Addressing the Changes in Librarianship

A view of the entrance to the State Library reading room, which was named in honor of longtime Illinois State Library Advisory Committee member P.L. Windsor in 1966.

A view of the entrance to the State Library reading room, which was named in honor of longtime Illinois State Library Advisory Committee member P.L. Windsor in 1966.

The library was not the only body whose role was changing. In 1965, the Illinois State Library Advisory Committee was reconstituted and given new meaning. Now, the committee was charged with the selection and implementation of plans for federal funding. The Advisory Committee also received similar responsibilities under the Illinois State Plan. The revamped committee met for the first time in April 1967. Many of its duties had formerly been carried out by the ILA’s Selection Committee. Assistant State Librarian de Lafayette Reid also received the new title of Deputy State Librarian in 1965.603

Secretary of State Paul Powell speaks at the dedication of the P.L. Windsor Room in 1966. Note the paintings of key Illinois historical events adorning the walls.

Secretary of State Paul Powell speaks at the dedication of the P.L. Windsor Room in 1966. Note the paintings of key Illinois historical events adorning the walls.

Likewise, the reading and reference room of the library also received a new name. On Jan. 21, 1966, the library hosted a ceremony to name the room in honor of Dr. Phineas L. Windsor, who for decades had been a leader in Illinois librarianship. Windsor had served as director of the University of Illinois Library and Library School from 1909 to 1941 and was one of the original members and first chairman of the Illinois State Library Advisory Committee. He served on the committee until 1961, including as chair until 1942 and again from 1948 to 1958. Windsor, who died in September 1965 at age 94, is credited with helping the University of Illinois become a national leader in library science and helping guide the State Library through some of its most tumultuous times.604

The Library Systems Act was indicative of the growing legislative interest in libraries. In 1968, Secretary Powell reported that 38 library bills were presented to the General Assembly, which passed 31 of them. Most votes were bipartisan in nature. On July 19, 1966, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed an updated version of the Library Services and Construction Act, which was amended with cooperative networks in mind. Provisions were added to encourage the formation and growth of these networks to coordinate resources and improve service. This directive for cooperation was an important component of the new Title III of the act. Other provisions included the establishment of service in state institutions and creation of library services for the physically disabled and visually impaired. Emphasis on patrons with special needs was becoming an increasing focus, not only in Illinois but across the nation. In March 1969, two “subregional” libraries for the blind and physically disabled were formed in the Bur Oak and Shawnee Library Systems.605

In addition to the Library Services and Construction Act, several key federal bills of the time also directly affected libraries. One was the Higher Education Facilities Act of 1963, enabling grants and loans for construction at public and private colleges and universities, technical institutes, and graduate centers. Library construction received high priority under this bill. In 1965, Congress passed the landmark Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which appropriated $1.3 billion in federal money for American schools, including $100 million for school library resources. Illinois received over $54.5 million under the act, including $5.4 million for school libraries to purchase or lease materials. Other provisions of the act allowed grants for projects geared toward low-income children, including supplementary instructional tools, mobile libraries, remedial programs, after-school study programs, and the costs of staffing and equipment for such programs. Other bills of that time included the National Defense Education Act, which benefitted libraries with allowances for printed and audiovisual  materials. The Vocational Educational Act of 1963 established technical education and included monies to pay for librarian salaries, materials, and construction. Even the Civil Rights Act greatly influenced libraries in prohibiting discriminatory practices in the hiring of library staff and providing services to the public.606

The development of library systems led to several key changes at the State Library. With the systems responsible for regional needs, regional library branches were no longer needed. Most activities of the Southern Illinois Regional Library, a model of success for the State Library, were transferred to the Shawnee Library System, and the Western Illinois Regional Library and Western Illinois Film Cooperative were absorbed into the Western Illinois Library System. Services at the Northern Illinois Regional Library were discontinued by June 30, 1967. However, some of the early regional cooperatives continued in addition to the systems.607

The Interstate Library Compact began its first program in January 1965 as the Keokuk Interstate Cooperative Project, later known as the Keosippi Interstate Library System. The southeastern Iowa city of Keokuk was selected as headquarters for a project involving four Iowa and two Illinois counties within a 40- to 50-mile radius. Iowa and Illinois distributed equal amounts of federal funds, while Illinois supplied a State Library bookmobile and Iowa provided a consultant. With the advent of regional systems, financial responsibility shifted from the state to the systems level. The Great River Library System used system funds to contract for services with the Keosippi project and to continue membership in the Mississippi Valley Film Cooperative. The Keosippi project was phased out in 1974. In addition to Keosippi, another 1965 project to receive federal funds was the World’s Fair Traveling Book Exhibit, with a bookmobile holding a replica of the New York World’s Fair Book Exhibit, as a “demonstration of a well-rounded book collection.”608

Recruitment of prospective librarians was also emphasized during this period, as a nationwide shortage of librarians continued to affect Illinois. In January 1965, the State Library, by request of the ILA, created the Library Careers Center at the University of Illinois-Chicago campus. A second careers center was subsequently established at the University of Illinois campus in Urbana. The Illinois State Library Advisory Committee approved the sum of $30,780 to administer the centers during the fiscal year 1966. Both centers offered current information on all kinds of library work, training, scholarships, internships, and library schools. The centers were intended to promote the profession “so accurately and dynamically to potential librarians of all ages that [the State Library] will not only see an increase in the numbers of students who choose this career but in the quality of the individual candidate.”609

Prospective library science students in Illinois colleges were approached through their campus librarians, faculty, and counselors. Amid great publicity efforts, library career consultants visited campuses. Their visits often lasted two days. High school students were also approached about considering potential library careers. Directors of four of the graduate library schools in Illinois were solicited for their input, to ensure that the careers program was well informed and up to date. Close contact was maintained with such groups as the Illinois Federation of Women’s Clubs, long an endorser of the library movement, as well as the American Association of University Women, the Association of Women Deans and Counselors, the Student Librarians Association, and Parent Teachers Association. Consultants also maintained close contact with such agencies as the American Library Association and the Illinois Library Association of School Librarians.610

In addition to face-to-face contact, a Library Careers Caravan traveled the state. This 12-ton vehicle offered prospective students the opportunity to meet with consultants and view exhibits that promoted librarianship as a career. The caravan began operation in 1967, with over 2,000 young people touring the caravan during its first year. Exhibits were also placed at fairs and library conferences to raise awareness of the careers centers and to attract potential librarians. Public, school, and college libraries could order free recruiting materials and displays that could be placed on countertops. In all, the Library Careers Center distributed around 100,000 brochures each year.611

Through the recruitment programs, the State Library projected a positive image as a cooperating agency. Relations with many groups were strengthened, and its perception as a leader in Illinois librarianship was reaffirmed. In 1970, those recruitment efforts earned the library the prestigious Halsey W. Wilson Recruitment Award from the American Library Association. The recruitment program’s scope, as well as its use of scholarship programs, media, and graphic arts to promote library careers received commendation with the award. The prize came with a $1,000 stipend that the State Library and the ILA used for a campaign to promote library careers among the African-American community of Chicago.612

In January 1970, the Urbana careers office closed, and that August the career consultant in Chicago moved to Springfield. There, the consultant worked with a selective recruitment program in relation to the Library Development group. However, a Chicago Library Careers Center was still maintained at the old Chicago location, with a professional librarian acting as a library career consultant. The recruitment program as a federally funded project ended in 1972, and the Chicago office closed the following year. In its seven years, the careers program had served its purpose very well, enticing many to embark on library careers while positively promoting the image of the State Library.613