ATG Quirkies: When America’s Librarians Went to War

 A War Service Library bookplate. Courtesy of the University of Illinois Archives


A War Service Library bookplate.
Courtesy of the University of Illinois Archives

This post from NPR’s History Dept. and correspondent Linton Weeks tells a fascinating and somewhat forgotten story.

Most of us are probably aware that during both the First and Second World Wars “Americans of all stripes made patriotic contributions and sacrifices…” However, many of us may not have realized how much librarians did for the war effort.

Mr. Weeks quotes Cara Bertram, an archivist for the American Library Association, on the numerous ways librarians contributed. “In both wars, librarians back at home or on the front were key in collecting and distributing books to soldiers.” … “During World War I, librarians maintained camp and hospital libraries,” and in both world wars, “librarians promoted books drives and encouraged donations.” Books were a real morale boost for war weary soldiers and citizens providing recreation,

But that’s not all. Mr. Weeks goes on to quote FDR that “No man and no force can take from the world the books that embody man’s eternal fight against tyranny. In this war, we know, books are weapons.”

And then he cleverly adds that in such a war “librarians are the weapons experts.”

(Thanks to Leah Hinds for suggesting this ATG Quirky)

 

 

 

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