Dr. Robert Wedgeworth has achieved several marks as a librarian, university administrator and professor over the course of four decades. He is the first African-American Executive Direct of the American Library Association, and an early advocate of the practice of library automation.
Details of Wedgeworth’s early life are scarce, but what is known is that he completed an A.B. Degree at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind. in 1959. He received his M.S. In Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois in 1961. Between 1966 and 1969, Wedgeworth was the Assistant Chief Acquisitions Librarian at Brown University and introduced automation.
Between 1969 and 1972, Wedgeworth was a Ph.D of Library Sciences student but left just before writing his defending his dissertation to head the ALA. For 13 years under Wedgeworth’s leadership, the organization created National Library Week and continued his directives on library automation. Wedgeworth left the ALA in 1985 to become the Dean of the School of Library Services at Columbia University. From 1992 to 1999, he was the lead librarian and professor of library administration at the University of Illinois
Wedgeworth is also the founding president of Proliteracy Worldwide, the largest non-governmental literacy training agency in the world. He also edited the World Encyclopedia of Library and Information Services and served as a co-author of the book Starvation of Young Black Minds: The Effects of the Book Boycotts in South Africa.
After retiring from Proliteracy in 2007, Wedgeworth eventually returned to Rutgers to complete and defend his dissertation. He received his Ph.D. in May of 2013, his first official doctorate after several honorary doctorate degrees.
Among his honors, Wedgeworth has won ALA’s Lippincott and Melvil Dewey Awards and the Humphy/OCLC/Forest Press Award for achievements related to international librarianship. In addition, the Black Caucus of the ALA honored Wedgeworth with the Trailblazer’s Award.