New England 
School Library Association
 Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut   


“On a snowy night in April, 1918, when an unexpected storm blew in from the sea, a small group of people 

interested in the welfare of school libraries met around an open fire in the Children’s Room of the Brookline 

Public Library. Among them were public librarians, teachers of English, school principals, representatives

of teacher and library training institutions, and two who bore the title of ‘school librarian’---actually, ‘public

library assistants assigned to certain hours at the school library’ according to Miss Mary H. Davis, who was

one of the two.

Out of this meeting came the decision to organize, the appointment of a committee to draw up a constitution,

the selection of a place for the first meeting, and the start of a list of people who might be interested in joining

the association.

Although this meeting marked the first attempt at a New England regional organization of school librarians,

the need for improvement in the school library situation had been expressed at the national level at the 1910

meeting of the National Education Association when ‘a group met at the Boston Public Library with the idea

of campaigning for better high school libraries’ ---as recalled by Miss Mary E. Hall, Librarian, Brooklyn

(New York) Girls’ High School, who attended that meeting.

On May 18, 1918, at Simmons college, the first formal meeting of the New England School Library 

Association was held. As hostess and organizing spirit, Miss June Richardson Donnelly, Director of the

Simmons College School of Library Science, presided at the meeting.  The proposed articles

of the constitution were read by the Chairman of the Committee on Constitution, Miss Louisa

M. Hooper, Librarian of the Brookline, Massachusetts, Public Library.  The Constitution was 

discussed and adopted.”

Pike, Mary M. and Mary. D. Bair. NESLA---A History of the New England School

Library Association 1918-1968. Salem (MA): Lavender Printing Company. 1968


1918    Annual meeting, May 18, at Simmons College. Constitution adopted

1919    School library standards approved

1920    Book Lists published

1922    Use of AV materials at a meeting---four slides

1925    Meeting with the All-New England Library Conference, later to be the New England Library Association

1929    Exhibit by book publishers at a meeting, April

1931    Member from Vermont

1933    State school library association formed (Connecticut)

1936    Questionnaire on the cooperation of school and public libraries.

             Representation by school librarian from New Hampshire on the Executive Board.

1939    Student book review programs

1940    Conference and workshop at Simmons College (on Guidance through the School Library)

            Mimeographed newsletter

1943    Elementary School Library Committee appointed

1944    State School Library consultant in New England (Connecticut)

1945    Use of acronym NESLA (in News Letter)

1946    Recruiting pamphlet published

1947    Life membership written into the Constitution (twenty dollars)

1950    NESDEC-NESLA Joint Library committee appointed.

            Committee to promote demonstration libraries in at least one teacher training institute in each state

1952    NESDEC-NESLA Joint Library Committee publication (“Every School Needs A Library”)

1953    Presentation at a meeting of the Massachusetts Teachers Federation (library correlation exhibit and workshop)

1961    Legislative Committee appointed

1963    Scholarship Committee appointed

            Completely Audio-visual meeting (Woodstock, VT)

1979    Elizabeth T. Fast Service Award established

1980    First edition of NEEMA Views

1982    NEEMA’s first annual Book Examination Day, Wesley United Methodist Church, Worcester MA

1996    publishes membership brochure

1997    NEEMA is awarded the AASL/ABC-CLIO Leadership Grant to offer a leadership retreat for all state level board members and

 open NEEMA board participation through virtual meetings

1999    NEEMA Task Force developed Competencies: Questions for Evaluators and Indicators of Quality for the School Library 

Media Program

            Registered for the association web page

2001    Last Book Examination Day

2002    NEEMA White Paper by Dr. Carol A. Gordon The Place of the School Library Media Program in the Accreditation Process 

of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges

2003    Developed a 3 year strategic plan for the @Your Library Campaign for New England

2005    Created a Future of School Libraries (FOSL) Task Force to develop an Action Plan

            Leadership conference at the Harvard Club of Boston prior to ALA Midwinter meeting

2008    Established the Hall of Fame

Votes to change name to New England School Library Association at annual meeting

2010    NESLA retreat for all of the New England school library association boards

            NESLA establishes a Facebook page

2013    Margaret A. Hallisey Exceptional Service Award established

2014 NESLA transitions to the Wild Apricot online association management system

2018 100th anniversary of NESLA, the oldest school library association.

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