Interview with: Miss Lois Barbare (LB)
Date of Interview: October 8, 1986
Place: Laurens, SC
Interviewers: Robert V. Williams (RVW)
Roberta VH. Copp
Transcriber: Gayle Sykes
Permission to Use Restrictions
RVW: We're doing an oral history interview with Miss Lois Barbare in Laurens, South Carolina, on October 8, 1986, in Miss Barbare's apartment at the Baptist Home in Laurens. If we could begin with some of your educational background, you finished USC in 1933 with a degree in what subject?
LB: A degree in history.
RVW: History. O.K.
LB: A minor in education.
RVW: Then you went to the Darlington County public schools from '34 to '37 and taught ...
LB: Grammar school.
RVW: Grammar school.
LB: From there I went to library school at Emory.
RVW: How did you happen to choose Emory University?
LB: I had connections. I had a good friend who was teaching at Emory at the time, Alfred Rawlinson, a name you probably know. He lives in Columbia and he used to be the head librarian at the University of South Carolina. He's retired, but at that time he was teaching at Emory. By the time I got there he was [elsewhere], but I knew about the school from him.
RVW: You knew him from your days at USC?
LB: No, no. He was [not] at USC when I was. I knew him -- he married a family friend. And of course Emory was pretty much the library school for people in this section at that time. It's the old one, you see.
RVW: Yes, folks really had a choice of Chapel Hill and Emory and that was about it.
LB: Well you didn't hear much about Chapel Hill at that time. That came later. But Miss [Tommie Dora] Barker was still at Emory when I went, you see, and she was well known in the South because she had been the ALA representative -- field representative -- in the South. I believe the only one, the only field representative ALA ever had. Then she went to Emory. People knew Miss Barker. She already had a reputation for promoting county and regional libraries in the South.
RVW: She was teaching there when you were there.
LB: Yes, she was the dean of the library school.
RVW: Now her study of the southern library development -- I've forgotten when -- was it earlier or after that?
LB: It was earlier. It was done as a result of her being the ALA field representative in the South. The study of countywide library, I don't remember the exact title, but it was about countywide library services in the south. That was her field -- what she promoted.
RVW: Did you go there with the intention that your specialization would be public libraries?
LB: It was pretty much Emory's specialization at that time. The faculty was geared that way, and, really, school libraries in the south, at least in South Carolina, hadn't gotten off the ground yet. It was pretty well public or college and university. That was the way it was. [We had, I believe, nine school libraries.] In the cities in South Carolina they had school libraries, but as a general rule they were just -- well, they were nothing to write home about. So there was no emphasis on school libraries at Emory. I must say, though in the spring term, we had a school librarian who came in and did some courses that emphasized school libraries. Some of the people in my class were sent [to Emory] by their libraries. They came there without training [and they were sent to school] and were going back to the sponsoring libraries. But you remember this was the depths of the depression.
RVHC: How did you happen to go from teaching to library work?
LB: Well I had people who encouraged me, people in the profession. I'd just had very happy relationships with libraries. I grew up in Greenville county and Greenville county had, as you are probably aware, the first county library in the state. As a grammar school child I used the bookmobile. It looks very primitive if you see the pictures now, but that's the way it was.
RVW: The bookmobile came out to Taylors.
LB: It went all over [the county] to the country schools. It went to the schools, because remember there were no school libraries. That was our [source of] books. And then, during the summer, I would go to the Greenville Public Library. At that time [the county and public libraries] were separate entities. I won't go into the history of the Greenville County Library System, but the county library and the Greenville Public system were set up separately and in fact they merged as a result of federal programs.
RVW: So you had really been using public libraries all during this time? What finally made the direct switch from teaching to ...
LB: I never -- I guess I shouldn't say this -- but I never enjoyed teaching especially.
RVW: So you then decided to head off to Emory and you knew someone who had connections at Emory.
LB: That's right.
RVW: Do you recall anything about the textbooks that you used at Emory, or faculty that you really liked?
LB: Well, Miss Barker was outstanding as faculty. Of course she was away a lot of the time. She was an administrator, but she taught county libraries. I guess that's where I got my further background in them. Because I really didn't know when I went there how few countywide systems there were in South Carolina. I just assumed everybody had one because I'd grown up with one. But, there were really, you see -- I won't go into the history of libraries -- but Richland and Charleston got started after Greenville. The Rosenwald demonstrations [helped them]. And then Dillon had a countywide library system, but that was pretty well it when I went to library school. Now back to the faculty, our textbooks, um -- library schools were very different then. We had a course that went throughout the year in book selection, and it was taught by Miss Evelyn Jackson. She's dead now. And our textbook was Helen Haine's, Living with Books. I bet you never heard of it.
RVW: I have.
RVHC: I haven't.
RVW: We were still using it when I went to Florida State.
LB: Oh, were you? Well, anyway, Miss Pettus, Miss Clyde Pettus, taught cataloging. They were really outstanding in their fields. Evelyn Jackson made you love books whether you ever thought of loving a book or not, and she had a broad knowledge of books. She had been reader's advisor for Atlanta Public. And Miss Pettus had a long history of teaching cataloging. And then for reference we had Miss [Marion V.] Higgins. She was the only Yankee we had. I believe she came from Illinois. And she was a much older person. She had probably retired from some other job and was [teaching] when I was there. They all knew their fields, and we studied all the time.
RVW: You were full time? You went straight through in one year?
LB: Oh, yes. Full time. And you just got another AB degree [then, no M.A.]
RVW: Right. We were talking with Mrs. Frances Lander Spain recently. You know she went there also about the same time you were there.
LB: Not the year I was there.
RVW: I think she was a little earlier. Maybe one year or something like that.
LB: I don't know when she went. Is she still in Florida?
RVW: No, she just moved to New York. Her daughter lives up there, and so I went up and interviewed her a couple of weeks ago. She was mentioning something about the ideas from Chicago beginning to filter down and talking about some of those kinds of things at the time she was there. Was this happening when you were there?
LB: Ideas from where?
RVW: From the University of Chicago's Graduate Library School.
LB: No, no. I don't remember anything about that.
RVW: Once you got your degree from Emory in '38 you came back to South Carolina?
LB: Yes. Remember there were not many libraries and not many jobs, so I went to work for the WPA. I guess Miss Barker -- that's right -- Miss Barker told me [about the WPA Library Program]. We had no state extension agency. We had it on paper, but it was not funded, so there was no person like the State Librarian to go to to ask about where a job might be. Miss Barker told me about [it] -- at that time -- the Works Progress Administration. [It was the Works Progress Administration, still, I believe, then.] [It] had a library project and the director was Miss Agnes Crawford, and [Miss Barker] suggested I go to see her. Well, when I went to see her I thought I was to find out where there might be a job, and it turned out she was looking for -- she wanted people with training on [her] staff there. She was a trained person. So I went to work right away after I talked to her. Of course, that was right up my alley in a way because that's the way most of the countywide library system developed in this state, Because [of] that office ... I didn't work out of the state office. I was shuffled around. Most of the people in the program didn't have training, so I worked in a lot of parts of the state and in the state office, too. But it served really as an extension agency would serve now, there not being another one.
RVW: Now we have you were a district supervisor. You were in and out of the main office in Columbia?
LB: Oh, yes. Let me see where I started. I believe I started as a district supervisor in the Spartanburg area, and then at some point -- I don't remember the time span -- I worked at -- we had a cataloging project that worked out of the education building at the University. We did cataloging for libraries, mostly school libraries. And whenever someone -- really when there was a vacancy somewhere, I went. I remember working in the district office of Florence for a while, and then I came back and worked as an assistant to the state director who at that time was Nancy Blair.
RVW: Now who was the first person you worked for, who hired you?
LB: Agnes Crawford.
RVW: Agnes Crawford. I don't think we had her name before this.
LB: Well, now she could, um -- she's still living in this state. I'm not sure she doesn't live in Columbia. I don't know. I haven't seen her for years. (telephone ringing)
RVW: O.K. We were talking about Miss Agnes Crawford.
LB: Yes. It was hard for us to realize when we worked for the WPA library project that we weren't just doing library work. Because the way it was set up, there was a strong control in that office, [but] it was [really] a relief project. We had to be constantly reminded that this was to give people jobs. We had training programs that trained the people who worked in school and public libraries. Of course, now, Agnes Crawford took over from the first person who set up that library project, [it was] Ida Belle Entrekin Wiley. She's still living. She lives in Chester. She is responsible for the concept, in my opinion, and for setting it up more like an extension agency. We had the strong backing of the woman who was the head of the women's work project in the Works Project Administration. In fact, her daughter later on went to library school she got so interested in libraries. So we often got the cream of the crop [of] people [who] were on [relief]. People had to be on the relief rolls before they got the jobs. We were allowed a certain percentage of supervisors, very small, [but] most of them were on the relief rolls. And there were training programs set up to teach the people to work in libraries. Some of them worked on their own [in small libraries] and some of them worked in libraries for librarians. But Agnes Crawford took over from Ida Belle Entrekin, and she really kept strong control over it. For instance, if you were in a district office --and that's where the appointments were made -- but every appointment had to be approved in the state office if it was for the library project. That was to try to assure some educational background [and what not] for the people on the project. She did such a good job that she left and went up to the state headquarters -- I mean the national headquarters for the WPA library project, and worked for, I believe his first name is Edward -- Chapman, who was the head of the project for the United States. I believe he's dead, but I'm not sure. But Agnes left there, and for a good many years was head of the Army library program in Washington. In fact, that's what she retired from, I assume.
RVW: We'll try to look her up. Now when you were talking about the woman who was head of the entire project, this is Anne King Gregory?
LB: No, no. She was [just] head of [the] historical [project]. That was another project. Mrs. Davies was the head of women's work for the state of South Carolina. They [the WPA] had a head, who was Mr. Pinkney, and then a head of women's work. All the so-called women's projects came under Mrs. Davies, and that was where the library program was set up. And I assume the history project, too.
RVW: The files for the WPA project, or some of them, are in the state Archives, and Robin has gone through some of them and ....
RVHC: The state historical records survey.
LB: Yes. We used to go to meetings all the time, I guess it's when I was assistant to the state director, because we went to the meetings with the head of all of these other projects, so I knew her briefly. There was a recreation project ... I don't remember [all] .... A school lunch project. There were different projects. And the library project was a separate project.
RVHC: Did you work with Miss Gregory and Mrs. Surles then during the library imprint ... the imprint survey?
LB: No, that was the history project. We were libraries. They were doing a history.
RVW: About how many people were hired on the library project statewide?
LB: You know, I have no idea.
RVW: But a lot?
LB: A right good many, because as long as the relief rolls were there and a library requested one -- a public or a school library -- a lot of school libraries had them and a lot of public libraries had them. And college. Some worked in the University library.
RVW: Now the centralized cataloging project -- you mentioned that a few minutes ago. That you all were cataloging books for any library around the state. Who was primarily doing this cataloging? Were you doing that?
LB: When I was there I was. And there were typists who typed the cards. They were good. One of them went to the -- what was the State Library Board for years -- and then right on to the State Library and retired from there. [She] worked in the catalog department as typist, and she was a whiz.
RVW: What are you all using for resources for cataloging information? Were you cataloging from scratch, or were you trying to look up catalog copy someplace?
LB: That's the kind of detail I really don't remember too much about. I don't imagine that type of a cataloging project would be a thing that I would go for today, since I went on and did more serious cataloging. But there again, it was -- I guess there were standards coming in at that time for school libraries, that they were supposed to have a catalog, and they had no earthly way to get a catalog. This was one way they could say, "Here's my catalog." This gave people work -- typing.
RVW: Let's talk a little bit more about the connection between the WPA library project and the founding of the State Library Board and the growth of the county library system. You said you all trained a number of folks within the ....
LB: Well, I mean, we taught simple things like how to file, etc. Oh no, we didn't do any training that was on a professional library level. This was strictly what you'd teach aides and what you'd call some kind of aides or clerks in libraries. Oh no, we -- no attempt for that. The object of everybody -- the project -- everybody -- was working for a funded state library agency. That was one of the objects. We always knew that the WPA library project would close, but we hoped that by that time there would be an appropriation for -- to fund the State Library Board, which was on the books [but without funds]. And Mrs. Bostick -- Lucy Hampton Bostick -- kept it alive. But you can't leave out Miss Mary Frazier in anything you talk about [any discussion of library promotion] because she was, ... she worked for [the Extension Service at] Winthrop at that time, and those offices were later moved to Clemson ... but [she was with the] extension program. And it was her object to get funding for a state library commission, and the lady -- she was a Virginia lady -- a perfect lady, but, bless her heart, she was deaf as a doorpost, almost. But she worked with the politicians. Now in developing this program of county libraries in this state, see, she emphasized to farm women and farm agents in all the counties that they were to cooperate with the programs, and they did, and they're largely responsible for a lot of them [the demonstrations] being taken over and funded at the local level when the project closed.
RVW: Now she never worked actually for the WPA project, did she?
LB: Oh, no. Gracious no. She worked for Clemson. Now somebody ought to do a book on her, because she did so much for this state. You hear all sorts of -- and I'm not taking anything from Miss Wil Lou Gray -- but she did just as much for libraries and for other programs. And they were contemporaries.
RVHC: What was the other lady you mentioned?
LB: Wil Lou Gray, in education. Opportunity School. During that time -- still, I don't remember years -- I don't remember anything [it seems] -- Olin Johnston, I believe, was the governor -- Miss Frazier was always out to get money for an appropriation for the State Library Board so they could go on and do something. And the story goes, whether true or false, that she approached Olin Johnston ... Oh, it came out in the paper that there was a thousand dollar surplus in [some fund]; now it doesn't sound like anything now, but it was money then ... The story goes that Miss Frazier confronted Olin Johnston on there being a thousand dollar surplus and couldn't they have it for the State Library Board, and since she couldn't hear, we don't know what he said, but she went and announced [in the newspapers] that he agreed (laughing). So it was that money, plus some more, I believe, that brought Dr. Helen Gordon Stewart to South Carolina, who organized a citizens' library committee. Did you ever hear of it?
RVW: We know about the Citizens' Library Association. Now we have that it was earlier, during the time when the -- that it was an outgrowth of the Clemson conference.
LB: Well, now, there was an earlier movement, and I was not in on it, so I'm not going to talk about that, but it was not active [then]. But it was during the time I was working -- and I can't remember where I was working, so I can't give you a year. But they brought Dr. Helen Gordon Stewart to this state -- and it was her object to organize a citizens' library association, which she did. And I know because I would take her out to [make speechs] some district office -- and I believe it must have been in Spartanburg -- because she had no means of transportation, and we did; we did have travel funds, you see. So I would take her around to these meetings [and other district supervisors did the same] to organize the citizens groups in the counties. It culminated, when she finished, with a big meeting in Columbia with representatives from the whole state. It was in the old Columbia Hotel. And that's where she made her final report, of course.
RVW: That Ms. Stuart made her final report.
LB: Uh huh. I don't know what happened to all those records.
RVW: We are really having trouble finding out anything about them. Clemson doesn't seem to have them, and ...
LB: Clemson wasn't really in on this except it was a project of Miss Frazier's, and she was using her power -- she was, by that time, I believe, a member of the State Library Board. You remember; the unfunded one. She and Marion Wright of -- have you ever heard of Marion Wright? He was at that time practicing law in Conway and Lucy Bostic and ... I don't remember, but I assume at that state meeting is where the officers were elected for ... Agnes -- now wait a minute -- Agnes Crawford could remember more about that than I'm remembering, I expect.
RVW: We'll check that out.
LB: There was that earlier thing at Clemson, because there was a pamphlet published as a result of that. There was nothing published as a result of this second thing. And I'm not sure anything ever really came of it except that when the WPA was finally closed there was no trouble in getting an appropriation to keep the office open, [to fund the State Library Board]. Essentially it changed from WPA to the state, because Nancy Blair was head of the WPA Library Project when it closed and she was named to be the first Executive Secretary of the State Library Board. And at that time I had left the WPA, with the advent of World War II and had gone to work at Stark General Hospital in Charleston, an Army hospital. And I worked there for two years and [then] came back. I would have stayed, I assume, but it was a general hospital I was working for and I didn't want to go overseas. I was not the venturesome type. And it had become a debarkation hospital. We got patients from overseas. They came there just long enough to get shipped out to hospitals closer to home. So that's when I left and I came back to work at the State Library Board.
RVW: How did you like those two years as an Army librarian?
LB: I loved it. I was young. I always said if you had worked for the WPA and for the Army you could take anything. They were very much alike in a lot of ways.
RVW: Back to the library services project of WPA, I think we had not realized the definite intention of the WPA library project to be an extension agency.
LB: Well, they realized that there was not one and one was desperately needed and it was the only thing available. The object was always that one was needed and it was promoted through the project. As we witnessed the Dr. Stewart thing, you see, we cooperated -- we went full steam ahead. Everybody took her everywhere she went. That's why I'm saying the vision was there from the beginning. It was not as if you said now how can we put this many people to work.
RVW: And you credit which person with that vision of making the WPA ...?
LB: Ida Belle Entrekin. She was working in the Greenville Public Library at the time. Miss Walker mentions that in her book. I looked through that again. They were asked in Greenville for a suggestion because Greenville was the leading library in the state at that time and had the best staff and all, and Ida Belle was on the staff there. And they suggested her, and she worked -- well, she didn't stay too long. She was a smart lady. She came and in just a matter of a very short time drew up a basic program. It had to get -- when you worked for the WPA you had to move -- they wanted it yesterday. And to me, they got the right person. And then they got the right people to carry it on. Agnes Crawford was very good in the way she handled it. I mean, she didn't make any changes in the basic program. None of it would have been possible without Mrs. Davies [who had] the approval of all of it. I don't think anybody has ever realized to the extent -- I don't think Miss Walker even realized it until after she retired and delved into it more -- the influence that all of that had on what we have today. 'Cause her object was, of course, that every library in the state would have some kind of countywide library service.
RVW: And that idea was alive and well in the WPA project, too, huh?
LB: Oh, sure. We had devious ways of getting, ... I don't remember regulations too well, but I believe it's, ... there's no way we could have rented or bought a bookmobile with government funds, but there was a way you could, um...... Wait a minute. Let me think a minute. There was no way you could have bought a bookmobile, but you could rent one. You could rent a chassis from a dealer and have an understanding with him that when he got enough rent to pay for it that he'd turn it over to the county. And that's the way most of the early bookmobiles were bought. Nearly all of them except in a few libraries.
RVHC: When you rented the chassis it had ...
LB: And [the library] had the body built on. The Rock Hill Body Works [did most of them].
RVHC: The Rock Hill Body Works.
LB: Uh huh. That's right.
RVHC: I've seen pictures of the [former] stables in Rock Hill where the bodies were built.
RVW: And you used federal funds to ...
LB: To pay the rental. Which really, when you get around to it --when the federal legislation passed and we realized there were no librarians to staff a program, you had to work out a devious way for people to go to library school. You couldn't pay to send people to library school. Yet you could give a grant to a local library and they could send a person to library school. That's a way we got a lot of our trained people. We figured -- Miss Walker always said we figured that out on the train coming back from a meeting where it was announced -- I don't remember where it was -- Nashville [I think]? We were worried. Here we were going to get all this money and didn't have the people to spend it right.
RVW: In '44 then, you came back to the state library. What happened in those intervening two years? You began, certainly, to get a little bit of state money.
LB: Very little. It was more then than it sounds like when you read the figures. Well, it was Nancy's -- Nancy Blair, that is -- started it off with the idea... I think they had [a total of] $15,000 the first year. Every county library got his share of however much -- [it] didn't go for administration [and books]. Incidentally, I said it was easy to get a small appropriation to transfer that office. Part of that was because the WPA said to the state, "If there's an office that can accept this, we'll turn over all the equipment that's owned by the library project, including the book collection, to that office." So that's what we started with as a nucleus for a library collection -- the books that we'd had in the WPA library project. Because we did buy books to lend to the different county libraries. All of the equipment we had, like catalogs and the supplies, cards and pockets, you name it. For years we used WPA equipment that was turned over to us by the WPA library project.
RVW: So the WPA just gave that to the State Library Board?
LB: That's right.
RVW: How large was the collection that we're talking about, that the WPA had built up?
LB: Oh, I don't remember that, because a lot of it was out in the county libraries. The collection was bought at headquarters, bought and cataloged. That's another thing that, [the] cataloging [unit] did, catalog this collection. And then it was divided out to the district supervisors and they could move the collections around in their district in the libraries if they wanted to, so it was a fairly large collection. I'm not sure it was not too highbrow, though. We really did have high standards back in those days. I look at collections now and I'm horrified, but we believed in the best. Now, [in the whole society] you've got to have everything, whether it's the best or not.
RVW: In '44, you started to work as -- with the State Library Board. What was your position exactly?
LB: I guess I was Nancy's assistant. But I always did -- whatever my title was -- throughout the whole business, except in the district offices, I always did cataloging. That was my job. At the state library we started buying books too that we lent to the [county libraries] -- It really kept on functioning just like the WPA for a while. We bought books that we would lend to -- I guess mostly to unserved areas, you know, people without county systems. In fact, we had inherited from the WPA a little sort of beat-up station wagon, that we used the back of for a book collection. I think it had shelves in the back, as well as I remember. We used to take books all over and lend them to small libraries all over the state if they didn't have a countywide library system. I used to do that too. And then later on with the State Library, before we actually bought a bookmobile, we still did that until [for quite some time] -- I don't remember really when we stopped.
RVW: We have a photograph of the State Library bookmobile that looks like a '49 or '50 Chevy, so ....
LB: I don't remember what kind it was. I know that it was too heavy. You never knew whether the weight was going to make the tires go down or not. I kid you not.
RVHC: When you got all the books on it I bet it was too heavy.
RVW: Now we have that you were Assistant Executive Secretary, and that matches what you were saying.
LB: Well I guess I -- Yeah.
RVW: She was the Executive Secretary of the Board.
RVW: Talk to us a little bit about the politics involved in the Board and getting support during this period from '44 on up through the early '50's. Are we talking about certain kinds of individuals who were very influential in the political system?
LB: No, we aren't ever talking for a long time, really, about any politics except the sentiment that was built up back at the local level. Miss Frazier, of course, always, and Mrs. Bostick, for years -- they were the ones who did the politicking. They were the ones who would appear before the Budget and Control Board. There was not the kind of politicking then that went on later. There never was an awful lot except, of course, Ms. Walker, when she came -- I don't remember -- I guess it developed over a period. Well, she kept up with it, really, through meeting with the people at the local level, and then she would interview -- see that the people [at the state] -- in the state legislature -- knew about it [library needs]. But as for any raw politics, there was never any then ... I assume there is little even to this day. I could honestly say when I left we'd never had a political appointee on the staff.
RVW: What about on the Board? Were the members of the Board active in politics? They were appointed by the governor, is that right?
LB: They were appointed by the governor. No they weren't. Well, Lucy Hampton Bostic was influential in every area, really, but no, they weren't politicians. They aren't now, on the State Library. I don't know -- really I've lost contact with .... It's never been a political football. Now Ms. Walker knew all of the representatives and all, and I imagine Ms. Callaham does now, but you expect the pressure to come from the county libraries, because much of the money, you see, goes back to the public libraries.
RVW: What do you recall about the gradual buildup from almost total lack of county support and state support of public libraries to not a really, still, fantastic support system, but does anything stand out in your mind?
LB: I guess Ms. Walker is responsible for that with her work, because she had close contact with all of the local library boards. And if there was a political influence, it was back there. When the chips were down and the money was -- that's where the money was going. That's where the pressure came in. She made it a point of knowing all of those people. She did a lot of traveling. You see, she had worked with these people if they didn't have a county system. She'd keep working with them to get one, and then they remembered it when the need came in Columbia for an appropriation.
RVW: So the local folks would try to influence the critical politics.
LB: But she never did believe and it was never the policy of the Board -- it was always the feeling then that the majority of the [financial] support had to come at the local level. That all sorts of things could happen to state budgets, but [there had to be firm] support had to be at the local level [to assure continuing service].
RVW: Now Ms. Walker came to the State Library Board in the late '40's, is that right?
[LB: [ ... because she remembered when everything happened. I never remembered when anything happened.]
RVW: Now Ms. Walker was, um, hired -- we'll find out what that year was later. Did she come as the Director?
LB: Yes, she did.
RVW: O.K. Would you describe what she did as being different from what the previous director had done in any dramatic ways?LB: I never had thought about that. Well, first of all, Ms. Walker -- I called her Jack because I knew her before she came there. We knew her real well because she came to be the [8th Division] librarian at Fort Jackson in World War II. When she came, we went [out], of course, to meet her and to offer her any help [the WPA Project could give]. In fact, she had a WPA Library worker to help on her staff in the fort library and before she had time to buy books so she borrowed some of the books from the state collection to get started with the Eighth Division library. When she left and to go overseas, we put her on the train. We were good friends ... We did a lot of things together, she and Nancy Blair and I, while she was in Columbia, so I knew her, you see. So she knew the program pretty much and had worked in the county department at the Knox County Library in Tennessee. County libraries was what she was basically interested in, too. We all got sidetracked during World War II. So it was ... I don't remember any dramatic changes that she made. We had many ups and downs. We had to move the library, it seems, every whip stitch, and it was years before we really got a home in a state office building. But she just started plugging away at getting a county library for the ones that didn't have it and, of course, all through the years everybody was working trying to get state aid for county libraries. That was one of the goals.
RVW: This was a big campaign through the '40's and on up to the '50's to to that?
LB: Oh, yeah. Well it's still the campaign to keep it. And of course the staff then, as the appropriation grew, some staff was added. For the longest time there were three people on the staff. And then four and then five and then ... a field worker was added. I believe it was the first addition.
RVW: Now your job, during all ----
LB: I always -- during all of this, I had various titles. But I always -- I think when the chips were down I had to make the decision whether I wanted to go for field work or whether I wanted to stay with tech services, and I decided at that point in my life -- I'd already done an awful lot of travel with the WPA and I had continued with the early days on the State Library Board -- I decided to stick with tech services. So really that -- I hadn't thought about it for a long time, but I had that decision to make. So I stuck with it right on.
RVW: And you were responsible, also, for collection development, during this time?
LB: Yes. It was always our aim from the word go, because there was no way, if you didn't have [books] ... Book collections at the local level were very weak and there was no way you could get material if you didn't have it. Clemson supposedly would send farm people materials, -- the University supposedly would send people things [on request], as I remember, but -- it was always our aim to build a collection large enough in the long run -- that would serve as, you know, as a back up for local collections. In fact, when John Van Male was in his tenure as librarian at the University --but anyway, he came to us and offered the University's collection to us if we needed [it], if we had requests for things that we couldn't supply. We could come to the University and they'd lend it to us. We didn't do that a lot, but we did it some.
RVW: We've talked a little bit about your philosophy in book selection. How would you describe it as changing over the years?LB: Well, I don't know that my philosophy ever changed. It had to change. I mean what I did had to change, but we were taught from the word go that a library had nothing but the best. In the children's room we didn't have the cheap series. We had a quality collection. I suppose it was a philosophy, but it was mine at any rate; that you could read anything, that was not going to hurt you, but there was some place you came and you got -- you learned about --quality, and that was the public library. That was pretty much mine and Miss Walker's philosophies. That was the way we were brought up.
RVW: Would you say this came as the result of early teething on Helen Haines' Living with Books; the Art of Book Selection?
LB: I expect. And Evelyn Jackson, she certainly believed that. I don't know that mine ever changed too much. We used to have interesting book selection meetings at the State Library. I think they got duller after I left -- they say -- because we really debated whether we should buy some books.
RVW: You held meetings on a regular basis?
LB: Oh, yes.
RVW: Reviewed these? Talked about these?
LB: Uh huh. I used to fight for a quality collection. And was backed up in it. Of course, now, the collection we were building at the State Library didn't include fiction. I would have been in trouble there. It included fiction only if it was South Carolina materials. I expect that still prevails. I don't know.
RVW: I think so. Was that decision made very early on -- even under theState Library Board and the WPA Project -- that you would buy no fiction?
LB: No, it was not made in the WPA. WPA had some fiction. It had, as I remember, the popular titles of its time. No, we had to decide by the time we were working on the book selection policy for the State Library. Library development was farther along and pretty well the local libraries could take care of the fiction, but they couldn't take care of the obscure non-fiction title that they might need once, you see, and no more. So we really tried to find things that maybe wouldn't get a lot of use but would be used occasionally. I don't know how well we succeeded. That's for somebody else to say. But we had, ... Miss Walker was all for ... for a quality collection. Have you ever heard about the censorship battle that we waged?
RVW: Yep. We want to ask you about The Swimming Hole incident .......
LB: I believe I have a copy of The Swimming Hole. [I'm not sure. Well, I don't know. This was Miss] ... We never understood really where it [the charge] came from. And I don't know -- I may tell you this but they may sue me. I'll try to explain carefully. We didn't advocate series -- the use of series books -- at all. You know, the Horatio Alger ones, Tom Swift, all of that. [In fact, we were not surprised -- I knew at the time where it came from.] I probably got it [the list] from library school. [I believe Wilson Library Bulletin first published it.] It listed all of the series, [not recommended for] standard series one didn't buy. It was headed that way. Well it was -- some way, I don't remember the details -- [most state libraries had somebody on the Board,] Miss Walker thought one library had a Board member who sort of had it in for the State Library, but we didn't understand why. It was a place I took books all the time. I took them The Swimming Hole. The Swimming Hole was reviewed favorably in the ALA Bulletin or the Booklist and all of this. There was nothing wrong with The Swimming Hole. It was an old swimming -- it was not even a swimming pool. It was a swimming hole. But there was a little white boy and a little black boy and they went swimming in the old swimming hole together and then they went back to the little black boy's house and his mama gave them something to eat. That's what the story was. Well those were the days when the segregation issue was being started and nobody [the Gressette Committee] would let anything [on the subject go unchallenged] pass. So first of all, the Florence Morning News published --- I guess they were --- a[n article] accusing the State Library of censorship because we advocated not having all these series books [in libraries]. And I think they published the list, I'm not sure. Well, that started the whole thing. [After that the paper published the article about The Swimming Hole. And of course Mr. Gressette from Calhoun County was the head of the -- what did they call the committee -- to maintain racial segregation -- in the legislature? What did they call that?
RVW: I can't remember either. I saw it in a newspaper clipping just yesterday.
LB: Well, anyway, he couldn't let a thing go by that was about integration. Everything had to be -- you had to be agin' it all the way. Well, Mr. James Rogers was the Chairman of the Library Board then, and at that time he was working for the Coker Seed Company, I believe, in Hartsville. Well they called a meeting at the State House [with members of the House] -- librarians all over the state came -- to talk about this issue. We all went and we listened. I don't remember the details as it worked out, but anyway, they decided they had, -- the powers that be -- had to introduce a censorship resolution against the State Library, and the only book they named was The Swimming Hole. This [the book] was discriminating [advocating integration, they said]. This was racial, you know, -- Surely you can find a copy of the resolution. You have it, I imagine. [Anyway, in the Senate, of course, Gressette was there.] No problem. And they couldn't get anybody to sponsor it in the House, and finally a man from -- I don't remember his name now -- from that same low state county, and Albert Watson from Richland County sponsored it. Well the man from the low state county apparently knew what he was doing, but Watson didn't. And he came and apologized. He was sorry he did it. But anyway, it had to come up before the Legislature. I guess it -- I can't remember the thing in the House, [but] it passed the House [and was sent to the Senate]. Ernest Hollings was Lieutenent Governor then, and was presiding in the Senate, and he kept trying to get Gressette to put it off. And a lot of the old gentlemen, the elderly gentlemen, like -- there was a real white haired gentleman from Georgetown County who tried to stop it. Gressette was determined [that it be brought up], so on the last item of the last session of a late Saturday afternoon before the Legislature was supposed to adjourn, sine die for the year, Hollings called a recess. Miss Walker had stayed the whole time through the whole thing, because she knew it would be brought up if she left. They thought -- she thought -- maybe if she was there it might not -- they told her this, the people who were trying to stop it. So when they had their break she called me. I was at home, and I went up there, and they came back in and Gressette got up and made his speech [for] the [joint] censorship resolution. Well you've never heard anything that was as interesting in your whole life. It's a shame that we don't have it [recorded], because people you didn't know cared a whit about censorship got up and made the best speeches you ever heard in your life. The gentleman -- I don't remember his name -- from Georgetown, and then Louis Wallace, I believe his name was -- from York, was sort of a maverick and you didn't pay much attention to him [know what he might do, but he got up and made a fine [fine speech against censorship] censorship speech. And then somebody we really had never heard of because he was just back from World War II and got elected to the Legislature, John West, got up and made one of the finest defenses of freedom to read you ever heard in your life. That was our first introduction to John West. But it [the resolution] passed, just barely. And that was the last thing [on the schedule]. They adjourned after that. All it did, of course, all the legislature asked us was to take out was The Swimming Hole, and we did it. But it made us more -- it had to make us more alert, because you didn't live through it and I don't believe it can mean that much to you how important this was [to Gresstte] to keep segregation. He had to fight for it to the last -- that was Gressette.
RVHC: I remember those days.
RVW: Had you seen the book when it came for ...
LB: No, I had never seen it. We didn't have the opportunity of seeing books before we bought them. We had to go by reviews.
RVW: But now this was a book that the State Library had bought and ...
LB: Oh, yes. We bought it. We owned it.
RVW: This is one of those that you were not able to review ahead of time.
LB: Well, we never could review them ahead of time. I mean, we could just go by reviews and standards of people we trusted. I remember it very well. It came out in the children's section of the ALA Booklist. And at that time they were more careful of what they reviewed, too [quality-wise].
RVW: Did you see the book when it came in?
LB: Oh, sure. It didn't mean a thing to me. People -- and that's what the members of the -- old members -- of the Legislature said. They just laughed at it because it was what everybody all over the state had done all of their lives. They had gone to the swimming hole with anybody who was there. The only thing maybe they didn't go back and eat with the blacks, but they all went to the swimming hole. That was just a joke. It was just used as an issue to promote segregation. And to make us aware that we had to be part of it as a state agency. But it ... anything that ... -- I can't remember that it ever had much effect ... Nobody thought it was going to mean a whole lot. I don't remember that it ever kept us from buying books. It may have deterred us occasionally. I don't remember. But it was quite an experience to have to go through, and it really lets you know what can happen now. Except now it [censorship] would get more backing, in my opinion.
RVW: You don't think it affected the funding of the State Library?
LB: No, it didn't. I don't think it did at all. That was the end of the session, and by the time the Legislature met again, more dramatic things had happened in the segregation field and it was just small potatoes. So I don't think it had any effect.
RVW: What do you think happened to you all psychologically in the kinds of materials you selected?
LB: Well, it's like I say; it had to have had some affect, although you didn't think anything was going to come of this. You had to be aware that it was there, although it just specified the type of book and gave one example. So we had -- I can't remember who was the attorney general then. Miss Walker got his opinion on how we were to interpret that. It was his interpretation that it was this one book [only]. That we could interpret it that way.
RVW: Was this Mr. McLeod?
LB: No, that was before him. He was, I think he was from Lexington County. I can just see him but I can't recall his name. Now all of the people were very nice about it. It was just this committee that had -- if you followed that committee, they got what they went after.
RVW: Where was SCLA in all this?
LB: SCLA tried to help. Bob -- I believe -- Bob Tucker was president that year. I believe he was. And Charlie Stowe -- I don't know if you know these people. Bob Tucker was the librarian at Furman University, and Charles Stowe was the librarian at Greenville Public Library. I remember their speaking out at these meetings. And when notified, they came, and they helped any way they could.
RVW: They did support, then?
LB: Yes. Oh, yes. We had the support from the Association.
RVW: What do you think happened in the county libraries as the result of this?
LB: Nothing. Nothing. Well, I mean, they were already aware of it. It was in the atmosphere.
RVW: So the effect of it was not tremendous other than a disappointment.
LB: It was more -- yeah, it was just a grave disappointment at the state level that this could happen. But it was happening all over. It had happened in other southern states. Things just were ridiculous. But it was not a happy time to live through -- those eras -- especially if you were trying to promote library service for all races. Now I will, ... You see, we had to go along with state policy, because you remember the public libraries when they were operating then had branches for blacks. So we went along with that, but we had developed all through the years special collections about the Negro. We had the good books. And we had, in some of the counties they had -- well they -- blacks -- had no service of any kind. We worked through the home demonstration agencies, and they would keep collections of these books and lend them to people in their counties. And they loved these books that we would take them -- the standard books on the race situation in the South. We always believed in having them.
RVW: How many counties did have service to blacks during this, say the late '40's, early '50's?
LB: When did we really desegregate?
RVW: Not really 'til '65, '66.
LB: O.K. The Rosenwald Foundation required that both races be served, so the Richland County Library established a branch, it was the Waverly branch. And of course, Charleston.
RVW: And Greenville.
LB: And Greenville. That's the only ones I knew of.
RVW: In the '30's. What about in the '40's?
LB: I don't think there were any added. I don't know of any.
RVW: Orangeburg, we think, might have. We've seen some pictures. Was no one at the State Library promoting this specifically? Charged specifically with that responsibility?
LB: Oh, yeah. We were ... everywhere we went we promoted it. We promoted it with our book collection that we would lend to the ... You couldn't promote that they integrate the service 'cause it was illegal.
RVW: No. No. I mean promote the service to blacks.
LB: Oh, yes. From Miss Frazier on. It was always supposed to be for everybody. We never believed otherwise.
RVW: Was finding the right agency ....
LB: Yeah, you had to work through whatever was there. I was trying to remember some of the places. Down in Clarendon County I would take, not just books about blacks -- I would take a collection to a black school because it was a community center. I remember that in Clarendon County. I remember York County, with the home demonstration agent. I can't remember Orangeburg. There was probably something there because of .... Is that light bothering you, because I can close the blinds.
RVHC: No, it's fine.
LB: It's like I tell you. I can't remember everything.
RVW: You're coming pretty close.
LB: Well, I can remember smatterings. That's the way it works.
RVW: Did federal -- the receipt of federal funds by the State Library make any differences in terms of services to blacks?
LB: Well now when did the Library Services Act pass?
RVW: '56, and then Library Services and Construction Act, what? '62 or something like that, I believe.
LB: Well, I think library service started being integrated, ... I can't remember when it -- when it just -- when it was that blacks started coming to the main libraries. I can't remember when it was. Of course federal funds made a difference. You had to serve everybody. That would have ... But now that didn't mean they came in in droves, you understand, because the educational level was the headache there. And really, a good many years later and not too long before I retired, when they were trying to get to people who couldn't -- who supposedly wouldn't read good things -- that's when they started buying [some of the series, etc.] ... It went against the grain for me to buy these cheap things, thinking people would read them more. I mean some people did. I didn't. But they really went back to try to draw in everybody that way. And I assume it's still going on. I don't know, because ...
RVW: Even in buying non-fiction, you're saying you saw a lowering of standards of quality?
LB: No, I wouldn't say non-fiction ...
RVW: Just fiction?
LB: No, we didn't lower -- at state -- level we didn't lower it. For the state collection we didn't lower the standards. I'm talking about for the projects that were delivered at the state level to promote ... I don't even remember what they were called. Promote reading by people who didn't read very well. And they would ... [they] started using the cheaper series. But, no, those didn't go into the state collection that we were trying to build.
RVW: Well, let's talk about your days with SCLA, particularly your days as president and other kinds of activities. Now you were president -- president-elect in '53 and then served as president in '54-'55.
LB: It was a much smaller organization then; this is of interest, I guess, and doesn't answer your question at all: But at first people who worked for the WPA were sort of looked down upon by librarians. I guess they were by all professionals, but especially these were mavericks [in some eyes] who didn't know what they were doing coming in to a professional association. I remember Miss Perry in Greenville always had a luncheon meeting once a year and invited librarians in the whole upper state section. Well, Agnes Crawford maneuvered and got us invited, [those] who were the supervisory personnel -- not all the supervisory personnel were trained -- to one of those meetings. It was a little different. And then she made a point of seeing to it that all the supervisory staff, trained or untrained, at the district -- all sorts of assistant district supervisors -- joined the SCLA. Well, I remember the first SCLA meeting [when they all attended]. It had been a handful of people before, and you could sit around the -- have a round table, just about. And when we all appeared it created a different situation. We had a room full. You had to start looking for bigger places to meet. So my point there is that we always ... it was always the contention that you were part of the library program in the state. You were not just a relief agency. You were a part of the library. And we were not always accepted that way. There were some who used help from the project and yet gave no credit at all to the benefits. But we accepted that. We were used to it. Now I've forgotten, oh, you wanted to talk about when I was president.
RVW: Well let me go back just a minute, though. It's interesting. You say SCLA was very small and the ...
LB: Oh, very, very small.
RVW: Was it dominated by the academic library folks at that time?
LB: Well, yes, I guess it was because Mr. Kennedy at the university started it. He and Miss English, who were on the staff at what was then the University library. But the few trained public people were active too, and they all went. But I remember Miss ... oh, I can't say her name now. She was the librarian at Columbia College. Mrs. Salley for so long kept saying to me, "Let's meet in Beaufort." I believe that's where she wanted to meet. And I kept saying, "Well where on earth would you meet in Beaufort?" And, see, she pictured it -- they had a meeting room one time when it was ... I mean little ... you might have twenty-five people. And you could meet anywhere you wanted to. But it had grown by the time I was president, but not very much. But we had one meeting ... we had quarterly [board] meetings then. We always had them at our offices because there was no place else much to have them.
RVW: You had quarterly meetings?
LB: Quarterly board meetings, and then the annual convention. And it was moved around like it is now. Except it could go a few more places than we do now.
RVW: Were there specific things you tried to get done during your year as president? Specific problems that arose?
LB: Well, the thing I guess we tried to do when I was president, we tried to take stock. We'd been growing, and had had considerable growth by that time in the public library system. We wanted to take stock of where we were and where we ought to go. I remember the theme of that convention was "Goals to Go in South Carolina." We were supposed to set the goals at that convention. And we invited ... sometime at ALA or elsewhere we had met up with Lowell Martin and were impressed with him. He was very impressive when he was at Rutgers as head of the library school. And we asked him to come and be the ... I don't remember what we asked him to be ... but to be there and watch the whole thing and then summarize it and make recommendations. So that's what we did. Each section ... The public libraries had a person to give the background and show how we had come up to where we were. The school libraries had a person. I assume that was Nancy Day by then. Well, it had to be, because she was the Director. And the college librarians. There were no business libraries at that time. In the first general meeting they all presented where they thought they were at the time and then they broke up into sectional meetings and, supposedly, based on this, the sections came out with recommendations of where we were to go. And I guess Dr. Martin moved from one to the other of those. But we came out, I guess, with a written [report]. I don't remember. And then at the end of the thing he summarized and sort of rated the sections on work they had done and made suggestions about where we needed to go. The only disappointment then -- he never gave us [a written report] -- this was before the days when everything was tape recorded. He was to give us that in writing, and he never did.
RVW: Were you all paying him for this?
RVW: You were?
LB: Yes. Not a big fee, but anyway he just never came forth with it. He was reminded, but he never came forth with it. That's another thing I remember. If you were to go in your records you'd have to stop there, but that's what it was.
RVW: Right. We ought to have it down as the factual matter.
LB: Well, I mean, he left the profession. He went with the Grolier people. For a lot of money. I don't know whether he's still there or not. He may have made it and left.
RVW: No, he's still active doing library consulting.
LB: Well, that's what happened. He was one of the -- we were one of his guinea pigs I expect, 'cause ... we had heard him. In fact, I had ... I can't remember the sequence of things. We were real impressed with the Rutgers library school. At that time I was living in an apartment house near three young men that I hob-nobbed with a lot. One of them was a teacher, one of them was a pharmacist, and one was working in some office at the University. They were all University graduates. They came to me one day -- I never had tried to recruit them. We tried to recruit all sorts of people. And they all came to me an announced they were going to library school. I was taken aback and, of course, delighted, and they were interested in Rutgers. And they all got accepted at Rutgers. They all ended up working in the Nassau County library system as heads of various libraries, and one of them left and went to New York Public, I believe, and retired and is living in Florida now. Another one died as a very young fellow. He was smart as a whip, but he had a massive stroke and died. Another one is still head of one those libraries there and talking about retiring.
RVW: What happened as a result of this planning process?
LB: Well, I don't know. I don't really know. I can't really spell out to you that -- it made any differences. And of course Miss Walker was the head of the State Library Board as it was then. So I imagine it set the goals as you talked about them. I don't know that it changed anything. We really went on with building county and regional library service.
RVW: What do you think SCLA has done over the years you were involved with it? What it could have done in public library development?
LB: I don't know much that ... I really don't know much that the state association can do. We were always backed up on projects, but if you stopped to think about who would have done any real work, those people were in the ... they had jobs that they had to do at home. Other than support, when an SOS, came the leaders were always there. I don't really know anything else they could have done. Now there was strong leadership in the public library field. Let's face it, there was not in the college library field. It was just assumed earlier that whoever was librarian at the University sort of was the leader in the college field, but as for any organized program ... and, in fact, there was never any collection of statistics for college libraries, that kind of thing, until the State Library started to do it.
RVW: Who would you describe during this period of time as the state public library leaders?
LB: Miss Walker was really it. Lucy Hampton Bostic was certainly always was, she'd go to bat for you at any time. She'd go talk to any member of the Legislature. Now sometime during that time ... Miss Frazier would always do anything she could, but she had gotten awfully old and finally she ended up just a complete invalid. She was always almost deaf, and she ended up blind, so it was -- but she has -- the whole basis goes back to her.
RVW: What about in the '50's and 60's?
LB: I guess Miss Walker was it. Now Emily Sanders in Charleston, who was head of the Charleston County Library, was always ... the heads of the big libraries, the larger libraries, were very helpful.
RVW: Cooperating with the State Library and library development?
LB: They were interested in promoting the State Library because if you remember they were all working for state aid and for increasing state aid, so they were ... and they were happy with the book collection that they could borrow from them [the State Library].
RVW: Back to SCLA a moment: One of the things when Robin was going through the SCLA files at Winthrop, was a note that you said SCLA was a difficult organization in which to get things done.
LB: Did I say that? I don't remember saying that. It was. We always accused them of not doing anything, but don't you think everybody does?
RVW: I just wondered if it differed drastically from other organizations that ... were there problems that needed to be solved?
LB: I think the thing was that maybe -- they were not going to get out and do a lot of -- they didn't have time. Let's face it. But, no, in the early days you couldn't get a lot done. This is a small state. A lot of it was done at the state level.
RVHC: Did you find that it was always the same people in SCLA that would work? That would help?
LB: Well, there were such a few at the time that we came along. It was always a few. Remember, when a lot of these other county libraries started they didn't have trained librarians. It was the longest time before it was.
RVW: Sorry. Go ahead. You were talking about working within a small state like South Carolina.
LB: Oh, oh. There were a few libraries that had trained librarians at their head. So really there were just a few to call on.
RVW: You mentioned earlier about the deliberate plan to send -- to use federal money, state money -- together also -- to send folks to school. This was a fairly deliberate plan. Do you recall when it began?
LB: It began from the word go, [when the Library Services Act passed] we had to find someway to get librarians to man the programs. The way it worked, say if the Laurens County Library hadn't had a trained librarian and they had a good person on the staff that they would like to have trained, a grant could have been made to them to improve library service and they could have used the money to send the person to school and the person was then obligated to come back to Laurens -- there was not one from Laurens that I remember, I'm using this as an example ... would come back to that library and work for so many years. So that's the way some of the people were trained.
RVW: Did the State Library play any part in selecting this person or selecting the school?
LB: Very definitely. It was, you know, it had to come from -- in fact, I imagine some of them (I say imagine 'cause I can't remember for sure) -- I imagine some of them came from hearing about the program from the State Library, and being sent to a public library to be interviewed for final selection.
RVW: But you all also played a role in that process. And selecting the school? I gather Emory was still a favorite.
LB: Well, I don't know that they selected the school. No, I don't think Emory was [still a favorite ... had any special ... North Carolina was ... We had -- no, they weren't sponsored. No, I don't remember that Emory was favored.] It would have been up to the person. [It was considered desirable that people attend different schools.] As long as it was an accredited library school. I remember some of them from Number One from Lexington went to Simmons. I really can't remember. If I had time and could remember the people, I could ... But, no, they could go wherever they wanted to as long as it was accredited. Emory, by that time, was not the only one in the South. You see, it used to be the only one anywhere around [near South Carolina]. Some of them, I imagine, went to Peabody [and to Rutgers]. They went all over. Now that was really the basis. When we started off we had trained people in Charleston, we had them in Greenville, and, of course, Richland, and Greenwood and Darlington. There were a few people with training -- librarians -- but a lot of them, like the Allendale-Hampton-Jasper Regional Library didn't have a trained librarian. Now there's another aspect of it that started as part of LSCA, too. The offer of special funds to libraries who would consolidate their services under either county or regional systems, and this is when Greenville came in. I can't remember whether it was a three year or a five [year grant]. It was a several year period grant to merge systems, and that's when Greenville [County and Greenville Public merged]. And Aiken had been -- there had been several regional organizations during WPA, but -- in fact, Allendale-Hampton-Jasper started during WPA. And I can't remember whether Aiken -- I believe they started as a result of LSCA. Aiken -- ABBE -- Abbeville-Bamberg-Barnwell-Edgefield. And I think the Aiken Library maybe had a trained person. I'm not sure about that. But anyway, a lot of them got their librarians that way. Not just head librarians, then at the lower levels, too. And of course all of them didn't stay. If you went and decided you didn't want to work in the library you were supposed to repay the money. And it was required. You did it.
RVHC: And did they?
LB: They did. Some of them protested, maybe, but they did it. I'm not going to name them, but I knew some people who were very unhappy about it. One of them is an outstanding librarian in this state now. Didn't want to stay -- decided not to stay with the public library program.
RVW: Well in 1978, after 34 years, you retired. What have you been doing in these last eight years?
LB: I'm wondering. When I stayed in Columbia I did a fair amount -- not a whole lot -- a fair amount of volunteer work. I delivered Meals on Wheels a good while, and I worked with the Heart Fund in the office some. Briefly, when they were cataloging the library at the museum, I went and helped. I'd go over -- well, I did slips for the collection and would go over and use the OCLC terminal at the library school to get information for the cataloger, 'cause I was determined I was not doing the cataloging. [I did that a while.] And then I got to where I didn't feel too well, so I sort of quit all of it and that's when I decided to come up here. So I came up here and organized a library up here.
RVW: Oh, you did?
LB: I know you're not interested in this in the public library history but there are four people up here who are retired librarians. I'm one of them. Nancy Day is one. Katherine Day is another, and Patsy Scott. Patsy was in a school library in Columbia. Katherine was the law librarian at Duke. Nancy was what was then the school library supervisor. I'm the only one that had any experience in organizing, so that's really -- they didn't ask us if we wanted to work here. they just said, "We've got all these books and here it is." We have a lovely room up there. I hope you'll have time to see it. We're very limited about -- we don't know-- we are feeling our way because not too many people can read just ordinary things. The Public Library is very helpful. I couldn't have gotten along without Bill Cooper. He'd lend me tools, and they lend a large print collection with all of the light fiction and all that people who can see can read. And we tried at first adding a lot of the standard things that were given to us, and we are finding out that they are just sitting there too much, so we're pretty -- we're sort of coasting about what we add. And we try to promote the services that the State Library gives -- Library Service to the Blind. We have one real happy convert. I had to work on her for ages. She just got to where she couldn't see even the largest type, but she wasn't ready to listen to any machine. But she's had it about two weeks, and she loves it. When she first got it, she listened 'til three o'clock in the morning. She couldn't go to sleep.
RVW: Well, that's great that you are continuing.
LB: Well, I don't work a lot. I work as little as possible, but I'm still at it. We have assignments. We have other voluntary help who will just sit there and be sure somebody is there all the time when we're checking out books. But we have certain days that we even supervise that. Monday and Friday this week I'm responsible in the afternoon. Others have a different day in the week.
RVW: Ms. Callaham said you all had a little library clique up here. She didn't say how many. I didn't realize you had four. That's great. Well, we will let you get some lunch and we'll go get some ourselves before we talk to Nancy Jane Day. Is there anything we can do for you?
Back to Lois Barbare
Back to Speaking of History