Promoting the appreciation, enjoyment, and preservation of our library heritage
Sunday, February 9, 2014
The Merchant Marine and ALA in WWI
The Merchant Marine is the fleet of American ships which carries a wide variety of cargo around the world during peacetime and becomes a naval auxiliary during wartime. The Merchant Marine played an essential role in World War I by delivering U.S. troops and war material to the European theater. During World War I the Library War Service of the American Library Association provided books to the men who served on the ships of the Merchant Marine. As part of its promotion of this service ALA published a series of eight postcards depicting Merchant Marine mariners/sailors using the service. I've managed to collect seven of the eight postcards, two of which are depicted above. The rest are located HERE. The postcards indicate that: "The A.L.A. furnishes free crew's libraries to American merchant ships and through representatives at principal ports provides a free library service to American seamen." One postcard states that: "Boxed crew's libraries, each containing about eighty books of fiction, travel, books on seamanship and others, are exchangeable at principal ports." After the war the books from this service were transferred to the American Merchant Marine Library Association which was created in 1921. It was one of the legacies of the ALA Library War Service.