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MBLC Celebrates 125 Years


Postcard of Veterans Administration Facility, West Roxbury, Massachusetts

The Veterans Administration Hospital in West Roxbury opened in 1944.1

The Division of Public Libraries had not been able to publish any annual reports since 1940. With the help of the Massachusetts Library Aid Association (a Friends of Libraries group), the Division was finally able to print a summary of its activities for the year 1944.

The summary noted 165 site visits to Massachusetts libraries of all types, bookmobile visits to 85 small towns, 12 "talks" and one radio broadcast, and two exhibits. It also sent out some 22,000 books from its lending collection to libraries across the state.

In 1944, the Division of Public Libraries moved its office from the State House to Newbury Street in Boston, where it was now located in the same building as its parent organization, the Department of Education.2

Demobilization and libraries:
As World War II carried on and the country began to prepare for demobilization, the Division of Public Libraries urged Massachusetts libraries to "keep in touch with library movements in the readjustment period," noting that "there has never been a period of time when it was more important for librarians to have access to the literature of their profession."3

What else happened in 1944?

  • D-Day: On June 6, 1944, 155,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of northern France and began the Invasion of Normandy.4
  • The 1944 Summer Olympics, which were slated to be held in London, were suspended due to World War II.4
  • The American Library Association awarded the John Newbery Medal for 1944 to Esther Forbes for her novel Johnny Tremain, a story about colonial Boston. Written in 1943, this outstanding piece of children's historical fiction chronicles Boston during the American Revolution. It describes the British blockade of the Port of Boston, the ride of Paul Revere, and the battles of Lexington and Concord.5

Johnny Tremain - book cover

1. Digital Commonwealth [link].
2. Services and Activities of the Division of Public Libraries, Massachusetts Department of Education, January 1, 1944 - December 31, 1944.
3. Newsletter, Massachusetts Department of Education, Division of Public Libraries, March 1944.
4. 1944 - Wikipedia entry [link].
5. Johnny Tremain - Wikipedia entry [link].