Academic Libraries in the Early Years of the Cold War, 1946-1956

1120 Words5 Pages
The Cold War is generally considered to be a period of time between 1947 and 1991 when a state of tension existed between two of the world’s superpowers: the USSR and the US. Considered a “cold war” because of the lack of large scale fighting between countries, this period had an extreme internal effect on home nation policies. These new policies were set in place to protect citizen as well as to insure their loyalty. Unfortunately, these patriotic policies had consequences which negatively affected many public and academic libraries. This paper will recount some of the difficulties experienced by academic libraries during the 1946-1956 time span of the Cold War era.
During the Cold War period loyalty programs became a standard policy invoked by government officials on all types of American libraries. Members of library staff were strongly encouraged to sign vague oaths and affidavits to prove loyalty to the United States and to denounce any relations with unnamed organizations. In the early stages of loyalty programs, academic librarians and staff believed that they were immune to such attacks on their loyalty, “they optimistically believed that they existed within a protected realm of academic freedom” (Robbins L. S., 1995, p. 346)
Despite the optimistic view of these librarians academic libraries were subjected to loyalty programs and probes just as their public counterparts were. Refusal to sign or swear to these oaths had no set outcome. Depending on the pressure put on the institution a library member who refused the loyalty program could either be publicly backed by their establishment, silently dismissed or suspended, or brought up on legal charges. The inconsistent and unforeseeable consequences caused many libraries...

... middle of paper ...

...lishers confront Joseph McCarthy. Libraries & Culture, 36(1), 27-39.
Spence, R. P. (2001). Cold War Librarianship: Soviet and American libray activities in support of national foreign policy, 1946-1991. Libraries & Culture, 36(1), 193-203.
Voldin, B. (2001). Foreign Librareis in the Mirror of Soviet Library Science durring the Cold War. Libraries & Culture, 36(1), 204-210.
Weiner, S. G. (2005). The History of Academic Libraries in the United States: A review of the literature . Library Philosophy and Practice (e-journal) , paper 58.
Wiegand, W. A. (1999). Tunnel Vision and Blind Spots: What the past tells us about hte present: Reflections on the twentieth-centrury history of American librarianship. The Library Quarterly, 69(1), 1-36.
Yu, P. C. (2001). Leaning to One Side: the impact of the Cold War on Chinese library collections. Libraries & Culture, 36(1), 253-266.
Open Document