ALA joins NWHM National Coalition
The American Library Association (ALA) has added its name to the list of national organizations supporting the National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) project.
The NWHM raises public awareness and access to the historical contributions women have made in the United States and is advocating for the creation of a permanent national museum in Washington D.C. To date, more than 33 other national women’s organizations with a reach of more than 8.5 million members have officially expressed their support of the NWHM.
Based in Alexandria, Va., the museum researches, collects and exhibits the contributions of women to the social, cultural, economic and political life of the United States. It communicates the breadth of women’s experiences and accomplishments to the widest possible audience through innovative and engaging means, including its CyberMuseum, educational programs and outreach efforts.
In 1999, The President’s Commission on the Celebration of Women in American History called for a women’s history museum on the Mall in Washington, DC, and specifically cited the NWHM in that role. A site bordering the National Mall has been proposed, and a bill, HR 6548, was introduced in July by Rep. Carolyn Maloney.
In June of 2008, the ALA’s Committee on the Status of Women in Librarianship (COSWL) received a request by the NWHM project to support the NWHM and its goal to create a permanent museum in Washington D.C. The NWHM sought COSWL’s endorsement through then ALA President Loriene Roy in June because of COSWL’s mission to represent women’s issues in the library profession.
COSWL presented a formal proposal to ALA's Executive Board, which voted unanimously in support of the NWHM project and made COSWL the official point of contact within ALA.
“As a predominantly women’s profession, librarians have contributed a great deal to women’s history,” ALA President Jim Rettig said. “We are pleased to support this effort.”
Mary Callaghan "Cal" Zunt, COSWL chair, said, "COSWL is delighted with the Executive Board's decision to join the NWHM coalition of supporters. ALA's endorsement recognizes the great and continuing contribution of women in the United States to our national identity and to women in librarianship.
“Members of COSWL, (then) President Loriene Roy, longtime supporter Kathleen de la Peña McCook and others advocated for this endorsement. It was really a group effort."
NWHM said the connection with ALA would increase the visibility of both organizations by making available their respective Web sites. It would also offer the possibility of joint programs and exhibits on major contributions to women in the profession, as well as share historical materials such as those provided by Coalition members for the NWHM Partners in Winning the War: American Women in World War II exhibit.
Joan Wages, NWHM president, said, “The National Women’s History Museum is very proud to add the American Library Association to our National Coalition. ALA is a tremendous resource and we greatly appreciate their support for our efforts to honor women’s many contributions to our nation.”
Although women constitute a majority of the population, their lives, achievements, and contributions are underrepresented in museums. Recognition of the achievements made by American women will promote a better understanding of our history and culture for all who visit Washington, D.C.