Monday, October 6, 2014

Happy Birthday ALA!

Today marks the 138th anniversary of the founding of the American Library Association. The founding took place on October 6, 1876 at a conference of librarians at the Pennsylvania Historical Society in Philadelphia. The events leading up to the conference are documented in the book Raking The Historic Coals, The A.L.A. Scrapbook of 1876 by Edward G. Holley (Beta Phi Mu, 1967). Although Melvil Dewey received much of the credit for the call for the conference, others including Richard Rodgers Bowker and Frederick Leypoldt played important roles. Of the 103 people who attended the conference 90 were men and 13 were women. At the end of the conference attendees who wanted to form the new association signed a register. Melvil Dewey signed as "Number one". By the end of 1876, 43 individuals had joined the association. On the evening of October 6 there was a social reception. A replica of the invitation to that affair is shown above. This anniversary of the founding of ALA highlights the fact that in two years, it will celebrate its 140th anniversary, an occasion worthy of celebration. In 2026, only twelve years away, ALA will celebrate its 150th anniversary, a major milestone for any organization.