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Allie Beth Martin
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Photo of Allie Beth MartinAllie Beth Martin received a B.S. degree from Peabody in 1939 and an M.S. from the Columbia School of Library Science in 1948. In the interim, she worked for several libraries in Arkansas and served as Asst. to the Arkansas State Library Commission. She was hired in the Fall of 1948 by the Tulsa Public Library to be Head of Extension. That began a long and illustrious career in Tulsa.

She was very active in the enactment of state legislation permitting multi-county and city-county library systems in Oklahoma. Immediately following its adoption, she was part of a team that worked for establishment of a city-county system in Tulsa. The first vote failed, but she was busy at work the very next day making plans for a more effective campaign. It passed, and she was appointed Acting Library Director January, 1963, and permanent Director in January, 1964.

Allie Beth believed that Tulsa deserved the very best in library service, and she devoted every waking hour to seeing that her dream was achieved for the next 10 years. She was equally determined to see the same level of service in the state, the region, and nationally.

She was active in OLA; president in 1955-56, won the first Meritorious Service Award, and the Distinguished Service Award in 1961. She was President of Southwest Library Association in the 1960s and was President of the American Library Association at the time of her death on April 11, 1976.

All who knew her would testify to her vision, intelligence, vitality, initiative, sense of humor, and her great interest in library work. Allie Beth had a quick wit, a ready laugh, and a lively mind. She tried to leave no printed material unread, and generally tackled three or four books every night. Yet she had time for friends, movies, sharing recipes, and travel for the purpose of bringing back new ideas for the library system.

In a profile published in the Oklahoma Librarian shortly after her death, Frances Kennedy wrote:

Allie Beth was a clear and objective thinker.  She had the ability to present facts, to lessen opposition, and then to give credit for success when it came, and it usually did, to others. If you have never heard the story of how she wooed the State Legislature in a borrowed red hat and mink stole, find an old timer to relate it! Allie Beth was a great believer and advocate of participatory management, and took great pride in her staff's ability to function efficiently without her day-to-day guidance.  She was devoted to her staff, and they to her. . . . Travel to far away places, gourmet foods and dining, good music, art, theater, and ballet, all these delighted her. . . . Those of us who were close to Allie Beth but are librarians in other than public libraries, are reminded of Camus' words, "Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Walk beside me and just be my friend."  And friend she was indeed, and we communicated side by side. . . . She will always be part of us.  In one sense our world is smaller because she is no longer here; but it is a larger, more exciting, and more rewarding one because she was here.1

We still miss Allie Beth Martin.

1Frances Kennedy, “Allie Beth Martin: 1914-1976: A Profile,” Oklahoma Librarian 26, no. 3 (July 1976): 9, 16.

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