Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Six Years of Blogging

Today is the sixth anniversary of the Library History Buff Blog. This post is number 653. In the six years, the blog has received 351,000 page views. The blog has 278 regular followers. All of this is, of course, very modest in the overall blogging world, but it is impressive in the library history blogging world which is extremely limited. The mission/purpose/reason for the blog was given in the first blog post on Nov. 19, 2008:

This blog is a companion to my static website The Library History Buff. It has a similar mission - to promote the appreciation, enjoyment, and preservation of our library heritage. The blog format, however, lends itself better to personal commentary and offers the possibility of interactive communication with others with a similar interest in library history. I often post to the listserv of the Library History Round Table of the American Library Association but the audience for that listserv is restricted to members of LHRT. Another downside to posting to the LHRT listserv is that all members of the listserv are involuntarily subjected to my posts, something I occasionally feel guilty about. It puzzles and saddens me that so few in the library community seem to appreciate or even to be aware of the legacy of those who preceded them in the enterprise of managing and facilitating access to library and information services. This blog is my small attempt to increase the appreciation and awareness of our library heritage.

A Library Postcard With Multiple Personal Connections

As I have mentioned in previous posts about my library postcard collecting interests, I am particularly interested in the message side of postcards especially if the message relates to libraries or library postcard collecting. One such postcard in my collection has multiple personal and library related connections. The postcard (shown above) depicts the interior of the Greenville County (SC) Library. I served as Director of the library from 1974 to 1980, and I have a number of these postcards which are unused. This postcard was mailed on Dec. 5, 1983 by Martha Jane Zachert from Columbia, SC to Dan Lester in Durango, CO. At the time Martha Jane was on the faculty of the University of South Carolina Library School and Dan was Director of the Fort Lewis College Library in Durango. I've shared an interest in collecting librariana with Dan for a number of years and I recently wrote about his library postcard collection. Although our careers overlapped in South Carolina, it has only been recently that I have connected with Martha Jane and discovered out shared interest in library history and philately. My final connection to this postcard is the America's Libraries stamp. I'm an avid collector of first day covers and other postal items with this stamp, and have even created an exhibit of those items. It's use on a postcard during this time period is unusual in that it is a first class postage stamp and overpays the postcard rate. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Water - the enemy of books and libraries

Detail of postcard showing library

I previously wrote a post about a book titled The Enemies of Books by William Blades (Trubner, London, 1880) with an emphasis on the portion of the book dealing with fire. In his book Blades wrote: "Next to Fire we must rank Water in its two forms, liquid and vapour, as the greatest destroyer of books." I was reminded of the danger of water to books and libraries by a recent article by Bernadette Lear titled "Pennsylvania Public Libraries and the Great Flood of 1936" which is available in digital form HERE. I also wrote a post about Ohio libraries and the flood of 1913. I have a postcard (shown above) depicting the impact of the Vermont flood of 1927 on Montpelier, VT and its library. That flood, "took out 1285 bridges, miles and miles of roads and railroads, and countless homes and buildings. Eighty-four people died in the flood, including Lt. Governor S. Hollister Jackson." Libraries in the United States have been damaged in recent years by water from major weather events including hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. Some individual libraries experiencing water based disasters include the University of Wisconsin - Superior Library, Stanford University Libraries, Washington County Library (St. George, UT, to name only a few. Fortunately there are now procedures in place to recover damaged library materials in many instances.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Daniel W. Lester Library Postcard Collection

Dan on the left, me on the right
Today I drove to Urbana, Illinois to deliver 6,450 library postcards to the American Library Association Archives which are administered by the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. The postcards are from the collection of Dan Lester of St. George, Utah, a library postcard collector of more than four decades. Dan decided he was ready to dispose of his postcard collection and elected to donate the bulk of the collection to the ALA Archives. I volunteered to get the collection from St. George to Urbana which occurred in stages with a big assist from a friend in Denver, Colorado. I still have in my possession a large collection of duplicate and foreign library postcards which I hope to sell for Dan. Dan previously donated a large collection of library history books and library memorabilia to benefit the ALA Library History Round Table and the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center. There comes a time when all collectors have to decide on the the disposition of their collection/s or leave the chore to others after they are gone. Kudos to Dan for passing on his collections to benefit the promotion and preservation of library history.

Lester library postcard collection sorted by state & community ready to load up for the trip to Urbana.
Loaded & ready for delivery.
Archives Research Center at the Univ. of Illinois, new home to the Lester library postcard collection.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

WWI ALA Camp Libraries for Veterans Day

To celebrate Veterans Day I'm posting some postcards showing soldiers and sailors in front of American Library Association Library War Service camp libraries during WWI.

Camp Gordon, GA

Camp Greene, NC
Camp Lee, VA
Pelham Bay Park, NY

Camp Doniphan, OK

Monday, November 10, 2014

WI Library Hall of Fame 2014 Inductees

One of my most rewarding activities as Chair of the Steering Committee of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center is participating in the selection of inductees into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame. Five individuals were inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 6 at the Wisconsin Library Association Annual Conference in Wisconsin Dells. The Library Hall of Fame is a program of the WLA Foundation and the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center. The inductees are:

Gilbert Harry Doane (1897-1980) served as Director of the University of Wisconsin – Madison General Library (1937-1943 & 1945-1956) and as Director of the UW-Madison Library School (1938-1941). He was head of the UW-Madison Archives program (1956-1962). He served in the U.S. Army’s World War II Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (“Monuments Men”) Project (1943-1945).

Wilbur Lyle Eberhart (1922-2010) was the first administrator of the Division for Library Services in the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction after the Wisconsin Free Library Commission was abolished. He served in this capacity from 1965 to 1981 which included the period when Wisconsin’s public library system legislation was passed and implemented.

Peter G. Hamon (1945- ) served as Director of the South Central Library System (1981-2005). He was active in promoting statewide library legislation and funding, and served as President (1991) and as Legislative Advocate for the Wisconsin Library Association. He was honored as WLA/DEMCO Librarian of the Year in 2004.

Nolan I. Neds (1921-2006) served as Supervisor of Neighborhood Libraries and Extension and as Deputy City Librarian of the Milwaukee Public Library (1965-1982).  He was a champion of  library service to the underserved in Milwaukee County, the State, and the nation. He was active in the Wisconsin Library Association and served as President (1970-1971).

Gertrude Thurow (1906-1993) served as Director of the La Crosse Public Library (1953-1975) and was instrumental in establishing the predecessors of the Winding Rivers Library System (1965-1975). She served as President of the Wisconsin Library (1955-56). Thurow was honored as WLA Librarian of the Year in 1959, and received WLA’s Special Service Award in1975.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Happy Birthday ALA!

Today marks the 138th anniversary of the founding of the American Library Association. The founding took place on October 6, 1876 at a conference of librarians at the Pennsylvania Historical Society in Philadelphia. The events leading up to the conference are documented in the book Raking The Historic Coals, The A.L.A. Scrapbook of 1876 by Edward G. Holley (Beta Phi Mu, 1967). Although Melvil Dewey received much of the credit for the call for the conference, others including Richard Rodgers Bowker and Frederick Leypoldt played important roles. Of the 103 people who attended the conference 90 were men and 13 were women. At the end of the conference attendees who wanted to form the new association signed a register. Melvil Dewey signed as "Number one". By the end of 1876, 43 individuals had joined the association. On the evening of October 6 there was a social reception. A replica of the invitation to that affair is shown above. This anniversary of the founding of ALA highlights the fact that in two years, it will celebrate its 140th anniversary, an occasion worthy of celebration. In 2026, only twelve years away, ALA will celebrate its 150th anniversary, a major milestone for any organization.  

Friday, September 19, 2014

Fundraising for the Free for All Inside the Public Library Film Project

I published a previous post about the "Free for All: Inside the Public Library film project which will feature public libraries across America today and provide historical background about the public library movement in the United States. The project is now at a critical filming stage and a fundraising effort has been launched to pay for this phase. They have more information and a nice video about the project on their home page. It also includes information about donating to the project which I highly endorse. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Guthrie, Oklahoma's Carnegie Library

When Andrew Carnegie gave a grant of $26,000 to Guthrie, Oklahoma on October 17, 1901 for a public library building it was the capital of the Oklahoma Territory. The library building was completed in 1902 and in 1906 it served as the backdrop for the inauguration of Frank Frantz, Oklahoma's last territorial governor. That event is depicted on the postcard above. Guthrie lost out to Oklahoma City as the permanent State Capital. The Carnegie building ceased to house the public library in 1972 when a new public library building was completed. According to the website of the Oklahoma Territorial Museum, the Carnegie building barely escaped destruction due to the generosity of a benefactor who also donated a museum building to the City. The very elaborate building which was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1971 is now part of the museum complex. Information about Oklahoma's other Carnegie libraries can be found HERE

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Equalizing Library Opportunities 1927

In 1927 the Committee on Library Extension of the American Library Association published a small brochure (see above) that described the inequality of access to public library service in the nation and advanced the goal of "Adequate public library service within easy reach of every one". It then offered some strategies for achieving that goal. A chart in the brochure (at left) showed that more than 50 million Americans were without library service, mostly in rural areas. Elsewhere in the brochure it was pointed out that out of 3,065 counties the United States 1,235 had no public libraries within their boundaries. Strategies included leadership from state library agencies and county libraries. It was not until the passage of the Federal Library Services Act in 1956 that that the extension of public library service became a national priority. As a result of federal and state library funding programs enormous progress has been made toward achieving the goal of adequate public library service within easy reach of everyone. However, there are still millions of Americans without public library service or without adequate public library service.