Skip to main content

MBLC Celebrates 125 Years


UNIVAC computer presented by the ALA at the 1962 World's Fair

The ALA's "Library-21" exhibit at the Seattle World's Fair, 19621

The American Library Association's "Library-21" exhibit at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair (pictured above) included a state-of-the-art Sperry-Rand UNIVAC Solid State 90 computer. Visitors could experience the power of computerization when they submitted questions to a librarian, who would search for answers stored in the UNIVAC's database.1

Today, technological innovation has brought us everything from smart watches to artificially intelligent thermostats. In 2015, the MBLC and the Massachusetts Library System make available a wide range of electronic resources to all Massachusetts residents to access from their local libraries, schools, or home computers. Libraries around the world help patrons traverse the digital divide with free access to computers, the Internet, and electronic online resources.

And a fun communications fact: in 1962, the only way to reach the Division of Library Extension was by writing to Division offices at 200 Newbury Street in Boston or by picking up the phone and dialing Copley 7-96502.

What else happened in 1962?

  • The week spanning October 22-28, 1962 was probably the closest we ever came to nuclear war with the unfolding of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Secretary of State Dean Rusk summed it up when he said, "The United States and the Soviet Union are standing eyeball to eyeball, and I think the other guy just blinked."3
  • But the year wasn’t all doom and gloom: in 1962, it was okay to set the bar low after Chubby Checker introduced the Limbo with his song "Limbo Rock." The challenge was, and still remains: "How low can you go?"4

1. [link].
2. Division of Library Extension newsletters, 1962.
3. [link].
4. [link].