Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Banned Books Buttons

Buttons and bumper stickers are ideal for conveying short succinct messages. Here are a few buttons that promote Banned Books Week which runs from Sept. 26 to Oct. 3. These buttons are mostly from the Joel Robinson collection of buttons which is now part of my collection. To see more library related buttons click here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

American Archives Month 2009

On the way back from a wedding in New York I had the opportunity to stop and see the public library in Sandusky, Ohio. The library has an active archives program, and I thought it would be appropriate to feature the library to promote Archives Month which is in October every year. The Sandusky Library has a very unusual facility which includes the renovated Carnegie Library, the old county jail, and a modern addition which connects the two buildings. The history of the library is located here. An even more unusual aspect of the library is that it operates a historical museum which is in another facility. With all of these history connections it is only logical that the library has an outstanding Sandusky History blog. The Society of American Archivists sponsors the celebration of American Archives Month much in the same way that the American Library Association sponsors National Library Week. The SAA has developed a public relations kit to help promote Archives Month in 2009 which has the theme "Celebrating the American Record". There are many possible ways that libraries could help celebrate Archives Month. High on the list are programs and exhibits. These could focus on the library's own history and archives or those of the community in which the library is located. If not this year, plan for next year and the next and the next...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week is September 26 to October 3 this year. Banned Books Week began in 1982 to promote intellectual freedom and to make the public aware that access to books and other materials was being challenged on a regular basis especially in libraries. The American Library Association is one of the sponsors of Banned Books Week. The envelope above is a First Day Cover for the America's Libraries postage stamp which was issued at the American Library Association annual conference in Philadelphia on July 13, 1982. Someone created a unique cover by pasting a newspaper article about book banning attempts on the envelope. The article begins, "There is a new 'hit list' sweeping the country. Unlike gangland murders, though this hit list does not involve people, but ideas. With increasing frequency, books and magazines of all kinds have become the target of self-appointed censors of both the left and right."

Monday, September 21, 2009

Margaret Hutchins, Reference Librarian

Today is the 125th anniversary of the birth of Margaret Hutchins (1884-1961). Hutchins was one of 305 individuals selected to be included in the first edition of the Dictionary of American Library Biography (Libraries Unlimited, 1978). She was selected for inclusion because of her contribution to library reference service through practice, teaching, and writing. Her entry in the DALB was written by Frances Neel Cheney, also a noted contributor to reference service and one of those included in the Second Supplement to the DALB. Cheney quotes a statement by Phineas Windsor, Director of the University of Illinois Library, about Hutchins: "Miss Margaret Hutchins is about as good a reference librarian as I have ever known, and I have seen some good ones. She has an unusually keen mind, broad interests, a splendid knowledge of what we call reference material, is quick at catching new points of view, has good common sense, good judgment, and is herself a hard worker." Hutchins was a reference librarian at the University of Illinois Library from 1908 to 1927. After earning a degree at Columbia University in 1931 she joined the faculty of the Library School at Columbia. She wrote the classic reference text Introduction to Reference Work in 1944 (American Library Association) which has been published in several later editions. My first library job after library school was as a reference librarian and it is clear from what I have read about Margaret Hutchins that her knowledge and understanding of reference service was based on actual experience at the reference desk. It is refreshing when someone who has spent a substantial portion of her career working as a reference librarian is honored in such a prestigious publication as the DALB. A web biography of Margaret Hutchins written by library school student Jennifer Masunaga is located here.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Libraries and Librarians in Children's Books

How librarians and libraries are depicted in the popular culture is a topic which sometimes gets those of in the library profession fired up when it is a negative or stereotypical depiction. It is also a topic that is of great interest to those who collect and study librariana. How libraries and librarians are depicted in children's books is a specialized aspect of this topic. Norman D. Stevens, librariana collector extraordinaire, has taken advantage of a WorldCat feature to create a bibliography of children's books that feature librarians or library related topics. Stevens says this is only a partial list and that it will be expanded in the future. I also came across a website about "The Image of Libraries In Popular Culture" on which Adriane Allan discusses "Librarians in Children's and Teen Literature". This website also includes a bibliography. Matthew Z. Heintzelman has created a web based bibliography of Children's Picture Books With Libraries and Librarians. There was an interesting discussion of the 1960 children's book I Want to be a Librarian on the Awful Library Books blog. Books In A Box by Stuart Stotts (Big Valley Press, 2005) is a children's book that has a very positive depiction of Lutie Stearns, Wisconsin library crusader and advocate. Stearns helped establish both traveling libraries and public libraries throughout Wisconsin. She was one of the first inductees into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Henry Stevens, Green Mountain Boy

Henry Stevens (1819-1886) was a native of Vermont who moved to London, England in 1845 and established a book business which helped build great libraries in the United States and Great Britain. He never forgot his Vermont roots, however, and was fond of using the initials GMB after his name which stood for Green Mountain Boy. He played a major role in building the library of James Lenox of New York which was one of the entities which merged in 1895 to form the New York Public Library. He later wrote Recollections of Mr. James Lennox of New York and the Formation of His Library about this experience. He also was instrumental in building the Americana collection of the British Museum. Wyman W. Parker in his book Henry Stevens of Vermont: American Rare Book Dealer in London, 1845-1886 (N. Israel, Amsterdam, 1963) describes Stevens' remarkable career dealing in rare books. Although an American, he had no problem integrating into the 19th century book world of London, and was well respected in his adopted country. He was particularly well thought of for his role in the Library Association of Great Britain. A tribute to Stevens is contained in the British book Essays in Librarianship and Bibliography by Richard Garnett (George Allen, London, 1899). The postal card above was mailed by H. O. Coxe, President of the Library Association in 1881 to Stevens (as well as other members of the Association) to gain approval for a change of venue for the Association's 1881 meeting. Henry was not the only member of the Stevens family who relocated to London for a career in book selling. His brother Benjamin Franklin (Frank) Stevens did the same in 1860.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Happy Birthday National Library of China

The National Library of China (NLC) chose 09-09-09 to celebrate its 100th anniversary. I wonder why. I'm a big fan of libraries celebrating their significant anniversaries and the NLC is doing it in grand scale. It reminds me of the Library of Congress celebration of its bicentennial in 2000. China is issuing two postage stamps to commemorate its anniversary. For a bibliophilatelist this is, of course, a real treat.

Monday, September 7, 2009

North Carolina's Public Libraries

As a former employee of the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, I was delighted when Amy Rudersdorf, director of the Digital Information Management Program at the State Library of North Carolina, informed me of their digital collection on North Carolina's public libraries. The collection is entitled "Transforming the Tar Heel State: The Legacy of Public Libraries in North Carolina" and it is located here. The collection consists of scans of the State Library of North Carolina's Public Library History Files and images contributed by cooperating public libraries around the state. It also contains histories of many of the libraries. With hundreds of digital projects being conducted by libraries throughout the nation, it is unfortunate that there are not more projects that focus on the history of libraries. The State Library of North Carolina is to be commended for its contribution to the appreciation and preservation of our nation's library heritage.The postcard above shows the Carnegie library building in Charlotte which has been razed.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Song of the Library Staff

Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911), Librarian of the Somerville (Massachusetts) Public Library from1898 to 1911, was also a popular poet. At the 1906 Annual Meeting of the American Library Association, he read his poem entitled "The Song of the Library Staff". The poem has five stanzas each devoted to a different staff position. The stanza below is about the cataloger. Oh, joy! to see the Library staff perpetually jogging, And to see the Cataloger in the act of cataloging. ("Catalogs - Log-books for cattle," was the school-boy's definition,- A statment not to be despised for insight and precision) Every language spoke at Babel in the books that pile her table, Every theme discussed since Adam -- song or story, fact or fable! And she sweetly takes all knowledge for her province, as did Bacon, All the fruit that's dropped and mellowed since the Knowledge tree was shaken, All the ologies of the college, all the isms of the schools, All the unassorted knowledges she assorts by Cutter's rules; Or tags upon each author in large labels that are gluey Their place in Thought's great Pantheon in decimals of Dewey; Oh, joy! to see the Library staff perpetually jogging. And to see the Cataloger in the act of cataloging. The poem illustrated by Merle Johnson was published in 1906 by John R. Anderson. The Library Alcoves and Other Library Writings by Sam Walter Foss selected and edited by Norman Stevens was published by McFarland in 1987. The poem was also included in Songs of the Average Man by Foss which was published in 1907. His most popular poem was "The House by the Side of the Road". There is a good article by historian J. Dennis Robinson on Foss which he wrote for

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Library Card Sign-up Month

September is Library Card Sign-up Month and I thought this would be a good opportunity to promote the Library Card page on the Library History Buff website. The 1877 library card above is for the M. E. Sabbath School in Washington, Ohio and is part of my librariana collection. Some early libraries including the Boston Athenaeum and the New York Mercantile Library used the terminology "library ticket" to refer to the artifact which authorizes the library user to borrow books. I kind of like the use of the word ticket for this purpose. After all, your library card is your ticket to ..... In doing a Google search I found that Norway was using the terminology "library ticket" or "lanekoret" for a program to provide access to its 2500 libraries using a single card or ticket. The idea for a single card that provides access to all libraries in a single state is one of those ideas that sounds great but is extremely difficult to implement. I'm happy that my library card permits me to use any public library that is a member of the South Central Library System in Wisconsin.