Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Blandford (MA) Library Postcard Message

As I have posted before I especially like library postcards that have a message from the sender relating to the library. I recently acquired two postcards (shown above) of the Porter Memorial Library in Blandford, MA. One has an interior view of the library and has the interesting message. It reads: "Your Xmas card received. Thanks. You remember rocking on the Library piazza doubtless. You did not go into the Library I believe. You may do so with this card."  The postcard was mailed to Miss Helen Potter in Willimantic, CT on December 25, 1906. The second postcard shows the exterior of the library and the "piazza" with rocking chairs. A detail of that postcard is shown to the left. The signage on the arch to the piazza reads "Blandford Free Library". This quotation by George MacDonald is printed on the interior view postcard: "As you grow ready for it, somewhere or other you will find what is needful for you in a book."

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Free for All: Inside the Public Library

"Free for All: Inside the Public Library" is a multi-platform documentary project that intends to brings together library stories from all across America. I became aware of the project three years ago when filmmakers Dawn Logsdon and Lucie Faulknor attended Library History Seminar XII at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and interviewed a number of the seminar participants including me. My interview along with my wife Kathy was filmed by Dawn and Lucie in the basement of our home (much to the horror of my wife) where most of my library memorabilia is housed. Since then the project has made great progress and there will be a program on that progress at the American Library Association Conference in Chicago on Saturday, June 29th, 10:30am-Noon in Room S503a of the McCormick Place Convention Center. More about the project can be found on the project's website. More about the ALA Conference program can be found HERE. You can also follow the project on Facebook. An added attraction at the conference program on June 29th will be a presentation by noted library historian Wayne Wiegand on his forthcoming book tentatively titled "A Part of Or Lives: A People's History of the American Public Library".

Monday, June 24, 2013

"Historic Flight" of an 18th Century French Catalog Card

I'm always flattered when someone requests permission to use one of the images on my blog or website. An unusual request came from artist Catherine O'Dwyer in Melbourne, Australia in April. Catherine wanted to know if she could print the back of an image of an 18th century French catalog card (repurposed from a playing card shown at left) from my collection which I wrote about in 2011 onto pergamenata parchment for an art work on the history of the book. I, of course, said yes. She recently shared some images with me of her completed artwork which she calls "Historic Flight" (see below). Catherine indicated that the creation of her work was partly inspired by an article on the BBC website about the 1986 digital Doomsday book, (created on videodisc) and her interest in the subsequent discussion addressing problems concerning the access and digital preservation of material recorded on obsolete formats. She noted that the original Doomsday Book, a nine hundred year old codex is still completely legible. Catherine said she wanted to portray in "Historic Flight" her own sense of nostalgia and appreciation for the form which has had great significance in her life, as well as represent previous forms of the book in history. Traditional bookbinding materials and methods were used in her work as well as clay and pergamenata parchment. I'm greatly impressed with the resulting artwork and extremely happy to have had a very small part in its creation.

Catherine O'Dwyer with "Historic Flight"

Saturday, June 22, 2013

ALA's 1903 Conference in Niagara Falls

On this date in 1903 (110 years ago) the American Library Association began its twenty-fifth annual meeting in Niagara Falls, NY with an evening reception at the Cataract House hotel (see postcard above). The meeting took place from June 22 to June 27 with most of the program taking place in Cataract House. The attendance at the meeting was 684 which included 447 women. The printed program for the meeting (see below) consisted of just eight pages compared to programs with over 300 pages at recent ALA conferences.  Perhaps the most substantive session at the meeting was a report of the ALA Library Training Committee chaired by Mary W. Plummer. The committee had conducted a major survey of all library training programs in 1902. Melvil Dewey reported on the plans for an ALA exhibit to take place at the 1904 world's fair in St. Louis in 1904. A meeting of the National Association of State Librarians took place in conjunction with the ALA meeting.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

ALA and the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago

In 1933, as it had in 1876, 1893, and 1904, the American Library Association chose to hold its annual conference in conjunction with a world's fair.  The 1933 world's fair was the Century of Progress International Exposition in Chicago, Illinois. The conference took place on October 16-21, 1933 with an attendance of 2,986. ALA and libraries, like the rest of America, were facing tough times during the midst of the Great Depression. ALA's budget which had risen to $400,000 in 1926 had been slashed to $232,000 in 1933.  In October of 1932 over 3,000 of ALA's almost 12,000 members failed to pay their dues. Even so, attendees at the ALA Conference were greeted with hospitality and treated to a special ALA Day at the fair on October 19.  Conference attendees just missed one of the more spectacular events at the fair.  On October 26, 1933 the German airship Graf Zeppelin arrived in Chicago and circled Lake Michigan near the fair. Almost eighty years later the American Library Association will again meet in Chicago on June 27 to July 2.  This time under much more favorable circumstances.  The envelope below from my collection is a first day cover for the two postage stamps issued to celebrate the 1933 world's fair. I wrote a previous blog post about a postcard in my collection that was carried on the Graf Zeppelin.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Military Libraries Division, SLA 60th Anniversary

This year, the Military Libraries Division of the Special Libraries Association is celebrating its 60th anniversary so I thought I would feature a couple of artifacts in my collection to honor this occasion.  The first artifact (shown above) is a letter written by J. H. Offley, the Librarian of the War Department Library, on November 11, 1839 to Hilliard Gray in Boston in regard to several missing volumes of the Works of Benjamin Franklin which the library had previously ordered. The War Department Library was established in 1832. The War Department existed from 1790 to 1947 and is now the Defense Department. The successor to the War Department Library is the Pentagon Library which was created in 1944 when 28 departmental libraries and information centers were consolidated into a single library. The second artifact is a reprint of an article about the Pentagon Library and other military libraries in Library Journal for February 16, 1966 for National Library Week (see below). See some of my other posts about military libraries.