It was just three weeks after Pearl Harbor when Iowa State College Library Director Charles H. Brown spoke these words to the American Library Association (ALA) Council at the annual Midwinter meeting in Chicago. "We librarians have failed," ALA president Brown pronounced in a somber yet passionate voice—failed to understand international events leading up to the war; failed to lead communities and guide public opinion away from isolationist thinking. To fulfill their patriotic obligation and to convince others that libraries were not frivolous institutions, Brown was adamant that librarians had to abandon their customary reticence, political neutrality and routine, and promise their "wholehearted aid" to the federal government. Because he was eager to offer library assistance in fighting the war, he told his audience, he had (without consulting the membership) contacted the War Department, the Office of Civilian Morale, the Office of Education, and President and Mrs. Roosevelt.