The first library card catalog was created at Harvard in 1840.
Caroline Hewins initiates the first story children's story hour at the Hartford (Conn.) Young Men's Institute, a private subscription association that was the predecessor to the Hartford Public Library.
Caroline Hewins also initiated one of the first children's collection. She was the librarian in Hartford for fifty years from 1875 until 1926.
Theresa West Elmendorf was elected the first woman ALA President: 19 years before women could vote in American elections.
The first ALA round table met to encourage library patron diversity, " ALA's Work with Negroes Round Table". The round table was began to examine the state of equitable access to library materials for African-Americans. The round table continued for two years before being disbanded. Tensions flared between librarians in the north and the south causing the ALA to suspend the round table.
Thomas Fountain Blue was the first African-American to head a public library system. In 1921, he became the first African-American to speak at an ALA program.
"The Reverend Thomas F. Blue, the nation’s first African-American to head a public library, was a respected leader in the civic, religious, and educational life of the Louisville black community.
Children's Day/Book Day, also known as El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Día), is a celebration of children, families, and reading and held annually on April 30. The celebration emphasizes the importance of advocating literacy for every child regardless of linguistic and cultural background. Through several grants from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) continues to increase public awareness of the event in libraries throughout the country.
In 1998 the ALA Council voted commitment to five Key Action Areas as guiding principles for directing the Association’s energies and resources: Diversity, Equity of Access, Education and Continuous Learning, Intellectual Freedom, and 21st Century Literacy.
Working with people of all races and sexes has been a goal since early in ALA history. Thirteen of the original members present at the founding of ALA were women.
1956 saw the first integrated annual conference in Miami Beach after years of avoiding the South as a meeting place due to racial segregation.
In 1976, ALA saw its first African-American president. Clara Stanton Jones was elected president that year.
"Jones’s 26-year career at DPL [Detroit Public Library] culminated in a promotion to the directorship in 1970, where she served until her retirement in 1978. A renowned mentor to young professionals, Jones was ALA’s first African-American president, serving from 1976 to 1977.