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.

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