Progress in Professionalism-The 1930's

Despite the financial difficulties of the Depression era, this decade brought unprecedented progress in library development to the South. Many goals identified in 1929 were achieved through substantial grants from three educational foundations: (1) the Julius Rosenwald Fund provided support for school and college libraries for Blacks, sponsored extensive demonstration programs of public library service and, through grants to several southern states, laid the foundation for library extension work in the South; (2) the General Education Board made funds available to establish the position of school library supervisor in eight of the nine southeastern states, to support research programs in the region and to sponsor cooperative enterprises among southern university libraries; and (3) the Carnegie Corporation funded a survey of library training facilities in the South and gave direct assistance to upgrade book collections in many college and university libraries in the region.

The 1930 Tampa conference featured reports on the completed survey of library training programs, the need for certification of librarians, continued support for county library development, and better library legislation. The seventh biennial conference in 1932 again returned to Signal Mountain, the last meeting at its birthplace.

The first Joint Conference of Southeastern and Southwestern Library Associations was held at Memphis in 1934, where the relationship of the library to social development and the evolving concept of governmental support for library service were stressed. The attendees were challenged to begin to plan constructively for development in all professional areas from the elementary school to the largest research library by Dr. Louis Round Wilson, Dean of the Graduate Library School, University of Chicago. Two years later at the 1936 Asheville conference, cooperative measures as a means of strengthening research facilities were discussed. Henry Odom's Southern Regions was analyzed for possible application to library development at these sessions.

By the 1938 Atlanta conference librarians recognized the potential of government support for libraries, and they were not only willing to accept it, but also eager to seek it. Discussions dealt with both federal and state aid. Three significant publications owing their existence in part to SELA appeared. The earliest was County Library Service in the South, a survey of the Rosenwald demonstrations prepared by Dr. Louis Round Wilson and E. A. Wright in 1935. In 1936 came Tommie Dora Barker's report on her activities from 1930-35 as ALA's only regional field agent, entitled Libraries of the South. The first attempt to describe research collections in libraries of a large region was made through SELA's College and Reference Section to a corresponding committee in ALA. Edited by Robert B. Downs of the University of North Carolina, Resources of Southern Libraries was published by ALA in 1938.