International Association
of School Librarianship

 Introduction (by Jean E. Lowrie)

This little booklet, the brain child of Helen White, contains some of the memories of the people who twenty five years or so ago were influential in helping IASL "get off the ground". Some of these people were in attendance at Sydney, Kingston, Jamaica, or London; others were charter members by mail but they all were supportive. All of them are still loyal members.

In addition to the personal anecdotes are a few bits of memorabilia. Valerie Fea, The School Library Association (UK) found the article on the London conference in the SLA archives. Mr. Oven, the reporter, passed away this past year. As you can see SLA has been a long time friend of IASL.

The little invitation was given me this year by Amy Robertson (IASL President 1977-1983). It speaks as do some of the other pieces of Bernice Wiese' special contribution -- as our first Newsletter editor and my "right-hand helper" at all of the conferences from 1971 till her death in 1977. Bernice's interest and enthusiasm were immeasurable.

Of course we had to include a bit from our "godmother" Margot Nilson who was involved in the concept ten years beforehand. We regret she could not be with us in person but I know she is thinking of us.

There are so many reminiscences that could be related here:

  • The wonderful tea in Sydney which World Book/Childcraft provided along with an exhibit of original art for the new edition of Childcraft;
  • John Thompson of WCOTP memory who installed us, gave a helping hand with association conferences (logistic and program) and promoted our first statement on the role of the school library;
  • Post and pre conference tours in Hawaii, Iceland, Nova Scotia, Africa and Japan to name a few and certainly LucilleJohn and Shirley Wright and I will never forget our plane trip to Angel Falls in Venezuela when the engine stopped -- momentarily -- in the canyon!
  • Song fests and sharing of national folksongs, especially with June Johnson's wonderful accordion accompaniments;
  • The excitement when the vote was taken in Sydney to create an international association; we were going to stand on our own two feet;
  • Buffet meals at Middlefart in Denmark and Fleming's deep voice saying "Cooke and Cooke again";
  • Frantic telephone calls when we found we could not meet in Nigeria and Worcester came through with a wonderful conference;
  • Malaysia's elegant opening ceremony and beautiful dancing at the banquet;
  • The "going, going gone" from Auctioneer Brown as more money poured into the Leadership Development Fund.

I could go on and on and our sharing would produce one event or story -- humorous or otherwise -- after another. Suffice it to say that these 25 years have created lasting friendships on a global basis; have stimulated professional/educational experiences of great richness; have, I trust, promoted the role, indeed the necessity for library/media experiences for all children and youth around the world. And so as IASL changes to meet the demands and needs of the 21st Century, I would wish for another 25 years of growth with a continuation of its high goals and objectives and enriching personal relationships.

 Margot Nilson -- Sweden

Helen White sent me a letter already in September asking me to send some memories from IASL. She especially mentioned Sydney and Jamaica, but as you know I was not at any of these conferences. I have tried to find something of what went on our way to the birthday in Jamaica. I remember I sent you the letter, that told me, the WCOTP board, at their last meeting in Stockholm in 1962 (Gerard says "the end of 1960's) had discussed my suggestion to Sir Ronald and Dr. Carr at our farewell dinner the night before, that there should be a school library working group in our confederation the way they had started an Audiovisual Group (thinking books were even more important). The letter told me, that the board had decided to take up the suggestion and work on it. So that letter is the very first document in the history of IASL.

It took a long time to get it working though. And I came to wonder what was going on. I had met Bernice Wiese in her home and work in 1959 and after that I got long letters from her at least once a year. In January 1963 she wrote, that she had met Caroline Whitepack and they should meet again when she should know more about the Stockholm meeting. Caroline was in Stockholm and we found we had the same interests, so she was the first link between Stockholm and the USA. Did you meet her at that time? I have got through my collection of letters from 1962-1966. It is hard work to get them down from the top shelf, where they are behind lots of other things. But quite fun to read them again.

Reading Bernice's letters I can understand how much it should mean to IASL that she became involved. Her contacts all round the world got immensely big. In 1963 she was asked to go to a girls school in Uganda to put up a library there. She must say no that time. But already she was told to ask for a Fulbright Award to go to Malaysia. The letter January 1964 came from Malaysia and was full of enthusiasm and details from her work there. December 1965 she is back in Baltimore and filled with all she had seen, all the people she had met, while she spent her 14 months in East Asia in order to work for using the school library "for educational enrichment". I like that word. In November 1967 she retired from her job in Baltimore and a new Fulbright Award took her to Singapore Teachers' Training College. So when IASL needed her help she must have been full of knowledge and with friends all over the Asian parts of the world. Just what we needed for our newsletter when that started. After you I think Berniece meant most to our young association.

When did you and me have the first contact? I am sorry not to find a letter from you until January 1968. And I do think it means 1968, for you mention my book, and that was not printed until the Spring 1968. I can also hear you at work planning a meeting in Abidjan, which means many difficulties. We may have to give it up and look forward to Sydney. There may be more material on my top shelf, for at that time we had our fine meeting in Dublin and, as I feel it, had become close friends. And let me tell you, your friendship has meant extremely much for me during these many years. And I hope you know how much I admire your knowledge your capacity for heavy and continuous work. You too have had many friends, your students many of them who are at work in our schools and who made it possible for you to arrange conferences and also keep everything going all round the world.

 Dorothea Diewald -- Germany

I was neither present in Sydney nor in Jamaica. In my biography I mentioned that I went by bus to Belgium, then to London to participate in the meeting of the IASL. At that time I was librarian at the Frankfurt Intern School in Oberursel, a few miles outside of Frankfurt -- 1972 --

In 1982 I participated in the IASL Conference in Red Deer, Alberta. I was honored for a 10-year membership.

In Jean Lowrie's article "International Association of School Librarians Becomes a Reality at Jamaica" she mentioned: "We invite interested people to become charter members of IASL...". Based upon this notice I became a charter member because I joined the Association and was able to take part in the IASL Conference in London in 1972. "House of Parliament, Imperial Hotel, British Museum. Had been on a bus tour from Frankfurt via Brugge, Belgium to London. While the rest of the travel group toured London and environment, I stayed at the Imperial Hotel where other IASL members stayed. I went to various meetings and other activities. One evening the get-together was organized by the Australian group. We had a lot of fun learning their songs, and humorous sketches."

In my biography, Always on the Move, the listing of the trips taken I wrote the following:

  • 1972 -- By bus to Belgium, thence to London, England: participated in the first meeting of the International Association of School Libraries (IASL).
  • 1975 -- IASL Conference. West Berlin. Went with a study group of 10 persons from different parts of the world to Hanover, Bremen and Hamburg to visit school libraries.
  • 1976 -- Flew to the US for 20th Anniversary. Went to Annapolis Junction, Maryland for the IASL Conference.
  • 1977 -- Took my mother around Bavaria. Also flew to the IASL Conference in Berlin.
  • 1979 -- Went by train to Middlefart, Denmark for the IASL conference. Post-conference tour to Copenhagen.
  • 1982 -- June 26, flew via Toronto to Detroit, thence to Duluth, Minnesota, and on to Edmonton, Alberta, and Red Deer where the IASL Conference took place (was honored for 10 year membership); post-conference study tour via the old David Thompson Trail to Icefield Highway, Lake Louise, Banff and Calgary. Flew home from there.
  • 1983 -- IASL Conference in Bad Segeberg in Northern Germany; post-conference study tour to Hamburg, Braunschweig, Halger and Frankfurt.
  • 1986 -- July and August: IASL Conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia, post-conference study tour through Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island; (Highlight for me: Bay of Fundy -- tide rises 60 feet.)

I wish you and all the participants a most joyous and happy reunion. I would like to have participated, but I have to slow down, and the trip to Jamaica would be too strenuous. I will be with you in all of my thoughts.

I wish you and all other participants that the 25th Anniversary of IASL in Jamaica will be a great success. All are to be congratulated who have helped to further the Association and celebrate its 25th Anniversary.

 Patricia F. Beilke -- USA

Salute to IASL and its quarter century of growth.

It was at an American Library Association conference in San Francisco that Dr. Jean E. Lowrie invited me to become a charter member of the International Association of School Librarians. Little did I know at the time the adventures this acceptance would bring to me professionally and personally!

Dr. Lowrie's leadership nationally and internationally concerning all types of library service, as well as in library education, had been widely recognized in the field of school librarianship. It was the mention of her international leadership to another dean which led to an invitation for me to become one of the international consultants to the Pahlavi National Library in Iran. At the same time my professional interests in statistics and standards within what is now known as the Library Administration and Management Association of the American Library Association, and the opportunities to act within that unit in an advisory capacity concerning library statistics to officials in the National Center of Educational Statistics in the federal government, led to an invitation by Dr. Frank Schick to participate in a preconference of the International Federation of Library Association and Institutions (IFLA) in Washington, D.C.

Arrangements were made to attend the IFLA conference as well as the preconference. Not in my wildest dreams would I have envisioned myself dining with librarians around the world in the famous reading room of the Library or Congress or attending a reception of the U.S. State Department, but there I was! Although the social activities of IFLA were interesting, the professional discussions were exceedingly stimulating and covered topics of concern to libraries of all kinds throughout the world. Additional association with these international colleagues was something to which I might aspire.

As it turned out, the International Association of School Librarians became affiliated with IFLA and I was privileged to serve as the IASL representative to the IFLA Standing Committee on Statistics and Standards for eight years and subsequently to the IFLA Standing Committee for Education and Training for an additional eight years. In addition, I served IASL as first chair of the Research Committee of IASL. Discussion with library colleagues from Canada and Australia led to the development of the first mission statement of the committee. Part of the work with IASL and IFLA led to the collaboration with co-author Frances LaVerne Carroll in writing Guidelines for the Planning and Organization of School Library Media Centers which was published in 1978 by UNESCO and reissued in a revised edition in 1982.

In addition to giving speeches in Australia and the Philippines, opportunities occurred to contribute to the planning of an international seminar with officials of the Organization of American States sponsored by a grant from IFLA. The seminar took place December 3-8, 1978 in Costa Rica. The presentations resulted in a publication in English: Hannesdottir, Sigrun Klara ed. and trans. Education of School Librarians: Some Alternatives.

In my estimation the paper presented by Elisa Lucarelli, Especialista de ICASE, La Facultad de Humanidades, Universidad de Panama, Panama, entitled "Education of the Teacher in the Use of School Library for the Development of the Curriculum" remains one of the most outstanding expressions of what the roles of both teachers and school librarians should be concerning the uses of school libraries in the education of students throughout the world. Lucarelli says, "The traditional teacher is in fact a product of a teacher's college or another teacher training institution equally traditional. Changes in the teaching methods in our countries imply that improvements have to come through education and training on the job." (p.36)

IASL has progressed, flourished and grown with the persistent and cooperative efforts and leadership of many members plus the outstanding guidance and coordination of the Executive Secretary, Dr. Jean E. Lowrie. It is with great delight I salute the International Association of School Librarians, an important organization which has been a great influence on my own professional growth.

Footnote: Papers Presented at the Seminar for the Education of School Librarians for Central America and Panama at San Jose, Costa Rica. IFLA Publications 22. Munchen: K.G. Saur, 1982.

 Ruth Waldrop -- USA

At the time IASL was founded there were two driving forces for the organization. One was the increase of school library programs within school systems. The other was the concern of educators that media be available to all students.

The time had come for those in leadership roles, the United States and the Scandinavian Countries, to develop an organization for school librarians compatible to other specialized areas of education. With the leadership of Dr. Jean E. Lowrie (USA) and Margot Nilson (Sweden), the International Association of School Librarians was off to a good start.

The programs, from the beginning and through the years, have been both informational and inspirational. To those who had some experience with school library development the joy of sharing was very rewarding. Our lives were broadened by finding out there were so many ways of bringing children and books together.

The hands of friendship developed through common concerns have made for lasting friendships. I consider the people I've known and the librarians contributed with IASL to have made a rich contribution to my professional and personal life.

 Joyce Fardell -- Australia

I am very aware that what I have to say about the initial activities of IASL is more or less trivia. Since my retirement seventeen years ago, I have done very little professional work -- in the early years some book reviewing for the Children's Book Council. Any papers I brought home with me are not functioning, are somewhere in storage. My colleague, Phil Brownlee, the Inspector supervising secondary school libraries helped me considerably, but he died some years ago. I explain all this, not to give excuses, but to help you understand why, in relying on my memory, it is the trivial which remains.

I know the World Confederation of the Teaching Profession (which we flippantly christened "Wocke the Pooh", which Phil's Wockette soon thought was a place) was meeting in Sydney and from this came the impetus to organize a gathering of teacher librarians. I remember two problems we faced -- where to hold the group discussion sessions on a Saturday afternoon in a place that was central and did not cost money and where could we have a social function that would not be too expensive.

Phil Brownlee solved the first problem by getting approval to use rooms (director's and inspector's offices) in the Department of Education building in Bridge Street. These rooms were not ideal, seating had to be improvised but the building was central and close to the Wentworth Hotel, where think we met in the morning or was it for lunch with Dr. Lowrie.

The social function was solved when I approached the Secretary of the Teachers Club, where I was a member. He understood what was needed and if my memory serves me correctly, we had a function, which, while not lavish was very pleasant. I remember I enjoyed myself!

 Mary Sones -- Canada

Dear Helen:

Thank you for your letter about the 25th Anniversary of IASL. I must apologise for not replying to your first letter but didn't feel I had anything to offer.

It is true, I was a member of IASL from the beginning but did not attend either of the Conferences in Sydney or Jamaica. The only meetings I attended were part of the London event in 1972 and the one in Red Deer, Alberta some years later. Although I enjoyed those experiences I don't have any particular recollection that would be helpful to you.

I am now retired and although I thoroughly enjoyed my years as a school librarian am now moving on to other interests.

I do wish you well and hope the 25th Anniversary celebrations are a great time for all.

 Blanche Woolls -- USA

My membership in IASL began at the beginning. The announcement of the new organization reached my eyes as I was departing for Bloomington, Indiana to begin doctoral studies. The membership fee was reasonable, since I was leaving a district administrator's salary behind and embarking on student salaries for student assignments for the next three years.

Because of my doctoral studies and my other professional association obligations, attending an IASL conference was impossible until 1976 when I drove to Baltimore. The first person I saw was Ken Vance, University of Michigan, who was getting a cup of tea. I met many new persons as well as seeing others I knew. My next conference was Kalamazoo when I carried along a box of books from a publisher to sell. During these years my professional activities continued in ALA and its divisions and in IFLA. By the time Everett was scheduled, Lucille Thomas had asked me to combine my interest in IFLA and my interest in IASL and become the liaison. I readily agreed, and so this charter member has slowly increased activity in the association, enjoying it more and more each year. It was a high point to have IASL in Pittsburgh and to have members see my city, my university, and, for many, my home. I look forward to the future meetings with IASL.

 Valerie Downes -- Japan

I was not a founder of IASL. I was a little school librarian in California when I saw the ad for members for this new association, IASL. I was interested in international life so joined immediately. I didn't attend a conference for many years because I was very active in ALA and couldn't do both. Only when I became less active in AASL/ALA could I become more active in IASL.

So dear Helen, I have no stories to tell! I probably will not be in Jamaica, or New York. I am making application to several schools for new job and may be home briefly in February to interview.

 Roberta B. Kauskey -- USA

The founding of IASL was a momentous event. We knew that what the organization would accomplish would benefit school children around the world. Discussions went on at all hours and the enthusiasm was boundless. Never before had I been part of a group so involved with a common concern and it is more gratifying to contemplate the success of the organization.

In addition to organizational concerns, I did manage to visit two schools in the area and speak with students and staff members.

I am proud to have served as a charter member.

 John G. Wright -- Canada

Twenty-five years ago !

1971 found me at Columbia University pursuing a doctoral degree (which I never did complete!) and writing a historical overview of school librarianship in the United States and Canada. This research whetted my interest in what had gone on in other countries elsewhere, so when I saw the announcement of the first meeting of an international association in Jamaica, I felt it would be important to find out what I could at first hand. Although the Columbia School was willing to give me credit for my attending (provided I wrote a paper on what I had learned!), I decided I wanted a free hand just to explore. After all, Jamaica was my first visit to a country other than the United States, although Jamaica's membership in the Commonwealth of Nations made me feel more connected than I had felt living in the United States.

And I met some fascinating people who enlarged my vision of what school librarianship could mean as a profession: Jean Lowrie who welcomed me warmly and who made sure I was involved in Conference activities -- and who eventually persuaded me to join the IASL as an Executive Member in 1978. Ten consecutive annual conferences later, beginning with Denmark in 1979 and ending with Kalamazoo in 1988, I truly kept involved. Jean is a determined lady, and it took her kind of strength to keep the struggling association moving ahead.

And I also have clear memories of Bernice Wiese, the first editor of the Newsletter, and John Rowell, both Americans; and of Joyce Robinson and Amy Robertson, both Jamaicans; and, of course, Margaret Scott, a fellow Canadian who did much for the development of school librarianship in Canada and who so freely shared her energy and imagination with the international community. It was my first experience with the Jamaican electrical system, a somewhat uncertain service, sleeping policeman, equatorial nightfall, pumpkin soup, fish tea, coconut lemonade, and Blue Mountain Coffee. And it was my pleasure to meet and to listen to John Thompson from the World Conference of the Organizations of the Teaching Profession who introduced me to another important dimension of teaching and librarianship as integrally connected professions. After all, WCOTP was the founding sponsor of IASL.

But there were fascinating experiences in each and every conference, including one in 1982 in Canada at Red Deer (which Amy Robertson continually translates as Red Dog!), where the mosquitoes were big and fierce, running a close race with the wasps in Germany the following year. Even though I am a Canadian and an Alberta, I still cannot erase from my mind the view of all those young steers wearing plastic horns dubbed as "falsies" at the demonstration rodeo just outside of Red Deer!

The IASL not only added immeasurably to my understanding of the profession of librarianship, but it also made me feel very much a part of a world-wide community, a kind of community still so necessary to the building of international understanding and cooperation in today's world.

 Margaret Norton -- USA

I was not in attendance at the 1970 or 1971 organizational meeting of IASL, but as a recent graduate of Western Michigan University's School of Librarianship, I learned of the foundation of this international organization. Dr. Jean E. Lowrie, my very dear and helpful counselor during my graduate studies gave us information. A very good friend, Alice Wagner Hostetter of Millersville, Pennsylvania was doing graduate work at Michigan State University at the time and we both became Charter Members.

It has been very interesting to be part of a world-wide organization and to read of the educational process especially as it involves libraries. I have never attended a meeting, but I almost made it in 1992 at Queens University. Our daughter, who lives near Belfast, chose that time to present us with a beautiful grandson! Perhaps some day I'll make it!.

We wish you the very best as you plan for this special event and send greetings to all those fine educators who work so faithfully to expand horizons and open minds of (young) people all over the globe.

 Mildred Winslow -- USA

1970-1995! Twenty-five years since the "birth" of IASL. It all began with a thrilling "around the world" tour, made up of librarians and interested people. After having traveled half way around the world, and experiencing numerous thrills and excitement, we arrived at Sydney, Australia, our ultimate goal.

August 3, 1970 was a crisp, 40 winter morning in Sydney. It was a real pleasure after having been in the heat of India and the muggy atmosphere of Manilla, where we "touched down" en route to Sydney.

The thrill of being in this new environment with its interesting plants, animals, and hospitable people, carried over to the preliminary session of WCOTP on August 4 at the Sydney Town Hall. It soon became evident the same problems existed internationally among librarians that were experienced in the United States, but even on a greater scale. School libraries throughout the world, needed help from a more structured sponsor that focused on libraries specifically; WCOTP's goals were too general to zero in on one problem.

Therefore, Jean Lowrie, with her rich background and experience and leadership in the school library field, assumed the responsibility of trying to do something about it. On August 8th, the meetings focused on school libraries; Jean chaired the meeting, at which five papers were presented -- from Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Samoa, and Malaysia. These presentations emphasized the need for librarians to "band together" internationally. Thus, at this meeting, IASL began. Twenty librarians signed a document which became the nucleus for the present IASL organization.

Jean assumed the leadership role and the success of the organization, after twenty-five years, speaks well for the vision she had and her ability to carry it out.

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