Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Where are my breeches? Library War Service, 1918

I recently came across a packet of correspondence related to uniform problems of a worker in the WWI ALA Library War Service. The 1918 correspondence involved Alvin W. Clark at the Camp Sevier South Carolina Library, the ALA Library War Service Headquarters in Washington, DC, and the contractor engaged by ALA to provide uniforms.  The gist of the matter relates to the fact that Clark was entitled to two pairs of breeches for his uniform and he only received one pair. Further, the measurements for the first pair were not satisfactory, and finally according to Clark the leggings he received “have now become creased or wrinkled in two or three places and consequently they look bad”.  Poor guy. The letter above from LWS Executive Director George B. Utley, who was simultaneously ALA’s  Executive Director, advises Clark of how he can correct his problems.  Interesting example of the practical logistics involved in the operation  of ALA’s Library War Service.  

Friday, March 11, 2016

Librarian of Congress A.R. Spofford, 1875 Letter

Librarian of Congress Ainsworth Rand Spofford who served from 1864 to 1897 was the first librarian to select and purchase books. Formerly this had been done by the members of the Congressional Joint Committee on the Library. In the letter above dated May 15, 1875 Spofford negotiates the purchase of a book for the library's collection. Spofford writes to M.M. Jones of Utica, NY: " A French gentleman of this city informs me that you have 2 copies of the "New York Balloting Book" folio 1825 which you offer at $5 each. My informant not wishing to purchase asked if this Library world make the purchase for its shelves. If you will send a copy of the work with bill of the same at $5 the amount will be promptly submitted."  It is extraordinary that Spofford with so many demands on his time would engage in a transaction involving a single book. Spofford is writing on stationery of the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress. The responsibility for copyright had been transferred to the Library in 1870. This letter which is part of my collection will be included in a philatelic exhibit that I'm working on about the Library of Congress.