Visionary Leader - January 2014

Alice Lougee Hagemeyer


Alice Lougee Hagemeyer, graduation photo
Alice Lougee Hagemeyer graduated from Gallaudet University in 1957.

Alice Lougee Hagemeyer, ’57, a longtime advocate for equal access to library services for the deaf community, is Gallaudet’s Visionary Leader for January. Hagemeyer worked for the District of Columbia Public Library (DCPL) from the time she graduated from Gallaudet until 1991—the last 15 years as librarian for the deaf community.

Davila shakes hands with Hagemeyer
During Homecoming 2007, Hagemeyer, as a member of the class of 1957, was inducted into the university's Emeriti Club and received her medallion from President Robert Davila.

Hagemeyer received her early education at the Nebraska School for the Deaf (NSD) in Omaha. Library services at the school were minimal—there was no librarian and no guidance from teachers in helping students utilize public library resources—and youth with a zest for reading had to be content with occasional visits by a bookmobile.

When Hagemeyer entered Gallaudet in 1952, one of her first assignments was to visit the nearby public library—her first real exposure to such a large repository of reading material, and her first awareness of the Dewey Decimal Classification System. The experience sparked a desire in Hagemeyer to make libraries a part of her life, and after working part time at the college library, she made the determination that libraries would chart her path to a career.

Hagemeyer presenting on stage
ABOVE: Hagemeyer presents at the Library of Congress. BELOW: Hagemeyer is pictured (from left) with Craig Anderson, manager of Interpreting Services Program, Library of Congress; Roberta Shaffer, associate librarian, Library of Congress; and Alec McFarlane, president, Library for Deaf Action. (Photos courtesy of Alice Hagemeyer)
group picture

Four months before graduating with a degree in library science, Hagemeyer secured a job as clerk at the D.C. Public Library, and Gallaudet Librarian Lucille Pendell encouraged Hagemeyer to join the American Library Association (ALA).

Hagemeyer credited Gallaudet for giving her excellent training in the library profession. She was soon transferred from the DCPL’s art division to the catalog department, and later became the supervisor of preliminary cataloging. In 1974, she entered the University of Maryland for her master’s degree in library and information science. It was a choice that ultimately led to her advocacy efforts on behalf of the deaf community. At that time, deaf people did not know what the library had to offer them, Hagemeyer said. Thanks to her efforts, however, public library systems have been made aware of this overlooked sector of the community, and have added services to make their facilities more accessible to deaf people.

“It was while I was at Gallaudet that I first developed a keen interest in books on all subjects and the function of a library,” said Hagemeyer, “but it was at the University of Maryland that I first developed my passion for promoting both deaf and library awareness to the public.” She wrote two handbooks while pursuing her graduate degree: Deaf Awareness Handbook for Public Librarians and The Public Library Talks To You, for deaf library users.

group photo
Hagemeyer and Ricardo Lopez, librarian, Model Secondary School for the Deaf, at the 100th anniversary celebration of the National Literary Society for the Deaf in May 2007. (Photo courtesy of Alice Hagemeyer)
group photo with array of books in front
Hagemeyer (far right) attended the December 5, 2012 presentation of a 25-book collection, purchased by an anonymous donor, to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library. The set, the "Gallaudet University 150th Anniversary Library Bookshelf," was given in honor of the University’s sesquicentennial anniversary in 2014 and contains volumes on deaf history, deaf culture, American Sign Language, deaf American poetry, deaf education, and more. Also pictured (from left) are President Hurwitz; Ginnie Cooper, chief librarian, D.C. Public Library; Dan and Ivey Wallace, Gallaudet University Press; Venetia Demson, chief of adaptive services, MLK Library; and Janice Rosen, librarian for the deaf community, MLK Library.

As librarian for the deaf community, Hagemeyer was determined to increase public awareness about issues deaf people face, and to motivate more deaf people to visit libraries. She created The Red Notebook for all branches of the DCPL, an essential resource to make deaf patrons aware of existing products, programs, and services of interest that the library provides, and encourage the deaf community’s participation in library activities. The book also serves as a primer for informing libraries how to provide efficient, cost-effective services to the deaf community. “It is important because it is the only tool specifically designed to promote deaf community involvement in libraries,” said Hagemeyer. “People in other places heard about (the Notebook) and suggested that we also make it available to libraries outside the D.C. area,” Hagemeyer said. The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) responded by agreeing to sell them.

Hagemeyer founded Friends of Libraries for Deaf Action (FOLDA) to promote library access and quality deaf resources for the deaf community, and served as the organization’s president. In 1994, FOLDA-USA was formed at the NAD to motivate the American deaf community to become involved in friends-of-libraries activities, and to support the FOLDA goal. For over 20 years, Hagemeyer and other library friends have been presenting deaf cultural programs at the public library sponsored by the D.C. Public Library, Arlington County Public Library in Virginia, Maryland’s Public Libraries, National Literary Society of the Deaf, NAD, and more recently, Dallas Public Library in Texas, Omaha Public Library in Nebraska, and Seattle Public Library in Washington state.

In 1979 and 1991, Hagemeyer participated as a delegate-at-large at the White House Conference on Library and Information Services, where she pushed for quality library and information services for the deaf community. She also originated two annual events, Laurent Clerc and Thomas H. Gallaudet Week, held in early December to honor the memory of the birthdates of these two great pioneers in deaf education, and Deaf History Month, celebrated March 13 to April 15.

Hagemeyer retired from the DCPL in 1991 to become an advocate for the deaf community. In order to create cost effective and efficient library and information services for the American deaf community, she formed a company, Library for Deaf Action (LDA), to produce library promotional materials as fundraisers for library friends, groups, and organizations serving the deaf community. In 2013, LDA produced two FOLDA KITS: Laurent Clerc and Gallaudet University, and George W. Veditz and The Preservation of the Sign Language.

In recognition of her contributions to the deaf community, Hagemeyer received the President’s Award from the NAD in 1980, and an Honorary Membership from the ALA. She was presented the Alice Cogswell Award from Gallaudet, and she was featured in DEAF LIFE magazine.

Hagemeyer married Ted Hagemeyer, also a member of the Class of ’57, in 1958. They raised two children, Noreen and David, and they have three grandchildren—Angela, Antonio, and Andrew Guzman. At present, Hagemeyer and a deaf library friend and associate, Alec C. McFarlane, are advocating for the establishment of the Deaf Cultural Digital Library (a.k.a. The Red Notebook). Hagemeyer is also working on a book, A Deaf Culture Not to Be Lost: Orphans.

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*Profile/yearbook photo courtesy Gallaudet Archives. All photos courtesy the Office of Communications and Public Relations unless otherwise indicated.


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