Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Diane Chen Leads ALA Troop Support Effort

Diane Chen, American Library Association [ALA] Executive Board Member, is leading an effort by the ALA to support American troops by "improv[ing] library services to these men and women serving our country during the time of war."

Dear Council Members,

Some of you know I have two sons (of 4) serving in the US Army and we have been waiting to see the resolution on libraries and the wars. Why? Because when I have discussed library services to military troops, my sons and their friends invariably ask me why ALA doesn't help them get more reading materials to the troops serving overseas.

Both sons have visited their base libraries in the U.S. and we used army post libraries in Europe while stationed there. However, I receive requests from soldiers every week through a program called Soldier's Angels and every week the soldiers request reading materials including books and magaz[i]nes to be shipped to them often at remote locations.

I'd like to request your help in identifying agencies and means to send these materials on a regular basis. It does get expensive to ship them myself and I have a long list on their wishlists.

One morning my son currently in Afghanistan called at 4:30 a.m. to read me the wishlist of 5 people in his unit for titles like fitness magazines, Anita Blake vampire books, manga, Small Businesses for Dummies, and many nonfiction titles. I'd appreciate any information you have on how we can improve library services to these men and women serving our country during the time of war. Thank you in advance.


This is significant because the ALA used to support American troops. See:
  • "Books for Soldiers and Sailors in World War I," by Larry T. Nix, Wisconsin Library Heritage Center, 1 April 2009. "When the United States did enter the war in 1917, ALA took on a leadership role in providing books to the soldiers and sailors in our armed forces."
  • "Libraries for our Soldiers and Sailors," by State Council of Defense for Oregon, Oregon State Archives, undated. "Drives for both books and the money to buy them began just after the American entry into World War I. The government recognized the boost to morale that books could provide and asked the American Library Association for help."
  • "The American Library Association & World War I," by Larry T. Nix, The Library History Buff, 3 April 2009. This site is perfect for deltiologists.
  • "Knowledge Wins--American Library Association Advocacy during World War I," by Carrie Marsh, Pictures & Conversations (The Claremont Colleges), 22 May 2009. "During WWI, ALA created the War Service Committee, which established more than 30 libraries at training facilities and other encampments for soldiers."
  • "Photo #: NH 45345; USS Mercury (ID # 3012)," by E.E. Thompson, Department of the Navy—Naval Historical Center, 24 June 2003. "Note books at left, placed on board by the Red Cross and the American Library Association."
  • "British Camps Library WWI," by Larry T. Nix, Library History Buff Blog, 28 March 2009. "The American Library Association (ALA) played a major role in serving the military in World War I."

More recently, ALA people use their positions in the ALA to knock Americans, its government, and its troops. For example:

Now that Diane Chen has gotten the ball rolling again, others are joining in to support the troops:
  • Joseph Eagan, ALA Executive Board: "I am very disappointed to know that our troops continue to lack even basic recreational reading while they serve our country."
  • Al Kagan, SRRT Councilor: "We have a round table that is specifically charged with doing this kind of work. It is the Federal and Armed Forces Libraries Round Table. The President is Nancy Gomez Faget. .... I would be happy to support another resolution."
  • Susan Pieper, ALA Councilor: "[M]any times we wait for the DOD or other 'government agencies' to 'do the job'. Why can't we start a nation-wide campaign like the one described above? I know that each community will rally with good used books and magazines."
  • Rob Banks, Kansas Chapter Councilor: "We need to know what else is happening, so that we make sure that books are available to all groups of soldiers and some aren’t left out. I completely support this as a worthy ALA activity. Thanks for bringing it to our attention, Diane."
  • Linda Blake, West Virginia University Libraries: "I too am appalled that there are people serving us who need reading materials they are not receiving. There's something wrong with our priorities for this to happen."
Bravo ALA! Brava Diane Chen for getting the ball rolling! Mostly, bravo to all ours troops! And thank you, Diane Chen, as the mother of brave troops, for your service to our country.

See also:


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