The Mary Utopia Rothrock Lectures

In 1972 the East Tennessee Library Association inaugurated a series of annual lectures in librarianship. Named the Mary Utopia Rothrock Lectures in honor of Miss Rothrock, the purpose of the lectures is to “enable local librarians the benefit from ‘new information, direction, and philosophy’ within various areas of the profession.”

Mary Utopia Rothrock (1890-1976) was an important figure in libraries locally and nationally. She helped organize the first regional library system in the Southeast. From 1916 to 1934 she served as Director of the Knoxville Public Library, and later organized the Knoxville-Knox County Public Library System. Miss Rothrock was a Library Specialist with the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the author of two textbooks. In addition to other local and state offices, she served as President of the American Library Association in 1946-47.


The Southeastern Library Association has additional information about the award,
as well as a biography of Mary Utopia Rothrock.  See also: TVA Book for the People.

Past Rothrock Lectures

1972 “Folklore and Fact” Pauline Wilson
1973 No Lecture Jesse Mills
1974 “Southeastern States Cooperative Library Survey” Keith Cottam
1975 “Facts and Fallacies about Those Other Professionals in Libraries” Lucile Deaderick and others
1976 Lecture honoring Miss Rothrock with personal recollections of her life Sarah Kadec
1977 “Development of Library Systems and Relationships Among Libraries in Information Networks” Glenn Estes
1978 “School Libraries–Fact, Fiction and Some Half-Truths” Angie LeClerq
1979 “The Uses and Abuses of the Media” Patricia Barkalow
1980 “The Role of Automation for Tennessee Libraries: A Practical Approach” Fred O’Hara
1981 “Friends of the Library” Joan Worley
1982 “Powdermilk Biscuits: Communication, Courage, and Clout for Librarians” William MacArthur
1983 “The Future of the Past: Mary U. Rothrock and the Development of Historical Librarianship” Nancy Norton
1984 “Tools of the Trade in an Electronic Society” William Robinson
1985 “The Book Sciences Revisited: The Role of Books and Reading in Contemporary New York” Tom Cannon, Jo Ann Garrett, Marjorie Pike
1986 Politics: Librarians Lobbying Legislators? What Have We Got to Lose?” Nancy L. Gray
1987 “Optical Innovations: Laser-Based Storage Techniques” Jean A. Major
1988 “Needed: Libraries for Local and Regional Development” Carol Hewlett
1989 “40 Years of Service & Obscurity: A Story of One Special Library” Joe C. Rader
1990 “Librarianship Whither? A Curmudgeon Looks at the Profession” Anita Haller
1991 “The Importance of Ghost Stories to Modern American Cultures” Sandra Ballard
1992 “Finding Harriette Arnow: The Writer As Researcher and Detective” Paula Kaufman
1993 “Byting the Dust: Do Alex Haley’s Papers Mark the End of a Long Tradition?” Gene M. Abel, Ed Best, Jr., Margaret Dickson, Barbara Dyer, Mildred Erwin, Elizabeth Hotchkiss, Helen Kuhns, Reese Ripatti
1994 “Voices of Experience” Willa Reister
1995 Unknown Carol Tenopir
1996 “Are We Having Fun Yet? Changes in Resource Sharing in Tennessee” Elizabeth Aversa
1999 “Preparing Future Information Professionals: Developments at UT and in LIS Education in General” Edward Gleaves
2000 “Future of Reading and Libraries in an Age of Hyperlinks” Sheila D. Creth
2001 “Staff Training and Learning: Essential Ingredients for Quality Library Service” Angi Kelley,
Tactics Instructor at
Wackenhut Services, Inc.
2002 “Personal Security” Larry Frank,
Director, Knox County Public Library
2003 “A Visionary’s Tale” Jack Neely,
Knoxville MetroPulse
columnist and author
2004 “Rogues, Scoundrels, Gunslingers, and Librarians: What Books and Libraries did for Boom-town Knoxville” Dr. Edwin Cortez,
Director, UT School
of Information Sciences
2005 What an Environmental Scan Tells Us about the Future of Libraries and Library Education Ginna Mashburn,
President, Knox County Friends
of the Library
2006 “What’s New Among Friends?”
(lecture given Spring 2007)
Ginna Mashburn,
President, Knox County Friends
of the Library
2008 “Freedom, Communication, and the Classical Roots of the American Librarian” Stephen Bales
2009 “Revision of James Agee’s A Death in the Family Michael Lofaro
2010 Intellectual Freedom Karyn Storts-Brinks &
Trica Herzfeld
2011 Discussion of their early experiences with libraries, their education in the segregated schools of Knoxville, their careers, and the changes they have witnessed.
(view video of this lecture)
Felicia Felder-Hoehne &
Dr. Barbara Lynne Ivey Yarn
2012 “Old Friends and New Enemies (And Vice Versa): Challenges in Research Librarianship for the 21st Century” Dr. Steve Smith,
Dean of UT Libraries
2013 “Fierce Advocacy Through Public Service: Stories of Mary Utopia Rothrock and Effie Lee Morris” Dr. Jinx Watson,
Professor of Information Sciences (retired), University of Tennessee
2014 Spring “Moving History: Our Audiovisual Heritage” Bradley Reeves and Louisa Trott, Co-founders of Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound (TAMIS)
“Librarians and Genealogists: A Match Made in Purgatory” Chuck Sherrill, State Librarian
2015 Fall “Fragments of Hate: Prejudice and Healing in East Tennessee” Sam Venable- Knoxville News Sentinel Columnist
 2017 Spring  “I Want It In Paper”-  What’s a Modern Library To do?  Sandra Leach-University of Tennessee Libraries

(Information for the Rockrock Lectures and the list of ETLA past presidents was compiled and written by Sally R. Polhemus, McClung Historical Collection.)

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