Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Edmon Low, Library Legislation Advocate

Each year I peruse the Dictionary of American Library Biography and its two supplements to identify significant birth anniversaries of former library leaders. In some cases I already know of the library leader, but in others I am introduced to someone I have no previous knowledge of. Such is the case with Edmon Horton Low (1902-1983) who was born 110 years ago today. The entry for Low in the Supplement to the Dictionary of American Library Biography (Libraries Unlimited, 1990) was written by David Kaser.  Kaser begins the entry with the sentence: "Edmon Horton Low, known as the library profession's finest lobbyist, was born in Kiowa Indian Territory, on January 4, 1902."  That sentence immediately caught my interest because of a career long interest in library legislation. The largest portion of Low's professional career was spent as Director of the Oklahoma State University Library. One of Low's accomplishment's at OSU was the construction of a new library building (shown above) which was later named for him. Low also had a long association with the University of Michigan Library School where he taught for many years during summer sessions and after retirement at OSU on a full time basis. But back to Low's library legislative contributions.  Low served on the Legislative Committee of the American Library Association from 1958 to 1962 and from 1964 to 1969 and was chair of the committee in 1967-1968. According to Kaser, "Low testified before congressional committees more frequently than any other librarian had ever done" and that "His masterful testimony is scattered throughout many committee prints and hearings on the National Defense Education Act, the Library Services Act, the Higher Education Act, and other bills in Congress ...". While many librarians shun the political process, there are those who embrace it and thrive in it, and Low was one of those who embraced it.  The library community owes those individuals a huge debt of gratitude. On a personal note, I was able to attend college because of a loan through the National Defense Education Act. Thanks Edmon. 

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