Wednesday, January 21, 2009

ALA Denver 1895

The American Library Association will be holding its Midwinter conference in Denver on January 23-28. When the proceedings of the early meetings of the American Library Association were published they usually included an article on the social side of the conference. For the 1895 meeting in Denver, Colorado, Mary Emogene Hazeltine wrote the section entitled "Social and Travel Features of the Conference". I recently discovered a minature book (3.75 inches by 2.5 inches) which turned out to be an invitation to the participants of this conference to a reception hosted by the Colorado Library Association. The title of the little book was "An Adventure in the Far West" and the author was given as C. L. A., Author of Good Intentions. Hazeltine writes: "...a jolly band of comrades we, quite ready for the Adventure in the Far West which next befell us. If it took a "whole book" by C. L. A., author of Good Intentions, to summon us to this adventure, surely it needs a book to tell of it; to tell how th High School building [where the reception was held] by some magic became a reception hall, where we were most cordially received by the good people of Denver; and of the gay scene, where music and flowers, milk and honey, talk and laughter mingled."
Hazeltine's recounting of the Loop Trip during the Denver conference was far more interesting. Here are a few exerpts "We had not been in Denver very long before it began to be whispered about that certain members of the A. L. A. were going to run off for a day and take the trip over the 'Loop.' The whisper became a more distinct utterance, and finally it was announced that the regular sessions for Thursday would be postponed, that all might take the loop-trip if they desired without having any unattended sessions on their consciences. Consequently at 8:30 o'clock on the morning appointed, most of the party were to be seen comfortably seated in an observation car ready for the short journey into 'the heart of the Rockies' over the famous loop. ...The goggle boy diverted our attention for a few brief moments, as he passed through the train and made us all believe that our eyes would seriously suffer from the ever present cinder if we did not provide ourselves with the ugly blue things he had for sale; so we purchased his wares, adjusted them with the feeling that if we did look like a new species of human being, we were at least doing the proper thing, and prepared for the worst - or best. ...The loop is indeed 'a railway on a bender, the apotheosis of gyration, the supreme luxury of entanglement' and makes one feel that there is a great deal of human ingenuity in the world, and that railroad engineering skill is something to be mightily respected."
At the time of the A.L.A. meeting in Denver Hazeltine was librarian of the James Prendergast Free Library in Jamestown, New York. She later became head of the library school at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. In 2008 she was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame. Many of the proceedings of the American Library Association conferences can be found on Google Books. A collection of the proceedings of the 1893, 1894, 1895, and 1896 conferences can be found here. I have also compiled a collection of primarily library history publications which link to ALA Conerence Proceedings at Google Books here. Click on "ala conf proceedings" in the left column.

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