Friday, May 5, 2017
Thursday, April 6, 2017
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
April 6 marks the centennial of the U.S. entry into World War I. Almost all history related organizations in the U.S. will do something to commemorate the U.S. participation in the war. The involvement in the war by the American Library Association through its Library War Service has been a longtime interest of mine and I have written many posts on this blog about that involvement. I’m helping to commemorate the work of ALA’s Library War Service with two different exhibits this year. I have an exhibit at the Middleton (WI) Public Library this month which features some of the larger artifacts in my collection related to the Library War Service (see photo above). I hope to share this exhibit with other Wisconsin libraries also. My other exhibit (see photo below) is one that I have developed for stamp shows and includes postal items and other paper artifacts about the Library War Service. I have already shown the exhibit at two stamp shows and expect to show it in several more this year.
The American Library Association Archives which has an outstanding collection of archival materials related to the Library War Service will be doing a number of things to commemorate ALA’s involvement in the war. The Archives has already posted several outstanding articles on its blog. More general online exhibits about the U.S. involvement in World War I have been created by the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian National Postal Museum.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Ruth Warncke (1910-1998) was a national leader in adult education and served as Deputy Director of the American Library Association from 1965 to 1972. Her colleagues described her as “a professional feminist long before it was popular”. When the next supplement to the Dictionary of American Library Biography comes out she will undoubtedly be included. My decision to write about Warncke during Women’s History Month was prompted by a postcard (see above) I recently acquired for my collection of librariana. The postcard was mailed to Warncke in 1971. Warncke began her career as a teacher and school librarian in Glenview, IL and later held positions in public libraries in New York and Michigan. She was hired by ALA in 1955 to lead the American Heritage Project funded by the Ford Foundation to assist public libraries in discussions of American heritage. In 1956 she became director of another ALA national level project, the Library Community Project, which was designed to strengthen adult education activities and services in public libraries in the United States. In 1960 she left ALA and served on the faculty of Case Western University Library School until 1965 when she became Deputy Director of ALA. I’m always delighted to obtain a postcard that has a personal link to a librarian. This postcard was mailed by a friend of Warncke who was traveling in the Southwest U.S.. The picture side of the postcard is a spectacular view of Zion National Park in Utah. I got the postcard at a stamp show from a dealer who was aware of my interest in library related postal items.
Saturday, March 18, 2017
Helen Marot (1865-1940) was a librarian who worked to improve the working conditions of women. She helped to establish the Free Library of Economics & Political Science in Philadelphia in 1897. In my collection of library related postal cards I have a postal card (see above and to the left) that was mailed by Marot from the Free Library of Economics & Political Science on November 23, 1898 to a London publisher. In trying to find out more about Marot I was delighted to find a well written and researched article about her on Wikipedia. The article has a good description of the Free Library of Economics and Political Science which provided a specialized collection of government publications, labor society reports, magazines, and pamphlets related to economics and political science. Later Marot served as executive secretary of the New York branch of the national Women’s Trade Union League. Her labor activism included organizing the strike of the shirtwaist makers and dressmakers in 1909.
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Later this week the American Library Association will hold its Midwinter Meeting in Atlanta, GA. The first ALA conference in Atlanta took place on May 8-12, 1899. It was also ALA’s first conference in the South. William C. Lane, Director of the Harvard University Library, was President of ALA. Attendance at the conference was 215. The conference hotel was the Kimball House (see postcard below). The rationale for an ALA conference in the South was stated in the conference brochure (see cover illustration above): “It is to be hoped that this southern meeting will be the means of largely increasing the membership [in ALA] from a section hitherto almost entirely without representation.” The brochure included a section touting Andrew Carnegie’s bequest in 1898 for new library buildings in Atlanta. This section which was written by someone with the initials A.W. included the following statement: “The people of the South, perhaps the purest strain of the Anglo-Saxon to be found on this continent, are conservative, intelligent, and need only the educational advantages that wealth can bestow to reach a degree of culture heretofore unrivaled.” No mention of the African American population of the South. Andrew Carnegie’s bequest, however, did include funds for a separate library for African Americans. The racial climate in the South was reflected in ALA’s planning for the 1899 Atlanta conference. There was an initial proposal for a presentation on “How to Make the Library Do Its Part in Negro Education” by W. E. B. Du Bois. According to Dennis Thomison in his A History of the American Library Association 1876-1872, a decision was made not to have the presentation “to avoid the risk of angering the association’s southern hosts”. It was not until the 1922 ALA conference in Detroit that an African American gave a speech at an ALA conference. The lineup of featured speakers at this year’s Midwinter meeting shows the dramatic change in ALA’s 21st century outlook on diversity in its programming and membership.
Monday, January 2, 2017
Notwithstanding a not so great year nationally and internationally, it has been a good year for the promotion and celebration of library history. An obvious highlight for me personally was my induction into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Milwaukee in October (see photo above).
On the national scene it was a landmark year for the American Library Association which celebrated its 140th anniversary. Of particular note was the effort of the American Libraries magazine to call attention to this milestone. Several other major events also occurred in 1876, the founding year for ALA, and were less well noted on their 140th anniversary. They included the establishment of the Library Journal magazine; the publication of Melvil Dewey’s Decimal Classification System; the creation of the library supply company Library Bureau, also a Dewey effort; and the special report of the US Bureau of Education on the status of Public Libraries in the United States of America (in actuality all libraries in the US other than personal libraries).
The Wisconsin Library Association celebrated its 125h anniversary. I was privileged to serve on the committee which was charged with planning the celebration. One of my contributions to this effort was adding content to the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center website about WLA’s history and events related to the anniversary celebration.
I continued my efforts to collect and to exhibit postal artifacts related to libraries in 2016. My major philatelic exhibit for the year was “America’s Library – The Library of Congress”. At national level stamp shows the exhibit received gold medals in St. Louis, Minneapolis, and Chicago. In St. Louis it was judged to be the “Best Display Exhibit”. The exhibit was also selected as the best exhibit at the Wisconsin state stamp show. It was wonderful to conclude the exhibit with a reference to the appointment of Dr. Carla Hayden as the Librarian of Congress.
My collection of Wisconsin Library Memorabilia was on display at the Milwaukee Public Library and the Middleton Public Library this year.
It was not a great year for writing new blog posts for the Library History Buff Blog. I only published 21 posts for the year, an all time yearly low for me. On the positive side all time page views for the blog exceeded 600,000. I hope to do much better in 2017. In the very limited world of library history blogging the ALA Archives Blog has set a high standard for quality posts.
Have a happy 2017 everyone!