American Libraries During World War I

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This collection consists of materials relating to the role of libraries during the period of American involvement in World War I, from 1917 to 1918. The materials include a pair of scrapbooks that document the American Library Association’s involvement in maintaining libraries at military camps and hospitals. Also included are annual reports and newsletters that discuss the involvement of individual public libraries in the war effort. There is a small pamphlet about the role of libraries in WWI, called “Our Libraries and the War,” as well as a pamphlet documenting the efforts of the United War Work Campaign in Wisconsin, of which the American Library Association was a part.

Libraries were particularly important during the First World War, because books and other printed materials were a primary source of entertainment for soldiers. Additionally, when the war was over, thousands of young men, who had spent their entire adulthood fighting the war returned to America in need of work. Libraries were instrumental in providing information and reading lists about a variety of careers to aid returning soldiers in finding jobs.

Special thanks to Bronwen Masemann and the SLIS Library for providing the materials.

Image Source:

A.L.A. camp library work