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Books in the War: The Romance of Library War Service

Book Patrol has a post up about the tremendous effort put forth during WWI by the American Library Association to collect books and send them to soldiers overseas.

They congregated outside the New York Public Library in 1918, urging citizens to do their part for the war effort and donate books to the cause, to be shipped to the enlisted Americans on the front.

A woman atop a mountain of books outside the New York Public Library

There is a book about the war-time struggle for books and reading materials, called Books in the War: The Romance of Library War Service by Theodore W. Koch. Koch was the Assistant Librarian at the University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library from 1904 to 1915, when he took a trip to England to discuss reading restrictions from enemy countries with the censors there. Upon his return he made a report of his findings to the Librarian of Congress, including his observations of how British citizens banded together to send books to their troops at war. Thus the seed of the idea and necessity was planted, and the Americans emulated the British.

Koch’s Book

The effort spread to print as well, and resulted in many leaflets, banners and poster propaganda urging civilians to participate.

Another poster highlighting the troops’ need for books – this one from WWII

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