Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Librarian Veterans


When Veterans Day comes around each year and America pays homage to those who serve and have served in the military, I often reflect on my own military experience during the Vietnam Conflict/War. Part of that reflection is my identification with all the others who have shared the experience of serving one's country in the military. As I have written in an earlier post, my own service was involuntary as was the service of many of those in the Vietnam era. My experience was unusual in that I was already a professional librarian when I went into the Army. Librarians have served in the military and have provided service to the military in times of war throughout our library past. Librarian of Congress John G. Stephenson from 1861-1864 spent much of his tenure serving in the Union Army during the Civil War. Librarians both male and female participated in the American Library Association's Library War Service during World War I. During World War II many librarians disrupted their library careers to serve their country in uniform. Edwin Castagna, former Director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, voluntarily joined the Army during World War II and served as a company commander in the 771st Tank Battalion in several key World War II campaigns. He was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for heroism. A group of female librarians who were in supervisory roles in military libraries during World War II became leaders in state library agencies in the years following the war. They included Estellene Walker, Nettie Taylor, and S. Janice Kee. There aren't many librarians who served in the military during the Vietnam Conflict/war, but there were some. There are also many librarians in military libraries that serve the armed forces on an ongoing basis .

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