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Utley, George B. (1876-1946) | The American Library Association Archives

Name: Utley, George B. (1876-1946)
Variant Name: George Burwell Utley

Historical Note:

George Burwell Utley was born December 3, 1876 in Hartford, Connecticut. He attended Colgate University and then transferred to Brown University where he received a Bachelor of Philosophy (Ph.B.) in 1899. He was elected to Phi Betta Kappa, and in 1923 Brown University gave him an honorary Master of Arts (A.M.). After his graduation in 1899, he worked for two years as the assistant librarian at the Watkinson Library in Hartford. In 1901, he moved on to become head of the Maryland Diocesan Library of the Episcopal Church in Baltimore, where he stayed for 4 years. In 1905, he began his only public library position as administrator at the Jacksonville Public Library until 1911, when he was offered the job of ALA secretary, the executive officer. He held this position for nine years. During this time he took on the additional job of executive director of the ALA War Service Committee from 1917 to 1919, working with Harry Putnam at the Library of Congress. In 1920, he was offered the position of director of the Newberry Library in Chicago, which he accepted and held until 1942 when he retired and was honored as the first Newberry librarian to be named librarian emeritus.

Utley attended his first ALA conference in 1903 and over the course of his life, he attended around 40, often accompanied by his wife, Lou Gilbert. He served as President from 1922 to 1923 and was a member of the Executive Board for several years. Additionally, he was President of Illinois Library Association (1924-25) and President of American Library Institute (1937-39). Outside the field of librarianship, he was President of Geographic Society of Chicago (1929-31) and President of Writers Guild of Chicago (1935-37).

In addition to many of his articles appearing in library periodicals and history publications, he authored three major works. First was The Life and Times of Thomas John Claggett, First Bishop of Maryland, published by Lakeside Press in 1913. Fifty Years of the American Library Association was published in 1926, and finally, The Librarians' Conference of 1853 was published in 1951, five years after his death. His nephew Gilbert H. Doane finished the nearly complete manuscript. Utley died on October 4, 1946 in Pleasant Valley, Connecticut [1].

Sources: 1. Ron Blazek, "Utley, George Burwell (1876-1946)," in Dictionary of American Library Biography, ed. Bohdan S. Wynar (Littleton, CO: Libraries Unlimited, Inc., 1978), 525-527.

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