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The Louis A. Lerner Papers

Identifier: 8010 2009/50

Scope and Contents

This collection consists mainly of Louis A. Lerner’s correspondence between Chicago Public Library staff, and members of the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Sciences. Other general files include letters, correspondence and notes, brochures, pamphlets, transcripts, housekeeping record, and hearing/meeting minutes. Personal papers relate to Lerner’s time as Chairman of Chicago Public Library’s Committee on Facilities, and also as commissioner of the NCLIS. Subjects include public library building, funding and renovating; politics; finances; budgeting; and career development.


  • 1967 - 1976

Language of Materials


Biographical / Historical

Louis Abraham Lerner was born on June 12, 1935 to Lerner newspaper founder Leo A. Lerner and wife Deana. Born and raised in Chicago, Lerner studied at the University of Chicago and attended Scandinavian study seminars in Copenhagen from 1956-1957. He received his bachelor’s degree from Roosevelt University in 1960 and took over as editor and publisher of Lerner Newspapers upon his father’s death in 1965. He then worked to keep Lerner Newspapers the largest chain of weekly newspapers in the world, where it stayed until it was sold in 2005.

In addition to publishing newspapers, Louis Lerner was an active member in many of Chicago’s cultural organizations. He was on the Board of Directors for the Lyric Opera Guild of Chicago; worked as a director, vice president and Chairman of the Committee on Facilities at Chicago Public Library (CPL)); served as Commissioner of the U.S. National Commission on Library and Information Science (NCLIS); was a member of the Illinois Advisory Committee on the State Library; and served as Ambassador to Norway in the Carter Administration.

As director, vice president and chairman of the CPL’s Committee of Facilities, Louis A. Lerner reviewed the renovating, remodeling and building of various branches of the Chicago Public Library. Nominated and appointed by President Richard M. Nixon in 1971, Lerner served as NCLIS Commissioner from 1971-1977. As Commissioner, Louis Lerner worked to appraise and assess library and information resources and services, and to develop plans for meeting national library and information needs. Lerner served as Ambassador to Norway during the Carter Administration from 1977-1980, and as a member of the Illinois Advisory Committee on the State Library from 1969-1977. Lerner was also an active member of the Planned Parenthood Foundation, the American Council for United States and Italy, and a trustee of the American Scandinavian Foundation.

Louis A. Lerner died of cancer on November 14, 1984, at the age of 49.


4 Linear Feet


Papers of Louis A. Lerner, American newspaper editor and publisher of Lerner Newspapers; Chicago Public Library director, vice president and chairman; United States Ambassador to Norway; Illinois Advisory Committee on the State Library member. Incoming and outgoing correspondence; personal notes; meeting/hearing materials; building ideas/blueprints, subject files and reports.


Documents are arranged chronologically by year, split into two sections: Chicago Public Library (1967-1976) and National Commission on Libraries and Information Sciences (1971-1975). Undated materials appear at the end of each section.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials donated by Sister Loretta McCusker



Related Materials

See also: Leo A. Lerner Papers at Syracuse University

Separated Materials



  • Obituary. The New York Times (Early City Edition) (November 15 1984) p.B-16
  • Lerner, Louis A.
  • Woolley, John T., and Gerhard Peters. "United States Ambassador to Norway Nomination of Louis A. Lerner." The American Presidency Project. 1 July 1977. Web. 29 July 2009.


Victoria Schwoebel

Personal Names

Daley, Richard
Lerner, Louis A.
Sorenson, Leslie J.
Swartz, Rod
Trezza, Alphonse F.
Urban, Joseph
Zabel, Ellen

Corporate Names/Organizations

Chicago Public Library (CPL)
Fitch/Larocca Associates, Inc
Lerner Newspapers
National Commission on Libraries and Information Science
The Louis A. Lerner Papers
Steven Szegedi
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Dominican University Archives Repository

Dominican University Archives and Special Collections
7900 West Division Street
River Forest IL 60305 USA
(708) 524-5929