Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Librarians on a Postcard and Philippine Libraries

Librarians are rarely depicted on postcards so it was amazing to find one that depicted 24 librarians. It was even more amazing to discover the postcard's connection to two important librarians in Philippine library history. The librarians depicted on the postcard were the entire 1922 class of the N. Y. State Library School. That's the library school founded by Melvil Dewey at Columbia University and then moved to the New York State Library in Albany, NY. The library school subsequently moved back to Columbia University. The postcard is a Real Photo Postcard (RPPC) and the photographer was Gustave Lorey who operated a prominent photography studio in Albany. The address side on the postcard is where the two Phillipine librarians come into the story. The postcard is addressed to Miss Mary Polk, Bureau of Science Library, Manila, PI. It is signed "Sincerely yours, Isidoro Saniel". It is dated Mar. 26, 1921 but is not stamped or postmarked. This means it was probably mailed inside an envelope to Manila. I was able to locate a great article on the internet about Mary Polk and her contribution to Philippine librarianship. It was written by Bradley Brazzeal and is titiled "Science Librarianship in Colonial Philippines: Mary Polk and the Philippin Bureau of Science Library, 1903-1924". Brazzeal includes a quote in his article that Polk could "righly be called the mother of Philippine Library Science". He indicates also that the Philippine Association of Academic Research Librarians continues to provide a scholarship in the name of Polk that "honors the life and accomplishments of Mary Polk, the first librarian of the University of the Philippines, who started the first formal library science training program in the same university". Brazzeal's article also explains the connection between Mary Polk and Isidoro Saniel. Saniel was one of several individuals in the Philippines who were sent to library schools in the United States for formal library training. Saniel was sent to the N. Y. State Library School. She returned to play a prominent role in Philippine librarianship, and has written a history of the Philippine Library Association which she helped found. [Saniel, Isidoro. “Forty-Nine Years of the Philippine Library Association.” The Journal of Library History (1966-1972), vol. 7, no. 4, University of Texas Press, 1972, pp. 301–12, http://www.jstor.org/stable/25540372.] It is likely that Saniel is one of the class of 1922 depicted on the postcard. The records of the New York State Library School are now located in the Archival Collections of Columbia University Libraries. An enterprising researcher might be able to identify the other members of the class of 1922.

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