Sunday, October 31, 2010

War Library Bulletin & Books By Mail

Another gift from a Library History Buff blog reader was two issues of the War Library Bulletin of the Library War Service of the American Library Association. Thanks Nancy. The issue featured in this post was Volume I, No. 9, for May, 1919.  The back cover of this issue reprints an advertisement for the Library War Service books-by-mail program that was contained in the Stars and Stripes magazine for May 2, 1919. A note at the bottom of the page indicates that the free mailing service that was in the advertisement was organized in October, 1918, and that one day's mail has brought as many as 2,000 requests for non-fiction to the Paris Headquarters of the Library War Service. General John J. Pershing, Commander of the American Expeditionary Forces (A.E.F.) in Europe had approved the postage free mailing of books through the Army Postal System to make this service possible. The mailing of books by libraries to patrons in the United States had been feasible since 1914 when the Post Office Department first allowed books to be mailed at the parcel post rate. A number of state library agencies implemented such a service. Burton E. Stevenson, ALA's European Representative, was undoubtedly aware of this development in the U.S. when he proposed the service to Pershing.

The photograph on the cover of this issue of the War Library Bulletin shows soldiers using the Chaumont, France Library War Service Regional Library on a March evening. The caption below indicates that more than one hundred men are crowded into the library - "the average attendance between the hours of six and seven of any evening".

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