Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Libraries With the Most Librariana

If you follow this blog, you know that I am a collector of librariana. Although my primary emphasis is on the collection of postal librariana, I collect a wide range of other library souvenirs and memorabilia. The golden age of  souvenirs is generally considered to span the period from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago to the start of World War I. Coincidentally, this was the period when a large number of library buildings were constructed in the United States. This resulted in many souvenirs depicting library buildings, and the more prominent and spectacular the building, the more souvenirs there were that depicted the building. Souvenirs included postcards, decorative china, spoons, and a large variety of other items. Hands down, the library building that is most depicted on library souvenirs is the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress which was completed in 1897. On its completion it was often characterized as one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. The Copley Square building of the Boston Public Library, completed in 1895, was a landmark in library construction and influenced library architecture for several decades. The Boston Public Library is one of the top three U.S.libraries with the most librariana. The Central Library of the New York Public Library completed in 1911 is the final member of the trio of libraries with the most librariana. In a recent eBay search there were 531 items related to the Library of Congress in the collectibles category; 470 related to the New York Public Library; and 392 related to the Boston Public Library. The largest portion of these items by far was postcards although there were also souvenir spoons and china.  Norman D. Stevens in A Guide to Collecting Librariana (Scarecrow, 1986) confirms that the Library of Congress and the Boston Public Library are the libraries most widely represented on library souvenirs. Stevens' personal collection which included many examples of librariana related to these three libraries is now located at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal. I have a listing of his collections at the CCA on a web page devoted to him. Some of the items in my collection depicting the Library of Congress are shown above. Images of items in my collection related to the Boston Public Library are located HERE. In Wisconsin the two libraries most widely depicted on librariana are the Milwaukee Public Library and the Wisconsin Historical Society Library. Some of the items in my collection related to the Milwaukee Public Library are located HERE.

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