Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Postcard Depicting Cats in the Library

This delightful postcard has a caption in German which reads "Wer die Wahl hat, hat die Qual!". This translates in English to "Heavy is the head that wears the crown!". Is the intent to portray the mother cat as having trouble deciding on a book or books for her young one? I was thinking a more appropriate caption might be - "So many books, so hard to choose!". What would your caption be?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Libraries in the Snow on Postcards

Baker Library, Dartmouth College
It's been a rough winter in many parts of the country this year. I'm sure that a few pictures have been taken of libraries in the snow. Here are three postcards from my collection that show libraries in snow. I have a previous post about a postcard showing the Elroy (WI) Public Library in the ice storm of 1922.

Public Library, St. John, New Brunswick, Canada

Carnegie Library, VA Home, Mountain Home, TN

Thursday, February 21, 2013

CA State Library Promotes Law Dept. with Postcard

The California State Library used a picture postcard (see above) to promote its Law Department in the period around the early 1920s. The postcard which shows the Law Dept. Reading Room proclaims that the State Library has "the best collection of law books in the western part of the United States". It goes on to say: "Books are lent to lawyers, judges, and others with least possible restriction." Today the State Library law collection is named the Bernard E. Witkin State Law Library. A few other libraries have also used postcards to promote their services. The Ohio State Library used postcards to promote its traveling library service and the American Library Association used postcards to promote its World War I Library War Service.

Additional information: The photo on the postcard shows the law library very early in the 20th cnetury when it was in an apse on the East side of the historic State Capitol Building.  The law library eventually moved to a new Library and Courts Building which was completed a decade after the end of World War I. The portion of the Capitol where the law library was formerly located was demolished later to make way for a new East wing.Thanks to Cy Silver, a former law library supervisor, for this information.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Library Workers Association, 1920

In my collection I have Vol. 1, No. 1 of the Journal of The Library Workers Association which is dated May, 1920. The Library Workers Association had its first organizational meeting on April 30, 1920 in Atlantic City, NJ. The purpose of the Association was "to promote the well-being of library workers who have not enjoyed the benefits of library school training". Most of the charter members were from New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. The Association's journal made note of those things the Association was not about. It was not a labor or trade union. It would not depress standards of library work. It would not duplicate work performed "in an adequate manner" by the American Library Association. Although the primary purpose of the Association was to improve the benefits of non-library school trained library workers, the Association argued that this would also lead to an increase in the benefits of library school trained library workers. At the same time the Library Workers Association was formed the American Library Association was looking at the possibility of national certification of librarians. The Library Workers Association opposed those efforts. The Association sought affiliation with the American Library Association but ALA denied that status until the Library Workers Association could more fully demonstrate its ability to meet the criteria for affiliation. A casual search of the Internet failed to provide much information about the eventual fate of the Library Workers Association.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Unusual Postcard of Huntington (IN) Public Library

This postcard of the Carnegie Library building in Huntington, Indiana caught my attention for obvious reasons. I haven't seen a postcard of a library bordered by two unusual looking men before. The Huntington City-Township Public Library is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year so its a nice opportunity to feature its Carnegie building. The Huntington library no longer occupies the Carnegie building which was funded by a $25,000 grant in 1901. The website for the library has some historical photographs of the building. There were more public libraries funded with Carnegie grants  in Indiana than any other state. I surmise that the two gentlemen featured on the postcard are Amish since northern Indiana is Amish country.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

John Cotton Dana's Tenure in Springfield, MA

John Cotton Dana ((1856-1929) was one of our profession's greatest librarians and humorists (see previous blog post). Dana began his library career at the Denver Public Library with a number of innovations and ended his career at the Newark (NJ) Public Library where he established a lasting legacy. Between those two jobs he served as City Librarian for the Springfield (MA) City Library Association from January, 1898 to December, 1901. He began work in a building that was inhospitable to library users (see the image above, from a stereoview in my collection) and he made several modifications to improve access including the addition of an elevator. The City Library Association was also responsible for an Art Museum and a Museum of Natural History. When Dana accepted the job he thought that he would also be in charge of those two entities. This was not the case and it led to a conflict with the curator of the Art Museum, a wealthy art collector. While in Springfield Dana's stature in the library profession continued to grow even as he challenged the hierarchy in the American Library Association. Dana's humor was alive and well in Springfield also. In correspondence with Mary E. Ahern, editor of the Public Libraries journal, he wrote this after a trip to England: "The Duke of Devonshire and the Marquis of Salisbury were both out of town while I was in London but I talked over the back fence with their porters and so was enabled to convey to them such information as I thought they needed. In one way or another I learned things about the Prince of Wales and his set, that I consider quite scandalous. I am sure you would be quite shocked and very ready to refuse to have anything more to do with them. I am inclined myself never to go to England again for the reasons I hint at and I should advise you to stay away too." [source for quote: John Cotton Dana - A Sketch by Chalmers Hadley (ALA, 1943)]. Dana's reputation brought him regular job offers from other libraries and he finally decided to move on to Newark, NJ. The envelope shown above was sent to Dana on March 28, 1899 while he was still in Springfield. It was sent by the Egypt Exploration Fund in Boston. It's nice to have an artifact in my collection that has a direct connection to Dana.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Woburn (MA) Public Library and Henry Hobson Richardson

The Woburn Public Library in Woburn, MA is housed in one of the most architecturally distinctive buildings in the United States. It was designed by the noted architect Henry Hobson Richardson (1838-1886) for whom the Richardsonian Romanesque architectural style is named. The building opened in 1879. The engraved card shown above is from my collection. Richardson designed six libraries during his career. Many libraries and hundreds of other buildings, built mostly in the 1880s and 1890s, reflect the Richardsonian Romanesque style. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Gaylord Bros and Book Repair

Whenever I have the chance I acquire early catalogs of library supply companies. Among the catalogs in my collection are several from Gaylord Brothers, a library supply and furniture company that was established in 1896 and continues today. My earliest catalog for Gaylord Brothers is its 1912 catalog. A specialty for Gaylord from its beginning was the repair of books. Its catalogs are filled with products that assisted libraries in the in-house repair of worn and damaged books. In Gaylord's 1912 catalog it offered a comprehensive Book Binding Kit which it argued allowed a library to repair books for one to four cents. The cost of the kit was only $9.75. In its 1926 catalog Gaylord referred to its book repair system as "The Toronto Method of Book Repairing". Gaylord published a 1924 pamphlet on this method which is digitized in the Hathi Trust Digital Library. In Gaylord's 1933 catalog they offered a "Bookcraft Box" (see below) which could be ordered with everything a library needed for its book repair operation or empty to be stocked by the library. One of my early library jobs included the repair of books for a large public library and I used many of the products offered by Gaylord. Do any libraries still repair their own books? Gaylord is known for a number of innovative products including its well known charging machine.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Library Postcard Message 1944, Wesleyan University

As I have indicated before I appreciate library postcards which have been sent with a message that relates to the library shown on the postcard. The postcard above was sent by Paul V. Beard while he was an Aviation Cadet in training during World War II at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. Wesleyan University was host to the Navy Flight Preparatory School (U.S.N.F.P.S.) from January, 1943 to August, 1944. The message on the postcard says, "Hi Mom, Here's a picture of the Library. Please put in scrap book. Send more pictures later. Paul". As a member of the Armed Forces Paul was able to send the postcard free. The Olin Memorial Library which is shown on the postcard was completed in 1927 and dedicated in 1928. I wonder if Cadet Beard completed his training in time to see actual combat during World War II.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Iowa's Masonic Library

Freemasonry is a worldwide fraternal organization with a membership of approximately four million men including two million in the United States. I have several items in my collection related to Masonic libraries. The most recent addition is the postcard shown above which proclaims "Greetings from a Unique Library". The unique library is the Masonic Library of Iowa which is located in Cedar Rapids, IA and is part of the Grand Lodge of Iowa. The postcard also indicates that the library is "The Only Masonic Library Building in the World". That building was built in 1884 and is also depicted on the envelope displayed above. The envelope was mailed in 1886. The 1884 building was replaced in 1955 by a modern building which is displayed below. The library is actually a library and museum and is open to visitors on week days. The Iowa library may have been the only Masonic library building in the world in 1884, but there are many Masonic libraries and museums today. They even have a Masonic Library and Museum Association. The diversity of America's libraries is amazing.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Patrick Magruder and the Burning of the Library of Congress

 Patrick Magruder (1768-1819) was the second Librarian of Congress and served in that capacity from 1807-1815. He served both as the Clerk of the House and as Librarian of Congress as had his predecessor. Magruder had the misfortune of serving in those capacities at the time the Capitol of the United States was burned by the British during the War of 1812. At the time of the burning of the Capitol in August of 1814 Magruder was absent from Washington, D.C. for health reasons. He left the Office of the House and the Library of Congress in the charge of his brother George Magruder and two assistants. In addition to the books in the Library of Congress Patrick Magruder's office records which included the financial records of the House of Representative were destroyed. A Congressional investigation into Magruder's handling of Congressional funds found discrepancies including a shortage of $20,000. Although Magruder managed to avoid prosecution for his actions, he resigned on January 28, 1815. I have in my collection an 1814 government publication which contains a letter from Patrick Magruder to the Speaker of the House in defense of his actions which in turn includes an account by two office assistants of the events leading to the destruction of the Office of the House and the Library of Congress. Their account says in part, "every thing belonging to the office, together with the library of congress, we venture to say, might have been removed in time, if carriages could have been procured, but it was altogether impossible to procure them, either for hire or by force." After Magruder's resignation the positions of Clerk of the House and Librarian of Congress were separated. The source of the information in this post is the Library of Congress website.