In June 1961, representatives from the Division of Library Extension and other New England state library agencies met to view a 20-minute film "The Day the Books Went Blank" produced by Dephoure Studies. Division staff member Marie T. Sullivan served as a technical advisor. The film spoke to the value of the public library as an important educational and cultural institution and highlighted cooperative efforts among libraries to provide services to their communities.
On December 1, the Western Massachusetts Regional Library System began operating -- the first regional system in the Commonwealth.
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What else happened in 1961?
Still image from "The Obsolete Man," 1961 Twilight Zone episode2
- On June 2, "The Obsolete Man," an episode of hit TV show The Twilight Zone aired, imagining a totalitarian state that judged literacy to be a crime and librarians as obsolete. Librarian Romney Wordsworth (Burgess Meredith, pictured above) is prosecuted and sentenced to death. He ultimately survives to save the day for literature and society when he shows that the individual is stronger than the state.3
- The United States inaugurated its 35th President, John F. Kennedy. The 44-year-old senator from Massachusetts became the first Roman Catholic and the youngest man ever to hold that office.4
- The Russians beat the U.S. to outer space. Not to be outdone, in May the U.S. sent its own astronaut, Alan B. Shepard, into space. His was the first American manned suborbital space flight.4
1. Division of Library Extension newsletter, June 1961.
2. "The Obsolete Man" - Wikipedia entry [link].
3. www.imdb.com [link].
4. www.upi.com [link].