Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Robert Wedgeworth and ALA
Robert Wedgeworth served as Executive Director of the American Library Association from 1972-1985. His tenure at ALA followed that of David Clift who had served from 1951-1972. A biography on the ALA website says this about Wedgeworth's accomplishments as Executive Director: "Assuming the leadership of ALA during a turbulent period of internal strife, he led the effort to democratize the Association and gave it new visibility and credibility nationally and internationally. Under his leadership the Association grew from 28,000 members to over 40,000. He developed a new Headquarters building in a joint venture that more than doubled the value of its property and produced a $3 million windfall profit in 1999. With the demise of the National Book Committee, Wedgeworth negotiated with the publishing industry to bring the National Library Week program to the ALA. It quickly became a nationally visible marketing tool and the third major revenue source for the Association." I have a couple of artifacts in my librariana collection related to Wedgeworth. The first (shown above) is a metal admissions ticket to a reception in honor of Wedgeworth at the 104th Annual Conference of ALA in Chicago on July 6 1985 at the Chicago Public Library. The second (shown below) is a First Day Cover for the America's Libraries postage stamp that was issued on July 13, 1982 at the ALA Conference in Philadelphia. Wedgeworth along with then ALA President Betty Stone signed the cover. The signed First Day Covers were available for sale for $3 and according to an article in American Libraries they sold like hotcakes. After leaving ALA Wedgeworth became Dean of the School of Library Service at Columbia University and later served as University Librarian and Professor of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Early in his library career Wedgeworth was one of the librarians who helped staff ALA's "Library-21" exhibit at the Seattle World's Fair in 1962.