ALA names three honorary members

Contact: Elizabeth Dreazen


For Immediate Release

February 10, 2003

ALA names three honorary members

Barbara Gittings, Samuel F. Morrison and Lucille Cole Thomas were elected to honorary membership in the American Library Association (ALA) in action taken by the ALA Council at the ALA 2003 Midwinter Meeting, held January 24-29 in Philadelphia. Honorary membership, ALA's highest honor, is conferred in recognition of outstanding contributions of lasting importance to libraries and librarianship.

Barbara Gittings was nominated "for her lifelong commitment to developing positive images of gays and lesbians in the literature and on library shelves and to ensuring equal access to information for all people." As the principal force behind the growth of the ALA Gay Task Force (now the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Round Table), Gittings developed programs to highlight the availability of gay materials for use in libraries. In 1971, she helped to establish the Gay Book Award, leading to new critical evaluation for gay and lesbian fiction and non-fiction. She initiated the development of lists, directories and policy guides that, for many years, were the only models available to support the work of gay library workers and clients.

Gittings has been an activist since 1958, when she established the first East Coast chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB), the first-known lesbian organization in the United States. In 1970, she learned of the formation of the ALA Task Force on Gay Liberation and immediately became involved with its activities, serving as the group's coordinator from 1971-1986. Gittings is a past member of the Endowment Committee for the Hormel Center Gay and Lesbian Library at the San Francisco Public Library. She is a member of numerous gay and lesbian and human rights organizations and is a frequent speaker and workshop presenter. Gittings' pioneering efforts regarding gay and lesbian librarianship and intellectual freedom have been featured in several books, including "Daring to Find Our Names," edited by James Carmichael, Jr. (Greenwood Press, 1998) and "Before Stonewall," edited by Vern Bullough (Haworth Press, 2002); and documentary films, including "Before Stonewall," its sequel "After Stonewall," "Out of the Past," and WHYY/PBS' "Gay Pioneers."

Gittings' accomplishments have been recognized through the creation of ALA's Stonewall-Barbara Gittings Book Award For Literature and through the dedication in 2001 of the Barbara Gittings Gay/Lesbian Collection of circulating materials at the Free Library of Philadelphia's Independence Branch.

Samuel F. Morrison, director of the Broward County (Fla.) Library System, was nominated "for his long and distinguished career in librarianship, his tireless and unflagging promotion of library services, his vision in establishing landmark partnerships between libraries and other community organizations, and his commitment to developing the next generation of librarians as a mentor and supporter of library education."

In addition to almost 30 years of service at the Broward County Library, one of the nation's largest public library systems, Morrison served three years (1987-1990) as deputy commissioner and chief librarian of the Chicago Public Library. During his tenure there, he oversaw the design and construction of the award-winning Harold Washington Library Center.

Under his leadership, Broward County Library was recognized as
Library Journal's Library Of The Year in 1996. Morrison was instrumental in the establishment of Broward County Library's new African-American Research Library and Cultural Center in Fort Lauderdale, which opened in 2002. He also is recognized for initiating innovative partnerships to create joint-use facilities with area colleges, universities and schools. In 1992, Morrison was the architect of a pioneering project of the Southeast Florida Library Information Network (SEFLIN) that brought Internet access to area libraries and home computer users.

An ALA member for 31 years, Morrison has held numerous leadership positions in the association. He is a past president of the Florida Library Association and an active member of the Southeastern Library Association, the Broward County Library Association, the Urban Libraries Council and the National Forum for Black Public Administrators.

In 1997, Morrison was awarded the DEMCO/ALA Black Caucus Award For Excellence in Librarianship, presented to a librarian who has made significant contributions to promoting the status of African Americans in the library profession. He also is the recipient of many other honors and awards, including the University Of Illinois Library School Distinguished Alumni Award, the NAACP President's Award and the Urban League Diversity Champion Award.

Lucille Cole Thomas, former assistant director of the New York City Board of Education, Office of Library, Media & Telecommunications, was nominated "for her notable contributions to the profession as a librarian, educator and library trustee, her leadership role at the local, state, national and international levels, and her unstinting contributions to the education of children and young adults."

Beginning her career as a librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library, Thomas went on to serve with the New York City Board Of Education as librarian (1956-1968), supervisor of library services (1968-1977), and as assistant director of the office of library, media and telecommunications (1977-1983). In 1993, the Mayor of New York City appointed her to the Board of Trustees of the Brooklyn Public Library, where she now serves as vice president.

A member of ALA since 1957, Thomas served on ALA Council for 22 years, on the ALA Executive Board from 1985-1991, and has held numerous other positions of leadership in ALA and its divisions. She also is a past member of the Board of Directors of the Black Caucus of ALA (BCALA).

Thomas is a past president of the New York Library Association (NYLA) and the New York City School Librarians Association. An active member of the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), she served as president of the International Association of School Librarianship (1989-1995), has been a delegate to conferences in Thailand, Singapore and Australia and was one of five educators from the United States to participate in the 1982 French Ministry Cultural Exchange Program. In recognition of her significant contributions to international librarianship, she was awarded the John Ames Humphrey/OCLC/Forest Press Award in 1995.

Thomas is the recipient of many honors and awards, including the Silver Award (1996) presented by the U.S. National Commission On Libraries And Information Science for noteworthy and sustained contributions to libraries at the national, state and local levels, and the Grolier Foundation Award (1988) presented for unusual contribution to the stimulation and guidance of reading by children and young people.

The honorees will receive Honorary Membership plaques in June 2003 during the Opening General Session of the American Library Association Annual Conference in Toronto.