RW: I am interviewing Dr. Carlanna Hendrick at Coker College, the Governor's School for Science and Math, November 9, 1989.
Dr. Hendrick, you were appointed to the State Library board in March 1971. How did this happen?
CH: Well, I'm glad you asked because I was always excited about it. In my years in Columbia, I had been quite politically active. I had been teaching at Columbia College. I was vice-chairman of the Richland County Democratic Party. I had been chairman of the State Democratic Women. In connection with the political actions, as well as supervising a program of interns, one of whom was in the Governor's office, I had been involved with Governor McNair's office and staff. Just as I was really beginning to be heavily involved in those areas, my husband and I moved to Florence to take a job at Francis Marion College. I had not been there all that long when the governor's office called and said, "we have a vacancy in the sixth district, we're going to appoint you to the Library Board because you read books". I thought it was a very nice gesture; I rather thought in terms of past political activities, that the Governor wanted to appoint me to something...something that makes reasonable sense, which of course libraries did for one who was involved in academics. I was absolutely delighted with the appointment. I trusted it was not so much political pay off as a recognition of ability. That's how it came about.
RW: Did you know anything about the state of public libraries, what the State Library had been doing... any of those things?
CH: No. In fact, Miss Walker used to laugh. I was put on a number of committees, and I was always qualified as a reader, rather than one with any particular expertise in either administration or library science.
RW: But you enjoyed your appointment?
CH: Oh absolutely, I was thrilled.
RW: What was your initial impression of the effectiveness of the Board?
CH: I'm a little hesistant about initial impressions because I didn't really know what it was supposed to be doing. After I received the appointment, I received a letter from Miss Walker saying, "welcome, come over sometime and we'll give you a tour." I got the impression she was rather surprised that I did. I went over and said, "I'd like very much to see". She gave me a splendid tour of the library. I suspect, at that time, I was not even clear in my mind that there was a distinction between the State Library and your ordinary, run-of-the-mill public library. She tried to give me some idea of the role of the State Library. They were at the old building and I got to see the lions and go from the cellar to the attic, and enjoyed that. It took me awhile before I would really have much impression. I think that my impression was that the Board was a group of very charming individuals who did very little.
RW: What about your impression of Miss Walker?
CH: Fantastic. She was an extraordinary woman and I consider the opportunity I had to get to know her one of the real bright spots of my life. She was an enormously capable woman. At one time I told Mr. Putnam, who was the director of the Budget and Control Board, that if they were not going to raise our appropriation, we were going to rent out Miss Walker to other agencies to see if she could run them with some efficiency. I was always astounded -- and I'm convinced to this day that one reason that we had some difficulty in getting appropriation -- was we always managed with what we had. I attribute that very much to her skill and to a fairly single handed direction of the library. I had great respect for her and for her ability but I felt the bulk of the Board meetings were opportunities where we gathered and she reported. I felt that probably most of us did not have sufficient expertise to ask really pointed or penetrating questions. As a result, we took as information whatever she presented in the report, which was always a very thorough report. At times I thought, that this is more than I wanted to know...very thorough reports, but the result was I did not see the Board interacting -- particularly either in "why did you do this?" or "why didn't you do that?" or "I think you should have done this." I didn't think that the Board participated...it was [little] more than a rubber stamp. There was a tremendous commitment and interest and at various times while I was on the Board, there were other members who brought some special interests or expertise to the Board. There were always some members that were rubber stamps. We had a number of occasions where we had Board members whose attendance was so sporadic that we tried to rewrite the by-laws. You can't really tell the governor to un-appoint somebody, but there were occasions when they did not come to meetings. I don't know whether that was because they thought they had nothing to contribute or that there was no need for them to be there because everything was already taken care of. That was a frustration. Again, I think part of that was perhaps was a feeling that the Library Board was a rinky-dink board. It wasn't like one of the big boards that had big money or high visibility. The height of our visibility, I always thought, was at Christmas when they put the Christmas wreaths on Sol and Edgar, the State Library lions, out in front. The State newspaper usually ran a picture of it. One thing that developed rather late in my tenure on the board that we felt may or may not have contributed to it [poor attendance] was that Miss Walker very early on had decided that the Board should not get a per diem. While we did get recompensed for mileage expenses, there was no per diem. Toward the end it was re-instated in the hope that even a small remumeration might encourage people to actually come to Board meetings.
RW: You say the Board did not take an active role?
CH: That was my perception. Some of it, I thought, was a matter that much of the activity was quite technical. We were involved very heavily at one point in computerization and participating in the Solinet system. Those areas require a certain technical expertise that most of the board members did not have. We were simply in a position to listen to the report and say, "yes, I think this is an appropriate step" or "I think this is too much money, we need to look at it more." The Board, I felt, could not really respond to whether this was technologically efficient.
RW: Did it occur to the Board to go and seek opinions from other public librarians in the state or a professional association or a consultant on various kinds of issues?
CH: To my knowledge, no. That may be speaking only for me. We did on occasion have people who took an active role. Throughout my tenure on the Board we were very much encouraged to go to the professional meetings. I eventually developed at least a recognition---an acquaintance---with a number of librarians. I always felt that there was a considerable degree of comfortableness on their part to come and say, "well, I think this is certainly silly" or "that was a good thing that you did" or "we need help on something.”
RW: I ask that question particularly because one librarian,who was a public library director in the state, said that her perception of the Board was that it was a creature of Miss Walker. The meetings were called at her discretion; it was her board, so to speak.
CH: I would think that that was fairly accurate.
RW: That it was very difficult to get even a notification of when the board was meeting...
CH: Now I don't know about that because it never occurred to me that it would be difficult. We did, I know, try to make it a clear thing to public librarians that if anybody wanted to come to our meeting, they were more that welcome to come. I was invited, at least on one occasion, to the Lexington County Library, to talk to their board and their staff, and I believe, again in Darlington. They wanted to hear from me, not what the library was doing but what the Board did. "What do you do on the Board?" "What authority does the Board have?" "What can we do?" I always felt very encouraged to do things like that. I think, Miss Walker was a very dominant person. It was not so much that, but she was in contrast to a very weak Board. There were some people who were on there quite clearly for political pay off. We had a Board that needed representation from each congressional district, and then one at-large member. There was always the political area, and because there was not great demand for it, I always felt that to some extent it was used to pacify whoever happened to ask for it the loudest. So you did not necessarily find persons with great strength, although from time to time, we did have some individuals who were stronger that others and who participated. My impression is that if anybody had come to us with a problem we would have been more than happy to listen. I don't feel that the Board was Miss Walker's creature to the point that we would have been denied access to persons with complaints. Or, that she would have tried deliberately to forge any actions or directions of the Board. It's my perception that it never crossed anybody's mind.
RW: I recall from the minutes that one time the public library section of SCLA came and appeared before the Board. Was that kind of thing welcomed?
CH: Very much! Indeed, that would have been one of the things that we used to absolutely love...because you cannot imagine... I was chairman of the Board for a number of years, and that meant, among other things, that I presented the budget request to the Budget and Control Board, and I ended up with this wonderful relationship...wonderful friends on the whole Budget and Control Board, but they never gave us any money! Can I digress and get back to that? I felt very strongly, and I think perhaps the rest of the Board would have agreed, that one reason we couldn't get Miss Walker's salary raised... I think she was one of the few women who was chairman of an agency, or director of an agency.... This was in the early 70's and there was real sexism in terms of salaries. It never really occured to them to give her a raise: "Why, she's not even married! She doesn't need any more money!" I think there was very much that feeling. The only raises that we were able to push were toward the end of her career, when it was almost with tears in our eyes we said, "but her retirement depends on this!". We did finally get it up but we found it very difficult to get a raise.We also found it very difficult to get monetary increases, even to the point where we would go in with wonderful materials on how much book prices had gone up, and the need to sustain subscription continuity in magazines. There was never in my mind any question of the validity of our requests. With Miss Walker doing the budget there was never any padding...the kind of stuff where you ask for twice as much as you want, and hope you get what you need. This was very frustrating. But as a result of the difficulty of going in and smiling to all these lovely men who said, "oh it's the little ladies from the library again.” It was wonderful to have the public people come in because that was one of the great strengths. If you got all of the public librarians riled and they wrote to their representatives, I think probably the library did as much as any of the state agencies in developing a political constituency that would write literate letters and not just carbon copy form letters, and would bother going and hassling the local representatives. It was very much due to their support and the efforts we tried to make to work together, that finally did bring the per capita funding up to a not-embarrassing level. I thought that by and large South Carolina could hold her head up in terms of per capita funding. RW: It's during this time that the Association of Public Library Administrators is formed, which is an association of all the county public library directors. According to one person I talked to, intrinsically formed as a result of home rule, which changed the way in which the local library boards would be formed. It made lobbying more effective, which was needed. It was this person's perception that Miss Walker had been the only lobbying person and that wasn't enough; they needed to do some lobbying themselves. Do you remember if APLA was an influence, or was welcomed, by the Board?
CH: I can only speak for me. I don't know that the Board....I'm familiar with APLA, but I'm sitting here thinking, "gosh, I didn't remember that it had been formed at that time." Certainly, the only connection and recollections that I have are very, very positive. It was a wonderful opportunity for enhanced lobbying because, unfortunately, I almost felt frustrated for the library because I felt that it was a very wonderful agency. What it did was so critical and essential and books are wonderful. It did so much with so little. It was very, very frustrating that whatever we had, depended on the lobbying process because I felt that many of the staff and many of the Board were not equipped for that. Somehow, in spite of all of her efforts, and she did try and do well. Neither Miss Walker nor Betty Callaham are going to be comfortable boozing it up with the legislators after hours. You found so many directors of other agencies who were comfortable doing that, or who had opportunities for the kind of social interaction which often produces a cadre of support. I thought the library often did not. It was a real boost, I felt, when we had some active support from the local areas. That got right to the bottom line.
RW: Is that your impression of how lobbying is most effective?
CH: Oh no, not how it's most effectively done. Certainly I think it was more true then than it would be now. I think it played a role, not the drinking, the carousing, that sort of thing, but the sense of community, the sense of identity. The fact that I could call you by your first name and you immediately identified me as participating with a particular agency. I think that needs a kind of social action that makes it very difficult for women to participate in.
RW: You're saying that as one of the most politically active women in the state at that time? Even so, being one of those women who is so active, that there was still discrimination?
CH: Yes, very much. I felt that quite strongly. I mentioned that earlier in connection with trying to raise her salary. I'm convinced that it never would have occurred to them to pay a man that little. And we did get it up because of the retirement and the fact that she was going to have to be replaced. We had ample evidence from other sources that no other state library was offering so little. In fact, there were 3 library systems in this state that payed their directors more than the state paid the director of the State Library. Yes, I felt very strongly that there was considerable discrimination...and a tendency to be patronizing. There was a member of the state legislature who always recognized me and was always very cordial and said, "You know, I'm just going to call you Dr. Honey". That was not always typical, but there was enough of that to make me think that women as members of boards or as directors of agencies were considerably handicapped in being effective lobbyists.
RW: How did you go about doing it? Was it personal contacts?
CH: To some extent, yes, and largely by letter. I was of course at that time living in Florence. It was not particularly easy, I did not, for example, go to the legislature or go to the State House and lobby in that sense. It was primarily writing letters or making phone calls to persons with whom I had a personal relationship, someone that I knew and that would know me. It was very rarely calling up any individual whom I did not know and introducing myself and making a pitch. I did work more with the Budget and Control Board, trying to work directly with getting things through. Then if that did not work, trying to pin-point the members of the House or Senate finance committees to the extent that they may have represented either the district in which I lived or persons whom I had known when I active in Columbia.
RW: As I understand it, sometimes you made a presentation to the Budget and Control Board?
CH: Miss Walker generally liked the idea, I felt, of having the Board chairman make the initial presentation. I assume most of the other agencies did as well. It shows you've actually got a board and a volunteer and a voter and that sort of thing. When it came to some of the more tactical aspects of the budget or the functioning, either she added additional comments or responded to the questions. I did much more in the context of the general overall needs and the specific purposes for which we were asking for an increase.
RW: What was your perception generally about the reactions of the Budget and Control Board?
CH: Cordial, pleasant, and you didn't get a second thought from them.
RW: No reaction?
CH: Well, no, you never got that feeling. They were always very cordial. We gave them all buttons one year... we had a library reading program that had buttons. We gave them buttons and bumper stickers. They were all very cordial, they would all say such nice things about the library, and occasionally legislative members of the board would comment about something in their home district. You always felt warm and loved and underpaid. It did not translate into money, but there was never any sense of rejection or any sense of inadequacy of the function of the agency. It was, as always, hard times, money's tight. It was not a high priority item. They were, I think, never going to cut the library. It's not a good image to burn books, even if it's in the negative sense of not getting any. It was very, very difficult to get any kind of significant increase. In that respect we always seemed to do better getting the per capita appropriations. You had to remind them 6 or 7 times: "that is just flow- through money, we don't spend any of it, we don't do anything with it, it goes to your district". We always did better in that respect than in getting particularly strong support for the function of the state agency.
RW: In '72-'73 the appropriation was 20 cents per capita.
CH: Isn't that disgusting?
RW: Why South Carolina? Just because everyone says it’s a poor state? What was your impression of that? This is way below the national average at this time.
CH: And that was also very shortly after I got on the Board. I thought it was an appalling sum because it was, of course, presented not only in terms of its being low, but we had lots of figures comparing it with other places and with the need.
RW: Did this argument not pull any weight with the legislature and the Budget and Control Board...that SC was so low?
CH: I have no idea. I would like to think that it did hold some weight, and that it was a factor in the eventual and quite significant increase which we did manage to get.
RW: About 3 to 4 years later, it's up to 35 cents, which is not a bad increase. Any explanation here, or is this just inflation?
CH: I'm not really sure that anything I said would be valid. It's just that we worked really hard for it, whether it was just inflation, whether we had a good year, whether some constituencies with strong legislators made that kind of impact that enabled them to support it. I really don't know.
RW: Among the legislature, who do you recall as being particularly influential in helping the State Library get their money?
CH: Once again, I think I would say you're getting my impressions, and that means you're getting only a list of people I knew personally and worked with. I always felt that Earl Morris was one of our strengths on the Budget and Control Board; that he was very sensitive to the needs of the library and was a library user. When I had moved to Florence I found that on almost every occasion I could count on Senator Tom Smith from Pamplico. In fact, on occasion I would just call up and he would say, " Write me a bill and send it over and I'll introduce it". He was a tremendous supporter of the library and one of those whom you did not need to lobby, you just said, "Tom, this is what we're asking for, will you support it?" He was very supportive. Senator John Land from Clarendon was also very supportive and of course, can I digress on that? Or are going to get to Clarendon?
RW: No, I was not aware of it.
CH: Well! That's one of the things that when I was trying to remember in preparation for your visit. Some of the things that stood out, because I didn't know what you were going to want to know. One of them was that we added Clarendon County and completed, for the first time, a full state system. Clarendon had been the county...
RW: That didn't stick with me from looking at the minutes, I was looking for other things.
CH: It's just one of the things that I remember. Clarendon had not been part of the state library system. They invited me to be the speaker when they dedicated the little, wonderful, old, antique building which housed their library at that time. It had been essentially a private library and it joined the state system and it completed the county structure. We had a public library service in every county. It was, in part, due to Representative Alex Harvin and Senator Land, that that very, very small, almost endearingly quaint, little building has since developed into the Harvin- Clarendon County library, which is just a splendid facility. I was down there recently doing a program. I think that is the kind of support that we have in that area. The Darlington County people were very supportive. I was replaced, as a matter of fact, on the board by Senator Ed Saleeby’s wife. Senator Hyman Rubin and Senator Isadore Lourie from Richland County were persons whom I had known and whom I had found were always very supportive. Senator Heyward McDonald is a very dear friend of the library. One of those ardent supporters and a person with considerable clout who could be counted on.
RW: The increases that are taking place are more routine ones that you would expect rather than dramatic ones during this time? You're not going to the Budget and Control Board with an extra big push in any one particular year?
CH: The biggest push I remember was trying to get it up to a dollar. That somehow had that wonderful round number and was a level of accomplishment. I remember that as a particular push. I don't remember that clearly, but I do remember some other times, because I can remember at one point arguing that it had been X number of years since we had had an increase. That it was well past the time when the state needed to support the local libraries. It may have been on the 20 to 35 cents, but it seems to me that at one point we went 5 years without an increase. For some reason that sticks in my mind and I'm probably...
RW: That's possible because it was a little later on...'78.
CH: I'm not clear. But I do seem to remember at one point justifying a significant increase on the grounds that we had not had one for a number of years and that we had been...it seems to me that one year the state had really had a difficult time. We deliberately did not ask for any...and made sure that everyone noticed that we did not ask for any. Recognizing that we wanted to do our part, that they had responded to us when they could and that we were trying to respond to the needs of the state...that kind of thing. So we did try to exercise some care in that and to deal with political realities and economic realities.
RW: One of the things that kind of piqued my interest in looking at the minutes was that in '71, shortly after you came on the board, a Representative Mendenhall had introduced a bill to eliminate the State Library. Do you recall this? What happened?
CH: Yes. He didn't do it.
RW: He didn't introduce it?
CH: No, he did introduce it, but it didn't pass. It died in committee if I remember. I'm sorry that I don't remember more about it except that I have a tendency to giggle over my memories whatever they may be, tucked away.
RW: What did happen?
CH: My memory, such as it is, is that Miss Walker explained that what he was trying to do--and it was something, if I remember correctly, probably remarkably stupid--but not something that we needed to take with a great degree of seriousness. Not only from his presentation of it but from the support it was likely to get. It seems to me that it may have reflected his particular dissatisfaction with one small incident in his home district...I really do not remember with great clarity. I remember being more amused that worried about it.
RW: Probably a result of some unhappiness on the part of the local library director in that county. He was from Georgetown. It was just one of those intriguing kinds of things from the documentation. Nothing is ever mentioned in the minutes again about it.
CH: At that point you're supposed to go delve around into the records of the legislature and check out all the committee work.
RW: You became chair in '74, is this a natural succession because of seniority?
CH: I wish I could tell you with a straight face that it was both a recognition of seniority and acknowledgement of excellence. There were a number of people who absolutely had no interest in serving as chairman, or who did not wish to. My recollection is that Carlisle Bean felt that he had served long enough, so they said, "why don't you do it?" and I did. I kept right on doing it. There were some persons who were very faithful in their commitment to the board that were not interested in serving as chairman. There were others whose attendance and commitment were so sporadic that they would not perhaps have been considered. I served on another state agency board that had a policy of rotating the chairman every year. It did, as a matter of seniority, rotate. Obviously the State Library did not. At one point I began to feel somewhat guilty that I ought not to be life-time chairman, although I really loved it. It was, I felt, perhaps not always appropriate. But when I finally started thinking that, it was the time that Miss Walker was preparing to retire. There was some feeling that perhaps continuity on the Board with a change of directors was wise.
RW: So you did not change?
CH: I think my personal preference would have been for some compromise. Mind you, I adored being board chairman. I liked the opportunity and I felt, perhaps, a deeper commitment as chairman that I might have as just a board member. I really enjoyed that. I do think it not always wise or appropriate for someone to serve as chairman as long as I did. I think on the other hand, that to serve for only 1 year, particularly since many boards do not meet with great frequency, does not give you an adequate sense of what the agency is doing and what the particular concerns of the board chairman must be, in terms of the legislature and in terms of policy and representing the board. I think I would prefer if people would just let me organize things, to have some degree of continuity.
RW: Almost every meeting began with a discussion of federal funding. Is this really as dominating to the State Library as it appears to be, and do you think there is some reason for this?
CH: When you ask me the question, I am always surprised at your perceptions and my memories, which probably says more for my memory being lax. I always just took it as that was the way Miss Walker organized her presentation, rather than representing a particular priority of interest. Yes, I think the money was important and yes, I felt it was well spent. One of my clearest impressions of the Library is that they were just “screechingly efficient” in what they did with their money. I also served as the board representative on the LSCA Advisory Committee so that I also was impressed with it from that sense. From time to time there would be construction money available and that was critical. My recollection of it is that it was critical for SC because we were having a hard enough time budgeting for services which was our primary focus, waiting for local communities, which had their own difficulties, to come up with funding was very, very difficult. That LSCA money is well represented across the state in some quite splendid library facilities, that would not exist, I feel, had it not been for that money. The construction money was not there all the time so we always got really excited if there were funds available for construction. There were 4 other parts of it that were available for services and that enabled the Library to do a number of programs that would not have been possible had that money not been there. A lot of times it was dependent on state matching funds. The state frequently would come through if we had money that they had to match rather than if we just had a program we wanted them to pay for. Yes, I felt that it was quite strong, although it had some peculiarities. For no particular reason I remember one time Miss Walker talking about funding for minorities, but they wanted it to be language minorities and they were looking for an ethnic group with a different language. The only way we could figure out to qualify was there was a group of gypsies that were settled outside of Aiken. We finally got some money, or maybe we didn't, because that was all we could find. There were some restrictions on the use of the money that I remember Miss Walker's impressions, were somehow not always appropriate to our circumstances. That was a frustration. Yes, I think the money was well spent and of significant importance.
RW: Speaking of minorities, the race issue has always been a problem in SC. What was your impression of Miss Walker's integration of the State Library staff? There is an occasion once which indicates that there was a problem among the staff.
CH: My impression of Miss Walker was that she as genuinely unbiased as one might reasonable expect of any adult. I certainly saw no evidence of any kind, even those subtle discriminations that would somehow imply that they could not do the job as well. I always found her very sensitive to the issue. We were constantly aware and constantly sending reminders to the governor's office that we did not have a black on our Board or in this vacancy we think it might be appropriate for you to consider a minority representative. She was, I think, very much concerned about it. My primary recollection of that as an issue is our discussions with Jim Clyburn and the Human Relations Committee. There was generally a favorable outcome. One of the difficulties is that most of...can I digress and come back? I remember one funny story that she was telling about some earlier time when somebody from the federal government was coming down and she dressed up 2 of the maids in some nice clothes and put them out at the front desk--because they didn't have any and this was perhaps in the 50's. She had a sense of humor about it. I know that one of the problems that she identified was that much of our staff was technical; that is they needed a degree in library science. Our biggest problem was anybody that was black with a degree in library science could get almost double the money anywhere else. They could go to Richland County Library and get several thousand dollars more than we were able to pay. They could go out of state and get nearly double. The problem was that we would have vacancy after vacancy and we would try. She made an effort to advertise our job vacancies, particularly in minority publications. The problem was that those who were qualified could get so much money that it was only on the rare occasion that we would find someone, who for personal reasons, wanted to live in Columbia, or chose that particular job for some career direction. We had some difficulties and as a result, there was always the possible problem of it looking as if the unskilled staff was black, and the skilled staff was white. There was an over-awareness of that and an effort to compensate. I do remember writing some letters with some accompanying figures to, I believe, Jim Clyburn, to point out to them that we were...We always came out ok on discrimination because they put women in the same category and libraries always have so many women, that our problem at one point was "do we have a man that we can promote somewhere?" There was a consciousness of it and a genuine effort and we always felt very comfortably received by the Human Affairs Agency. Acknowledging that unless the legislature was going to give us enough money to pay genuinely competitive salaries the likelihood of us having significant minority representation of the professional staff was quite small.
RW: It was your impression that Miss Walker was making a genuine effort...?
RW: I'm not sure that that impression is shared by the profession in the state, particularly by the black leadership among the profession.
CH: I can only speak from my perspective. If I might add to that, I suspect that by the 70's any discriminatory attitudes might have mellowed.
RW: It's possible. As part of this project, I've been interviewing black librarians. I think that would characterize their impressions as 100% in the way of discrimination.
CH: If I might backtrack to the story about dressing up the maids. I think that that, in a way, is a patronizing view. Perhaps reflected, without even realizing it, some feelings of that sort. My recollection from when I was on the Board, is that was at a time when there was a considerable emphasis on this. It would ill behoove anybody not to make some efforts in that direction before somebody brought some penalties. I saw it only from the effort to comply or meet statistical needs. I simply was not aware of any underlying discrimination.
RW: Also, what happens in the 60's...the Greenville Library is closed...Sumter, Florence...it was the general impression of these black librarians that the State Library was not doing anything to mediate those situations.
CH: I would not be aware of that. I will say, and again it is just an impression that one has today from conversations 20 years ago...We were very pleased that the Clarendon County Library came in. I remember Miss Walker's distress, I felt, in explaining to me that the reason that they were out of the library system was that they wanted to keep blacks from using the library and therefore it was a private library. Once this fact became public they would have to come in. I certainly got the impression that that had been a nagging aggravation to her, and that she had worked and certainly was tremendously proud of getting that library into the system.
RW: It's possible to have these totally opposite impressions...
CH: Given the 2 different audiences and the different time periods, everyone's opinion is altered by their experiences and by circumstances. It is entirely possible that she either held attitudes or action in one period that I did not see.
RW: A lot of them particularly said they got the impression of someone wanting to keep the libraries and this Board separate...
CH: I am not honestly aware of the degree which it was set state-wide or in the local libraries. I was thinking in staffing the Library itself and in seeking representation on the Board.
RW: Back to politics, being a Democrat, what happens when Governor Edwards is elected?
CH: He appointed me before he thought about it, to be perfectly honest. We had initially 3 year terms when the library legislation later changed it to 5 years. We had gotten, at one point, way out of sync in terms of delayed appointments. What happened at one point was every member of the Library Board was appointed by a single administration. We all felt that that was just plain inappropriate. Eventually the legislation which changed the terms to 5 years re-staggered everything so that it would not ever again be possible for a single governor in a 4 year term to appoint the entire board. I was worried about that because my term was coming up for renewal. I had been appointed by Governor McNair and reappointed by Governor West. I was very much aware of the likelihood that I might not be. Incidentally, as soon as Carol Campbell came, I certainly was not reappointed to the board I served on then. In his early weeks in office, Governor Edwards had spoken very strongly of the desire to be bipartisan and look for excellence and I wrote a letter very early on asking for reappointment and got some Republican colleagues in Florence to write endorsing me for that position so that it would not be offensive. I think that it was partly that nobody wanted it. I'm sure there were a dozen candidates knocking on his door for a variety of the more prestigious appointments. I think perhaps there were not so many demands for the Library. He did, as a matter of fact, reappoint me. I laughed about it later because toward the end of his administration he was much purer in his appointment of Republicans. I think, had I applied later I might well not have been reappointed.
RW: What about your effectiveness in lobbying?
CH: To the extent that the governor had very little impact, it made no difference. The remainder of the administration was still Democratic. The legislature was our primary concern. We always wanted the Budget and Control Board to recommend what we had petitioned for rather than in a sense trying to override their recommendations by legislative action. The difference in the governor's office was not a particular problem, not that I recall.
RW: One other thing, do you remember who the first black person was on the library board? Was that during the time you were still chair? I kept looking for that in the minutes but...
CH: We had a number of blacks with whom I served. I don't honestly know right off hand whether there was a black member when I was appointed. Whether there had been earlier, I know that was something we did specifically make an effort. The governor's office would have copies of letters that I know I wrote when I chairman saying, "We have a vacancy..." The governor's office, I suppose because it was not a high demand agency, would frequently allow us or encourage us to make recommendations when we had a vacancy on the board. Miss Walker would usually then go to the librarians in that congressional district and see if there was someone whom they thought would be particularly strong. I do know that we on occasion specifically said, "we need minority representation"
RW: Anyone in particular?
CH: It would never have crossed my mind not to look for some if we didn't have any. I just simply don't remember. I know that I did serve with a number of blacks on the board.
RW: Were they any different? Did they attend any more regularly?
CH: Some did, some didn't. I don't think you could say...we just plain had some board members who...
RW: ...didn't care?
CH: No, I'm sure they cared or they wouldn't have accepted it, but when it involves leaving work and driving to Columbia sometimes I felt that the priorities at home, of course for quite valid reasons, were greater than the priorities of going to Columbia.
RW: How much time on the average did you spend on Board matters?
CH: It was sort of sporadic. Miss Walker or Miss Callaham always called if there was an issue or something that had come up that I might need to be aware of. I remember being called at one point and forewarned that I might get a call from a reporter seeking a response to something. I'm not even sure what the issue was. They would notify me of anything, good or bad, that came up or anything that I might need to know. They would not have talked to me every week I think. I went, of course, to the library meetings, talked with them on the phone and went to the LSCA meetings and to some of the state meetings. Most of the time it was not time consuming at all. The biggest crunch came over the budget and the need, not only to go to the Budget and Control Board hearing, but to begin, once again, that process of writing letters and calling people and sending memorandums to the county librarians saying, "Gather your forces".
RW: So, an hour or two a week you think is an average?
CH: I would think.
RW: Back to Miss Walker. She has been called by some people I have talked with as a very domineering, very forceful personality. You strike me as a person who has strong views about things. What was the relationship when things...?
CH: Well, I'm inclined to think there were not really strong differences. I certainly would not have challenged her on anything to do with the technical operation of the library because I knew that I had no expertise in library science and the networking, which was a very important thing that was developing when I was on the board. I think I would not have challenged her in a area where she would feel threatened. On occasions when I did disagree, it was usually on small things, I felt that either I got my way or we compromised. I don't feel that she was really that dominant. I used to laugh and say the only real job I had as chairman of the board was to fire her...it was just kind of a joke. I might say also that I thought we got along very well. I always felt that she liked me and I suspect that there was a good bit of the age gap difference that made that comfortable relationship.
RW: From her perspective? Did you like her?
CH: From her perspective. That was just my feeling...yes, I did like her. I have a very happy memory when she was honored by the State Library Association some years after she had retired. We couldn't get her to go to the meeting. Finally, Betty Callaham called and said, "Carlanna, call her and ask if you can give her a ride. If you have to, tell her why". And I did, and as it turned out, yes, I did have to tell her. She was at that time already suffering from the cancer which took her life. She was pleased and she agreed to go. I drove over to Columbia and went by her house and picked her up and we roomed together in Greenville. One of my treasures, shortly before she died, she sent me some recipes that we had been chatting about something or other and she thought I would enjoy. I liked her and I felt that she liked me. I think as chairman of the Board, patronizing is not the right word and neither is motherly. I think that she was very much aware that she was older and wiser and more experienced. I think perhaps because of that she was tolerant of me, I think she did respect my opinions. When we disagreed, which I don't remember doing often, I think that she did not feel threatened or uncomfortable if we did what I wanted to do, or did it the way I wanted to.
RW: There were distinct generational differences?
CH: I would say that more on a personal basis. Does that make sense to you? Not so much in our view of either the library or the Board, but there was sort of a nice contrast there of age. I think that produces a kind of respect and tolerance that perhaps could be more difficult with people of a similar age. I think I'm playing amateur psychologist. I don't remember that many differences. I remember at one point-- and I don't remember the outcome unfortunately--arguing about the dress code. I thought that the dress code was a bit rigid. I don't recall if I won that or not. I remember speaking out quite strongly for some modification of it.
RW: That's one of the things that's in the Board minutes, it said that we talked about...what happened?
CH: I don't really remember.
RW: The minutes didn't really make it clear. I was intrigued by that also.
CH: Of course I would like to remember that it was modified because I was stubborn and I put my foot down. That was the age of mini skirts and one can quite acknowledge that one does not wish librarians bending over to the bottom shelf in an extremely short skirt. At that point, they need to wear pants. My recollection was speaking out in favor of that as a perfectly acceptable thing.
RW: What kind of politician was she?
CH: She was probably pretty good. She had been around absolutely forever in the political sense and was not intimidated by the legislature. She knew personally Sol Blatt, Edgar Brown and the old guard. I think, you're getting my impressions, and this could be quite likely wrong. I think she felt much more comfortable with the old guard. She would have been more ill at ease with the young turks, the newer members of the legislature that she had not worked with for 20 years already. I think she felt very comfortable with them, I am not certain she was always effective.
RW: Why is that?
CH: I would not think that it was [because of the] individuals; I think in simply persuading them that the library a major thing that they should pay attention to.
RW: She had been there since the 40's.
CH: I think she was very much aware of this. One of the things that I remember being discussed in the search for her replacement, and incidentally I think that she felt very strongly that Betty Callaham was the person to receive the position. I did feel the board had complete freedom to say yes or no or forget it. I did not ever feel any pressure, but I think that she was quite pleased. One of her concerns that we talked about was that Betty might not be very good with the legislature. I think that was an erroneous concern. I think Betty has been very effective.
RW: That also appears in the minutes as, I gather a decision was made to go with a national search and then that was canceled. Did you say you didn't feel pressured by Miss Walker to appoint Miss Callaham?
CH: I was trying to remember about the national search. We had a number of other applicants. I can assure you that Betty Callaham ranked well above any of those. My recollection is that perhaps...I do remember that we canceled it. Maybe something will come back to me... I do remember that there some reasons which struck me as persuasive to look in house.
RW: Your impression is that you as chair, and the board generally, was going to do what it thought best...unpressured by Miss Walker?
CH: Yes. I think we were aware of what she thought was a good idea, but I think that sometimes I'm oblivious to things, OK? I never felt that she was putting any pressure on us. I felt completely comfortable to do whatever I wanted to--to look at Betty, or not look at Betty, to look elsewhere or not. I felt no restrictions and would not have felt in the least uncomfortable saying to her, "well, I want to do this" or "let's think about that." When you put it that way, she may have been trying to put more pressure on than I ever noticed.
RW: I would think that...when you have a tremendously qualified person it's difficult to think beyond that...
CH: Yes, that's entirely possible. Had we gone off in some other direction, her opinions may have been more forcefully presented. That was something that had concerned me very much because I felt that in many ways it was not being just flippant to say that the main purpose of the chairman of the Board is to hire and fire the director. I think that's probably more true of the library than many of the other agencies where the board may in fact have expertise or opinions or plans that would be just as valid. You can not, without some professional expertise, run the State Library. Therefore the board's basic function was to see that it was run properly through the personnel that were in charge of it. I felt that very, very strongly and I think much more so than any other agency where a very strong board could make a more valid difference.
RW: Was it a strong Board?
CH: Oh absolutely. There was never any doubt of that. I can't quite imagine the board having the temerity to fire Miss Walker or anybody else. I never felt that the board was that kind of board or that strong a board. That was the thing that caused me the most concern, that troubled me the most. I felt the greatest sense of responsibility for the changing of the guard. I did have great respect and admiration for Miss Walker and for the Library and I just thought that was the only thing the Board could do was to look for a good replacement and do what we thought was best. I felt a tremendous responsibility in seeking someone who would maintain what I thought were the high standards of operation of the library.
RW: I know you were a delegate for the governor's conference...I thought I saw in the minutes that you...did you go to the White House Conference in '78-'79?
CH: No, I thought that was most unfortunate. I thought I should have had some trips, some little perks, payoffs. No, I was not.
RW: You would think Governor Riley would have appointed you...
CH: Well, if he did, I must have. Governor Riley was a good supporter of the library and I'm sure it took nothing more than saying, "would you do this?" to get his acceptance.
RW: So you did not go?
CH: Yes, that was in Washington and I just definitely did not go. There was, I think, when you said White House Conference, my mind went to a folder in one of my files. It may have been that there was a report on the White House Conference or something of that sort in Columbia. I really would remember if I had. The reports that we got from it were excellent, yes. The governor's conference was good too.
RW: How did you get involved in politics?
CH: It seemed just the obvious thing. I teach American History, I love the academic awareness of politics as a sense of direction in our country. I had always been interested in politics, speaking out in high school for candidates, being certain I registered to vote. Do you really want to hear this story? This is my favorite story, one that I tell my classes. I had always voted in Columbia, but as a student at the university I had just been involved peripherally. When we moved into one of the suburbs as we stayed in Columbia, it occurred to me that I had never been to a precinct meeting. So I decided I would go and I looked in the paper and the precinct that I was in was a strong Republican one--the precinct meeting was held in a private home. So I went over-and I promise, I think they thought I was the Avon lady because I came to the door and they were all in the back room having coffee and it was 2 or 3 couples--people who had done it for years. I was the only other person who had not just done it forever who came. They were just as cordial as they could be and we did whatever one does at precinct meetings for 10 or 15 minutes, then we needed delegates to the county convention. All of us could go and we needed a couple of other people, their wife or their husband were going, so I got immediately elected a delegate to the county convention. When I went to the county convention I was sitting there next to one of the older gentlemen--they were getting ready to chose delegates to the state convention. This is when it was done by precinct rather than county wide. He nudged me and said, "Honey, you ever been to the state convention?" I said "No." I was impressed. I mean people I had done my dissertation on had it on their tombstone that they had gone to state convention. He said, "You wanna go?" I said, "yeah.” He said, "fine". So I went. Got to the state convention and here are all these people who think that people who go to the state convention earned the right through laboring in the vineyards. It was wonderful to suddenly be there with the movers and shakers in that very dim way. I was fortunate to be a token at a time when the Democratic Party needed tokens. The next year at county convention the power structure called and asked if I would like to run for vice chairman, they needed a woman. I said I would be delighted. The convention ran late so they called us all out and had our picture taken for the paper before the nominations and election took place. There was clearly not going to be any problem with that election. [Tape Ran Out; end of interview]