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Alma Reid McGlenn

Oklahoma Library Legends

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Alma Reid McGlenn Image

When Tulsa was first establishing a public library in 1912, they made a national search for just the right librarian, qualified to serve the community for many years. Alma Reid McGlenn of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was a graduate of the Carnegie Library School, and had worked four years in the South Side Branch in Pittsburgh. She agreed to move to Tulsa and take the position for $75 per month. She arrived January 18, 1913, and the sunshine made Tulsa “look like a paradise” to her.

Her first love was books, and she was particularly proud of her work with children. She organized the first Story Hour the first Saturday of April that year, and carried on that tradition until she left in 1939. She was a woman who would exert a tremendous influence on the cultural life of Tulsa for those twenty-five years.

Alma served as President of the Oklahoma Library Association in 1919-20. By 1921, the Tulsa Public Library’s collection numbered 16,000 volumes and its staff had grown to six. By 1925, the growing technical department took over the auditorium, because of Miss McGlenn’s insistence upon having a first class collection in geology. At that time, the collection was recognized as the only one of its kind between the Mississippi River and the West Coast (except for Denver).

Since there was no degree-granting library school in the area, Alma trained her apprentices. In 1930, the first bookmobile in Oklahoma began operation in Tulsa, followed shortly by four new branch libraries. She was a driving force in moving the Tulsa Library forward until her health failed in May, 1939.

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