Clift, David H. (1907-1973) | The American Library Association Archives
David H. Clift was born on June 16, 1907 in Washington, Kentucky. He began attending the University of Kentucky at Lexington in 1925, and in 1930 he entered the Columbia University School of Library Service. After completing his bachelor's degree in library science in 1931, he started working in reference at the New York Public Library. He did so well there that in 1937 he became the assistant to the director of the Columbia University Library, Charles C. Williamson. After five years, he was drafted into the Army in 1942, first assigned as a hospital orderly then to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), Interdepartmental Committee for the Acquisition of Foreign Acquisitions where he became deputy to the executive director. After being honorably discharged in 1945, he was appointed as the associate librarian at Yale University until 1951 when he became the executive secretary (which became the executive director in 1958) of ALA, a position he held until he retired in 1972. His lasting contribution to the profession was the defense of intellectual freedom. He is credited with helping to orchestrate the adoption of the Freedom to Read Statement and the later creation of the Office of the Intellectual Freedom. From ALA, he received the Joseph W. Lippencott Award for distinguished library service in 1962, an Honorary Life Membership in 1972, and was named executive director emeritus that same year.
In addition to his contributions to ALA, Clift was president of the New York Library Club (1941-42) and the Connecticut Library Association (1950-51). He was acting chief of the Library of Congress Mission to Germany (1945-46), and he served as the delegate to the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) from 1964 to 1972. He was also an active trustee member of the American Library in Paris (1969-72). He died on October 16, 1973 .