What Libraries Learned from the War. Page: 1
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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF EDUCATION
WHAT LIBRARIES LEARNED FROM THE WAR.
By CARL H. MILAM,
Secretary, American Library Association.
As soon as America entered the war, librarians, in common with the mem-
bers of all other professions, sought for ways of making their special training
useful to the country. They were fortunate in having their services, proffered
through the American Library Association, accepted by the Government. The
result was the Library War Service of the American Library Association.
Through that service the libraries and librarians of the United States provided
books and reading rooms for 4,500,000 men, involving the use of some 7,000,000
volumes, tons of magazines, and over $5,000,000. Every librarian and every
library in the United States had an important part in this work.
It was natural that some librarians should feel the call to war service out-
side their own libraries. Many young women in library work eagerly accepted
positions with the Government departments which war conditions had created
or greatly expanded. Others went into Red Cross or Y. M. C. A. work. Many
libraries may be said to have neglected their regular work in order to make
their buildings and the time of their assistants more fully available to Red
Cross and other war-work organizations. This was true especially in the first
Before the war had long been under way it became obvious to librarians
and others in close touch with library work that the public library and the
reference or research library had some very important natural functions to
perform during war. The war created new problems for the business man, the
technical man, and to some extent for almost every citizen. It was the library's
opportunity to assist in solving the new problems. Technical and business
departments in public libraries were busier than ever before. Some libraries
established departments devoted exclusively to information about the war and
the war activities. Nearly all libraries recognized their duty to encourage
the use of books about America for the promotion of citizenship and patriotism,
to cooperate with Government departments and war-work organizations in
disseminating information about food conservation and the Liberty loan cam-
paigns. They also cooperated with the American Library Association in pro-
viding books for service men within or near the city, for soldiers and sailors
on the troop trains, and acted as agents for the American Library Association
in its money and book campaigns.
WHAT LIBRARIANS LEARNED.
The great majority of men under ordinary circumstances are not influenced
directly by books and libraries.-This was one of the first things librarians
learned from the war experience. Reports from camp librarians showed that
hundreds of thousands of men had no experience with public libraries and were
Library Leaflet No. 14.
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Milam, Carl Hastings, 1884-1963. What Libraries Learned from the War., pamphlet, January 1922; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc276270/m1/1/: accessed November 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.