The books found in our American County Histories collections are a wonderful source of information about local issues prior to the 1920s. This story — How Yakima Helped Distribute Books to Soldiers and Sailors was prepared by librarian Miss Eleanor S. Stephens for The Honor Roll 1917–1918–1919 in the Washington (State) collection.
How Yakima Helped Distribute Books to Soldiers and Sailors
As early as June, 1917, the American Library Association decided, at its annual meeting at Louisville, Kentucky, to take an active part in supplying reading matter to soldiers and sailors. In August, 1917, the Association received the official request from the Secretary of War asking that the A. L. A. undertake the work in cooperation with the Fosdick Commission. The A. L. A. then began to collect books and magazines throughout the nation with the assistance of the Public Libraries. Portland was the first distributing center for the Northwest and in the summer of 1917, some 200 books and magazines were collected by the Yakima Public Library and forwarded to Portland for distribution.
Although there were many gifts of fine books, the volumes donated were largely fiction. The workers realized that they needed funds with which to purchase specialized technical books, and the work had grown so that buildings for the Camp libraries and money to pay salaries of the librarians were wanted. The A. L. A. decided that it would institute a nation-wide campaign for one million dollars, which money would be used to carry on the work they planned. If every community in which there was a public library would raise five cents per capita the fund was certain to be raised in full. To this end the Library Board of the Yakima Public Library asked the following persons to serve as leaders in the local campaign: Wilbur Crocker, W. S. Bronson, F. F. W. Jackson, James Leslie, Mrs. C. E. Keeler, Miss Anna Whitney, Mrs. F. J. Mynard, W. L. Steinweg and Charles Lombard, with Robert Rundstrom as campaign manager and Eleanor Stephens as publicity manager. Through the efforts of these workers 781 people donated $900 toward the $1,500,000 that was raised October, 1917, for war library work.