ALSC oral histories celebrate the past

Contact: Laura Schulte-Cooper

ALSC Program Officer


For Immediate Release

July 7, 2009

The first two transcriptions of oral history interviews with movers and shakers from the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association, will go live on the ALSC Web site immediately after the ALA Annual Conference on Wednesday, July 15. The interviews with Dr. Margaret Kimmel and Dr. Ruth Gordon will be available to ALSC members on the members-only side of the ALSC Web site at Click on “About ALSC/History of ALSC” in the left-hand navigation menu. Researchers who need access to specific transcripts may contact the ALSC office to find out how they may gain access to this historical information.

Known to her friends as Maggie, Dr. Kimmel was ALSC president in 1980-81. She is professor emeritus in the Library and Information Science Program at the School of Information Sciences, University of Pittsburgh. Upon hearing that her oral history was one of the first to be unveiled, Kimmel said, "It is scary to think that your words can be read by anyone at anytime. I am delighted, however, to have this interview available for children's librarians, especially because the interviewer is a good friend and a great role model for librarians everywhere." She was interviewed in 1995 by Dr. Molly Kinney, a former ALSC Board Member and former student of Kimmel’s.

Dr. Ruth Gordon, known to the online community as “Big Grandma,” has a multi-faceted career in library service to children and children’s literature. The editor of several collections of poetry published with HarperCollins, she has been a school librarian in three counties in California, a freelance editor of nonfiction, the fiction selector for Elementary School Library Collection, a reviewer for Kirkus, New York Times Book Review, School Library Journal and BayViews and has taught at both the University of San Francisco and the University of Maryland. In 1998, she was interviewed by Ann Hotta, who was a children’s librarian at Berkeley (Calif.) Public Library at the time of the interview. When informed that her oral history would be one of the first to be posted on the ALSC Web site, Gordon said, “Since I was involved with this project from the very beginning, it is a reward to realize the plant has fruited.” , She provided some insight about the entire oral history project. “Oral history fills in the interstices between the past and the future. It supplements group memory, particularly as members die or as their own memories fade. For some, alas, as they grow older, yesterday becomes today and is fresher in memory than today is in fact. Whether or not we have provided accuracy in our recollections is another matter. However, any event that is examined by several people may provide a higher measure of historical accuracy.”

Transcriptions of oral history interviews with Mimi Kayden and Peggy Sullivan are scheduled to be published online by Midwinter 2010. Additional transcriptions will be added to the Oral History Page in the future. All ALSC oral history interviews will be posted to Click on “About ALSC/History of ALSC” in the left-hand navigation menu. Or go to and click on the “Oral History Interviews” link.

During the 2009 ALA Annual Conference, the Oral History Committee will be presenting a program that will feature all the living past executive directors of ALSC and a recent past president of ALSC. “Past as Prologue: Building on ALSC’s Successes” will be held from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 11, in McCormick Place West, Room W-192a. Speakers will include Ann Weeks, Susan Roman, Stephanie Anton, Malore Brown, Diane Foote and Jane Marino, past president of ALSC. Carole Fiore, also a former ALSC president, will moderate the program.

The following members of the Oral History Committee planned the conference program and assisted in preparation of the interview transcripts for Web publication: Marilyn Ackerman, Brooklyn (N.Y.) Public Library; Elizabeth Figa, University of North Texas, School of Library and Information Science, Denton; Rebecca Hickman, Alvin Sherman Library, Research, and Information Technology Center, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Nina Lindsay, Oakland (Calif.) Public Library; and Carole Fiore, chair, Training and Library Consulting, Tallahassee, Fla.