RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage – Fall 2023

Just received a flier from RBM announcing:

“The Fall 2023 issue of RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage is now freely available online as a full issue PDF and individual articles. Visit the RBM website for complete contents of RBM and its preceding title Rare Books & Manuscripts Librarianship from 1986 to the present. RBM became an open access journal in Spring 2016.”

Many articles here of interest to library historians!

Showcase of Los Angeles Public Library History

Nice article and podcast about one of America’s largest public library systems by Aaricka Washington at the LAist:


The articles explains how gold and “light bringers” figure into the architecture…

And, wow, check out this beautiful and sophisticated 360 degree tour from LA Public Library!:


Libraries: Culture, History, and Society seeks a Managing Editor

The co-editors of Libraries: Culture, History, and Society seek a Managing Editor, who will also serve on the journal’s Board of Associate Editors. 

Libraries: Culture, History, and Society (LCHS) is the official peer-reviewed journal of the Library History Round Table of the American Library Association. It aims to study libraries within their broader historical, humanistic, and social contexts. In addition to Library Science, the journal welcomes contributors from History, English, Literary Studies, Sociology, Education, Gender/Women’s Studies, Race/Ethnic Studies, Political Science, Architecture, Anthropology, Philosophy, Geography, Economics, and other disciplines. The only journal in the United States devoted to library history, LCHS positions library history as its own field of scholarship, while promoting innovative cross-disciplinary research on libraries’ relationships with their unique environments.

The Managing Editor will serve a term of two years, with the option to renew. This is a  remote volunteer position with regular virtual meetings with the co-editors.


The Managing Editor of LCHS will be responsible for the following, in approximate order of importance:

  • Working with our submissions platform, Editorial Manager, to prepare submissions for the co-editors; to assist authors in using the platform; to track the status of submissions; to send reminders about outstanding peer reviews; and to compile reports about the number of submissions and acceptance rates.
  • Coordinating communication and meetings among the editors and editorial boards.
  • Assisting and monitoring promotion of LCHS by preparing text and images for issue email, web, and social media communications.
  • Assisting the co-editors and authors in finding available and appropriate illustrations for accepted articles.

Required qualifications:

  • Attention to detail and deadlines.
  • Familiarity with scholarly journals and the basics of peer-review processes
  • Knowledge of Editorial Manager and/or a high comfort-level with learning new software systems.
  • Familiarity with MS Word and Excel and other editorial management tools.
  • A strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusiveness as expressed in the LCHS DEI Statement and Action Plan (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1WwMbUDEIvp7Z0XT05ZQRsl6NVYESrhWbf3oPZSsDSmQ/edit#heading=h.xp7f2y22wzks)
  • A strong commitment to mentoring authors.

Desired qualifications:

  • Awareness of LCHS as a significant journal in the field.
  • Awareness of the field of library history.
  • Awareness of the field of bibliographical study.
  • Strong writing skills.

Please apply by email to the co-editors, Dr. Nicole Cooke (NCOOKE@mailbox.sc.edu) and Dr. Carol Leibiger (c.leibiger@usd.edu), including a declaration of interest, a description of your editorial experience and qualifications for the position, and a statement of the contributions you hope to make to LCHS. 

We will start reviewing nominations immediately. The position will be open until it is filled, with an aim to have the successful candidate begin work in January 2024.

Dr. Nicole Cooke and Dr. Carol Leibiger, LCHS Co-Editors

Carol A. Leibiger, Ph.D., MSLIS
Past Chair, Library History Round Table
Associate Professor
Information Literacy Coordinator
University of South Dakota
Vermillion, SD 57069 USA

History of the Mercantile Library [The News Record]

Have you heard of the Mercantile Library? It’s located in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, and it’s one of the only membership-based libraries in the United States. Take a tour with Taylor McLagan, The News Record, in “Exploring One of Cincinnati’s Oldest Libraries”:


Letter by Dr. Wayne Wiegand Regarding School Libraries

The blog would like to share this letter that Dr. Wiegand recently sent to the ALA and AASL presidents and presidents-elect as well as editors of LJ, SLJ, AL, and Knowledge Quest.

(Please note that you can find an article based on an adaptation of one of the chapters of his forthcoming book in the January issue of American Libraries.)


In September, 2024, the University Press of Mississippi (UPM) will be releasing my next book, “In Silence or Indifference: Racism and Jim Crow Segregated Public School Libraries.” The book will show that between 1954 and 1974–all the while white library leaders and the ALA were honing their national image as proponents of the freedom to read, defenders of intellectual freedom, and opponents of censorship–they were silent or indifferent about the humiliations and racist practices Black public school librarians and Black public school students were suffering at the hands of the Deep South white educational establishment. This is a story never before told, and because during these years the library profession’s rhetoric was such a striking contrast to the reality of its practice in the Jim Crow South, next summer we will be pitching this angle to major media columnists in hopes they will review the book during Banned Books Week.

The purpose of this message is twofold.  First, I bring all this to your attention so that the profession I have grown to love will not be blindsided if the book does get substantial media attention.

Second, however, I am also appealing to each of you to consider giving it significant attention in the journals you edit and the conference programs you are planning. Because you all have powerful positions of influence in the library profession, you have the ability to help shine a light on one of our profession’s darkest places. It is imperative that this sad chapter in American library history becomes part of the profession’s collective memory, or we will end up at forthcoming celebratory moments (e.g., AASL’s 75th anniversary in 2025; ALA’s 150th anniversary in 2026) making historically ill-informed statements like the ALA’s Executive Board did on August 18, 2021, when it reacted to the controversy over critical race theory and concluded with the following:  “For more than 140 years, ALA has been the trusted voice of libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all.”  “In Silence or Indifference” proves that is simply not true.

Because I am much more interested in getting the book read and discussed by large numbers of our colleagues than I am in writing yet more articles about the subject, I stand ready to help with that goal in any way I can. If you have ideas for facilitating discussions among librarians, I am happy to respond. I also invite you to share this message with any colleagues you think might be interested in setting up forums in which this book can be discussed.

Below please find the UPM description of the book. Thank you for your time and consideration.


In Silence or Indifference: 

Racism and Jim Crow Segregated Public School Libraries
Wayne A. Wiegand

An unflinching history critiquing librarianship during the Jim Crow era

Librarians around the country are currently on a battleground, defending their right to purchase and circulate books dealing with issues of race and systemic racism. Despite this work, the library community has often overlooked—even ignored—its own history of white supremacy and deliberate inaction on the part of white librarians and library leadership. Author Wayne A. Wiegand takes a crucial step to amend this historical record. In Silence or Indifference: Racism and Jim Crow Segregated Public School Libraries analyzes and critiques the world of professional librarianship between 1954 and 1974.

Wiegand begins by identifying racism in the practice and customs of public school libraries in the years leading up to the Brown v. Board of Education decision. This culture permeated the next two decades, as subsequent Supreme Court decisions led to feeble and mostly unsuccessful attempts to integrate Jim Crow public schools and their libraries. During this same period, the profession was honing its national image as a defender of intellectual freedom, a proponent of the freedom to read, and an opponent of censorship. Still, the community did not take any unified action to support Brown or to visibly oppose racial segregation. As Black school librarians and their Black patrons suffered through the humiliations and hostility of the Jim Crow educational establishment, the American library community remained largely ambivalent and silent.

The book brings to light a distressing history that continues to impact the library community, its students, and its patrons. Currently available school library literature skews the historical perspective that informs the present. In Silence or Indifference is the first attempt to establish historical accountability for the systemic racism contemporary school librarianship inherited in the twenty-first century.

Wayne A. Wiegand is F. William Summers Professor of Library and Information Studies Emeritus at Florida State University. Often referred to as “the Dean of American library historians,” he is author of many scholarly articles and books, including Irrepressible Reformer: A Biography of Melvil Dewey, Part of Our Lives: A People’s History of the American Public Library, and American Public School Librarianship: A History.