American Library Association, Library War Service


When the United States entered World War I in 1917, the American Library Association established a Committee on Mobilization and War Service Plans, which was invited by the Department of War’s Commission on Training Camp Activities to provide library services to U.S. soldiers and sailors in the United States and overseas. ALA's wartime program became known as the Library War Service and was directed by Herbert Putnam, Librarian of Congress. Between 1917 and 1920, ALA mounted two financial campaigns and raised $5 million from public donations, erected 36 camp libraries with $320,000 in Carnegie Corporation funds, distributed approximately 7 million–10 million books and magazines, and provided library collections to more than 500 locations, including military hospitals. This poster shows the interiors and exteriors of facilities, as well as scenes of activities sponsored by the ALA Library War Service, at Camp Funston, Kansas; Walter Reed Hospital, Washington, D.C.; Camp Sheridan, Alabama; Camp Custer, Michigan; Camp Kearny, California; and other locations.

Last updated: November 14, 2017