Monday, December 29, 2014

Vintage Library Cards

One of the categories of librariana that I collect is library cards. Below are some recent additions to my collection. More vintage library cards can be found HERE. Early library cards were sometimes called "tickets". 

Baltimore Mercantile Library Association, 1864

Hastings Library Association (Hastings, MN), 1874
Good Fellows Library Association, San Francisco, 1876
Seattle Public Library, 1911
Washington, D.C. Public Library, 1919

Little Rock Public Library, 1946

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Welcome Back to Chicago ALA Midwinter!

The American Library Association will hold its Midwinter Meeting in Chicago in 2015 for the first time since 1991. Many aren't looking forward to a meeting in Chicago in the middle on winter. Prior to 1991 ALA midwinter meetings in Chicago were the rule, not the exception. In fact, prior to 1965, all midwinter meetings dating back to 1908 (with only 7 exceptions) were held in Chicago. Starting in 1965 midwinter meetings were also held in Washington, D.C. every four years. Midwinter meetings were held at only a few locations other than Chicago or D.C. through 1991. But after 1991, ALA said "Goodbye" to Chicago as a midwinter meeting site. The rationale was obvious. Too often terrible winter weather greeted meeting goers in Chicago. Prior to 1980 all my library jobs were in the South, and I certainly complained about the Chicago midwinter location. There are lots of tales of meeting goers arriving late or leaving late because of weather in Chicago. Of course, there were also good times at midwinter meetings in Chicago. One year a group of librarians stranded at the Palmer House in Chicago created a fake organization called the ALA Players. I personally have many fond memories of midwinter meetings in Chicago. I'm sure there will be many complaints about the return to Chicago, but lets face it you take your chances traveling anywhere in the U.S. in the middle of winter. I now live about 150 miles northwest of Chicago, and I'll be weighing the pros and cons of driving down for a day at Midwinter. The button above was distributed at the ALA midwinter meeting in Chicago in 1991.

(Source for Midwinter meeting data: )

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

An Interesting Bookmobile Postcard

The postcard above depicting the bookmobile of the Albuquerque (NM) Public Library was given to me by Norman Stevens, one of the world's greatest library postcard collectors. Norman donated his collection of approximately 25,000 library postcards to the Canadian Centre for Architecture and it is now part of the Norman D. Stevens Collection of Library Architecture. This one got left out of the CCA donation. I'm grateful to have the postcard since it was part of Norman's collection. It also has several other aspects that are of interest to me. I collect bookmobile postcards so obviously that's the first aspect that is of interest. The postcard is larger than the usual postcard of this period (1950s). It is 6 1/4 inches wide instead of the usual 5 1/2 inches, and it is 4 1/2 inches high instead of the usual 3/12 inches. It is an advertising postcard from The Gerstenslager Co. of Wooster, OH, the largest maker of bookmobiles for several decades. The postcard was mailed to Lucille Morsch of the Library of Congress and received by LC on Jan. 26, 1959. Since I am also a collector of postal librariana related to the Library of Congress, this is also of special interest to me. In Norman D. Stevens' book A Guide to Collecting Librariana (Scarecrow Press, 1986) he mentions that Lucille Morsch was a collector of library postcards and that she donated her collection to him before her death. This is probably why the bookmobile postcard was in his collection. It also means that the postcard is now in the hands of the third library postcard collector (me). 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Library Brand Canned Foods - Champaign, IL

Librariana comes in multiple varieties and formats. One of the more unusual examples of librariana is the label from a can of sweet corn which is shown above. Library Brand Canned Foods was a label for the Eisner Grocery Co. of Champaign, Illinois. Eisner Food Stores was a chain of stores headquartered in Champaign, but located throughout central Illinois. The chain was acquired by the Jewel Companies in 1957. The building shown on the label is the library building of the University of Illinois completed in 1897 now known as Altgeld Hall. It now houses the Mathematics Library of the University of Illinois. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Library History Buff Holiday Letter 2014

Exhibit at Hales Corners Public Library, 1 of 10 month long exhibits in 2014
Seasons Greetings from the Library History Buff!

This holiday letter focuses on my library history promotional activities in 2014.

One of the more interesting activities for me this year was facilitating the transfer of the Daniel W. Lester Library Postcard Collection to the American Library Association Archives at the Universisty of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.

A number of my activities revolved aroung the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center (WLHC), a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation. I am completing my sixth and final year as Chair of the Steering Committee for the WLHC. I am particularly proud of my involvement with the selection of inductees into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame which is a project of the WLHC. This year five additional individuals were inducted.

Another project of the WLHC is the sponsorship of an exhibit of Wisconsin library memorabilia. This year my wife and I set up the exhibit at ten different libraries around the state for a one month period at each. To do this we traveled almost 3,000 miles.

The WLHC sponsored a booth in the exhibits area at the WLA Annual Conference in Wisconsin Dells, and I set up and staffed the booth.

I entered exhibits related to postal librariana at stampshows in Denver, St. Louis, and Milwaukee this year. My one frame exhibit on the American Library Association in World War I won gold medals at all three. My ten frame exhibit on libraries and the mail in 20th century American won vermeil medals (the level between gold and silver) at all three stampshows.

Of course, I continued to blog on The Library History Buff Blog by posting more than 50 articles. I also continued to maintain the Library History Buff website.

All in all a good year for promoting library history.

Happy holidays to all!

Monday, December 15, 2014

A New Library for Bellows Falls, VT 1908

Laying the corner stone is a ceremonial highlight in the building process for a new library building. This occasion for the library building in Bellows Falls, VT was captured in a photograph on October 8, 1908. The photograph was printed on the Real Photo Postcard (RPPC) which is shown above, and is part of my library postcard collection. The postcard was mailed on December 29, 1908. The library is named the Rockingham Free Public Library for the Town of Rockingham which it serves along with the Village of Bellows Falls. The library's website has a brief history of the library and includes the same image as the postcard. The building was made possible by a $15,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie. It was dedicated on November 23, 1909.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Season's Greetings from Libraries and Librarians

I've already started receiving this year's cards extending season's greetings from friends and family. I've recently greatly expanded my collection of these cards sent by libraries and librarians to other libraries and librarians in years past. The expansion occurred as a result of a donation from fellow librariana collector Norman D. Stevens. Thanks Norman. Sometimes the cards are sent by a library institution, sometimes by a library's staff collectively, and sometimes by the library director or other library administrator. Some library vendors also routinely send out cards of the season. Below are a few from my collection. 

Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine on a Winter's Eve
Harvard Medical School
Library Staff, 1964
Painting by William Commerford 
Palmer Library, Connecticut College
Director and staff
Bessemer (AL) Public Library
Holiday card and report for years (1945-1946 & 1946-1947)
Library of Congress, Winston Tabb, Assoc. Librarian, 1999
Detail from painting of home of Longfellow, 1904
Entire painting is shown on interior of card
Sent by Director of the National Central Library, Taipei
Republic of China

       And season's greetings from the Library History Buff to all my followers.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Viroqua (WI) Public Library Postcard

Clara Glenn
The postcard above shows the interior of the public library in Viroqua, WI. It's one of my favorites in that it features a Wisconsin library, shows people inside a library, and has an interesting message on the address side of the postcard. The interior view is particularly interesting because of the people it depicts. There are library users at tables and a group of people standing in the background. I'm going to guess that the people standing are library trustees who were on hand for the photograph. I know for sure that the person behind the circulation desk is the librarian, Clara Abigail Glenn. I know this because I came across another copy of this postcard on eBay and the message on that postcard was from Glenn who wrote to the recipient, "Here is where you see me at work." Both postcards were mailed in 1910, and Glenn was listed in a directory I found online as being the Viroqua librarian at that time.  The Viroqua public library (now the McIntosh Memorial Library) is still located in the same building as depicted on the postcard. The building which was completed in 1905 was initially financed with a grant from Andrew Carnegie. A major renovation of the building occurred in 1975 which resulted in a new facade that obscures its Carnegie origin. In 2004 shortly after I retired from my position as Director of Public Library Development at the WI Dept. of Public Instruction, I conducted a space needs study of the library. It was greatly in need of additional space. More than ten years later, there is now a good chance that a new facility will be built to house the library. The interesting message on the postcard has no connection to the library. It reads, "My dear son, your father is dead. Died last night at 10 o'clock. The funeral will be Sunday. Your Mother." The postcard was mailed on Sept. 30th which was a Friday. Hopefully it reached the sender's son who lived in Aurora, IL in time for him to attend the funeral.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

St. Lucia's Carnegie Library on Carnegie's Birthday

Happy birthday to Andrew Carnegie who was born on November 25, 1835 in Dunfermline, Scotland. In addition to grants for libraries in the United Kingdom and the United States, Carnegie gave money for public libraries in a number of other English speaking countries including six in the Caribbean. The postcard above shows the Carnegie library in Castries, St. Lucia. According to Beverly Hinds in a paper presented at IFLA 2011 in Puerto Rico, St. Lucia was offered a Carnegie grant as early as 1904, but a grant was not awarded until 1916. The library building was completed in 1924 and opened on December 1, 1924. A fire in 1948 gutted the building and destroyed 20,000 books. The building was rebuilt within the existing walls, and continues to serve as a library. The library is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. See a recent article about the library HERE.  Other Carnegie libraries in the Caribbean (Barbados, Saint Vincent, and Trinidad) have been honored on postage stamps.

Monday, November 24, 2014

More Libraries in the Winter on Postcards

The recent huge snow storm in the Buffalo, NY area prompted me to go through my postcards to find more views of libraries in the snow. I came up with these four postcards. I published previous posts on this topic on February 24, 2013 and on December 21, 2013. The first postcard shows a hardly recognizable Seattle Public Library on February 2, 1916. More snow fell in Seattle in the 24 hour period Feb. 1-2, 1916 than any comparable time period in its history (21.5 inches).
Everett, MA Public Library on postcard mailed May 12, 1916
Sanatorium Library, Saranac, Adirondack Mts., 1905

Library of Congress on postcard mailed on Sept. 1, 1909

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Library Postcard With Multiple Personal Connections

As I have mentioned in previous posts about my library postcard collecting interests, I am particularly interested in the message side of postcards especially if the message relates to libraries or library postcard collecting. One such postcard in my collection has multiple personal and library related connections. The postcard (shown above) depicts the interior of the Greenville County (SC) Library. I served as Director of the library from 1974 to 1980, and I have a number of these postcards which are unused. This postcard was mailed on Dec. 5, 1983 by Martha Jane Zachert from Columbia, SC to Dan Lester in Durango, CO. At the time Martha Jane was on the faculty of the University of South Carolina Library School and Dan was Director of the Fort Lewis College Library in Durango. I've shared an interest in collecting librariana with Dan for a number of years and I recently wrote about his library postcard collection. Although our careers overlapped in South Carolina, it has only been recently that I have connected with Martha Jane and discovered out shared interest in library history and philately. My final connection to this postcard is the America's Libraries stamp. I'm an avid collector of first day covers and other postal items with this stamp, and have even created an exhibit of those items. It's use on a postcard during this time period is unusual in that it is a first class postage stamp and overpays the postcard rate. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Water - the enemy of books and libraries

Detail of postcard showing library

I previously wrote a post about a book titled The Enemies of Books by William Blades (Trubner, London, 1880) with an emphasis on the portion of the book dealing with fire. In his book Blades wrote: "Next to Fire we must rank Water in its two forms, liquid and vapour, as the greatest destroyer of books." I was reminded of the danger of water to books and libraries by a recent article by Bernadette Lear titled "Pennsylvania Public Libraries and the Great Flood of 1936" which is available in digital form HERE. I also wrote a post about Ohio libraries and the flood of 1913. I have a postcard (shown above) depicting the impact of the Vermont flood of 1927 on Montpelier, VT and its library. That flood, "took out 1285 bridges, miles and miles of roads and railroads, and countless homes and buildings. Eighty-four people died in the flood, including Lt. Governor S. Hollister Jackson." Libraries in the United States have been damaged in recent years by water from major weather events including hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. Some individual libraries experiencing water based disasters include the University of Wisconsin - Superior Library, Stanford University Libraries, Washington County Library (St. George, UT, to name only a few. Fortunately there are now procedures in place to recover damaged library materials in many instances.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Daniel W. Lester Library Postcard Collection

Dan on the left, me on the right
Today I drove to Urbana, Illinois to deliver 6,450 library postcards to the American Library Association Archives which are administered by the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. The postcards are from the collection of Dan Lester of St. George, Utah, a library postcard collector of more than four decades. Dan decided he was ready to dispose of his postcard collection and elected to donate the bulk of the collection to the ALA Archives. I volunteered to get the collection from St. George to Urbana which occurred in stages with a big assist from a friend in Denver, Colorado. I still have in my possession a large collection of duplicate and foreign library postcards which I hope to sell for Dan. Dan previously donated a large collection of library history books and library memorabilia to benefit the ALA Library History Round Table and the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center. There comes a time when all collectors have to decide on the the disposition of their collection/s or leave the chore to others after they are gone. Kudos to Dan for passing on his collections to benefit the promotion and preservation of library history.

Lester library postcard collection sorted by state & community ready to load up for the trip to Urbana.
Loaded & ready for delivery.
Archives Research Center at the Univ. of Illinois, new home to the Lester library postcard collection.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

WWI ALA Camp Libraries for Veterans Day

To celebrate Veterans Day I'm posting some postcards showing soldiers and sailors in front of American Library Association Library War Service camp libraries during WWI.

Camp Gordon, GA

Camp Greene, NC
Camp Lee, VA
Pelham Bay Park, NY

Camp Doniphan, OK

Monday, November 10, 2014

WI Library Hall of Fame 2014 Inductees

One of my most rewarding activities as Chair of the Steering Committee of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center is participating in the selection of inductees into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame. Five individuals were inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 6 at the Wisconsin Library Association Annual Conference in Wisconsin Dells. The Library Hall of Fame is a program of the WLA Foundation and the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center. The inductees are:

Gilbert Harry Doane (1897-1980) served as Director of the University of Wisconsin – Madison General Library (1937-1943 & 1945-1956) and as Director of the UW-Madison Library School (1938-1941). He was head of the UW-Madison Archives program (1956-1962). He served in the U.S. Army’s World War II Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (“Monuments Men”) Project (1943-1945).

Wilbur Lyle Eberhart (1922-2010) was the first administrator of the Division for Library Services in the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction after the Wisconsin Free Library Commission was abolished. He served in this capacity from 1965 to 1981 which included the period when Wisconsin’s public library system legislation was passed and implemented.

Peter G. Hamon (1945- ) served as Director of the South Central Library System (1981-2005). He was active in promoting statewide library legislation and funding, and served as President (1991) and as Legislative Advocate for the Wisconsin Library Association. He was honored as WLA/DEMCO Librarian of the Year in 2004.

Nolan I. Neds (1921-2006) served as Supervisor of Neighborhood Libraries and Extension and as Deputy City Librarian of the Milwaukee Public Library (1965-1982).  He was a champion of  library service to the underserved in Milwaukee County, the State, and the nation. He was active in the Wisconsin Library Association and served as President (1970-1971).

Gertrude Thurow (1906-1993) served as Director of the La Crosse Public Library (1953-1975) and was instrumental in establishing the predecessors of the Winding Rivers Library System (1965-1975). She served as President of the Wisconsin Library (1955-56). Thurow was honored as WLA Librarian of the Year in 1959, and received WLA’s Special Service Award in1975.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Happy Birthday ALA!

Today marks the 138th anniversary of the founding of the American Library Association. The founding took place on October 6, 1876 at a conference of librarians at the Pennsylvania Historical Society in Philadelphia. The events leading up to the conference are documented in the book Raking The Historic Coals, The A.L.A. Scrapbook of 1876 by Edward G. Holley (Beta Phi Mu, 1967). Although Melvil Dewey received much of the credit for the call for the conference, others including Richard Rodgers Bowker and Frederick Leypoldt played important roles. Of the 103 people who attended the conference 90 were men and 13 were women. At the end of the conference attendees who wanted to form the new association signed a register. Melvil Dewey signed as "Number one". By the end of 1876, 43 individuals had joined the association. On the evening of October 6 there was a social reception. A replica of the invitation to that affair is shown above. This anniversary of the founding of ALA highlights the fact that in two years, it will celebrate its 140th anniversary, an occasion worthy of celebration. In 2026, only twelve years away, ALA will celebrate its 150th anniversary, a major milestone for any organization.  

Friday, September 19, 2014

Fundraising for the Free for All Inside the Public Library Film Project

I published a previous post about the "Free for All: Inside the Public Library film project which will feature public libraries across America today and provide historical background about the public library movement in the United States. The project is now at a critical filming stage and a fundraising effort has been launched to pay for this phase. They have more information and a nice video about the project on their home page. It also includes information about donating to the project which I highly endorse. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Guthrie, Oklahoma's Carnegie Library

When Andrew Carnegie gave a grant of $26,000 to Guthrie, Oklahoma on October 17, 1901 for a public library building it was the capital of the Oklahoma Territory. The library building was completed in 1902 and in 1906 it served as the backdrop for the inauguration of Frank Frantz, Oklahoma's last territorial governor. That event is depicted on the postcard above. Guthrie lost out to Oklahoma City as the permanent State Capital. The Carnegie building ceased to house the public library in 1972 when a new public library building was completed. According to the website of the Oklahoma Territorial Museum, the Carnegie building barely escaped destruction due to the generosity of a benefactor who also donated a museum building to the City. The very elaborate building which was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1971 is now part of the museum complex. Information about Oklahoma's other Carnegie libraries can be found HERE

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Equalizing Library Opportunities 1927

In 1927 the Committee on Library Extension of the American Library Association published a small brochure (see above) that described the inequality of access to public library service in the nation and advanced the goal of "Adequate public library service within easy reach of every one". It then offered some strategies for achieving that goal. A chart in the brochure (at left) showed that more than 50 million Americans were without library service, mostly in rural areas. Elsewhere in the brochure it was pointed out that out of 3,065 counties the United States 1,235 had no public libraries within their boundaries. Strategies included leadership from state library agencies and county libraries. It was not until the passage of the Federal Library Services Act in 1956 that that the extension of public library service became a national priority. As a result of federal and state library funding programs enormous progress has been made toward achieving the goal of adequate public library service within easy reach of everyone. However, there are still millions of Americans without public library service or without adequate public library service. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Autographs of Famous Librarians

One of the categories of librariana that Norman D. Stevens discusses in his book A Guide to Collecting Librariana (Scarecrow Press, 1986) is autographs of librarians. He highlights the James I. Wyer (1869-1955) Autograph Collection which is housed in the American Library Association Archives. Wyer served as President of ALA in 1910-1911. His autograph collection includes letters from 46 ALA presidents as well as correspondence from other librarians. Stevens notes that autograph collecting was once a popular hobby, but has gone out of favor. He provides tips on autograph collecting. Although, I don't specifically seek autographs of librarians, famous or not, I have managed to accumulate a nice selection. Some of those are shown below.

Melvil Dewey (1851-1931), ALA Leader & President Lake Placid Club

Herbert Putnam (1861-1955), 8th Librarian of Congress
Susan Grey Akers (1889-1984), Library School Dean

Ainsworth Spofford (1835-1908), 6th Librarian of Congress
Justin Winsor (1831-1897), ALA's First President
Norman D. Stevens, Molesworth Institute Director Emeritus
George M. Eberhart, American Libraries Direct Editor
Betty Stone & Rogert Wedgeworth, Former ALA President & ALA Executive Director