Monday, August 1, 2011
The July 1895 issue of Library Notes contained a compilation of "Library Recipes" for use by libraries in dealing with common problems which they encountered in their operations. Library Notes, a publication of the Library Bureau edited by Melvil Dewey, was targeted primarily at small libraries and its original sub-title was "Improved Methods and Labor-Savers for Librarians, Readers and Writers". The library recipes were compiled by Katharine Lucinda Sharp for ALA's Comparative Library Exhibit at the 1893 World Colombian Exposition in Chicago. Sharp later went on to head the library school at the University of Illinois. It's clear from the various recipes provided in the compilation that for small libraries and even some large ones that the 1890s were a DIY world. To deal with those pesky book-worms: "Book-worms are exterminated rapidly and effectually by mixing equal parts of powdered camfor and snuff, and sprinkling the shelves with the mixture every six or eight months." Or to mix up an effective brew of mucilage: "The best mucilage is made by dissolving a fair grade of gum arabic in a sufficient quantity of water, and adding oil of cloves, or some other essential oil to keep it from molding. Put four quarts of cold water in an earthen crock or pitcher, add two and one-half pounds of gum arabic; set it on a warm, but not a hot place - a steam radiator is an excellent place - stir the gum very frequently, raising it from the bottom of the crock. When entirely dissolvd, strain through cheese cloth, and stir in 12 drops of essential oil. The mucilage will keep perfectly sweet as long as it lasts. If too thick, add a little water; if too thin, heat it over." Recipes are also included for fusty stains, glues, inks, mending, mildew, paste, and many others. Oh, the life of a librarian.