Thursday, August 14, 2014

Umbrellas on Library Postcards

Librariana collector and library humorist Norman D. Stevens published "The Umbrella Paper" as part of a humor collection in The Librarian's Record, Vol. 5, No. 5 (March 1980). The Librarian's Record was a publication of the Molesworth Institute. In Stevens' paper on the umbrella he laments that research has become more and more difficult, but notes that one area that has not yet been adequately explored is umbrellas in libraries. He goes on to indicate that the Molesworth Institute has undertaken some initial investigations on that topic. As part of its investigations, according to Stevens, the Institute used its computerized file of the information contained on some 5,000 picture postcards of libraries. The analysis of these postcards found that 17.3% of the people shown on the exterior views of libraries were carrying umbrellas, and that 2.3% of the people shown on interior views of libraries were carrying umbrellas. Finally, 329 of the 973 interior views of libraries showed unattended umbrellas. Although Stevens personally accumulated a collection of more than 25,000 library postcards and thus is probably one of the foremost authorities on library postcards, I believe he was pulling our leg with that information (you think). It did prompt me, however, to go through my collection of library postcards and I actually did find a couple with umbrellas (more accurately parasols). The one above shows the exterior of the Sioux City, IA Public Library and the one below shows the Redwood Library in Newport, RI. I'm a proud Fellow of the Molesworth Institute.


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