By William “Skip” Deegans
Shown in this undated photo and seated to the left is Fred Glazer, former Executive Secretary of the West Virginia Library Commission. Glazer was appointed in 1972 to head the state library system when West Virginia was nearly dead last among the other states in funding. When he started, West Virginia’s funding for libraries was below 10 cents per capita. To underscore the point, Glazer gave each state legislator a roll of Life Savers (cost a dime then) to show them how much they were appropriating for libraries. At the end of his tenure in 1996, funding for libraries had increased to $3.75 per capita.
Armed with degrees from Columbia University, Glazer was an energized promoter of West Virginia libraries. He originated a six-pack book carrying carton and coined the slogan, “Take home a six-pack.” He started the “instant libraries.” They were prefabricated glass, cedar and pastel colored 1,200-square feet carousels that could be erected in two days with a four-man crew. The commission paid for the shell, but the community had to come up with the land and funds – about $25,000 – to complete the building. Greenbrier County has three instant libraries: Ronceverte, Rainelle, and Quinwood.
Glazer instituted state-wide library cards, started a free circulating film library, began services for the blind and physically challenged readers, and embraced the use of technology to link all state libraries. Despite his successes and support from many state newspapers and Senator Jay Rockefeller, he was fired by the Library Commission in a controversial 4-3 vote in 1996. Glazer claimed he was fired for personal and political reasons and sued the Commission. He died, however, in 1997, before his case came to trial. In 1999, the American Libraries magazine included Glazer in the 100 most important librarians over the past 100 years.
Also shown in this photo with Glazer and former Governor Rockefeller, is Victorine Louistall Monroe who, in 1964, was the first African-American to receive a graduate degree from West Virginia University. She became a professor of library science at West Virginia University in 1966.