Excerpt from A history of the American Library Association, 1876-1972, by Dennis Thomison (Chicago: ALA, 1978)
...The executive board of the association urged all types of libraries to help wherever possible with military training. To some people, this seemed to be premature, but it was certainly in keeping with the militaristic spirit that was engulfing the country. This spirit, and the steady drift towards war, alarmed a sizable minority of Americans. The dissident faction was formally represented in the library profession by a group calling itself the Progressive Librarians Council. The council aroused the ire of the executive board by sending a "peace telegram" to Roosevelt during the 1940 conference. The message began with the following statement: "Alarmed by the rapid drift of this country toward involvement in the European war, we librarians, assembled at the sixty-second annual conference of the American Library Association in Cincinnati, May 26 to June 1, respectfully urge you to keep this country at peace." The board was angry over the possibility people might interpret this statement as emanating from ALA, and it condemned the telegram as misleading. This in spite of the fact that the telegram had been signed "Progressive Librarians Council." The board then sent a telegram of its own to President Roosevelt. It was a rather curious message, which said the Progressive Librarians Council represented the opinion of a very small group and had no authority to speak for librarians on this or any other subject. The telegram further stated that, if the members of ALA were polled on the question, they would overwhelmingly reject the ideas reflected in the original peace telegram. This was a rather astonishing claim to make, since the membership had never been polled on the subject and had never given any collective indication of where it stood. The telegram was release for publication by the White House, although no such treatment had been given to the earlier telegram. Similarly, the text of the executive board's telegram was reprinted in ALA Bulletin. The text of the telegram from the Progressive Librarians Council was ignored. In a matter related to the "peace telegram," a minor controversy developed in the Junior Members Round Table between its officers and its membership. The round table, at its membership meeting during the Cincinnati conference, endorsed the peace message to Roosevelt. This official action was ordered deleted from the minutes of the meeting by the executive board of the round table. The reason given was that the resolution "was out of order inasmuch as it did not pertain to the affairs" of the round table. The chairman said the executive board was simply fulfilling its obligation to act when the entire group was not in session. Objecting members could raise the issue at the next meeting if they wished to pursue it. This was an arbitrary action on the part of the round table's leadership, and there seemed to be no adequate reason for it.
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