In the realm of libraries and education, Clara Stanton Jones stands tall as a trailblazer and advocate for equal access to knowledge. Her remarkable journey as the first Black president of the American Library Association (ALA) is a testament to her dedication, resilience, and unwavering commitment to breaking down barriers. Today, we celebrate her legacy and the impact she made in the world of librarianship.
Clara Stanton Jones was born in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1913, Blackpast.org reports. Growing up in an era of segregation and racial discrimination, she faced numerous challenges. However, her passion for education and libraries propelled her forward. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in English from Hampton Institute, she pursued a Master’s degree in library science from the University of Chicago in 1945.
Jones’ career as a librarian spanned several decades, during which she championed the cause of diversity and inclusion. In 1976, she achieved a historic milestone when she became the first Black president of the American Library Association, ALA.org reports. Her election to this prestigious position broke barriers and inspired generations of librarians from marginalized communities.
As president of the ALA, Jones used her platform to advocate for social justice and equitable access to information. She prioritized diversifying library collections, ensuring that they reflected the experiences and perspectives of all communities. Her efforts were instrumental in challenging stereotypes and promoting cultural understanding through literature and resources available in libraries across the country.
Jones was also an advocate for increasing diversity within the library profession itself. She worked tirelessly to create opportunities for aspiring librarians from underrepresented backgrounds and encouraged the recruitment and retention of librarians of color. Her commitment to creating a more inclusive profession has had a lasting impact, paving the way for greater diversity in libraries and information sciences.
Beyond her role in the ALA, Jones served as the chief librarian for the Detroit Public Library, where she implemented innovative programs to engage the local community. Her dedication to education and literacy extended beyond the confines of libraries, touching the lives of countless individuals.
Today, we honor Clara Stanton Jones for her groundbreaking achievements and unwavering commitment to equality in the world of libraries. Her legacy serves as a guiding light, inspiring librarians and advocates to continue the work of promoting access to information for all, regardless of race, gender, or background.
Cover photo: Clara Stanton Jones: Pioneering librarian and first Black president of the American Library Association/Photo Courtesy of University of Michigan