Author, educator, and librarian W. Stanley Hoole (1903-1990) dedicated his life to libraries and education. Trained as an
educator, Hoole soon found himself in the role of librarian at the University of Alabama and oversaw widespread improvements in the its library system. In addition, he was a founding member of the Alabama Historical Association and editor of its journal, The Alabama Review, from 1948 to 1967.
William Stanley Hoole was born May 16, 1903, in Darlington, South Carolina, to William Brunson Hoole and Minnie Eva Powers Hoole. He graduated from St. John's Academy and Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and taught high school and spent two years as a salesman. He then returned to St. John's Academy and taught English and served as athletic director. He earned a master's degree in English from Wofford College in 1931 and on August 7 of that year married Martha Anne Sanders, with whom he would have two daughters.
After completing a doctorate in English at Duke University in 1934, Hoole briefly taught English at Alabama Teachers College
(now Jacksonville State University) before joining the English faculty at Birmingham-Southern College (BSC) in Birmingham, where he taught until 1937. A grant from the Rockefeller Foundation resulted in Hoole being named Professor of Books, which
gave him responsibilities for purchasing books for the library and assisting in the preparation of bibliographies, and director
of the M. Paul Phillips Library at BSC, his first job as a librarian. The grant also enabled Hoole to study librarianship at the
University of Chicago Graduate Library School. As library director, Hoole introduced efforts that encouraged recreational
reading, showcased new books, informed faculty of outstanding articles in current magazines, and provided a readers' advisory
service. In addition, he taught courses in the history of books, reading for profit and pleasure, and recreational reading.
He also gave a series of weekly book talks on radio station WBRC, published book reviews in Alabama: News Magazine of the Deep South, and wrote a weekly column for the Birmingham News.
In 1937, Hoole left Birmingham to become a librarian and instructor in English at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. During his two years at Baylor, he enlarged the library's collection, improved the physical facilities, hired more staff, streamlined the processing of books, and added courses in recreational reading and library science. In addition, Hoole was a frequent speaker on literary and library themes in central Texas and again conducted book talks on a local radio station, which led him to serve on the American Library Association's Committee on Literary Radio Broadcasting. He was also a literary critic and columnist for the Waco Tribune-Herald and wrote book reviews for journals. Through his speaking and writing, he advocated for improvements in free library services in Texas.
In 1939, Hoole joined North Texas State Teachers College (now the University of North Texas) in Denton. As head librarian and director of the Department of Library Service, he centralized purchases, increased the library's holdings, added audiovisual resources to the library, and established a local-history collection and a rare book room. He reorganized the curriculum in the library school to emphasize library service and continued to contribute widely to both popular national magazines and professional journals.
In 1944, Hoole joined the University of Alabama (UA) as director of libraries and found a disjointed system with six independent libraries. The director oversaw only the main library, and the others were autonomous units under the deans of various schools and colleges, each with their own librarian, pay scale, budget, procurement, and cataloging system. Librarians did not hold academic rank, were excluded from the state teachers' retirement and insurance plans, and, except in a few instances, did not hold professional status. Over time, Hoole reorganized the UA library, centralized the library's control and functions, and adopted a single, campus-wide budget. Professional staff was granted academic status and provided with fringe benefits and higher pay. Under his leadership, new science, engineering, medical, and extension libraries were created. His efforts led to the library's election to membership in the Association of Research Libraries.
During his 27 years as director, Hoole established collections of non-book materials, including microfilm, audio recordings, maps, and other materials, to make more information available in different formats. He also created a special collection to house rare books, books relating to Alabama, serials, and manuscripts. During his tenure, the number of cataloged items increased from 235,000 to 1,400,000, staff grew from 26 to 137, and expenditures rose from $108,000 to $1,500,000. Hoole was named Dean of Libraries in 1969 and married Addie Shirley Coleman on May 30, 1970; his first wife had died 10 years earlier.
Hoole helped create the UA Graduate School of Library Service (now the School of Library and Information Studies) and served as its first faculty member in 1970, teaching library administration. Although he retired as library director in 1971, he continued to teach until 1973. In recognition of his work in the field of education, he received an honorary doctorate of letters from Wofford College in 1954. In 1958, he received the Author's Award from the Alabama Library Association and an honorary doctorate of law from the University of Alabama in 1975. In 1977, the library's special collection was renamed in his honor.
During the course of his career, Hoole produced more than 50 books, more than 100 articles, and hundreds of book reviews in more than 20 scholarly and professional journals and popular magazines. Many of his pieces, targeted at a popular audience, were written under the pseudonym "Will Stanley." He was associate editor of The South Atlantic Bulletin from 1947 to 1952, the first editor of The Southeastern Librarian in 1951, and editor of Confederate Centennial Studies, a series of monographs focusing on the American Civil War period. In addition, he helped establish the Alabama Historical Association in 1947 and edited its journal, The Alabama Review, from 1948 to 1967. Hoole also served as visiting lecturer at several library schools and received a Fulbright Scholarship that took him to Great Britain to survey a number of small college libraries. He was a research consultant for the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Special Education, consultant to the U.S. Office of Education, and president of the National Committee on Libraries.
William Hoole died on December 12, 1990, in Tuscaloosa and was buried in Darlington, South Carolina. His efforts improved not only the libraries of the schools at which he worked,
but libraries and librarianship throughout the state and beyond. His dedication to and advocacy for librarianship and education
provided leadership and inspiration for a generation of Alabama's librarians.
Hoole, Martha DuBose. William Stanley Hoole: Student, Teacher, Librarian, Author. Wilmington, N.C.: Broadfoot Publishing, 2001.
Jackson, John. "William Stanley Hoole: Scholar-Librarian." Provenance 22 (2004): 21-33.
Clark E. Center Jr.
W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library, University of Alabama
Published October 28, 2008
Last updated January 25, 2011