Sunday, October 30, 2011

WI Library Hall of Fame to Induct 7 on Nov. 3

Ginny Moore Kruse, WI Library Hall of Fame Inductee
As Chair of the Steering Committee of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center, one of my most enjoyable activities is to participate in the selection of new inductees into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame. For 2011 the Committee has selected seven individuals to receive this honor. They are Norman D. Bassett (1891-1980), Orilla Thompson Blackshear (1904-1994), Daniel Steele Durrie (1819-1892), Gilson G. Glasier (1873-1972), Ginny Moore Kruse (1934-), Walter Mcmynn Smith (1869 – 1938), and Ella T. Veslak (1897-1996). Their induction into the WLHF will take place during the Awards & Honors Banquet at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Milwaukee on November 3. These seven inductees will join twenty-two other individuals who have previously been inducted into the WLHF. Ginny Moore Kruse, Director Emerita of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, is the only living person to be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year. Kruse served as director of the CCBC from 1976 to 2002. In that capacity she was a state and national champion for quality library literature for children and for intellectual freedom. While Director she founded the CCBC's Intellectual Freedom Information Services.  She is an advocate for children’s literature that reflects the multi-cultural nature of our society.
More information about each of the inductees can be found by clicking on the link to their name.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Houston's Carnegie Libraries

The postcard of the Carnegie Library at McKinney and Travis Sts. in Houston, TX shown above was the first stimulus for my closer look at Houston's Carnegie library buildings. The message on the postcard reads: "This is one of the prettiest library buildings I have ever seen."  It was mailed on January 24, 1906. A second stimulus was the receipt of a complimentary copy of the publication 100 Years - 100 Stories: Houston Public Library 1904-2004 by Betty Trapp Chapman (Houston Public Library, 2004). Included among the stories was not only the story about the Carnegie library building on the postcard, but also the story of the Colored Carnegie Library in Houston. Also, earlier this month there was a post on the Little Known Black Librarian Facts blog about the Colored Carnegie Library in Houston. The story of the Carnegie library buildings themselves is fairly straightforward. Two separate entities apply for Carnegie grants. They receive the grants and the buildings are built, and then both buildings are later demolished.  A much more complicated story however revolves around racial social injustice and library use in the South. For this story, we are fortunate to have the results of the excellent research conducted by Cheryl Knott Malone. Her article "Autonomy and Accommodation: Houston's Colored Carnegie Library, 1907-1922" is available online. Also online is her article "Unannounced and Unexpected: the Desegregation of Houston Public Library in the Early 1950s".  The Colored Carnegie Library Association, a separate legal organization, operated the Colored Carnegie Library which was dedicated on April 11, 1913 until 1921 when it became a branch of the Houston Public Library. The building was razed in 1962 to make way for a highway expansion. It was at this point that the limited desegregation of the Houston Public Library which began in the early 1950s became official desegregation. Read Malone's articles for a detailed account.  "One of the prettiest library buildings I have ever seen" was dedicated on March 2, 1904. A new building replacing the Carnegie building was dedicated in 1926. The Houston Public Library in a tribute to Carnegie and perhaps as a result of being a little ashamed at having abandoned his beautiful building named one of its branch libraries after him. The library also named one its branch libraries after W.L.D. Johnson, one of the founders of the Colored Carnegie Library Association.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Dabney's Circulating Library, Salem, MA

I recently acquired a bookplate for Dabney's Circulating Library of Salem, Massachusetts. The library was located in the Salem Bookstore from 1789 to 1819. Circulating libraries were "for profit" rental libraries that existed in the United States from 1762 until late in the 19th century. The text on the bookplate uses the long s which looks like an f so it is probably from the eighteenth century. The heavily promotional text on the bookplate is indicative of the commercial nature of these libraries. The primary authority on circulating libraries in the United States is David Kaser's A Book For A Sixpence: The Circulating Library in America (Beta Phi Mu, 1980). Kaser developed a "Checklist of American Commercial Enterprises, 1762-1890" which included 439 circulating libraries. According to Kaser's checklist, Dabney's Circulating Library issued catalogs in 1791, 1794, and 1801. Jeffrey Croteau has conducted recent research on circulating libraries especially those that operated in Brooklyn, NY. He has expanded and continues to expand Kaser's checklist with his  "American Circulating Libraries Not in Kaser". Circulating libraries in England preceded those in the United States. I wrote a previous post about Mudie's Select Library in London, the largest of these English circulating libraries. I also wrote an earlier post about circulating library trade cards and a post about a humorous circulating library postcard.

Friday, October 21, 2011

World's Largest Collection of Overdue Notices on Postal Cards?

The United States Post Office Department introduced postal cards with pre-printed postage in the United States in 1873. Libraries were quick to take advantage of postal cards and used them for a multitude of purposes. One of the most common purposes especially for public libraries was to notify library users of overdue books and other library materials. Postal cards are generally ephemeral in nature and overdue book notices are especially ephemeral. After all, how many people would want to preserve an overdue book notice. In my efforts to collect postal librariana I have managed to accumulate a collection of over a hundred postal cards that have been used as overdue notices. It may well be the largest collection of overdue notices in the world. The impressiveness of that accomplishment is somewhat tempered by the fact that almost half of them were sent to a single address in Dubuque, Iowa. The dates of the overdue notices in my collection go from 1873 to the 1980s. This post includes a few overdue notices from my collection. More are shown on a page at my Library History Buff website. I have a previous blog posts on the oldest overdue notice in my collection and the second oldest.

Third oldest notice. Mailed May, 1875 by Lawrence (MA) Public Library.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bookplate in a Book About Books

Bookplate collectors often remove bookplates from books for their collections. As a very modest collector of bookplates from institutional libraries, I have sometimes found that the book and its bookplate are more desirable if they remain together.  In my collection I have an elaborate bookplate for the Free Library of Union Springs, NY which is in the book The Story of Books by Gertrude B. Rawlings (D. Appleton & Co., NY, 1901). I think the two of them are a nice combination. The bookplate indicates the book was given in memory of Curtis Strong Chittenden and Caroline Young Peterson. Peterson was from Union Springs. There is a date on the bookplate of May 16, 1902. The book is part of a series called "The Library of Useful Stories".  The book is only four inches by six inches in size and the bookplate is almost as large as the book. The Free Library of Union Springs was founded in 1898 and was renamed the Springport Free Library in 1902.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mystery Postcard, ALA Detroit Conference 1970

What does a postcard showing two young women smiling over a car or truck engine have to do with the American Library Association's Conference in Detroit in 1970? On first glance nothing, but turn the card over and there is a blurb which ties the postcard to the conference and also to the Free Library of Philadelphia. My guess is that this postcard was part of some kind of a recruitment packet or handout for the Free Library. Back then there were lots of library jobs and large public libraries routinely recruited new employees at ALA conferences. The 1970 Detroit conference was the second ALA conference that I attended and the first as an employed librarian. If my guess about the postcard is correct, the women in the postcard were probably employees of the Free Library of Philadelphia. I wonder how their library careers turned out.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

UN Anniversaries and Postal Librariana

Envelope showing one of the first stamps of the United Nations
Special event envelope for dedication of Hammarskjold Library
There are two upcoming anniversaries related to the United Nations that are noteworthy. The first is the 60th anniversary of the first issue of postage stamps by the United Nations in New York which occurs on October 24th. The second is the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the UN Dag Hammarskjold Library in New York which occurs on November 16th. Both of these anniversaries have relevance to my interest in postal librariana. The first envelope shown above is a first day cover for one of the stamps in the first group of stamps issued by the UN. That stamp depicts the large Secretariat Building of the United Nations and a smaller building next to it which served as the library from 1951 to 1959. The building which housed the library was referred to as the "Manhattan Building". The second cover shown above is a special event cover for the dedication of the Dag Hammarskjold Library which replaced the previous building which was torn down.  Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold had already sent out the invitation to the dedication of the new library building when he was killed in an airplane crash in 1961. The decision to name the library for him occurred after his death.  The Hammarskjold Library appears on more postage stamps than any other library in the world. If you visit the United Nations in New York you can have your own personalized stamp created. I did this on a visit and a sheet of my personalized stamps is shown below.  The sheet has a nice image of the Hammarskjold Library.  It is the building at the bottom of the UN complex.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Reused Envelopes in WWII England

Envelope with label provided by Royal Naval War Libraries
Back flap of RNWL label
Envelope mailed by Univ. of WI Library in 1940
It is difficult to imagine the hardships that the people of Great Britain endured during World War II. One small indication of the difficulty of this period is shown by two envelopes in my postal librariana collection. They both have labels that have been pasted over a previously used envelope so that they can be reused. The first envelope has a label that was provided by the Royal Naval War Libraries, a wartime charitable organization that provided books to service men and women. These "Economy Labels" could be purchased from the Royal Naval War Libraries as shown by the back flap of the label. The second envelope was originally mailed to the Economic and Statistics Section of the Bank of England by the Library of the University of Wisconsin - Madison (the first address is visible under the label) in 1940. It has been censored by Examiner 5086. The top part of the label has been removed to reveal that it was originally mailed by the UW Library.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Library of Congress Stereoview

Stereoviews are double images of a scene on a card that when viewed with a stereoscope appear to be three dimensional or in 3D. Several decades before libraries appeared on picture postcards they could be viewed on stereoviews.  Although the period when stereoviews were available ran from the 1850s up to World War I, the "Golden Age of Stereoviews" was the 1860s and 70s. I've only collected a few library stereoviews, but I recently acquired a very interesting one. It depicts the interior of the Library of Congress when it was located in the Capitol. The back of the card indicates that it was "Entered according to Act of Congress, A.D. 1866, by G. G. Wakely, in the District Court of Washington, D.C.".  The Library of Congress did not take over the administration of copyright until 1870. Prior to that copyright was registered in the U.S. District Courts. The neat thing about this stereoview is that it depicts both library users and library staff members. There is also an interesting piece of furniture in the library that separates the staff work area (with books piled high) from the rest of the library space. The space in the Capitol designated for the Library of Congress was greatly enhanced following a disastrous fire on Dec. 24, 1851. When the Library reopened on Aug. 23, 1853 it was considered to be "the largest room made of iron in the world." Source: For Congress and the Nation, A Chronological History of the Library of Congress by John Y. Cole (Library of Congress, 1979).

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

ALA's 135th Anniversary

One hundred and thirty five years ago today, 103 men and women assembled at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia for the purpose of discussing the library issues of the day. That meeting resulted in the formation two days later (Oct. 6, 1876) of the American Library Association.  I  have a modest digital exhibit at my Library History buff website in honor of ALA's 135th anniversary. 

ALA's Quasquicentennial, 2001

The 125th anniversary of the American Library Association might have gone entirely unnoticed by the library community except for the cover of American Libraries for June/July 2001. The cover was accompanied by a short article by Peggy Sullivan titled "From Philly to Frisco- 125 Years of Going to Conference". The vintage photograph that was part of the cover featured some ALA conference goers on their way to the 1895 ALA conference which took place in Denver and Colorado Springs. As noted in the blurb about the American Libraries cover, the trips to a from early ALA conferences often combined business and pleasure. The 2001 San Francisco conference was ALA's 120th annual conference.

Monday, October 3, 2011

ALA's Centennial, 1976

The American Library Association made a creditable effort in 1976 to celebrate "the big one", its 100th anniversary. The highlight was its Centennial Conference which took place in Chicago (July 17-July23).  Over 12,000 attendees (I was one of them) participated in a variety of centennial celebration activities including a "Fair-in-the-Park" on Wednesday evening in Grant Park. The fair featured balloons, clowns, a fife and drum corps, a JMRT kissing booth, a replica of the  Liberty Bell, a reenactment of the "Jewett-Cutter Mud Catalog Controversy" (a topic for a future post?), and other historical spoofs. Three of five lectures in a centennial series by prominent scholars titled "Libraries and the Life of the Mind in America" were given at the conference. During ALA's centennial year American Libraries did a commendable job of publishing articles related to ALA's history including a series of "ALA Centennial Vignettes".  Library historians gathered in Philadelphia on October 3-6, 1976, 100 years after ALA's founding meeting in the same city on October 4-6, 1876, for Library History Seminar V. Presentations at the seminar resulted in the publication of Milestones to the Present edited by Harold Goldstein (Gaylord Professional Publications, 1978). A major membership drive in 1976 with prizes for recruitment was kicked off with the theme "Come join us for our second century". A handsome brochure featuring ALA's history and its current membership benefits was part of that drive (shown above). The cover  of the brochure has a picture (continuing on the back of the brochure) of the attendees at the 1907 ALA Annual Conference in Asheville, North Carolina.