Heroism and Librarians

In the midst of the tragedy that occurred in Sandy Hook, CT this Friday there are stories of heroic deeds, of a principal, counselors, and teachers who either gave or risked their lives to protect their students. Although in the confusing aftermath, I have seen several different names it seems that a quick thinking librarian and her assistant calmly escorted their students into a supply closet, gave them coloring supplies and kept their heads enough to even ask the police that pounded on the door for ID before they opened up to them.

There are many other librarians, many probably lost to history, who are heroes. Here are a few.


1. Ms. Clara Breed

A friend of mine introduced me to this librarian, whom she came across while doing research on Japanese-American internment camps in World War II. Clara Breed was a San Diego children’s librarian who personally knew many of the Japanese-American families who were brutally forced into camps. She made sure that she kept in contact with as many of her students as possible and tried to get them things that they needed.


2. William Shepherd Dix

The head of Princeton University’s Libraries for 22 years, William Dix was the chairman of the Intellectual Freedom Committee that opposed censorship during the McCarthy Era. He held many positions in the ALA, the ARL and other organizations but his most impressive one (imho) was that he was a member of UNESCO. He never stopped fighting for intellectual freedoms.



3. E.J. Josey

The founder of ALA’s Black Caucus and President of ALA in 1984-85, E.J. Josey was simultaneously an activist and a librarian. He spent his career as an advocate for equal rights in the library profession.


paul otlet

4. Paul Otlet

Though technically not a librarian, Otlet was pioneer in information science and created the Universal Decimal Classification. Otlet was also a peace activist who ideas were incorporated into the League of Nations and UNESCO.

5. The Unnamed Christchurch Librarian

A librarian at Christchurch in New Zealand in 2011, realized during an earthquake that a large piece of metal debris had fallen in the way of the exit and being an ex-military man (so supposedly fit I guess) he lifted up the metal piece and held it in place while the students exited the basement library.

We all already know that librarians are awesome but these people are stupendous!

Libraries | People

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