Monday, December 30, 2013

Greene County (OH) Bookmobile 1948

One of  the kinds of library postcards that I collect is postcards depicting bookmobiles. This postcard showing a 1948 Gerstenslager bookmobile for the Greene County (OH) Public Library is a Real Photo Postcard (RPPC). RPPCs showing bookmobiles are unusual so I was happy to add this one to my collection. It is also unusual in that it was used as a promotional piece for the Gerstenslager Company's bookmobiles. I've written a previous post about these Gerstenslager postcard advertisements. The Greene County Public Library continues to operate a bookmobile. There are lots of images of bookmobiles on the Web. One of the best sites for these images is the Pinterest bookmobile site of the American Libraries magazine. I have a tribute to bookmobiles on the Library History Buff website. I also compiled a list of the best bookmobile websites.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Cincinnati Library Ticket (Card) 1868

I recently added another library ticket (shown here) to my collection of vintage library cards. It is for the Young Men's Mercantile Library Association of Cincinnati and it was issued to D. J. Fallis in January, 1868. I've written a previous post about the Cincinnati Mercantile Library which continues to exist today. There is a very interesting story about its facility which is provided rent free in a multi-story building in downtown Cincinnati. Library cards were called library tickets in some early libraries.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

1906 Library of Congress Christmas Postcard

I recently acquired the postcard shown above which has another library winter scene (see other library winter scenes). It is a scene from the steps of the Library of Congress, and it was mailed on December 25, 1906. The message reads: "Your gift is received. May your Merry Christmas be followed by a Happy New Year." My sentiments exactly.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Library Lion in Winter

The two lions that grace the entrance to the New York Public Library on 5th Avenue are world famous. In 2000 the United Postal Service was set to issue a stamp to pay the pre-sorted first class postage rate that featured one of the lions without reference to the NYPL. However, the lion image is trademarked by the NYPL, and the USPS was required to identify the New York Public Library on the stamp. Among the postal librariana items that I collect are first day covers and postal uses of the NYPL lion stamp. One of the first day covers (shown above) has a cachet (illustration) by Tom's Cachet Designs which features one of the lions with a Christmas wreath around its neck. I thought this would be an appropriate item to feature on the blog at this time of the year. Season's greetings to all!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Libraries in Winter on Postcards

Today is the first day of Winter, and we're expecting a big snow storm later today here in Wisconsin. Postcards depicting libraries in the Winter are unusual. Below are four from my collection. To see others click HERE.
Library of the American Library Association's Library War Service in WWI at Camp Perry, Great Lakes, Illinois
Public Library, Park Rapids, Minnesota
Antigo Public Library, Antigo, WI

Erwin Library, Boonville, NY

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Happy birthday Melvil Dewey (1851-1931)!

Melville Louis Kossuth Dewey (known more widely as Melvil Dewey) was born on December 10, 1851in Adams Center, New York. He is considered by many to be the father of modern American librarianship. He is most widely known as the author of the Dewey Decimal Classification System used in libraries around the world. Dewey had his personal flaws and has been strongly criticized for those by some. In any case he left many important legacies to the American library community. Several books have been written about Dewey. By far the best is Irrepressible Reformer by Wayne A. Wiegand (American Library Association, 1996). I have put together an online exhibit of some items in my librariana collection related to Dewey. Previous posts on this blog related to Dewey can be found HERE.

Monday, December 9, 2013

ALA WWI Bookmark to Bookplate Promotion

The American Library Association went to great lengths to promote its Library War Service during World War I. A primary goal of these promotions was to solicit gifts of books and magazines that could be distributed to servicement through ALA's camp libraries, hospital libraries, and deposit collections. ALA used postcards, posters, and other media for this purpose. I recently acquired a bookmark (shown here) that was evidently placed in books in bookstores. The bookmark is perforated in the middle so the top half could be used as a bookplate. The buyer of the book was encouraged to donate the book after reading it for use by men in uniform by taking the book to any public library or bookstore. The back of the bookmark has information about the scope of ALA's Library War Service. To see my other posts about ALA's Library War Service click HERE.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

John Edmands (1820-1915), Philadelphia Librarian

The Mercantile Library Company of Philadelphia which was the topic of my previous post was led by its Librarian John Edmands from 1856 to 1901, a total of 45 years. He was made Librarian Emeritus in 1901 and continued to be active in the affairs of the library until his death in 1915. I have in my collection the 1915 annual report of the Mercantile Library which includes a tribute to the contributions of Edmands. The photograph of Edmands in the reading room of the Mercantile Library shown above is from that report. When Edmands became Librarian the collection totaled 13,000 volumes. At his retirement the collection totaled 185,000 volumes. Edmands was a founding member of the American Library Association in 1876 and served as its Vice President at one point. He developed a system for classifying books for the Mercantile Library in 1882 which grouped books by subject.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Philadelphia's Mercantile Library

The free public library in America was preceded by for-fee libraries that can be described broadly as membership libraries. The first of these was the Library Company of Philadelphia founded by Benjamin Franklin and friends in 1731. In the 1820s a sub-group of membership libraries called mercantile libraries were established by and for merchants and merchants' clerks. The first of these libraries were founded in Boston and New York City in 1820. The third was founded in 1821in Philadelphia, The Mercantile Library Company of Philadelphia started as a subscription library but began issuing stock in 1826 (see stock certificate below). Mercantile libraries quickly broadened their mission and became popular cultural organizations serving the general public for a modest subscription fee. In the case of the Philadelphia Mercantile Library anyone could use the library without charge but had to pay a fee to borrow books. Collections of mercantile libraries were much like future public libraries with multiple copies of popular books and large numbers of magazines, and newspapers. In 1875 the New York Mercantile Library was the fourth largest library in the U.S. and the Philadelphia Mercantile Library the sixth largest. In 1869 the Philadelphia Mercantile Library moved into a spacious building purchased from the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. Harper's Weekly for August 14, 1869 included an illustration of the interior of the new facility (see above). An unusual feature of the library in its new location was open stacks, something that was extremely unusual for libraries of that period. With the growth and expansion of free public libraries in the second half of the 19th century and the 20th century, membership libraries including mercantile libraries gradually ceased to exist with a few exceptions. The collection of the Philadelphia Mercantile Library was absorbed into the Free Library of Philadelphia or dispersed to book dealers and others. I have a number of books in my personal library that were formerly in the collection of the Philadelphia Mercantile Library. See more items from my collection related to the library HERE.