girl in a Frame:  Enslaved People, Their Stories, and the Archives in the Digital Age. Dr. Mary Niall Mitchell, Ethel & Herman L. Midlo Chair in New Orleans Studies and Joseph Tregle Professor in Early American History at the University of New Orleans

LHRT Research Forum     6/24/2018, 1:00-2:00 PM, MCC Rm 299

  • A Rapidly Escalating Demand: Academic Libraries and the Birth of Black Studies Programs. Steven A. Knowlton, Librarian for History and African American Studies at Princeton University.
  • Library Collections and Services for Immigrant Women and Girls during the Progressive Era: Social Control versus Personal Agency.Margaret Bausman, Assistant Professor and Head of Social Work Urban Public Health Library at the City University of New York.


This should be a fascinating set of sessions, and significant from a social justice perspective, hope all can make it!





All Book Titles Claimed

Thanks so much for rallying and volunteering to review those books!  Immense thanks to all who volunteered so quickly!

I’ll send out more lists of potential books to review in the future.  If you wanted to review a book but someone else claimed it before you, thank you very much for volunteering.  There will be many more opportunities in the future.

And, if you of other books about library history that have come out in the last year or so, please feel free to email me ( and we can discuss reviewing that title.

It’s great to be involved in library history, where people rally together to help like this.

Warmest Regards,