Interview with: Lillie S. Walker (LW)

Date of Interview: : May 24, 1988
Place:  Orangeburg, SC
Interviewer: :Dr. Robert V. Williams(RW)
Transcriber: Sabra Bell, Donna Dedmondt
Permission to Use Restrictions

RW: This is an interview with Miss Lillie Walker at South Carolina State College on May 24, 1988. The interview is conducted by Bob Williams. I have here that you were born on April 3, 1927 in Millen, Georgia.

LW: That's right.

RW: Tell us a little bit about your family background, who your father was, mother, and what they did.

LW: My dad, Julius C. Summers, Sr., was born in Dawesville, SC. He migrated to Millen, Georgia, where he met my mother, Mariah Johnson. Mom was previously married at 16 to an elderly minister from Augusta, GA. They produced one son, Henry Devoe. After the minister's death, she married my father and from their union produced 8 children: five girls and three sons.  is originally from South Carolina. 

RW: And your family was still living in Georgia?

LW: Yes.

RW: And your father was from South Carolina?

LW: Right.

RW: Eight kids.

LW: Nine in all.

RW: Did they all go to school?

LW: Yes. My oldest sister Ruby received a BS degree in Home Economics from Fort Valley State College, Fort Valley, GA. She later capitalized on her talent and became an artist. After her death, her husband built and dedicated a museum at home in her honor, where numerous exhibits of her artworks are displayed. Rosa Lee, the next sister, was awarded a BS degree in Home Economics from SC State College, with additional studies at Gerogia College and Fort Valley State College. The next two sisters received high school diplomas. I had four brothers. One was a farmer and three were painters. They did not complete their education beyond high school, although Moses, my youngest brother, attended Hampton University for a year.  I graduated from SC State College with an AB teaching option in Library Science. Later I received the MSLS from NC Central in 1956.

RW: Well, your family must have been very education-conscious.

LW: Well, we were. Millen is a small town. Millen, at that time, must have had about four thousand people. In fact, I remember as a little girl, we were one of three blacks in Millen with a telephone. My daddy was a painter, and he had to have a phone in order to get work. There was a black doctor who had a phone and his number was 261, and the funeral director had a phone and his number was 262, and our phone was 263. We had one of those phones on the wall, you know, that you had to crank up. And I remember that I was too small to even use it or reach it. Because there was nobody to call unless you called the doctor or the funeral director. And we didn't want to call either one of them. So this is what we had in Millen. It was a very small town. And as I said, there were sixteen to graduate from my class, and of course, I graduated first honor, valedictorian.

RW: Sixteen graduated.

LW: Yes.

RW: Your father must have done well in the painting business.

LW: Yes, he did., if  .45 cents per hous is doing well!

RW: Where is Millen, Georgia?

LW: It's south of Augusta, Georgia. If you go down 301 South, it's about twenty miles out of Sylvania.

RW: Yes.

LW: So you know where it is?

RW: I used to live in Atlanta and worked with the State Archives, so I know where Sylvania is. So you came to South Carolina State then, in what year?

LW: In 1944.

RW: Right in the middle of the war.

LW: Right.

RW: To major in what?

LW: Library Science. I don't know why, because my sisters were home-ec majors, both of them were. And I had a very good background in home economics, and I really thought I was going to major in home economics too, because they did. And when I got here, I went into liberal arts instead of home economics, and from liberal arts I selected the major of library science, and I was in the first class to graduate with a major degree in library science here at State College. I had a teaching option, and I could teach right or become a librarian. 

RW: How did you choose this? Accidentally or what?

LW: It was really...I registered in liberal arts, and I just kept looking around and trying to decide on a major. We didn't have a program where we could major in library science, as I said. There were four of us, and Mrs.Emily Copeland -- the Copeland from Tifton, Georgia -- was hired, my sophomore year, to teach, or to develop, this program. I don't know now how I happened to get into this. I was a liberal arts major, and when this opportunity came to major in library science, I took it.

RW: And finished in 1948?

LW: 1948. Six weeks before graduation, I signed a contract to work in Lancaster, SC for the school system. We librarians were really needed. We were in...I actually signed a contract six weeks before work.

RW: Why Lancaster?

LW: Well, it was a small roomate, Dorothy Bogart, from Savannah, GA, had a contract to work in Rock Hill,  and of courcse she finished in Library Science too. We had been roomates for three years and we said we were going to work some place in a city together, or we would go to a small place where we could be near each other. She went to Rock Hill and I went to Lancaster. We were ninteen miles apart.

RW: And you went as a teacher-librarian?

LW: Yes, as a librarian, but I didn't have to teach. In fact, really that first day, the principal gave us a schedule, and on this schedule he had me listed to teach history, that was my minor, and I thought, I didn't want to teach at all. I wanted to be a full-time librarian. And he said, "Oh, that's a mistake." And I said, "Well, I hope so, because I'm not going to stay if I have to teach." I did not want to teach. So he took that class and gave it to somebody else. He gave me a homeroom class. I had ninety-some kids as a homeroom teacher. I was a full-time librarian. 

RW:How big is this high school now?

LW:Well, it's on East Bar Street now. It's very large. At that time it was the Lancaster Training School, and the library was in a basement under the principal's house. His house was about two stories...a large house...two stories. And the basement housed the library collections. We had brick floors, cemented brick. It was terrible. I had three rooms, and I had a LOT of old novels that someone had given the library. So, I had taken the book collection and didn't know any better than to weed that collection, so I destroyed I don't know how many old, old, just old light novels. Someone from Columbia came in and they questioned me, wanting to know why the inventory had dropped so drastically. I showed them what I had done, and some of the books were still there that I was still in the process of weeding, and they couldn't believe it. They told me that they wished I had been there earlier, because that junk that we had, we really didn't need it, and I tell you, it was something like this. It was a combination high school elementary school, and public library all in one. That's why we had a lot of gifts. A lot of people gave a lot of gifts. But the basic things that we needed -- and I remember this -- they would not let us subscribe to the Readers Guide to Periodical Literature. This was a FACT!

RW: Why?

LW: Because they gave us the old issues from the public library.  And I had a time trying to convince them that we needed to subscribe to our own, because as I said, this was a public library also. It was a school library, and a public library, and all of my books I selected, had to go through the public librarian. She purchased them, they went to her library, and she opened the boxes and got what she wanted -- things I ordered -- if she felt that she wanted to keep them, she kept them for her library, which was a public library. So I had an awful time with that library. I stayed there three years.

RW: Who did you really work for?

LW: I worked for the public school system and the public library. My budget was manged by the school principal. He submitted my book requests to the white public library for ordering. There were no library facilities for blacks in Lancaster, except the school library. 

RW: Did the school put any money in for books? Or did all the money for books come from the public library?

LW: I don’t know. Other than that I had a budget for books, and I submitted the list to the principal’s office and it went to the public library. The librarian there ordered them and they came back to her. And then she chose what I ordered and sent them to me.

RW: You don’t know whose money: the school money or the public library money?

LW: No. It was probably mixed.

RW: Did she have the right of review over what you ordered?

LW: The public librarian? The only thing I remember, working with her, going down and getting my books. And fighting about that Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature, for she didn’t think we needed it because of those old issues that she gave us.

RW: Because there weren’t many journals that you had?

LW: No. we didn’t have too many. In fact, there was a lot of outdated materials that was just given to the library there. It was like dumping everything in this particular library.

RW: It was in the basement of the principal’s house?

LW: In the basement of the principal’s home. And you could go upstairs to his house and you could go down; the side of the house was the entrance of the library.

RW: Not what you would call good working conditions.

LW: Oh, no. It wasn’t. It was nothing. There’s not a library there any more. They now have a lovely library.

RW: What were you able to do with the teachers, in terms of getting them to use the library?

LW: We, you know, you always had at that time, teachers bringing classes to the library, and the kids would do whatever they wanted, or I had plans and programs for them when they came to me. But it was really like educating, because you see, at that time, there were a lot of schools without libraries at all, and they were more or less trying to get kids to know what the library was about, and try to get them to use them so that this was not a glorified study hall. Because I told you I had those ninety kids as a homeroom class.

RW: Was that also in the library?

LW: Yes. Definitely.

RW: And you had them both, they could come in the library?

LW: Right.

RW: And folks from the black community were coming into the public library and using it?

LW: Really, they were supposed to, but we really did not have that many, but the kids came back. Because I worked as a school librarian from 8:30 until 3:00, and from 5:00 until 7:00 I worked as a public librarian, and from 7:00 until 8:00 I taught veterans current events. This was right after the war, and I was teaching veterans for an hour. My salary was one hundred and twenty-seven dollars a month. My rent was six dollars a month.

RW: For a twelve hour day.

LW: For twelve hours a day. I wouldn’t do that again for all the tea in China. I really wouldn’t. It was something.

RW: So you were the public librarian, the school librarian?

LW: The black public librarian. Right. Because, you know, blacks could not go to the white public library. It was just like a wish to say that we had a library. We really didn’t.

RW: It was a pitiful collection?

LW: It was. It really was.

RW: Did your kids want to go down and use the public library. Did you ever have to deal with that problem?

LW: No.

RW: Or did they know?

LW: I don’t think at that time…kids had not become aware of things then like they are now.

RW: They just knew it was taboo…?

LW: Because I don’t think I would have done some things…like I would never have let her not give me the Reader’s Guide. I really wouldn’t do that now, but I accepted then. I fussed about it, but still fussing was not getting it. But I think I would have done more if it had been these times.

RW: What was the librarian like, who was at the public library? The white librarian? Was she trained to any extent?

LW: I don’t recall. I really wouldn’t know her now, if she walked in that door. I don’t recall. The only contact I remember was that she would give me these opened up boxes, and I can’t …she wasn’t aggressive enough for me to remember anything outstanding that she did. The only thing I remember was that she was the public librarian and I don’t even remember her name now. But this was in…

RW: 1948?

LW: Right. I don’t remember. This was in 1948.

RW: And you were there three years, from 1948 to 1951?

LW: Right. Then I decided to leave, and I came to Columbia, and worked at Carver Elementary School. And after that time, C.A. Johnson didn’t have a librarian, and I was trying to set up a program at Carver, when they kept asking me to go to C.A. Johnson. The supervisor decided the high school kids needed me more than the elementary school kids, so they transferred me to C.A. Johnson.

RW: I just have school librarian. So you were actually first at Carver? How long was that?

LW: I stayed at Carver a year.

RW: Then you went to C.A. Johnson?

LW: Yes, and I was there six years.

RW: Were you the first librarian at C.A. Johnson?

LW: No...who was there? I don’t …it’s been some years…I don’t know, but I was not the first librarian, because we did have… I remember the library was already set up, so I’m sure I wasn’t the first one. We just didn’t have one that year that I went over there.

RW: Someone had already set it up? Did it have a good collection?

LW: Basically, yes. But I remember, too, with the collection, each year, and I would still like to know why. Each year, in May, before school closed, you had to take every book in the collection down, and wrap them in newspaper and put them back on the shelves. That was a ritual. Every year.

RW: Would it keep…?

LW: Bugs out. Right.

RW: Bugs and vermin?

LW: That’s right. It was for that.

RW: So, essentially for the last month the books were not usable to the students at all because you were wrapping them?

LW: Right, getting ready for the summer. Because you had to do that while you had the students.

RW: So you did this from 1951 to 1956 then, working as a school librarian?

LW: High school librarian. At C.A. Johnson. Of course, I didn’t have any children.

RW: You had gotten married in the interim?

LW: Yes. I got married while there, and my first son was born in 1956. I was carrying him when I was at C.A. Johnson. And three months later, I had left C.A. Johnson, and of course the librarian at State, who was teaching library school resigned, and my son was born in July, and she resigned in August. They could not find a person to teach in the library school, so they came to Columbia to get me. My baby was six weeks old and I did not, again, want to teach. So I said no, I did not want the job. And they pleaded, because they could not find anyone by the time school opened to teach here. So I accepted the job and drove to Orangeburg with my child six weeks old, and in three months I was pregnant with the second child. I was on maternity leave at C.A. Johnson at that time. Then when I got pregnant the second time, in Columbia, there was a law at that time that you couldn’t be granted two consecutive maternity leaves; you had to stay out a year if you were on a maternity leave. It had to be a year before you could come back. So, I was out on one year’s leave with one, and got pregnant with the second one, and at that time they had no ruling that I had to resign and this was when I came to State College, and I taught in the library school again. And from there I still did not want to teach, so when a position was open upstairs in the main library…we were in Wilkinson Hall at the time… I went upstairs and worked in Circulation, so that’s how I started at the State College.

RW: Well, how did you like the six years being school librarian at C.A. Johnson?

LW: I loved it. I loved it.

RW: That was getting to be a larger and larger library. So there are two main black high schools at the time.

LW: Booker T. Washington and C.A. Johnson.

RW: What about relationships with other librarians in the city. How did you get your money and books and those kinds of things. Was there a budget?

LW: Yes, we had a budget. But what we had to do…we had what you call a central office, and at this central office…you had to submit your requisitions to the principal, and the principal took them to the central office, where they purchased materials for all the libraries, and of course, when the materials came in you…they were sent directly to you.

RW: Now, was this for both white and black schools?

LW: Yes. I guess. This was a unified district.

RW: What about relationships with the white librarians in the other high schools.

LW: No, we didn’t have any. We didn’t have any. In fact, it wasn’t until in 1960…well, Binford Conley came here to SC State in 1963…maybe 196…it was in the 60’s…early 60’s, I remember... He was the person who was instrumental in getting us to become members of the South Carolina Library Association, because at the time we couldn’t…visit. We couldn’t…

RW: You didn’t go to any library meetings?

LW: No. We weren’t allowed. We couldn’t join or anything.

RW: Now, you were active in the Palmetto Education Association.

LW: Right. I was active in the librarians' group. We met when the Teacher’s Association met.

RW: Now, you held some offices, committee chair’s…that kind of thing, with the Palmetto Education Association. I thought I…I don’t see any thing specific with committees here.

LW: I did some things then, but I don’t remember what they were. I remember programs, that I participated in, but I don’t remember specifics right now.

RW: But during those six years, then in Columbia, you were enjoying them, working with the teachers. Those kinds of things.

LW: I enjoyed it. It was very, very nice. My principal at C.A. Johnson recently passed away. He was very nice about giving me whatever I asked for to build the library or…it was really…he was very co-operative.

RW: Now, Mrs. Ethel Bolden is the librarian at Booker T.[Washington High School]?

LW: Yes, she was the librarian at Booker T. first, and then she went to W. Perry, and then from W. Perry she went to one of the other schools.

RW: But she was in school libraries at the same time you were? We want to interview her.

LW: Right.

RW: What was it like being a school librarian at that time. Were you getting enough monetary support?

<>LW: Yes. As I said, the principal was very nice. I got just about whatever I asked for.

RW: A Reader’s Guide this time?

LW: Oh Yes! (laughs) I finally got it! And didn’t have to use an old copy. No hand me downs. It was…I enjoyed it. In fact, when I came to State College, I was wondering if I would like working in a college environment more than I did in the high school environment, and for a long time…I enjoyed both, because I really like library work. And I enjoyed both, so I couldn’t say that one would be any better than the other. I felt that I couldn’t understand that when I just came there. The one difference was that I had a lot to do in the public school system. I was involved in everything, but when I came here, it was like specializing. I only had circulation to do, and it was a little drop when I first came, but I got used to that and when I became Head of Reader Services and then from there I was Cataloger, from there Acting Head Librarian. I’ve just done everything, been involved in all of it. And I just look at all as being library work.

RW: Yes, I want to talk about those. We’re continuing after lunch. We were at the point of talking about your job here at State. You came first to teach…and that was the first time.

LW: Yes. I came in 1956 while I was on maternity leave from C.A. Johnson.

RW: To teach in the summertime?

LW: No it was in the fall. So I told them I would teach until they could find someone to replace me. I worked until January of 1957, first semester, we were on the semester period then, it was after Christmas when the semester ended, but now it ends before Christmas. And after Christmas, it was January 31, I think it was when I left and went back to Columbia.

RW: What were you teaching that first year?

LW: Book selection and administration. I think it was everything except cataloging because Bernice Middleton taught cataloging. And Bernice was head of the department; they had hired her that year. Then, I told you I went back to Columbia from 1st of February till the next September--no July-- when I was out on maternity leave again. So I had to resign from C.A.Johnson and that’s when the second child was born. And when he was 11 months old I came back to Orangeburg and taught again that same course. Rossie Caldwell worked in the Library School but she had to go back to school, she was at…

RW: Illinois?

LW: Illinois.  Rossie went back to school and I taught again for a semester. That was the September 1958. Rossie went back to school and I went upstairs and worked in the library.

RW: Now you essentially moved to Orangeburg?

LW: Yes. This is home. I moved here in 1958.

RW: Your kids are just a year or two old...

LW: Thirty…

RW: At that time.

LW: Yes, I moved here when one son was 2 years and the other was 11 months. And then I have a third son since I came here for good.

RW: You were a right busy lady…

LW: I was…I still am. I’m still busy.

RW: So from teaching then you started…what ...first as periodicals librarian…was that….

LW: Circulation. I worked in..., no, oh, really if we go back to when I finished college, I worked at State College the summer of 48; I was more like a guinea pig from the department. They wanted to see what we were really learning in the department, and they took me upstairs--because you know the library school was downstairs in Whittaker Library in Wilkinson Hall. Well, I went upstairs and I had to do everything. And then each summer for those three years I was in Lancaster…each summer I came back here and worked during the summer. One of those summers I worked with periodicals. Then when I came in 58, as I said, I taught the first semester and then I went upstairs and worked as a circulation librarian---there were about 4 of us up there in circulation. We had no head, no nothing. Everybody was making the same thing, everybody did the same thing--we had closed stacks at the time---I’ll take them next time--it was like that. And I think all of us were in 1960…3 of us pregnant. So I had a third son in 60. Then I left circulation and when Spencer Conley came…Barbara [Jenkins] was reference librarian at the time, then Binford Conley came and appointed me as Head of Reader Services. When I came here our salaries were $3940 for twelve months…did you know that? Find that out?

RW: Well, my first library job was in 65 at, I think, $4400.

LW: Well, okay, alright. Around 60--early 60’s---I don’t remember---as I became Cataloger in 63. And that was the year Conley left. So he must have come around 60 because he didn’t stay long. So when he made me Head of Reader Services, I was Head of Reader Services until Barbara was appointed Head Librarian. And Barbara appointed me as Head Cataloger, but not as Head of Cataloging, because at that time we only had one person to catalog and one clerk-typist. So, after being a cataloger for years Barbara reorganized and made me head of Technical Services and that involved cataloging and acquisitions. Then I became Acting Head Librarian when she was on leave. When she came back, she reorganized again and divided the staff up into Collection Organization and Collection Utilization and I became Head of Collection Organization. And that was what I retired as.

RW: You retired in what year?

LW: 1984. After 35 years service at State.

RW: Including being a school librarian?

LW: Right. I was here 20 years.

RW: What was the place like during those years in terms of the school…was it pretty small…was library use getting…was it pretty intensive during those times?

LW: Circulation and what not? Yes. The big problem we were having then was the budget was so small. I don’t know why 50 thousand dollars is hitting my mind; I don’t know whether that was the budget or what. But we had a very small budget and before Barbara came…I don’t remember…I’m wondering whose responsibility it was to do all of acquisitions because Barbara organized that. I don’t know who was doing it…whether everybody was doing it or what. But I do know we don’t have that much money to spend because I remember when I became cataloger my accession number was 63 thousand--no 53 thousand-- 53 thousand because I often would say, gosh, I really saw this library grow. When I became cataloger I was writing the call numbers on the spines with a stylus and a paste brush and pasting them, shellacking the letters on the spine. And then of course we went from there to an electric stylus and from the electric stylus we went on to the stenciling machine.

RW: Yeah. You did see tremendous growth during that time.

LW: Yes, I’ve seen a lot of growth and even with the organization of the collection. When we came we were on Dewey, you know, and under Barbara’s administration we began studying the feasibility of converting to Library of Congress and we visited many schools and studied the advantages and disadvantages. While she was away in school, I decided to convert and because I was cataloger, it wasn’t bad. Then I had a problem: How in the world can I get all these books switched around to the different floors? Well I had a friend that was working with the Alumni Association and I mentioned this to her and she said, well if she was to oversee this program…those kids needed jobs. So she let me have the first group of kids that summer. And I used them, and we moved this entire collection. And then we had it ready. And because -- back to the time when Barbara was away at school -- I had started attending a lot of the professional meetings and I was very friendly with Ken Toombs, Director at the Univ. of South Carolina. I liked him a lot. So we were on a plane flying to New Orleans to one of the… Southeastern meetings, I think it was. I always went a little early so I could do a little sight-seeing because I had never been to Louisiana. He was going early because he had a meeting with 50 other research libraries from all over the country. And they were getting ready to decide to go into this network, the Solinet network. And sitting there, I said "I am so tired of the big libraries getting all the good stuff, why don’t you all include us in something good?" So he said: "You think you all will be interested?” I said, “Well sure we’ll be interested.” So, when he went to the meeting the next day, he told them, “Let’s think about the small libraries,” those who would be interested. And he came back and invited all the librarians from all the state supported schools from SC to visit, to meet with him in his library at McKissick. We met there and the only two libraries in the state to really accept were State College and Winthrop. Mr. Gooley, Librarian at the College of Charleston had started his own automation program there. The College of Charleston didn’t want it and Francis-Marion didn’t want it. The Citadel, they were one of the last ones to get it. We wanted it and we were one of the charter members--99 libraries to get on this system. Of course I had Ken Toombs to thank. He was out of the office the day they were to install the terminals. They called me and said "Lil are you going to be in Orangeburg today? "Are you going to be in your library?"  I said yes I’ll be here." And they said "we were supposed to install, Ken Toombs' terminal today, but they aren’t here, so is it okay if we come to Orangeburg?" I said "Oh Yes" …so now I had this jump on him. We were the first in the state of SC to get Solinet.

RW: Equipment?

LW: Equipment. And they had installed it and we were online. Ken Toombs was second and he was the one who really started it.

RW: How did you get along with other folks like that in the state library system?

LW: Oh real well.

RW: Barbara said you all had a group that was formed…

<>LW: We got along real well, really when they decided to let blacks go into the SC Library Association. I’ll tell you because Binford Conley thought this when he was here and he pushed to get the black librarians merged with the SC Library Association.

RW: And this was what year?

LW: Binford Conley left in 1963 because that’s when I become cataloger. Barbara went right in and started reorganizing. So he came in the early 60’s. I think he came in 1960, that’s when it was. Because that’s when he came. All of us were so pregnant out at the desk and all these three children were born in 1960, so that’s when he came…and he stayed until 63.

RW: So he fought the battle to get…was there real resistance in SCLA in blacks joining the association?

LW: Yes. We just couldn’t join, they didn’t want us.

RW: The SCLA board did not? …the membership..?

LW: Right…. The membership.

RW: What did he do specifically…?

LW: I don’t know, write letters and things. In fact, Barbara can tell you this because I didn’t go to the meeting. There was a Southeastern… I mean a SC Library Association meeting in Greenville, and Barbara can tell you from there because I don’t know what happened, but something happened in Greenville that wasn’t too… I mean it wasn’t like open doors to us.

RW: Mrs. Caldwell said in her interview this morning, that she… I don’t know if she was using Greenville as an example or what… she said..."what we said in Greenville is that we will be back." So you think something, a turndown might have occurred?

LW: I don’t know what it was because it has been a long time and I don’t know and I did not go that year.

RW: But then what in ‘61 or ‘62, some decision was made that blacks could join the … [SCLA]?

LW: Right. Right.

RW: And Conley you think was the one that….

LW: Conley started it. I think he wrote letters and stuff like that. But I don’t know exactly what he did.

RW: Where is he now?

LW: He’s in Alabama. Barbara would know that. Librarians keep tab of each other.

RW: That’s interesting. I didn’t realize that that took place so late. And you think some controversy took place in Greenville.

LW: I don’t know whether it was a controversy, I really don’t know what happened… as I said I didn’t go… but I do know whatever it was it was something that wasn’t acceptable. I don’t know what it was.

RW: Now the main professional association in the state prior to that was the Palmetto Education Association.

LW: Yes.

RW: And you said you’d been active in participation?

LW: As I recall. In fact while I was out to lunch I was thinking---and I cannot for the sake of me--so I must not have held any top offices, but it might have been committees, because I can’t remember. Other than those seemingly taking children somewhere… and I don’t know what it was, I really don’t.

RW: But you attended most of their meetings.

LW: No. Not most of them, I don’t know whether…how much I attended them, but I do remember going to some for the meetings.

RW: The Palmetto Education Association and the SC Education Association merged someplace in there about the same time.

LW: Yes…

RW: I’m going to have to look that up to see just exactly when it was too.

LW: Because I remember I was in Lancaster with the public school system when I used to come through to go to the meetings. See that was three years, back in 1948 and I don’t remember.

RW: But at State in terms of support, was there good support from the administration for the library.

LW: Yes.

RW: Were you getting faculty to help out or be open to doing things with students, making assignments, encouraging use of the library. What kinds of things…of those activities…were taking place?

LW: It seems as though we’ve always had a problem with faculty cooperating or working directly with the library in getting kids to utilize the materials here--and I think they still have that problem. For a long time you would see the library empty during the day, but at night most of them would come, which was like more or less socializing than really having faculty members follow up and work with librarians. And then again Barbara changed that in a way and I don’t know what they’re doing now. But when she reorganized she gave each librarian a discipline and had them working directly with each faculty member.

RW: Apparently she has a pretty active bibliographic instruction program now.

LW: Right. I think she has.

RW: Working with various subject areas.

LW: Right.

RW: How did you like being Acting Director?

LW: I liked it, but, now don’t get me wrong when I make a statement like this. I liked to look back and see progress…see what I have done. And I like, I think it’s one reason I like cataloging because you look and see you have ten books on the shelf and you’ve cataloged ten’ve done 10 books right? Okay. The administration is almost like, it’s a lot of paperwork and it’s a lot of organizing and reorganizing.

RW: Talking to people...

LW: Right. And you sit in a room all morning, and to me you get out and have got one thing done. I mean it’s a matter of opinions flashing back and forth for four hours…that’s the part of administration that I think I don’t like. I like to look back and say…

RW: Just think of your work????

LW: I like the progress… I like to see what I’ve done. And when you sit around and you have opinions, spend all day talking about what may be and what could be, what should be.

RW: Do you feel that the library was a high priority of the State College administration during those years?

LW: Not all the time. Because I thought it was terrible, our budget was always so low and I thought it was terrible that our salaries were so low, and I thought we were not appreciated as professional librarians for a long time too. I thought they looked at us as more or less servants instead of as professional people. And then of course, Barbara again, has done a lot. She really has. I mean I like her a lot, and I’m not just saying this because she was good, did a lot. Barbara started us studying and we did a lot of work checking all over the state in faculty rank and status. And we came back with proposals and all these things and she kind of pushed us through that was and then we got faculty rank and status.

RW: And better pay?

LW: And better pay. And now when the better pay came…when Barbara left in 1971… I was making ten thousand dollars as a cataloger; this is 1971. And she making about thirteen thousand, everybody else was under us. That was low wasn’t it?

RW: Pitiful.

LW: Pitiful. Well I ….

LW: I know and I needed a cataloger because I needed to get somebody to replace me. So here again, what I did was…..

****************END OF TAPE SIDE ONE**********************


RW: So you hired a white librarian.

LW: Yes the first one. I brought her in and told her don’t come for less than 10 thousand dollars. And then when she told me she needed a job, I think she would have come for anything, but I said don’t come for less than ten. So she came and I presented it to the administration and I told them I can’t find a cataloger anyplace…the only one I can find will not come for less than 10 thousand dollars. And this person told me…we can’t do that because that’s what you’re making. Remember now, I had been Acting [Head] Librarian for a year on ten thousand dollars. So this was in October. He called all the librarians in his office and apologized for having kept their salaries down so low.

RW: The president…?

LW: Not President… The Vice-President of Academic Affairs. And he gave the 10 thousand dollars for the cataloger, gave me a 4 thousand dollar raise in October and we’ve been going ever since. So then I hired 2 more white--this is terrible…you’re going to take all this information out….

RW: No we’re going to leave it in…

LW: That’s how we got it. This is how, but really the staff is still low. Do you know we were working 12 months out of the year making these low salaries? If you would divide that low, what was it 10 thousand dollars into 12 months…working a 40 hours a week.

RW: Was the administration willing to pay more because they were white librarians or because of the shortage of folks?

LW: I don’t know what their thought was. Because when he called us in and apologized I don’t know what the thought was. But the only thing I was happy we got it.

RW: How did it compare with faculty salaries at the time…do you remember?

LW: I don’t know because salaries have always been very hushed-up, you don’t know what anybody was making. And I don’t know.

RW: No average kinds of figures were available to folks?

LW: You thought, I think you kind of say in a range of, but you just didn’t know.

RW: Where were you hiring these folks from? Were they Carolina graduates?

LW: Okay, the first thing, the first, now remember you all got the library school and…

RW: 70 or 71…

LW: Right. And that a little unwritten law that you were not going to hire any from the library school in Mckissick library.

RW: So, I’ve heard...

LW: You’re right. They thought they were not. There was something in there, I don’t know what he thought, but they wouldn’t hire them. So I got one of those girls. Cheryl Kelly, remember her?

RW: Before my time.

LW: Okay, well she finished, I think she was in the first class and I hired her as a cataloger and she was very good, very good. Then I hired another one from here, another librarian from here who was white, to help me with the reclassification project. So I had three on staff at the same time.

RW: Now, did you staff get a raise at the same time?

LW: Yes…all of ‘em.

RW: Oh they did?

LW: Right. You know when he said, when he apologized and he gave everybody a raise.

RW: That’s interesting. To make that switch at that time. So you were acting director for one year? Or….

LW: Four years. Barbara was away form 1971, September of 1971 until November of 1974.

RW: 1974…

LW: 74, I think those were her years…

RW: I don’t know any of the dates as acting director….I’m glad to get those dates. So support would vary, pretty much, from administrator to administrator and all this time you all were reporting to the Vice-President of Academic Affairs.

LW: Right.

RW: And your staff went from one or two folks up to four or five professionals?

LW: Yes. When I was cataloger, I was the only cataloger and I had one clerk-typist. Then we reclassified the collection to Library of Congress and I was able to pick up another staff member. And then when I had a special grant to work with the --to reorganize the collection to LC--I had a staff for that.

RW: Then retiring in 1984…but still you’re not retired.

LW: No, I came back and, Barbara had an awful backlog of uncataloged books back there and Mary’s the only one back there and she can’t find a cataloger--couldn’t find one. So she asked if I would come back up there for three months, I’ll come back and see what I can help them with for three months…June 30th.

RW: Oh June, so you’ve just been doing it this year?

LW: Since April 1st. And I’ll be through June 30th.

RW: Finished?

LW: I will.

RW: You’ll probably be so involved in it that you won’t be able to quit.

LW: No. I hope not, I should be out right now mowing my lawn.

RW: So your kids are still living in Orangeburg or are they scattered all around?

LW: They scattered all around.

RW: Grandkids and all that?

LW: I have grandkids too.

RW: Supposed to be out enjoying retirement…

LW: I’m enjoying it, it’s pretty nice…

RW: Back to the white-black relationships during this time. It sounds to me if you were the calm resigned type, rather than the angry type during the 1960’s.

LW: I am that way. I’m not…

RW: That must have bothered you tremendously though, being an educated woman and not well-regarded generally in the society, even shunned by your fellow professionals…non-involvement…what knows of feelings occurred to you then and now?

LW: Well, when you say I’m the kind of reserved type, not getting highly emotional when these situations arose, I don’t know whether that’s completely true, because I’m very vocal and I think that’s why I’ve been brought back in so many places because I’m not. I am very vocal. But I dealt with them; I didn’t have the fighting skills…you know verbally. I didn’t emotionally fight with people, but things were…I looked at them like…if you talking about the 3 staff members that I had…We got along beautifully because they understood me and they knew and respected me and they knew they couldn’t get out of line with me and they really knew that. So I had no problems with them. I enjoy working with them, they were very good workers and this was what it was all about.

RW: What about then…well…you were saying that essentially SCLA was not a big part of your life during the time when essentially the association…

LW: No, because for a long time we just attended the meetings. We just didn’t have any leadership roles at all, we were just there. Because we were in a minority. Anything you tried to do you have to…you just didn’t have that many blacks in there to support you.

RW: Yes. What’s the thinking about the Greenville thing? I wanted to see what that incident was…that was the first I’d heard about it. That it should be ironic that Barbara became president of SCLA and at a Greenville meeting…

LW: I’m going to ask her what happened.

RW: I’m going to interview her eventually.

LW: It might have been something…it might have been something very minor, it might have been something like they had to stay in one hotel and the others…that might have been it. I don’t know what it was, but it was something.

RW: Well the Richmond…I don’t know if you’ve ever heard about the Richmond meeting that was essentially the last meeting held in the south for a good thirty years, I guess, in which the black librarians who came--this was at a ALA meeting--the black librarians who came to that Richmond meeting could not stay in the main conference hotel and that brought to a head essentially the issue and ALA didn’t meet again in the south for thirty years maybe.

LW: That might have been something like that, but as I said, I didn’t go that year and I have forgotten, I’m sure they told me what it was, but I’ve forgotten.

RW: I missed here someplace, you went to North Carolina College and got your masters…is 55 the year you think?

LW: 1956. I completed my work in 55 and I was supposed to graduate in 56, you know they only had summer convocations…winter convocations. And I was pregnant at the time and didn’t go back.

RW: You went summers up there?

LW: Yes, I went summers.

RW: Now you were producing babies someplace right along there..?

<>LW: Oh yes. Well I got married in 1954. Starting in 48…well every summer was an active summer. Summer of 48 I graduated from college and worked at State College in the library doing everything. Summer of 49 I must have gone to school. 50, must have been in school because in 53 I know I was back here working. 55, I was back in school…I don’t know, it was during that time the program included a BSLS degree also.

RW: This was a MS degree right?

LW: Yes it was.

RW: You must have been one busy lady…

LW: I’m still busy….I had two in 12 months, not really 12 months, I was pregnant with the second one 3 months after I had the first one and driving from Columbia to Orangeburg, standing teaching 4 classes straight, driving back to Columbia. 

RW: Now is your husband still alive?

LW: Yes, but we are separated. Seven years now.

RW: So once the kids are gone, you are back at work at State…?

LW: Right.

RW: So your kids are in their 30’s.?

LW: 30’s, right.

RW: Graduates of SC State?

LW: No, Citadel. Two graduated from the Citadel, one graduated from here. Three went to the Citadel; the second child didn’t like it and came back here, so he graduated from here. He’s with the Wildlife Department in Columbia. And the youngest one is with the Highway Dept. in Greenville. The oldest one I can tell you what he used to do, he was a missile launch operator in the Air Force, at Warren Air Force Base, but he’s unemployed right now.

RW: That interesting, the Citadel. Not long after they integrated too.

LW: Yes, he, the first son went to the Citadel in 74, graduated in 78. The second one went in 78 and graduated in 82.

RW: Well I think that concludes my questions. We’ve got some juicy little tidbits here.

LW: I hope not…

***************END OF TAPE….SIDE TWO***************************************

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