Thursday, February 16, 2012
Henry Carr's Collection of ALA Memorabilia
Henry James Carr (1849-1929) was appointed the first library director of the newly completed Albright Memorial Library in Scranton, PA (now part of the Lackawanna County Library System) in 1891. He served in that capacity until his death in 1929. Carr was extremely active in the American Library Association. His offices in ALA included: treasurer (1886-1893); recorder (1894-1895); vice-president (1895-1896); secretary (1898-1900); and president (1900-1901). During his 55 years of membership in ALA he missed attending only eight conferences. While attending these conferences he collected many mementos. Those items now form the bulk of the Conference Badges and Artifacts Collection of the American Library Association Archives. In his book A Guide to Collecting Librariana (Scarecrow Press, 1986) , Norman D. Stevens describes the ALA collection as follows: "There are attendee ribbons from the meetings of 1889 and 1892-1901, as well as some later meetings. Among the ribbons are those of 1897 (Philadelphia), to which is attached a small United States flag, and 1930 (Grand Canyon), which is made of copper. There is at least one badge, button, or pin in the collection for most of the meetings of 1897-1941. These items include stick pins from the 1889 Atlanta and 1900 Montreal meetings (Carr calling the latter the 'most beautiful pin' in the collection); the imitation bronze badge in the shape of a badger attached to a medallion from the 1901 Waukesha meeting; the 1902-1914 buttons that were printed with attendee registration numbers; the ornate badges from 1917-1920; and the 1920-1941 badges that were little more than cards on which to write names." I have my own collection of ALA memorabilia, some of which is displayed on the Library History Buff website. It's nice to know that my obsession was shared by one of ALA's pioneers. Wouldn't it be great if the ALA Archives would put together an exhibit (physical or digital) of its collection of conference badges and artifacts. The envelope above was mailed by the Scranton Public Library on September 26, 1905 to Carr while he was evidently on vacation at Melvil Dewey's Lake Placid Club. The source for some of the information in this post is Carr's entry in the Dictionary of American Library Biography (Libraries Unlimited, 1978) written by Wayne Wiegand.