For immediate release | May 10, 2013

Dr. Christine Pawley Receives 2013 Eliza Atkins Gleason Book Award

Chicago - The Gleason Book Award Committee of the American Library Association Library History Roundtable is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2013 Eliza Atkins Gleason Book Award is Christine Pawley for Reading Places: Literacy, Democracy, and the Public Library in Cold War America (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2010).

Presented every third year, the Gleason Award recognizes the best book written in English in the field of library history. First given in 2004, this award honors the professional contributions of Dr. Eliza Atkins Gleason, the first African American to receive a Ph.D. in Library Science (University of Chicago, 1940).

Christine Pawley retired in 2012 as Professor and Director of the School of Library and Information Studies and Director of the Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

A thoroughly researched investigation and analysis, Reading Places masterfully uses oral history to tell the story of a contested experimental regional library service in rural Wisconsin in the early 1950s. Dr. Pawley combines research in primary documents and library records, and use of contemporary periodicals and publications, with interviews that bring the topic to life in a most engaging way. The argument is conducted with awareness of a wide range of secondary literature as well. The book is written in a clear style that maintains high interest for the reader yet the analysis is scholarly in tone and intelligent in development.

A particular strength of Reading Places was the relationship of the events to wider historical, social, political and cultural trends. The light shed on American thinking during the Cold War, and on attitudes that later played into the “culture wars”, makes this a work that has something important to say to a much wider audience than one would expect, and in reference to far more issues in American history. Reading Places exemplifies the potential value of library history as a means of investigating significant broader themes and trends. We congratulate Dr. Pawley for her important contribution to the professional scholarship.

The Gleason Award Committee was impressed by the high quality of the eligible nominees and the wide range of topics. Submissions included histories of a variety of periods and places from the ancient world to the twentieth century, histories of urban and rural library development, and institutional histories, as well as historical accounts of libraries and reading practices. The Committee would like to congratulate all the scholars who are contributing such important works to the field, and we would also like to thank the individuals and publishers who brought many of these works to our attention.

2013 Gleason Book Award Committee:

Dr. Patti Clayton Becker, Professor and Coordinator of Reference, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Library (Committee Chair)

Dr. Renate Chancellor, Assistant Professor, Catholic University of America, School of Library and Information Science, Washington, DC

Dr. Steven Sowards, Associate Director for Collections, Michigan State University Libraries, East Lansing, MI


Norman Rose

Program Officer