Tuesday, June 21, 2011

ALA's Handbook of Organization 1894

Starting in 2009 the American Library Association's Handbook of Organization has only been available online. The information contained in the online handbook tells you everything you ever wanted to know about the organizational structure of one of the world's most complex library organizations. The online handbook is not a consolidated document but a connected grouping of website links which originate at a Table of Contents page. A far cry from today's electronic version of the ALA handbook is my copy of the 1894 version of the handbook shown here. It was de-accessioned from the ALA Library.   It is a handy 3 by 5 inch pocket size publication consisting 62 pages. Thirty of those pages list the entire membership of ALA at that time. Only five pages were needed to list the officers of ALA and the members of ALA's seven active committees. The list of members gives the date the member joined ALA and a registration number in order of the member's joining. Melvil Dewey joined in 1876 and was member number 1. Miss Ella Sites Wood, a library school student, joined in 1894 and was member number 1234. ALA's motto was on the front cover of the handbook: "The best reading, for the largest number, at the least cost".  The dues in 1894 were $2.00 per year, but if you weren't willing to pay that amount you could send your name to Melvil Dewey and get on his mailing list "interested in libraries" and receive printed matter about libraries and librarianship. I've completed 42 years of continuous membership in ALA and my registration number is 63888. It is also interesting to note that my last printed copy of ALA's Handbook of Organization included 226 pages of information.

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