Monday, March 31, 2014

New York's School-district Public Libraries

New York's school-district libraries were a forerunner of the free public library. A law passed by New York's state legislature in 1835 authorized the creation of libraries in school districts which were intended to serve the general population and not just school pupils. Education reformer James S. Wadsworth (1768-1844) is considered to be the father of New York's school-district libraries. The initial law enabled school districts to tax themselves $20 the first year and $10 in succeeding years for the purpose of creating a library. New York revised its law in 1838 to provide a greater incentive for school districts to create libraries. I recently acquired a very interesting letter (see above) related to school-district libraries in New York. The letter was written on June 15, 1842 by a school-district library trustee for Moreau, NY complaining about his treatment on the library board. The trustee writes: "As respects the library of this district, I had made up my mind not to do anything about it, as there is time enough to answer the law when new trustees are chosen. I have two reasons: one is I never thought the library but little consequence, and another is I have been blamed very much since I have been a trustee, for doing what I thought was best for the district." He ends with: "My time will be out in about 5 1/2 months and I know that I shall be as glad as anyone in the district." New York was the first of a number of states to create school-district libraries.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Library War Service Library in Paris in WWI

Before the American Library in Paris was founded in 1920 it served as the central library for the American Library Association's Library War Service for France during World War I. I recently added an advertising card (see above) promoting the opening of ALA's library in Paris to my collection of librariana. The card has a map on the back showing the location of the library. The ALA library opened in July, 1918 and was located in the former residence of the Papal Nuncio to the French Republic at No. 10 rue de l'Elysee.  Burton Stevenson head of the Library War Service in Europe later said, "I dare say no public library was ever before installed amid such glittering surroundings." I was really pleased to get the card because it will go well in a philatelic exhibit I'm putting together for the stamp show in Denver, CO which takes place in May. The exhibit is titled appropriately "The American Library Association and World War I" and consists of sixteen 8 1/2 by 11 inch pages on which a variety of philatelic and other paper artifacts are mounted. I've written blog posts about many of the items in the exhibit which can be found HERE. Another post about the American Library in Paris can be found HERE. Arthur P. Young's Books for Sammies, The American Library Association and World War I (Beta Phi Mu, 1981) was a source for some of the information in this post. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The 1894 ALA Conference in Lake Placid

Following its extremely successful annual conference in 1893 at the Chicago World's Fair the American Library Association met in 1894 at Lake Placid, New York. Melvil Dewey had pushed to hold the conference in this resort community located in the lake country of the Adirondack mountains.  He had an ulterior motive for doing so. Dewey and his wife Annie had purchased land in the area with the intent of creating a private retreat for librarians and other professionals.  The ALA conference was a perfect opportunity for showcasing the beauty of the area. The Library Journal for October, 1894 reported that "The meeting of the A.L.A. at Lake Placid will be remembered as one of the best ever held." There were 205 registered attendees with a little more than half being women. Attendees were from 18 states and Canada. The Library Journal report indicated that sessions were divided between the Grand View and Mirror Lake hotels and that the two hotels "vied with each other in making their guests comfortable and more". Melvil and Annie Dewey did succeed in creating their Lake Placid resort for professionals which I wrote about here and here. The ribbon to the left is part of my collection of ALA librariana.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The 1973 ALA Conference in Las Vegas

One of the readers of this blog suggested that I do a post on the 1973 American Library Association Conference in Las Vegas since it will be meeting there again this Summer after a 41 year hiatus. Thanks Elisa. I thought it was a great idea especially since I was one of the 8,539 individuals who attended that conference. The 1973 ALA conference was held June 24-30, and the theme was "People: Their Needs - Our Responsibilities".  A preliminary conference program gushed: "Three and one-half miles of incredibly colorful marquees, flashing, plunging, zooming - luxurious hotels, fascinating casinos that never close, lavish showrooms and superstar entertainment, excellent meeting facilities, and a profusion of good restaurants with offerings to suit every taste at reasonable prices. All of this, and more, is the heady excitement of the Las Vegas Strip - scene of the 92nd ALA conference. It promises to be an unforgettable and memorable experience!". It was definitely an unforgettable experience for many who attended the conference during the hottest period in Las Vegas in 1973. The temperature on June 28 was 113 degrees F. It was the heat that brought about such heavy criticism from attendees that ALA hasn't gone back in 41 years. Back then, many of the conference hotels were long distances from each other and some librarians made the mistake of trying to hoof it between them ending up with scorched feet. Personally, I enjoyed the conference. At that time I was active in the Junior Members Round Table and helped organize and staff JMRT's booth in the exhibits. I was rather proud of a home made roulette wheel that I put together. The famous public relations guru Fred Glazer was the incoming chair of JMRT and also helped with the booth. Of course, with the unbelievable development in Las Vegas since 1973, the 2014 conference should be unforgettable for many reasons other than the heat. I will hate to miss it.