Military Libraries: “Centerpieces of Morale, Welfare Programs”

Fall foliage

A recent article by Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service (September 5, 2013) highlighted some of the contributions of military libraries. The article is posted on the Department of Defense’s website. Excerpts are included below.

• Libraries Remain Centerpieces of Morale, Welfare Programs

During World War I, troops deployed to Europe found they wanted more than just the beans and bullets the military logistics effort provided. The American Library Association stepped in, delivering books and magazines paid for through the war bond program to entertain and give them a slice of home.

The Navy established the first official military library program in 1919, Nellie Moffitt, the Navy’s general library program manager, told American Forces Press Service. The Army followed with its own program in 1920, and the Air Force quickly stood up its own library program when it was established as a separate service in 1947.

By World War II, the service library programs had developed “an incredible operation,” Moffitt said. The Navy alone had 275 permanent libraries ashore and 961 afloat, as well as 281 extension services in remote sites. “Historically, reading has been an integral part of the morale effort across DOD,” she said. “That remains as true today as at any time in history.”

Most major military installation house a library, and the Navy outfits every new ship with a library while providing library services aboard every ship in the fleet. And just as troops have enjoyed library services while deployed to every conflict since World War I, MWR officials take pains to provide those same services in Afghanistan, even at the most remote forward operating bases. The Army set up formalized library programs at the largest bases in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the Air Force maintains seven learning resource centers across the U.S. Central Command region, Moffitt said.

In related news, Indiana University was named a 2014 Military Friendly School by Victory Media, Inc., a “veteran-owned business that publishes the annual list.”

ILS has recently launched a Veterans Resources page on our website. In includes links to the Military Librarians Division of the Special Libraries Association. The resource page also includes links to ILS News stories about graduates in Military Libraries, such as:
• Reference Librarian – Joint Forces College

Posted September 23, 2013