University of Kentucky


Hall of Distinguished Alumni

David Horace Clift

Born in Mason County, Ky., on June 16, 1907. Educator. Librarian. University of Kentucky, B.S. in Commerce, 1930. Died October 13, 1973.

He was Executive Director of the American Library Association from 1951 until his retirement in 1972. He went to the ALA from Yale University where he had served as Associate Librarian since 1946. He was appointed to the Yale post in 1945 while still on wartime assignment with the U.S. Office of Strategic Services.

He received a B.S. degree in Commerce from the University in 1930; his B.S. in Library Service was awarded by Columbia University in 1931.

His interest in library work began when he worked as a student assistant in the UK library (1927-30), and as desk assistant during the summer of 1930 at the Lexington Public Library. From 1931-37, he was a reference assistant at the information desk at the New York Public Library, and in 1937 went to Columbia University as assistant to the Director of Libraries.

Entering the U.S. Army as a Private in 1942, he served briefly in the Medical Department and was transferred to OSS, Washington, D.C.. He was assigned to the Interdepartmental Committee for the Acquisition of Foreign Publications, serving successively as Chief of the publication section, Chief of the analysis and abstract section, and Deputy Chief of the division. He left the Army in 1945 as First Lieutenant.

Before going to Yale, he was a member and later acting Chief of the Library of Congress Mission to Germany and spent six months in Germany on the cooperative acquisition project which obtained for American research libraries copies of publications which had appeared in enemy countries during the war. While at Yale, he was chiefly concerned with personnel and general library administration. He was Secretary, Vice President and President (1950-51) of the Connecticut Library Association, taught for a summer session at the New Haven State Teachers College, and was associate fellow of Trumbull College at Yale.

A member of the ALA Board on Personnel Administration, he was Chairman, 1950-51. He was consultant on library matters to the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Office of Education, a member of the Board of Visitors to the Library of Duke University, and a member of the technical advisory committee for regional libraries at the Connecticut State Department of Education. He was President of the New York Library Club, 1941-42.

During the war and as Executive Director of the ALA, he was concerned with librarianship and education in many parts of the world. He was consultant and lecturer at the Reunion Technical Bibliotecaries Agricolas de America Latina, Turialba, 1953; head of the delegation of U.S. Librarians to the Soviet Union, 1961; participant in the Guest Program of the Federal Republic of Germany, 1963; consultant to the Ford Foundation and the University of Brasilia, Brazil, 196368; honorary trustee of the American Library in Paris since 1969; participant in the First Japan-U.S. Conference on Libraries and Information Science in Higher Education in Tokyo, and the Asia-Pacific Conference on Libraries and National Development in Seoul, 1969; delegate to the International Federation of Library Associations since 1964.

He contributed to many professional publications. He was Chairman of the Yearbook Committee of the National Society for the Study of Education, and was issue editor of "Library Trends," January 1955. He was a member of the Delta Sigma Pi; The Tavern Club (Chicago); honorary, Connecticut Library Association; charter member of University of Kentucky Library Associates (awarded University of Kentucky Founders Day Medal in 1957 for Distinguished Achievement in Librarianship); received Joseph W. Lippincott Award for Notable Achievement in Librarianship in 1962. Upon his retirement he was awarded a Fellowship in Comparative Librarianship funded by contributions from Encyclopedia Britannica, Field Enterprises Education Corporation, Grolier, Inc., and the H. W. Wilson Foundation, which involved travel for consultation with library leaders and visits to libraries and library organizations abroad.

David Horace Clift was named to the Hall of Distinguished Alumni in February 1965.

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