One of the pleasures of publishing a library history website and blog is being contacted by someone seeking more information about a topic or commenting positively on your efforts. Recently I was contacted by Ray McInnis who indicated that, like me, he is a retired librarian who spends part of his time on the internet writing about his interests. Ray describes himself as an "amateur woodworker and scholar of woodworking history". He maintains a website which reflects his interest in woodworking history and records his efforts to write an online history of woodworking. The connection between Ray's interest in woodworking history and my interest in library history relates to the role played by the Minneapolis Public Library (now merged with the Hennepin County Library) in developing the Index to Handicrafts which began as an in-house index file in the 1920s and was later published as a printed index by Faxon beginning in 1936. McInnis discusses the Index to Handicrafts and other reference sources on woodworking history here. In that section of his website he also highlights a 1922 article in the Vocational Education Magazine which discusses a cooperative effort between the Minneapolis Public Library and the Dunwoody Institute (now the Dunwoody College of Technology) to provide library support for the Institute. This was at a time when the outstanding librarian Gratia Countryman led the Minneapolis Public Library and initiated many outreach efforts. There is also a section on "Woodworkers Manuals in Public Libraries" on the McInnis website.
The first image shown above depicts a traveling library bookcase that was used in Dunn County, Wisconsin in the 1890s. The bookcase is now located in the Russell J. Rassbach Heritage Museum in Menomonie, Wisconsin. The second image is a replica of the bookcase created by an amateur woodworker for an exhibit at the Menomonee Falls Public Library .