A Policy on Extension

Regional meetings were another tried-and-true method of library service extension by the State Library. In the early 1960s, three or four regional meetings were held each spring and summer. Unlike the one-day conferences of the past, a revised format of three to four days was now offered under the title of “In-Service Training Institutes,” where topics such as reference, children’s work, documents, book selection, and cataloging were discussed.521

Two major institutes held in the fall of 1961 gained the Illinois State Library national prominence among the nation’s state libraries. That September 12-13, an extension services staff meeting was held at Allerton Park near Monticello to discuss and define the role of the Extension Department. New projects with pending federal legislation were also considered. The first written extension service policy was compiled at the meeting.

  1. The Illinois State Library shall be an agency working toward the total education of the citizens of the state through the improvement of public library service as provided by law.
  2. The extension personnel shall advise and consult with local libraries, library boards, and interested citizens regarding library problems, such as the recruiting and training of library personnel, legal, fiscal, and building matters.
  3. The extension staff shall encourage the establishment of library systems in accordance with approved library standards.
  4. The extension service shall; (a) provide supplementary materials for public libraries as determined by specific needs; and (b) provide, in areas where public library service is not available to all schools, supplementary materials after consultation with the office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.522

While hardly groundbreaking, the State Library had never before issued a statement expressly regarding extension. Most noteworthy was the commitment toward education of all Illinoisans, as well as the belief that communities should have more input into the needs of their local libraries. This was a clear change from past efforts criticized as dictatorial and haughty. Around the same time, a clearly written book-selection policy was created by the State Library. A new acquisitions policy, implemented and approved by the Advisory Committee in December 1960, was reported by Reid to have “enabled us to determine more exactly the type of collection needed in order to fulfill the library’s purpose as prescribed by law.”523

Allerton Park was also the site of a conference on Nov. 5-8, 1961, sponsored by the Graduate School of Library Science at the University of Illinois and the Library Services Branch of the U.S. Office of Education. Representatives of 38 state libraries, as well as Canada, Puerto Rico, and South Africa, attended the discussion. This was the first nationwide conference to evaluate the impact of the Library Services Act. Not surprisingly, the conference found the greatest gains of the Library Services Act had been in advancing state library agencies. In 1962, the discussions from the institute were recorded by the Graduate School in a paper entitled The Impact of the Library Services Act: Progress and Potential.524