California State University, Long Beach

Show simple item record Collins, Blanche (1904 - 10/4/1983) Briegel, Kaye, interviewer 2020-10-07T20:14:11Z 2020-10-07T20:14:11Z 2020-10-07
dc.description SUBJECT BIO - Blanche Collins was Long Beach City Librarian when ultra conservatives tried to censor the books and periodicals that the library circulated. She led the fight to keep diverse materials available in the library. She came to Long Beach after graduating from library school. She served as branch librarian and then as head of all of the branches and supervised planning and construction of several new buildings to serve the area's growing post World War II population. In these two interviews, Collins talks about growing up in the California's central valley and the amazing changes she'd seen in her lifetime. When she became City Librarian, she participated in many community organizations and continued in these group after she retired. TOPICS - Long Beach Public Library; City Librarian; main library; Wise Building; Friends of the Long Beach Public Library; and censorship;censorship; Long Beach City Council; Friends of the Long Beach Public Library; and community organizations; en_US
dc.description.abstract INTERVIEW DESCRIPTION - This is the second of two interviews conducted in Collins' condo near Belmont Shore. As the interview progressed, the interviewer could smell chicken roasting. The interviewer grew up in Long Beach during the fight that Collins led against censorship of the Long Beach Public Library. 12/17/1979 en_US
dc.description.tableofcontents *** File: cbbcollins3.mp3 Audio Segments and Topics: (0:00-12:04)... Brief Introduction Collins was appointed City Librarian in 1960. By that time, a network of branch libraries was in place in Long Beach. But the city needed a new main library. A political struggle developed over the location of the library. Collins felt that the library should be built downtown in the "core" of the city where public transportation made it more accessible. A proposition presented to the voters in the 1960 election proposed that the main library be housed in the Wise Building on Pine Avenue. Many people in the library system and the community did not think this was a good idea because of physical problems with the building. Eventually, the City Council, with support from the Friends of the Library and other community groups, developed a repurchasing plan that led to the construction of the main library in the "core" of the city. (12:04-23:13)... Collins wanted to organize a community group dedicated to supporting library programs but no one came forward to spearhead the group. It was not until attempts were made to censor the library book collection that some people in the community got involved in supporting the library on issues related to censorship. Later they were also active in advocating for a new main library. When the City Council refused to remove the Last Temptation of Christ from library shelves, Collins answered many calls from people who protested the decision. It was a crisis over censorship that led to the organization of Friends of the Library. (23:13-29:10)... The Press Telegram published an article on the group that headed the drive to censor library books, which Collins believes was associated with the John Birch Society. Their objection to the Last Temptation of Christ was couched in religious terms. They said that they did not feel the book was appropriate for a "god-fearing community." They targeted any book on communism, written by communist sympathizers, or by a person believed to be a communist. The group that advocated censorship also criticized the libraries for not carrying duplicate copies of certain books. Community leaders and people from the city and state colleges supported the library's struggle against censorship. (29:10-34:07)... There is an interruption in the interview during this segment. When it was time for the library system to renew its magazine and periodical subscriptions, the group that advocated censorship demanded that the City Manager, John Mansell, order Collins to subscribe to certain periodicals. He refused. Mansell was very supportive of Collins and fought hard to protect the library. Collins remembers the time of the struggle over censorship as a period filled with constant turmoil and hate. (34:07-40:19)... There were also struggles over censorship in the public library's Book Selection Committee. This was a group of 3 citizens who met with the city librarian to select books. The group that favored censorship, calling itself the Education Committee, demanded that they participate in the book selection process in accordance with the Brown Act. In a very short time, it became obvious that members of the pro-censorship group were there to criticize the books being favored by the City Librarian. In addition to Jessica Mitford's American Way of Death, the group wanted to ban books on homosexuality. The Friends of the Library organized community leaders, business owners, professionals, professors, and members of the LWV to attend meetings and stand up to those who favored censorship in the Book Selection Committee. Following a confrontation between a professor and one of those who favored censorship, the disputes in the Book Selection Committee stopped. (40:19-44:37)... There was a very long meeting with the City Council during which those who favored censorship demanded that a public hearing be held to discuss library book holdings. Those who favored censorship were discredited when a Minute Man with an arrest record spoke on their behalf. End of tape *** File: cbbcollins4.mp3 (0:00-2:19)... When there was a threat of censorship, many people came forward to support Collins and freedom to read in the library. (2:19-6:24)... Although the strength of those who favored censorship dissipated after the long City Council meeting, they continued their assault on the library. The Education Committee continued to go to the City Council meetings and file complaints against the book holdings at the libraries. Their leader even criticized the library for carrying too many copies of Time magazine. The leader also called for private meetings with Collins and the City Manager on these issues. A meeting also was held with 5 members from the censorship group and the Book Committee, which was ended by Jack O'Neill when it got out of hand. (6:24-8:46)... Five women initially organized the Friends of the Library and the group soon grew to about 40 men and women members. They played an influential role in gathering support for the library. Among other issues, Friends of the Library were important supporters during the struggle for a new main library. (8:46-12:19)... Collins is not sure whether her community activities helped her during the fight against censorship. People who knew her well also knew that she was not going to "sell the library down the river." People telephoned her every day and offered their support. She remembers when a beauty operator called the library and wished her well before she went to a City Council meeting. This woman mentioned that her clients talked of nothing else in her salon. Collins says that the Long Beach community, the city manager, and the Press-Telegram were the real heroes in the fight against the censors. (12:19-16:43)... After Collins retired as City librarian, she decided to join the board of the Mental Health Association in Long Beach as well as other mental health groups in the city. She was invited to be a member of the Mental Health Advisory Board of Metropolitan State Hospital. (16:43-21:43)... There are a few skips in the recording during this segment. Collins also joined the Long Beach Auxiliary of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. She is more likely to get involved in organizations that solve people's immediate problems. For instance, she is a member of the Bouggess-White Scholarship Foundation, which was organized to help Blacks and other underprivileged minority students get a college education. The first scholarship granted was $50 and it had increased to $25,000 by the time of the interview. Collins is also active in the Fair Housing Foundation and other organizations. (21:43-23:54)... She was on the Advisory Board for the Fair Housing Foundation for 2 years after she retired. The purpose of this group was to help ethnic groups fight housing discrimination. This organization was formed following the Watts Riot in the 1960s. (23:54-34:01)... Collins had received many awards for her community service. Of importance was her award from the Los Angeles Mental Health Association. She talks about the attitude towards mental health in the community. When she retired, she was honored with a plaque by the Chamber of Commerce, which was involved in the censorship struggle with the library. Through her involvement with the "Rick Rackers," she was given their Woman of the Year Award in 1974. She discusses the activities of the Rick Rackers and its role in the community. (34:01-39:02)... The audio quality in this segment is poor. It is difficult to hear Collins. In 1970, John Mansell and Don Gill asked Collins to be the co-chair of an anti-recall committee. Collins did not support recalls because she believed they divided the community and hurt city government. By the time she was involved with the anti-recall campaign, the leaders involved with censorship had faded from the public eye. (39:02-42:17)... The audio quality in this segment is poor. It is difficult to hear Collins. Collins discusses her involvement with the US Chinese Friendship Association. She traveled to China with a small group of people associated with this group. She is discussing her trip to China just as the interview ends. End of tape en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.rights This repository item may be used for classroom presentations, unpublished papers, and other educational, research, or scholarly use. Other uses, especially publication in any form, such as in dissertations, theses, articles, or web pages are not permitted without the express written permission of the individual collection's copyright holder(s). Please contact the CSULB Library Administration should you require permission to publish or distribute any content from this collection or if you need additional information or assistance in using these materials: en_US
dc.subject Community Builders en_US
dc.subject Long Beach Area History en_US
dc.title Collins, Blanche (audio interview #2 of 2) en_US
dc.type Recording, oral en_US

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