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May 9, 2009   
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OPA News Release: [03/06/2009]
Contact Name: Jennifer Kaplan or Peggy Abrahamson
Phone Number: (202) 693-5052 or 202-693-7909
Release Number: 09-0202-NAT

U.S. Department of Labor's Wirtz Labor Library selected to receive
American Library Association's 2009 John Sessions Memorial Award

Award committee lauds accessibility and visibility through digitization, lecture series efforts

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor's Wirtz Labor Library has been selected by the American Library Association as the winner of the 2009 John Sessions Memorial Award, which honors a library or library system’s significant work with the labor community that has brought recognition to the history and contributions of the labor movement toward the development of the United States.

"As a lifelong lover of libraries, the Wirtz Labor Library was one of the first places I visited during my initial day of work at the Labor Department," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "This library is brimming with resources documenting America’s labor history. I am proud to be a part of continuing efforts to strengthen and revitalize the Wirtz Labor Library and its services to reach as many people as possible."

A letter of congratulations states that the committee was particularly impressed with the Wirtz Labor Library’s recent efforts to make its collection more accessible to a broader audience through digitization and to increase the library’s visibility through a lecture series.

Founded in 1917, the Wirtz Labor Library is one of the nation's oldest Cabinet-level libraries and is physically located in the department’s headquarters, the Frances Perkins Building in Washington, D.C. Current general and legal collections have combined holdings of approximately 140,000 volumes representing a wealth of information on labor law, the history of the labor movement, labor unions, economic policy, industrial relations and workers. Among these collections are rare and archival books, union newspapers and serials dating back to the early 1800s in multiple languages.

In addition to the department's own workforce, the library serves the general public, including labor unions, students of labor, law firms and researchers from around the world. Each week, the library serves an average 500 walk-in patrons and another 2,000 customers through its Web site at

Richard V. French, director of the Labor Department's Center for Program Planning and Results, will formally accept the award during the American Library Association's 2009 annual conference in Chicago, Ill., in July.


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