Chapter History

It is well known that ACRL/DVC was the first local Chapter of ACRL, but it is less commonly known that the organization existed even before its affiliation with ACRL. Prior to 1950 the Chapter was part of the Special Libraries Association. It was formally known as the Special Libraries Council of Philadelphia and Vicinity, University and College Division.

When the national University and College Division of SLA dissolved in June 1950, the status of the local group was in suspense. A general membership meeting was held, where it was decided to petition ACRL for a charter. A friendship between Alphonse Trezza, Chair of the Committee to organize a regional ACRL section, and Arthur Hamlin, Executive Secretary of ACRL, facilitated the process.

A letter from Hamlin to Trezza on October 16, 1951 announced that the Board had approved the creation of a chapter for the Philadelphia area, the first Chapter of ACRL. The precedent was set and within months the College and University Section of the New Jersey Library Association and libraries in the Pittsburgh region had begun their petitions for chapter memberships.

Once established, the Philadelphia Chapter was required by ACRL to craft its own constitution and by-laws, hold meetings at least once a year and send an annual report of its meetings to the Executive Secretary. At its first meeting on April 22, 1952 the chapter constitution was adopted. Arthur Hamlin was the speaker and presented on the relations between the national and local ACRL. The Chapter has since changed its name to the Delaware Valley Chapter and has become a vital member of ACRL both locally and nationally.

In 1998 ACRL requested its 48 Chapters to incorporate to reduce its legal liabilities. The Delaware Chapter complied with the request in the spirit of its tradition of independence. The timing was good for the Chapter was ready to grow into a future that allowed for it to manage its own budget and direction, and at the same time it secured a status as a non-profit, charitable organization with the Internal Revenue Service.

In October 2001 the Chapter celebrated its 50th Anniversary at a pre-conference of the Annual Pennsylvania Library Association Conference. Held at the Adam’s Mark Hotel, Philadelphia, the event featured two days of stimulating workshops and presentations from Neil Kleinmann, Mary L. Reichel, Evan Farber and Gloriana St. Clair. Over 130 people participated in this recognition that the Delaware Valley Chapter was the oldest such organization in ACRL.

After that significant celebration ACRL/DVC began initiatives to strengthen its involvement in promoting librarianships. The Mentoring Program was established to link library school students with working professional librarians in an effort to nurture future academic librarians. The Chapter renewed its commitment to support ALA Legislative Day. An annual student stipend continues to be awarded to area graduate students in Library Science, thus identifying strong new professionals and bringing them into our organization just as their careers are beginning.

ACRL/DVC today is a vital and influential group that meets many needs of academic librarians in our area. We publish a newsletter and offer an educational program semi-annually. Both activities promote information-sharing, opportunities for networking and professional growth.

ACRL Delaware Valley Chapter hopes you will join us as we continue to engage the challenges ahead!

Patti Cossard, University of Maryland
Ann Upton, Haverford College
February 2006