Friday, October 26, 2012

WI Library Hall of Fame Inducts 7

Zona Gale
Pulitzer Prize winning author Zona Gale (1874-1938) was one of seven individuals inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on October 25 at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in La Crosse, WI. Gale was a champion of libraries and served as Chair of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission. Also inducted was former American Library Association Adult Education Specialist John Miller Chancellor (1896-1980). Chancellor resigned from ALA to become a Wisconsin farmer, but ended up playing a leadership role on the Wisconsin Free Library Commission at a critical juncture in its history. Chancellor was made an Honorary Member of ALA (the Association's highest honor) in 1962. Others inducted included: former Milwaukee Public Library City Librarian Richard E. Krug (1905-1983); Wisconsin Free Library Commission instructor and later Oregon State Librarian Cornelia Marvin Pierce (1873-1957); former Brown County Library (Green Bay) Director Gerald A. Somers (1921-2003); former Secretary of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission Clarence Brown Lester (1877-1951); and former Wisconsin Library School Director Rachel Katherine Schenk (1899-1973). This was the fifth class of Library Hall of Fame inductees which now total thirty-six. The Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame is a project of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center which is a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation. It's been my pleasure to Chair the Steering Committee of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center that selects the Library Hall of Fame inductees each year.

Photo: Wisconsin Historical Society Digital Collection.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wisconsin's Library Lions

By far the most famous library lions are those that grace the front entrance of the New York Public Library's building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. The Oshkosh Public Library in Wisconsin also has a pair of library lions and, like those in New York, they have provided an important visual symbol of the public library. Also like the lions of the New York Public Library, the library lions in Oshkosh are named. They were named Harris and Sawyer in 1977 for two of the prominent early donors to the library.  Earlier this month the Oshkosh Public Library celebrated the 100th anniversary of the installation of the lions in front of the library in 1912. The celebration included a variety of activities including a "Lion's Pride" mini sculpture contest. The lions sit in front of the library that was built in 1900. A major expansion and renovation of the building took place in 1994. The Oshkosh Public Library has a commemorative history of the lions as well as an overall history of the library on its website. The website of the New York Public Library has a page on its lions. There is also a good printed history of the New York Public Library lions titled Top Cats: The Life and Times of The New York Public Library Lions by Susan G. Larkin (Pomegranate, 2006).

Friday, October 12, 2012

Library History Buff Google Images

Pinterest has become a popular Internet program to group and share images on a wide variety of topics in an interesting way. One of my favorite Pinterest boards is the American Libraries Bookmobiles board. A Google image search also offers a way to do this in a less sophisticated manner. Almost all of my blog posts include an image that is related to the post. I did a Google image search using the term "library history buff blog" and it resulted in most of the images that I have used on the blog.  It also retrieved some images from my Library History Buff website and from other  blogs and websites that have linked to the Library History Buff blog.The Google image search provides a visual index to the Library History Buff blog that offers an alternative method to access the blog's content. It also let's me know who is linking my blog and website. One of the images retrieved (see below) led me to an interesting post on Cosmopolitan Scum, a blog "about architecture, urbanism, and design from a humanistic perspective". The post uses images of Library of Congress souvenir china in the Norman D Stevens archive  at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal as the starting point for a larger essay on the role of libraries. It includes a link to my web page on the Stevens collection. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Boston Athenaeum Staff 1897

My collection of postal librariana consists mostly of envelopes usually without the contents. It is much more interesting when I find the letter which was sent in an envelope, especially when it has tidbits of information about the staff of the library. I have a letter (first page shown above) which was mailed in June of 1897 by a staff member of the Boston Athenaeum to another staff member who was evidently on vacation. The letter was mailed by Minnie Hortense Webster to Miss DeMeritt and it mentions a number of other staff members.  The Athenaeum Centenary (Boston Athenaeum, 1907) contains a list of all staff members who worked at the library up to 1907 so I was able to identify most of the staff members mentioned by Miss Webster along with the dates of their employment.  Miss Webster worked at the Athenaeum from 1897 to 1901 so she had only been employed for a short time when she wrote the letter. Evidently other senior staff members were also on vacation and at one point in the letter Miss Webster writes, "Miss Rabardy and I are left to our own devices, and we are both so fearful of making some abominable blunders that we actually forget to carp(?)." Miss Rabardy was Etta Lebreton Rabardy who started working at the Athenaeum in 1895 and was still working there in 1907. Miss DeMeritt to whom the letter was sent was Jennie Mabel DeMerritt who worked at the Athenaeum from 1892 to 1901. Also mentioned in the letter are Walter Lewis Barrell (1896-1900), Mary Honoria Wall (1890-1906), and Linda Frobisher Wildman who was employed in 1883 and was still working there in 1907. Miss Webster reports that a nice letter was received from Mr. Lane (William Coolidge Lane served as Librarian of the Athenaeum from 1893 to 1897 and left to become Librarian of Harvard University in 1898). Miss Webster also makes note of the Stanwood - Bolton wedding. This was the wedding of Charles Knowles Bolton to Ethel Stanwood. Bolton became Librarian of the Boston Athenaeum in 1898 and served in that capacity for the next 35 years. A lot of historical connections in a single letter. Today letter writing is a lost art, but then we can often keep update on the activities of our colleagues through Facebook.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Tabard Inn Library Revolving Bookcases

One of the really nice things about writing a blog about library history and its artifacts is the contacts I get from people who share an interest in the things I write about. I was recently contacted by Chuck from Florida who shared an image of his restored Tabard Inn Library revolving bookcase (shown here). These bookcases are wonderful pieces of furniture as well as an integral part of the story of Seymour Eaton's two libraries - the Booklovers Library and the Tabard Inn Library.  Both were commercial lending libraries, and I have written previously about them on this blog and on my Library History Buff website. In an initial advertisement for the Tabard Inn Library, Eaton indicated that 10,000 of these bookcases would be manufactured at a rate of 25 and then 50 a day. The bookcases were placed in drug stores, hotels, and even public libraries. After paying an initial life membership fee of $3.00, members could exchange books on any revolving bookcase for an additional 5 cents. The bookcases have now become treasured antiques and have been sold for as much as nine thousand dollars. The Menasha Public Library in Menasha, WI is fortunate enough to have one of these bookcases, and I recently came across an online article about another restored Tabard Inn Library bookcase at the Oceanside Civic Center Library in California. I would love to have one of these bookcases but they are a little above my price range. However, I do have a fairly extensive collection of memorabilia related to both the Booklovers Library and the Tabard Inn Library including some of the books that were in their collections. Thanks Chuck for sharing the image of your Tabard Inn Library bookcase and for giving me an excuse for writing about these bookcases again.