Print Page   |   Contact Us   |   Sign In   |   Join OLA
Dorothea Dale
Share |

Photo of Dorothea DaleIn 1913 Dorothea Dale was appointed librarian at the Hobart Carnegie Library. Dale made the library board a startling proposition. She volunteered her services free, with the proviso that she be allowed to use the sum appropriated for the librarian’s salary to carry out her plans for the library’s expansion. The board accepted her proposition and gave her a free hand. As a result the library in that small community came to be looked upon as one of the most enterprising in the state.

In 1919, five years after her reorganization of the Hobart Library, Dale resigned to become the first, and only, Secretary of the newly created Oklahoma Library Commission. Desks for the Secretary and a stenographer, installed in a room on the third floor of the library wing of the State Capitol, and some empty stacks for books, were the sole equipment of a library which immediately set forth to bravely advertise that it had “Books for Everybody in Oklahoma.” It represented an example of her extreme faith in the belief that if demand is created the supply will somehow rise to meet it. Almost at once, 8,000 volumes arrived, Oklahoma’s share of the World War camp libraries, which were being distributed by the American Library Association. These books formed the basis of a reference collection for the Commission. With a book fund of $5,000, Dale set about ordering books for the Commission’s traveling libraries while the Library Commission’s empty shelves gradually filled themselves through gifts of money and books. Dorothea Dale’s hard work and faith had been rewarded.

She died at the age of 90 in Oklahoma City on October 4, 1962.

Shortly after her death, Elizabeth Cooper reflected on her legacy in the pages of the January 1963 Oklahoma Librarian:

Her whole life was lived in terms of present and future tenses.  The indomitable spirit of her is as strong a force as it was when she lived in the dignity of her person.  The impact of her personality will remain a shining thing in this State, in our profession.  With quiet force she pushed the breadth of her world to the horizon, with extended vision she opened her ceiling to the sky, with steadfast strength she held wide this world for us to share.  Her complete acceptance of situations and people as they are is an apparent contradiction to her constant battle to make the world a better place and mankind fit to live therein.  Humor lightened a deep wisdom.  Her zest for life and what it brings lifts your heart. . . . The lives she touched, the far reaching effects of her accomplishments, the hoards of people who will help others because she once knew and helped them, speak loud and clear the praise of her.1

1Elizabeth Cooper, “A Message From the OLA President,” Oklahoma Librarian 13, no. 1 (January 1963): 3.

Return to the Oklahoma Library Legends


Site Search
Sign In



Oklahoma Library Association
1190 Meramec Station Road, Suite 207, Ballwin, MO 63021-6902
Phone: 1-800-969-6562 Ext 5 | Fax: 636-529-1396 | Email:

Follow us: OLA on Facebook