Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Carnaygie Humor

Finley Peter Dunne (1867-1936), a Chicago newspaper writer and editor, created a fictional homespun philosopher with a strong Irish brogue who expounded on issues of the day in the early twentieth century. Dunne wrote hundreds of the Mr. Dooley sketches which were syndicated in newspapers nationally and published in several books. One of those sketches dealt with Andrew Carnegie's library philanthropy. It appeared in the book Dissertations by Mr. Dooley (1906). A reprint of the "The Carnegie Libraries" sketch was included in the Spring, 1976 issue of the Wisconsin Magazine of History. Here is how it starts out:

"Has Andrew Carnaygie given ye a libry yet?" asked Mr. Dooley.
"Not that I know iv," said Mr. Hennessy.
"He will," said Mr. Dooley. "Ye'll not escape him. Befure he dies he hopes to crowd a libry on ivry man, woman, an' child in th' country. He's given thim to cities, towns, villages, an' whistlin' stations. They're tearin' down gas-houses an' poor-houses to put up libries. Befure another year, ivry house in Pittsburg that ain't a blast-furnace will be a Carnaygie libry. In some places all th' buildin's is libries. If ye write him f'r an autygraft he sinds ye a library."

And later:
"Does he give th' books that go with it?" aksed Mr. Hennessy.
"Books?" said Mr. Dooley. "What ar're ye talkin' about? D'ye know what a libry is? I suppose ye think it's a place where a man can go, haul down wan iv his fav'rite authors fr'm th' shelf, an' take a nap in it. That's not a Carnaygie libry. A Carnaygie libry is a large, brown-stone, impenethrible buildin' with the' name iv th' maker blown on the' dure. Libry, fr'm th' Greek wurruds, libus, a book, an' ary, sildom, -sildom a book. A Carnaygie libry is archytechoor, not lithrachoor."

And still later in the sketch:
" All th' same, I like Andrew Carnaygie. Him an' me ar're agreed on that point. I like him because he ain't shamed to give publicly. Ye don't find him puttin' on false whiskers an' turnin' up his coat-collar whin he goes out to be benivolent. No, sir. Ivry time he dhrops a dollar it makes a noise like a wather fallin' down-stairs with a tray iv dishes."
Note: In reality, it was not a requirement for a Carnegie library grant that Carnegie's name be included on the building.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

C. C. Certain & School Library Standards

This year is the 125th anniversary of the birth (exact date unknown) of Casper Carl Certain (1885-1940), the father of school library standards. In 1920 (90 years ago), the American Library Association published Standard Library Organization and Equipment for Secondary Schools of Different Sizes. Because C. C. Certain (as he was better known) was chair of the committee that developed the standards they became widely known as the "Certain Standards". The "Certain Standards" were developed by the Committee on Problems of High School Libraries of the National Education Association's Department of Secondary Education. Certain also chaired the joint committee of the National Education Association and the American Library Association that produced the report Elementary School Library Standards published by ALA in 1925. Jean E. Lowrie has written a biography of Certain in the Dictionary of American Library Biography (Libraries Unlimited, 1978). In that article she quotes Certain on the importance of school librarians: "First, only a person with special training can fulfill the many functions described and second, no school can reach its highest efficiency until it provides for the systematic and broad use of reading materials which the presence of a trained librarian insures. That instruction has traditionally been altogether in the hands of classroom teachers ought not to blind boards of education or superintendents to the imperative need in a modern school for a more extensive use of reading materials. If this need is recognized, there will naturally follow the transformation of the study-room into a library and the assignment of the supervision of the library to a trained librarian." The Lowrie biography is also reprinted in Pioneers and Leaders in Library Service to Youth: A Biographical Dictionary edited by Marilyn L. Miller (Libraries Unlimited, 2003) Cawood Cornelius has written an excellent article for the Georgia Library Media Association's blog which provides a timeline for the history of school library standards.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Good Ship ALA

In recognition of its service in World War I, the American Library Association was invited by the United States Shipbuilding Board (USSB) to name one of the many merchant marine ships built under its auspices. ALA chose the very creative name of "ALA" for its ship. Harry R. Skallerup wrote "The Steamship Named ALA", the definitive article about the ship, in the Fall 2004 issue of Libraries & Culture. The SS ALA was one of forty ships of the same type built at the Merchant Shipbuilding Corporation's Harriman yards in Bristol, Pennsylvannia. It was christened by Shirley Putnam, daughter of Librarian of Congress Herbert Putnam, on December 18, 1920. Putnam wrote an account of the launching of the ALA in an article in Library Journal. The SS ALA went through several owners and name changes over the years with the last name being the "SS Belgian Fighter". On October 9, 1941 the SS Belgian Fighter was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine 80 miles SSE of Cape Town, South Africa. According to Skallerup a plaque honoring the American Library Association had been fastened to a bulkhead in the saloon of the ship. The remains of the former SS ALA and possibly the plaque rest in a watery grave, as Skallerup concludes his article, "far in distance, time, and memory from the occasion and place of its naming". The photograph above shows the SS ALA when it was operated by the American Diamond Lines in the 1931-35 period (

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Reuben's Library

Reuben's Library is the Library of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Reuben is Reuben A. Guild (1822-1899), Librarian of Brown from 1848 to 1893. A librarian acquaintance who knew of my interest in both library history and philately alerted me yesterday to a philatelic event that will be held at the Brown University Library on February 2, 2010. It will be part of the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the Rhode Island Philatelic Society. I recalled that I had a few items in my postal librariana collection relating to the Library and after a brief search I found them. Two of the items were letters from Reuben Guild to Reverend George W. Anderson, who was the editor for at least two of Guild's books. Both of the letters were written in 1885, the year that the Rhode Island Philatelic Society was founded, and one was written on January 23, 125 years ago today. I checked the biography of Guild written by Jonathan S. Tryon in the Dictionary of American Library Biography (Libraries Unlimited, 1978) and was very impressed with what I found. Guild became Librarian at Brown at the age of 26. At the beginning of his tenure he had an assistant but from 1860 to 1877, according to Tryon, he ran the library by himself. During that period he helped plan a new library building which opened in 1878. Guild then developed a new cataloging system and personally cataloged 48,000 volumes between 1878 and his retirement in 1893. On the national scene, Guild was present at the first national meeting of librarians in 1853 and was one of three secretaries, along with Melvil Dewey, at the conference in 1876 where the American Library Association was founded. Tryon's article in the DALB paints a picture of a man of boundless energy who was highly regarded by the students at the University. In short, someone who makes you proud to be a librarian. For information on the philatelic event being held at the Library on February 2, click HERE. More on the history of the Library can be found HERE.

Friday, January 22, 2010

One of 10 to Read in 2010

I have been remiss in not acknowledging a significant honor which was received by the Library History Buff Blog this month. It has been selected as one of 10 Librarian Blogs to Read in 2010 by LISNews (Librarian and Information Science News). LISNews is one of my major sources of news about what is going on in the library and information science world which makes this honor even more noteworthy for me. I'm especially pleased that a blog that is devoted to promoting library history has been selected for this recognition. It's selection has already generated many visits to the blog by new viewers and readers for which I am grateful. It does, however, place an added burden on me to deliver content in 2010 that is worthy of this recognition. I'll do my best.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dewey's New York Library Club

The New York Library Club is another of those enterprises that owes its existence to Melvil Dewey. It was founded in New York City in June 1885 as the result of a letter circulated by Dewey which invited fellow librarians in Manhattan and Brooklyn to a meeting to consider "the desirability and practicability of an informal club of New York librarians". The early years of the club are well documented by library historian Tom Glynn in his article "The Professionalization of a Calling: Mission and Method at the New York Library Club, 1885-1901" in the Fall 2006 issue of Libraries & The Cultural Record. At the time of the formation of the club, Dewey was the Librarian of the Columbia College Library. The postal card above is an interesting item. It is an announcement of a meeting of the New York Library Club on January 15, 1903 which includes the program for the meeting and additional information. Two of the most prominent librarians of that period are to give reports at the meeting, Josephine Rathbone and Arthur E. Bostwick. The announcement includes the information that the new Bibliothecal Museum at Columbia Library will be open before and after the meeting. The concept of a bibliothecal museum was another Dewey idea which was developed early in the history of the American Library Association. The museum was somewhat like a permanent exhibit of the kinds of items that are now part of commercial exhibits at ALA conferences. It was intended to include "a collection of everything bearing on libraries". The idea was that you could visit the museum to see examples of supplies and products being used by libraries. The postal card used for the announcement is a government issued, pre-stamped card which is the same size as a catalog card. Getting the United States Post Office Department to issue a postal card of this size was still another Dewey idea.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

American Library in Paris

The American Library in Paris is the largest English language lending library on the European continent. It is part of the legacy of the Library War Service of the American Library Association in World War I. It was founded in 1920 making this year its 90th anniversary. There is a good history of the library on its website. Part of that history is illustrated by the envelope/cover shown above. It was mailed on march 29, 1940 to Dorothy M. Reeder, director of the library 1936-1941. The envelope was mailed only a short time before the German occupation of France which began in May,1940. As recounted in the website history of the library, Reeder and her staff provided heroic service after the German occupation by operating an underground book lending service for Jewish members of the library who were barred from libraries by the Germans. One staff member of the library was actually shot by the Gestapo in a surprise inspection of the library. Mary Niles Maack has written an excellent article about the American Library in Paris during the period 1939-1945 which contains more information about Reeder's service at the library. The American Library Association Archives includes correspondence from ALA's Executive Secretary Carl Milam relating to the American Library in Paris including letters to Reeder. The envelope above was mailed by air mail via transatlantic clipper and was franked with two 30 cent airmail stamps which were needed for a double weight letter. It was mailed from the United States Chapters Center of the American Library in Paris in New York.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Carnegie B & B Update

And then there was one. In a previous blog post I reported on former Carnegie library buildings that have been repurposed as bed and breakfasts. The Old Library Inn Bed & Breakfast in Sterling, Colorado closed its doors in December of last year and is now in the process of being sold as a private residence. That leaves the Carnegie Hall Bed & Breakfast in Ladysmith, Wisconsin as the only remaining Carnegie library bed and breakfast of which I am aware. However, the Old Library Restaurant part of the Old Library Inn Bed & Breakfast in Olean, New York is housed in a restored Carnegie library building. Both provide an opportunity to experience a former Carnegie library building in a unique manner. This would be a great way to celebrate Carnegie's 175th birthday.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Boston Public Library's McKim Building

Those attending the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in Boston this week will have the opportunity to visit the McKim Building of the Boston Public Library, one of America's great library buildings. The building was completed in 1894 and was designed by architect Charles McKim for whom it is now named. Because of the stature of the building and the timing of its completion, the building generated an enormous number of souvenir items and other memorabilia including dozens of picture postcards like those above. Several other Boston Public Library memorabilia items in my collection are depicted HERE.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

ALA's Boston Homecoming

When the American Library Association meets in Boston later this week for its Midwinter Meeting it will be a homecoming for the Association. During the early years of ALA, the offices of the Association were wherever the unpaid elected secretary of ALA was located. From 1876 to 1890 this was Melvil Dewey. Dewey provided free space for the Association in his Library Bureau offices at 32 Hawley Street in Boston. On April 22, 1905, ALA opened an office at 10 1/2 Beacon Street in Boston. Edward C. Hovery was hired as the first paid executive officer. On September 1, 1906 the office was moved to 34 Newbury Street, Boston. The envelope shown above was mailed from 10 1/2 Beacon Street in 1906. It contained the final announcement for ALA's Narragansett Pier Conference. ALA's second annual conference occurred in Boston in 1879. The first was in New York in 1877 and there was no conference in 1878. International library leaders were invited to the 1879 Boston conference including Sir Anthony Panizzi of the British Museum. None actually attended but Panizzi sent his chair and table to the conference and they were used by the officers of ALA. ALA moved its offices to Chicago in 1909 where they have remained ever since. More on the history of ALA can be found HERE.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Carnegie Libraries on Postage Stamps

I've been a bibliophilatelist, collector of postage stamps featuring libraries and librarians, since 1995. During that period I have only been able to identify five postage stamps issued by a government postal authority that feature libraries which received grants from Andrew Carnegie. These are featured on a page on my Library History Buff website. I have previously contacted the United States Postal Service in regard to issuing postage stamps commemorating America's Carnegie libraries and/or public libraries in general. Although the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee has a policy which precludes honoring individual public libraries, I feel that it is entirely appropriate to honor America's Carnegie libraries and/or public libraries collectively. There are several commercial companies that are now able to create valid customized postage stamps featuring images of libraries. This would be a good route for communities to commemorate their own Carnegie library building during the 175th anniversary year of Carnegie's birth. The postage stamp above features the Victoria Public Library in Victoria, British Columbia which was built in 1904. Canada commemorated the library on a postage stamp issued on February 29, 1996. To see United States postage stamps that have a library connection click HERE.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Andrew Carnegie 175 in 2010

This year is the 175th anniversary of the birth of Andrew Carnegie. He was born on November 25, 1835 in Dunfermline, Scotland. This anniversary provides an opportunity for the nation and especially communities that received library building grants from Carnegie to celebrate his library legacy. I put together a small 175th anniversary tribute on my Library History Buff website using images of some of the items in my librariana collection. I also have a page on my website with links to some of the web resources related to Carnegie's library legacy. I will be making a number of posts featuring Carnegie this year. The cartoon above is from Harper's Weekly April 11, 1903. It was accompanied by this poem:
"We men are only lusty boys,
Though snowy be our locks,
So Skibo's master still enjoys
To sit and play with blocks."
Skibo Castle was Carnegie's home in Scotland which he purchased after accumulating one of the largest personal fortunes in history.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Mary Frances Isom and Portland's Public Library

I recently became aware of an article about Mary Frances Isom written by Penny Hummel which is on the website of the Multnomah County Library (Portland, Oregon) website. I highly recommend the article and commend the Multnomah County Library for acknowledging an important part of its heritage on the library's website. Isom was head librarian of the Library Association of Portland, a predecessor of the Multnomah County Library, from 1902 to 1920. Although, the Library Association of Portland began as a subscription library in 1864, it became Oregon's first tax-supported free public library in 1902 when Isom became head librarian. Among Isom's many accomplishments was a new central library building completed in 1913 with the assistance of a grant from Andrew Carnegie. Isom was instrumental in the passage of a state law creating the Oregon Library Commission (predecessor to the Oregon State Library) which was influenced by the Wisconsin Free Library Commission. Isom served on the new commission and recruited Cornelia Marvin, a staff member of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission, to serve as the Secretary of the Oregon Library Commission. Both Isom and Marvin are among America's great early librarians. The postcard above shows the 1893 building of the Library Association of Portland which was replaced by the Carnegie building.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Armed Services Editions in WWII

John Jamieson in his book Books For The Army: The Army Library Service In The Second World War (Columbia University Press, 1950) says this about the Armed Services Editions: "The outstanding achievement in the history of the wartime activities of the Army Library Service was the production and distribution of the paperbound books known as Armed Services Editions. It was the best organized and most efficiently operated of all the activities in which the Army Library Service had a part, and with the possible exception of the overseas distribution of magazines, it directly affected the largest number of soldiers. Indeed, for the bulk of our troops overseas, Armed Services Editions were the only books that were widely and easily accessible." The Armed Services Editions project was a cooperative effort involving army and navy agencies, publishers, printers, and a variety of other entities. The project was coordinated by the Council on Books in Wartime. According to Jamieson, between the fall of 1943 and the fall of 1947, 1,322 titles were printed and a total of 122,951,031 volumes were delivered to the army and navy overseas. On February 17, 1983, the Library of Congress celebrated the fortieth anniversary of the Armed Services Editions. One result of that celebration was the publication of the book Books In Action: The Armed Services Editions, edited by John Y. Cole (Library of Congress, 1984). The Library of Congress has placed the contents of that book online. Between April 20 and September 10, 1996, the University of Virginia which has a large collection of the Armed Forces Editions put on an exhibit about the books. A virtual representation of that exhibit entitled "Books Go To War" is located here. The online publication edited by Cole includes a complete list of the books in the Armed Forces Editions. The Library of Congress has a complete set of the Armed Services Editions and the University of Alabama Library also has a set. The Princeton University Library also has a large collection of the books and the archival files of the Council on Books in Wartime are located in the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library at Prinecton. The book shown above is from my personal collection.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mudie's Select Library

Mudie's Select Library was a for-profit lending library established by Charles Edward Mudie (1818-1890) in London, England in 1842. Initially, for one guinea a year an individual could borrow unlimited books from the library one at a time. Mudie's Select Library and similar for-profit libraries were referred to as "circulating libraries". David Kaser's A Book For A Sixpence: The Circulating Library in America (Beta Phi Mu, 1980) discusses this library format in the United States. In his book Kaser indicates that Mudie's library was probably the largest such library ever established and at one point contained over seven million volumes. The economic model for distributing books to the public created by Mudie had an enormous impact on publishing in England in the 19th century. That impact is described here by George P. Landow of Brown University. Guinevere L. Griest's Mudie's Circulating Library and the Victorian Novel (Indiana Univ. Press, 1970) has a more comprehensive discussion of that impact. In 1864 Mudie's Select Library was converted into a limited company which sold shares. The share shown above was issued on October 26, 1864. Seymour Eaton's Booklovers Library, a similar enterprise in the United States, which was established at the beginning of the 20th century was probably greatly influenced by Mudie's library.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Traveling Libraries

Under the leadership of Melvil Dewey, the State of New York initiated a state funded traveling library system in 1892. Traveling libraries were small rotating collections that provided a method for extending library service to rural areas. These small libraries usually from 30 to a hundred books were located in a post office, a store, or someone's home with a volunteer acting as the caretaker of the collection. Michigan initiated a similar system in 1895. Iowa and Wisconsin followed in 1896. Many other states also adopted this model of public library extension including among others California, Idaho, Illinois, Nebraska, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Other interesting traveling library efforts were the Seaboard Airline Railway Free Traveling Library System and the United States Lighthouse Service Traveling Library. In 1897 the Wisconsin Free Library Commission published a 39 page booklet entitled Free Traveling Libraries in Wisconsin: The Story of Their Growth, Purposes, and Development; With Accounts of a Few Kindred Movements. The cover of the publication is shown above. The cover includes the statement: "It is after all, not the few great libraries, but the thousand small ones, that may do most for the people". The booklet has been digitized by the Wisconsin Historical Society and can be viewed here. More about traveling libraries in the United States can be found here. Historian Joanne E. Passet has written about traveling libraries in "Reaching the Rural Reader: Traveling Libraries in America, 1892-1920," Libraries & Culture, 26 (Winter 1991): 100-118.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Librarian and the Prince of Navigators

This cover (envelope) was sent to Miss Alma Jonson at the Library of Hawaii on January 28, 1935 by Harold Gatty (1903-1957), the aviation navigator who was called "the prince of navigators" by Charles Lindbergh. In 1931, Gatty was the navigator for Wiley Post on their record breaking flight around the world. Although he was Australian, Gatty worked for a time for the U.S. Army Air Corps. This cover was mailed from Rockwell Field, Coronado, California where the U.S. Army Air Corps was located. Alma Jonson who was a librarian at the Library of Hawaii did research for Gatty over a period of years. Some of the research was conducted by Jonson as an employee of the Library of Hawaii and some was done for pay outside of her work. Although this particular cover did not have an enclosure, I came across a letter from Gatty to Jonson offered for sale on the Internet. That letter was dated January 27, 1935 and may have been sent in the envelope that I have. The letter reads in part: "The information you sent definitely proved U. S. occupation of 21 years, which will go a long way to establishing U.S. jurisdiction. It is very important that nothing get out about these islands at this time. The Navy and State Department state that occupation at the present time will make the establishment more certain so we are making a move to send an expedition down there to establish occupancy. I am very interested in the information regarding the other islands which you sent me and I appreciate it very much. I would like to get copies of any information pertaining to Midway, Wake, Johnston, Palmyra, Fanning, Jarvis, Howland and Baker...". One can surmise from this letter that the U.S. Army Air Corps is interested in establishing air bases on islands in the Pacific. Did the research performed by Jonson for Gatty have an impact on World War II in the Pacific? I have two other covers sent from Gatty to Jonson at the Library of Hawaii and I have a letter sent by Jonson to Gatty in 1938. From that letter it is clear that Jonson is performing research for Gatty which is not part of her job at the State Library of Hawaii. In the letter Jonson refers to the purchase of covers for Gatty which indicates that Gatty may have been a collector of philatelic covers. This post was also the Library Cover Story for January for the Library History Buff website.