Sunday, January 22, 2012

World's Largest Library Postcard Collections

The collecting of picture postcards sometimes called deltiology has been a popular activity for more than a century. Because of the vast volume of postcards, individuals have often confined their collecting to postcards depicting one or just a few specific subjects. The extensive construction of new library buildings in communities across the United States in the first two decades of the 19th century coincided with the heyday of picture postcards and libraries were a frequent subject of these postcards. So it is not surprising that some individuals collected postcards with libraries as their subject. With the help of veteran library postcard collector and authority Norman D. Stevens I have compiled lists of former and current collectors of library postcards. Some of these collections are significant in scope and I've identified what I think are the world's largest collections of library postcards.
Two collections of library postcards stand by themselves in scope. Both collections exceed 25,000 library postcards. The first was assembled by the aforementioned Norman D. Stevens. The Stevens collection includes a number of smaller collections that were previously assembled by several other individuals. Stevens donated his collection to the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) in Montreal, Quebec, Canada where it is now located and is part of the Norman D. Stevens Collection of Library Architecture. The second 25,000 plus library postcard collection was assembled by Hans Krol, a retired librarian in The Netherlands and founder of the Bibliotheekmuseum (Library Museum). Krol continues to actively build his collection and it will undoubtedly eventually be the world's largest library postcard collection. Both the Stevens and the Krol collections include postcards of libraries worldwide. I consider Stevens and Krol to be the world's greatest librariana collectors.
There are a few other library postcard collections that are in the 10,000 plus category. Those include the collection of Dan Lester, a retired librarian and former (also one of the greatest) librariana collector, who has a collection of over 13,000 library postcards. His collection is currently inactive. Sjoerd Koopman, a retired librarian in the Netherlands who worked for the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), has a growing collection of 12,700 postcards depicting libraries in more that 80 different countries. A portion of Koopman's collection has been digitized by the American Library Association Archives. Koopman gave the presentation "Libraries on postcards: historical trends, modern applications and potential" at the IFLA Conference in 2008. Michele Farrell of Alexandria, VA, a librarian who works for the Institute of Museum and Library Service, has a current collection of over 10,400 postcards of libraries from around the world. Her collection is still growing.  Marjorie Warmkessel, a professor in the Library Department at Millersville University (PA, has a postcard collection of approximately 25,000 postcards including around 10,000 library postcards. Her collection includes former library postcard collections of several individuals.
I have a relatively modest library postcard collection numbering around 1,700 postcards. Other current library postcard collections are listed HERE. The postcard shown at the beginning of this post includes images of four library postcards. It was created by Sjoerd Koopman to solicit library postcards for his collection.
In my next blog post I intend to highlight some library postcard sites on the Internet.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lest your readers somehow get the impression that either Hans or I "invented" the idea of collecting library postcards, I can offer a few comments on the history of this notion. As I began to collect older used library postcards In the early 1960s, I noted that, in many cases, the cards had either be sent to a librarian at her/ his work address, and/or bore a message indicating that it was being sent to a collector of library postcards. Indeed at one point I found , and purchased a small cache of library postcards sent to Edwina Whitney who was the librarian at what is now UConn from the late 1890s through the early 1930's. The cards were primarily sent to her by faculty members from their travels. So I began to compile a directory of library postcard collectors that numbered more than 150 names, past and present, of such folk. I purchased a major collection from a colleague and friend after she retired. She told me that she had begun her collection wile a student in the library school at Simmons in the 1930s. She did so at the suggestion of a faculty member who recommended it as a means of acquiring an idea of what a library her students might get a job in looked like. All of this was part of history of deltiology. It was a pleasure to read Larry's comments, and to know that such collections are continuing to be assembled
Norman D. Stevens
Director Emeritus
University of Connect libraries & The Molesworth institute