Religious Books Round Table | The American Library Association Archives
The Religious Books Round Table began on June 30, 1916, with a meeting of 27 people representing 21 libraries. "The prime object of the meeting was that theological librarians might get acquainted with each other" (1). Those at the meeting felt that the group "should be continued as a round table, rather than as a section of the ALA" (2).
For one year, the groups was listed in the ALA Directory as the "Theological Librarians' Round Table" (3). Beginning with the 1918 Directory, it was called the"Round Table of the Librarians of Religion and Theology" (4). After 1924, it was titled the "Religious Books Round Table" (5).
In 1934, "on the recommendation of the Committee on Chapters and Sections, the Religious Books Round Table was voted the status of a section" by the ALA Council (6). It was then known as the "Religious Books Section" (7) until 1941-42 when ALA restructuring mandated that "any present existing section of the Association, which does not organize as a division or part of a division shall hereafter be known as a round table" (8) and the group reverted to its earlier name.
The Round Table's stated purpose was "to assemble and distribute information concerning religious literature and to promote its use." To accomplish this, the Round Table published an annual list of important religious books at the annual ALA Conference. Membership was open to "any member of the ALA in good standing who is interested in religious literature" (9).
The last full description of the Round Table appears in the ALA Bulletin of December 1954 (10). The Proceedings of the 1956 Midwinter ALA Council Sessions contain the report of the "ALA Council Study Committee on the Religious Books Round Table" recommending that the Round Table be continued since it remained able to meet needs with ALA (11). In spite of this approbation, the 1957 and following issues of the ALA Directory omit mention of the Round Table, indicating that it dissolved at about that time (12).
1. ALA Bulletin, 10 (July 1916): 449.
2. Ibid., p. 450. (At this time a "round table" was, in the eyes of ALA, an informal interest group).
3. Ibid., 11 (July 1917): 355.
4. Ibid., 12 (September 1918): 311.
5. Ibid., 18 (August 1924): 337.
6. Ibid., 28 (September 1934): 533.
7. Ibid., 29 (November 1953): H-33.
8. Ibid., 35 (November 1941): H-16.
9. Ibid., 35 (December 1954): 653.
11. In ALA Council Proceedings, 1956 Midwinter Session, pp. 10-13; ALA Archives 1/1/1, Box 4.
12. ALA Bulletin, 51 (December 1957): 882; and following.