Magazine article American Libraries

AL Interviews Charles Scribner: "ALA Charges My Batteries." (Interview)

Magazine article American Libraries

AL Interviews Charles Scribner: "ALA Charges My Batteries." (Interview)

Article excerpt

In 1952, Charles Scribner Jr. became president of the family Publishing house. He was the fourth person bearing the name to head the firm, which was founded in 1846.

Publisher of Ernest Hemingway, C. P Snow, and many other major literary figures, Scribner a Princeton-educated classicist, has always had a special fondness for reference books, librarians, and libraries.

Sighted in the exhibits area talking animatedly with a vendor Scribner agreed to a telephone interview conducted while he vacationed in northern Michigan after conference. He explained to AL that he wanted to see Hemingway's Michigan and hoped to meet the author's 96-year-old sister.

AL: How long have you been attending ALA conferences?

CS: [Dallas] was at least my thirtieth. I've only missed one ALA in that time. Last year an illness caused me to miss the New Orleans conference and I was very disappointed at that. I'd suffer withdrawal symptoms if I didn't get to go.

AL: Mrs. Scribner also attends ALA conferences. Does she also enjoy them?

CS: Oh, there may be a quantum of duty in it for her, but she also feels that returning to ALA conferences is like going home.

AL: You must have many demands on your time; why do you attend ALA so faithfully?

CS: When my father died, Scribner executives didn't attend regularly But I had some very wise advisors who told me it was important, particularly for our children's book program. I found ALA to be a marketplace of ideas and a haven of learning. ALA charges my batteries. Once, my batteries became overcharged. I fell in love with a bookmobile! It was Parnassus on wheels! I became convinced that Scrib- ner's should buy one and take our books right to our customers. I wanted to fill the gaps caused by retailers who didn't understand

some of our publications and didn't sell them. But I never got one. Other executives pointed out that it would take an Act of Congress to get the 15-20 special license plates necessary to do it.

AL: What do you do at conferences? CS: I like to sell our books! I also study other exhibits. I've never left an ALA meeting without a good idea. …

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