Books for Soldiers
Troubled by low literacy rates, U.S. military officials sought to promote reading and writing. Sharing the concern for literacy and for maintaining the moral fiber of the armed forces led the American Library Association (ALA) to establish its Library War Service, which was directed by Librarian of Congress Herbert Putnam. Artist Charles Buckles Falls and others created a series of posters to encourage Americans to donate books and to prompt soldiers to use camp libraries. From 1917 to 1920, the ALA and its affiliates distributed between seven and ten million books and magazines and established roughly thirty-six libraries at camps across the United States and in Europe. Soldiers, including Gustave Sanow, submitted requests for reading materials in numerous ways, including the postcard displayed here.