Thursday, March 23, 2017

Ruth Warncke, American Library Association Leader


Ruth Warncke (1910-1998) was a national leader in adult education and served as Deputy Director of the American Library Association from 1965 to 1972.  Her colleagues described her as “a professional feminist long before it was popular”.  When the next supplement to the Dictionary of American Library Biography comes out she will undoubtedly be included. My decision to write about Warncke during Women’s History Month was prompted by a postcard (see above) I recently acquired for my collection of librariana. The postcard was mailed to Warncke in 1971.  Warncke began her career as a teacher and school librarian in Glenview, IL and later held positions in public libraries in New York and Michigan. She was hired by ALA in 1955 to lead the American Heritage Project funded by the Ford Foundation to assist public libraries in discussions of American heritage.  In 1956 she became director of another ALA national level project, the Library Community Project, which was designed to strengthen adult education activities and services in public libraries in the United States. In 1960 she left ALA and served on the faculty of Case Western University Library School until 1965 when she became Deputy Director of ALA.  I’m always delighted to obtain a postcard that has a personal link to a librarian. This postcard was mailed by a friend of Warncke who was traveling in the Southwest U.S.. The picture side of the postcard is a spectacular view of Zion National Park in Utah. I got the postcard at a stamp show from a dealer who was aware of my interest in library related postal items. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Helen Marot, Progressive Librarian & Labor Activist


Helen Marot (1865-1940) was a librarian who worked to improve the working conditions of women.  She helped to establish the Free Library of Economics & Political Science in Philadelphia in 1897.  In my collection of library related postal cards I have a postal card (see above and to the left) that was mailed by Marot from the Free Library of Economics & Political Science on November 23, 1898 to a London publisher.  In trying to find out more about Marot I was delighted to find a well written and researched article about her on Wikipedia. The article has a good description of the Free Library of Economics and Political Science which provided a specialized collection of government publications, labor society reports, magazines, and pamphlets related to economics and political science. Later Marot served as executive secretary of the New York branch of the national Women’s Trade Union League.  Her labor activism included organizing the strike of the shirtwaist makers and dressmakers in 1909.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Seychelles’ Carnegie Library



Most of the communities that benefited from grants from Andrew Carnegie for library buildings were located in the British Isles or North America.  A relatively small number were located in other English speaking countries around the world.  I have in my collection of library postcards one that depicts the Carnegie library building in Victoria, Seychelles.  Victoria received a Carnegie grant of $9,740 on August 6, 1907, but the opening of the library didn’t take place until January 22, 1910.  My postcard shows the visit of the Governor of Seychelles and his wife on the library’s opening day.  The message side of the postcard was written on April 14, 1917.  It is a message from a father who was probably a sailor on a British naval vessel to his daughter.  It reads in part: “This is where Father was this afternoon when he went there from the big ship.”  This date was in the midst of World War I and British ships were in conflict with German vessels around the world.  My postcard doesn’t have a postage stamp and it was probably inserted in another envelope for mailing. At various times the Carnegie building housed the public library and the National library of Seychelles.  The website of the National Library has a brief history of the library (see the link at the bottom of the home page).  There is a nice list of Carnegie library buildings located in Africa, the Caribbean, and Oceania on the Wikipedia site.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

ALA’s Atlanta Conference 1899


Later this week the American Library Association will hold its Midwinter Meeting in Atlanta, GA.  The first ALA conference in Atlanta took place on May 8-12, 1899.  It was also ALA’s first conference in the South.  William C. Lane, Director of the Harvard University Library, was President of ALA.  Attendance at the conference was 215. The conference hotel was the Kimball House (see postcard below).  The rationale for an ALA conference in the South was stated in the conference brochure (see cover illustration above): “It is to be hoped that this southern meeting will be the means of largely increasing the membership [in ALA] from a section hitherto almost entirely without representation.” The brochure included a section touting Andrew Carnegie’s bequest in 1898 for new library buildings in Atlanta. This section which was written by someone with the initials A.W. included the following statement: “The people of the South, perhaps the purest strain of the Anglo-Saxon to be found on this continent, are conservative, intelligent, and need only the educational advantages that wealth can bestow to reach a degree of culture heretofore unrivaled.”  No mention of the African American population of the South. Andrew Carnegie’s bequest, however, did include funds for a separate library for African Americans. The racial climate in the South was reflected in ALA’s planning for the 1899 Atlanta conference. There was an initial proposal for a presentation on “How to Make the Library Do Its Part in Negro Education” by W. E. B. Du Bois.  According to Dennis Thomison in his A History of the American Library Association 1876-1872, a decision was made not to have the presentation “to avoid the risk of angering the association’s southern hosts”. It was not until the 1922 ALA conference in Detroit that an African American gave a speech at an ALA conference. The lineup of featured speakers at this year’s Midwinter meeting shows the dramatic change in ALA’s 21st century outlook on diversity in its programming and membership.



Monday, January 2, 2017

Looking Back at Library History 2016


Notwithstanding a not so great year nationally and internationally, it has been a good year for the promotion and celebration of library history.  An obvious highlight for me personally was my induction into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Milwaukee in October (see photo above).

On the national scene it was a landmark year for the American Library Association which celebrated its 140th anniversary. Of particular note was the effort of the American Libraries magazine to call attention to this milestone. Several other major events also occurred in 1876, the founding year for ALA, and were less well noted on their 140th anniversary. They included the establishment of the Library Journal magazine; the publication of Melvil Dewey’s Decimal Classification System; the creation of the library supply company Library Bureau, also a Dewey effort; and the special report of the US Bureau of Education on the status of  Public Libraries in the United States of America (in actuality all libraries in the US other than personal libraries).  

The Wisconsin Library Association celebrated its 125h anniversary. I was privileged to serve on the committee which was charged with planning the celebration. One of my contributions to this effort was adding content to the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center website about WLA’s history and events related to the anniversary celebration.  

I continued my efforts to collect and to exhibit postal artifacts related to libraries in 2016. My major philatelic exhibit for the year was “America’s Library – The Library of Congress”.  At national level stamp shows the exhibit received gold medals in St. Louis, Minneapolis, and Chicago. In St. Louis it was judged to be the “Best Display Exhibit”.  The exhibit was also selected as the best exhibit at the Wisconsin state stamp show.  It was wonderful to conclude the exhibit with a reference to the appointment of Dr. Carla Hayden as the Librarian of Congress.

My collection of Wisconsin Library Memorabilia was on display at the Milwaukee Public Library and the Middleton Public Library this year. 

It was not a great year for writing new blog posts for the Library History Buff Blog. I only published 21 posts for the year, an all time yearly low for me. On the positive side all time page views for the blog exceeded 600,000.  I hope to do much better in 2017. In the very limited world of library history blogging the ALA Archives Blog has set a high standard for quality posts. 

Have a happy 2017 everyone!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

ALA at Saratoga Springs, NY in 1918

I’ve recently added a name badge for R. L. Walkley (Raymond L. Walkley) at the American Library Association conference in Saratoga Springs, NY in 1918 to my collection of librariana.  The ALA conference ran from July 1 to July 6 and had 620 attendees.  It’s nice to be able to tie a library artifact to a specific librarian.  Walkley served as Assistant Librarian of the Minneapolis Public Library from 1914-1920. He took a leave from MPL to serve in ALA’s Library War Service in 1917-1918.  Obviously a major topic of discussion at the 1918 conference was the war effort of ALA. The 1918 conference hotel was the Grand Union Hotel in Saratoga Springs. Walkley later served as Librarian of Tufts College. See some other early ALA conference name badges HERE.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Super Neat Library Centennial Envelopes


As those who follow this blog know, I collect library related envelopes (called covers by collectors) of all types.  My largest collection of these envelopes consists of those which have actually been sent either to or from libraries.  I also collect envelopes, however, that have been specially created for collectors to celebrate the issuance of a new stamp (first day covers) or to celebrate a special event. I have recently acquired a collection of envelopes that were created by Joshua McGee to celebrate the centennials of libraries. So far McGee has created envelopes for 25 libraries and plans to continue creating them in the future.  I’m impressed by the effort McGee, a non-librarian, has undertaken to create the envelopes.  The envelope shown above is an example that features the Paulding County Carnegie Library in Paulding, OH which was established on March 3, 1916.  After research to identify the centennial date of establishment for the library, McGee had to design the envelope, add appropriate stamps, and get the envelope to the post office in Paulding, OH to postmark the envelope on the date of establishment.  I especially like the use of the 1982 America’s Libraries postage stamp, one of my favorites.  McGee only creates six envelopes for each library. He sends one of the envelopes as a gift to the library and keeps one for himself.  The other four are available for sale on eBay or by subscription which is how I acquired my collection. The creation of the library centennial envelopes and other illustrated envelopes is a sideline for McGee who is a software engineer. All of the library centennial envelopes are shown on McGee’s website and more information about each library can be found by clicking on the images of the envelope.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

IFLA Bibliophilately



The International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) is holding its 82nd General Conference and Assembly in Columbus, Ohio this week.  The first such conference took place in Rome, Italy in 1928. At past conferences, several host countries have recognized the IFLA conference with postage stamps and other postal artifacts. These include:  Belgium in 1977 on the 50th anniversary of IFLA; the Philippines in 1980; Kenya in 1984; Japan in 1986; and Vatican City in 2009 when IFLA met in Milan, Italy.  Images of these items can be found in a previous post that I made about IFLA bibliophilately. Han Krol has more about the stamps on his Dutch Librariana website (translate with Google translator).  More about the history of IFLA can be found on its website. More about bibliophilately can be found HERE.

Monday, August 15, 2016

ALA Pinback Buttons

If you’ve ever attended a library conference the odds are that you’ve brought home a few of the pinback buttons that vendors give away in the exhibits.  I have an enormous library button collection that I’ve accumulated at library conferences and which have been given to me by other collectors.  Below are a few buttons from my collection related to the American Library Association. More examples from my collection can be found HERE.