LHRT 75th Anniversary Gallery

Welcome to the blog’s celebration page for LHRT’s 75th Anniversary! You’ll find albums below that can help you reminisce or learn more about LHRT’s history and its members. We are immensely grateful to Cara Bertram at the ALA Archives, Andrew Wertheimer, and David M. Hovde for providing the photos below. Wayne Wiegand, Bernadette Lear, and Eric Novotny also contributed much in the way of ideas and information for the captions–many, many thanks to all of them for their work!

We need help compiling more photos from LHRT members! Please submit additional photos, as well as corrections to captions, to Brett Spencer,

Libraries: Culture, History, & Society is also publishing remembrances from members in issues 7.1 and 7.2.

A Few Early LHRT Leaders…

This slide show highlights some of the pioneers in LHRT and ALA who formalized the subfield of library history. They showed that the methods of the humanities had as much place in the library profession as the social sciences. Their work lives on today as LHRT members build awareness of the infinite value of libraries in the past and draw out lessons of the past for today’s cultural storehouses. Towards the end of the show, you’ll also see images of some of the namesakes for LHRT’s programs and awards.

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Library History Seminar VI (1980)

LHRT, often partnering with other groups, offers a seminar every five years that features cutting edge scholarship on library history. Library History Seminar VI, “Libraries and Culture”, transpired on March 19-22, 1980 in Austin, Texas as coordinated by Donald G. Davis Jr. With over 100 people attending and 31 papers presented, sample talks included:

“Ancient Burials of Metal Documents in Stone Boxes: Their Implications
for Library History”

“The Diary of the Human Race: Libraries in a Troubled Age”

“Stoic Influences in Librarianship: A Critique”

The proceedings were published in The Journal of Library History vol. 16, issues 1-2, 1981 (JSTOR).

Millicent Huff wrote that “the intellectual fare, informal discussion, book exhibits, tours
to libraries, ample meal breaks, and social functions all helped make the seminar a memorable occasion for all in attendance.” She quoted a speech given by John Y. Cole, Director of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress, who observed that the group had “already become a rather effective special interest group on behalf of libraries and especially the interdisciplinary approach
to the study of library history” and encouraged attendees “let’s keep pushing!” (Huff, Millicent. “‘Libraries and Culture’: A Brief Report of Library History Seminar VI.” The Journal of Library History (1974-1987) 15, no. 3 (1980): 309–19.

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Library History Seminar VII (1985)

Donald G. Davis, a legend in the field, again coordinated the Library History Seminar in 1985, with this one themed “Libraries, Books & Culture” and centered at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Over 150 people, including seven doctoral students with travel grants, participated in the five plenary sessions and 24 papers presented by scholars from across the United States and three other countries. The National Endowment for the Humanities viewed the scholarly gathering as so important that they paid all the attendee’s registration fees with a $30,000 allocation! The seminar was dedicated to Charles Haynes McMullen, renowned book and library historian whose many accomplishments included his tour de force American Libraries before 1876. Seminar papers included:

“The Book in History and the History of the Book”

“Books in Artisan Homes of Sixteenth-Century Germany”

“The Formation of American Bibliothecal Institutions”

“The Rental Library in Twentieth-Century America.”

Mary Pound summarized the conference in “‘Libraries, Books & Culture’: A Brief Report of Library History Seminar VII.” The Journal of Library History (1974-1987) 20, no. 4 (1985): 434–39. The seminar proceedings are available in the 1986 issues (21: 1-2) of the Journal of Library History.

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New Century, New Milestones

As LHRT entered the twenty-first century, members increasingly sought to highlight the work and experiences of oppressed groups in library history. Nicole A. Cooke lead the Black Librarians Project that recognized and celebrated the incredible accomplishments of Black women librarians. Brenda Mitchell-Powell, Mike Selby, Cheryl Knott, Toby Graham and others published books about civil rights and libraries. Wayne A. Wiegand and Shirley A. Wiegand spearheaded a program to recognize civil rights advocates and guide the American Library Association to apologize for the segregation of libraries.

Meanwhile, the Round Table expanded its membership and inaugurated its own scholarly journal, Libraries: Culture, History, & Society. Amanda Belantara and A.M. Alpin fused multimedia technology with artistic technique to capture and present library history in spectacular new ways, such as in the Rule No. 5 exhibit which won LHRT’s first Innovation and Advocacy Award.

Learn more about the work of LHRT in recent decades in the showcase below.

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Fun and Fellowship

LHRTers work hard on their scholarship and conferences, but they also take time to tour historic libraries, learn about the local culture of the venues hosting their conferences, and build relationships with each other. Enjoy these photos of some of LHRT’s social events!

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Random Reminisces

The ALA Conference exhibit floor. Film screening. Outreach on the web. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. This slide show presents a potpourri of images from LHRT’s past.

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The ALA Archives

The American Library Association Archives is foundational to library historiography. Serving as the repository for the world’s oldest national library association, the Archives was founded in 1973 when ALA concluded an agreement with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Archives to preserve its materials there. The holdings include official documents, conference proceedings, letters, photos, multimedia, and scrapbooks. Cara S. Bertram currently serves as the Archives Program Officer.

Every library history enthusiast should explore the rich digital collections of the Archives, where you’ll discover vintage photos of card catalogs, reference desks, early technological applications, celebrities in libraries, library architecture, historic library workers, patron usage vignettes, and much more! Be sure to read the Archives blog as well for fascinating stories of libraries’ past. Questions about the Archives can be directed to

Get a glimpse of the venerable Archives and its history in the slide show below.

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Want to further explore LHRT’s past?

Lee Shiflett recounts LHRT’s formative years in The American Library History Round Table: The First Quarter Century.

An analysis of the Library History Seminars can be found in: Goedeken, Edward A. “The Library Historian’s Field of Dreams: A Profile of the First Nine Seminars.” Libraries & Culture 35, no. 1 (2000): 161–72.

A timeline of LHRT’s history is available in: Wertheimer, Andrew B., and John David Marshall. “Fifty Years of Promoting Library History: A Chronology of the ALA (American) Library History Round Table, 1947-1997.” Libraries & Culture 35, no. 1 (2000): 215–39.

The story of how LHRT gave birth to the Journal of Library History is recounted in: Davis, Donald G., Jr. “An Odyssey in Scholarly Library History: JLH / L&C at 35.” 65th IFLA Council and General Conference, Bangkok, Thailand, August 20 – August 28, 1999.

LHRT has a section on the ALA Institutional Repository

Digitized issues of the LHRT newsletter are available back to 1996 on the ALA Institutional Repository.

LHRT finding aids in the ALA Archives:

Donald G. Davis Papers in the ALA Archives:

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