Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Indianapolis Public Library History
I'm a big fan of books that tell the story of a single library. I just obtained one of the best I've ever seen. It is Stacks: A History of the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library by S. L. Berry with Mary Ellen Gadski (Indianapolis-Marion County Library Foundation, 2011). A blurb on the cover states: "The Library has always been more than a source of information: it has been a center of community life. Stacks tells the story of the IMCPL's evolution, placing it in a national context and emphasizing its role in the educational and cultural life of Indianapolis". Berry and Gadski were commissioned by the IMCPL Foundation to write the book, and they have done a great job. As a former public library director, I liked the descriptions of the challenges faced by each of the directors of the library and how they responded to them. Noteworthy was the chapter titled "The McFadden Years, 1944-1956" which described how Marian McFadden dealt with the McCarthy era. In addition to the quality writing I was highly impressed with the design of the book which according to a press release for the book was done by Jim and Jon Sholly. The book includes numerous visual images. As a collector of librariana, I especially liked the images of bookplates on the front and end pages of the book. A neat idea was an illustration of a book pocket for the library with a date due slip that just happened to include significant dates in the history of the library. A double page montage in the book includes a number of examples of postcards showing two of the former central libraries. Shown above are postcards from my collection featuring the two buildings. The first building was completed in 1893 and the second in 1917. The book is available for $25 from the IMCPL Foundation. Strangely, the library's website includes little information about the history of the library or even about this great book.