Wednesday, August 17, 2016

IFLA Bibliophilately



The International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) is holding its 82nd General Conference and Assembly in Columbus, Ohio this week.  The first such conference took place in Rome, Italy in 1928. At past conferences, several host countries have recognized the IFLA conference with postage stamps and other postal artifacts. These include:  Belgium in 1977 on the 50th anniversary of IFLA; the Philippines in 1980; Kenya in 1984; Japan in 1986; and Vatican City in 2009 when IFLA met in Milan, Italy.  Images of these items can be found in a previous post that I made about IFLA bibliophilately. Han Krol has more about the stamps on his Dutch Librariana website (translate with Google translator).  More about the history of IFLA can be found on its website. More about bibliophilately can be found HERE.

Monday, August 15, 2016

ALA Pinback Buttons

If you’ve ever attended a library conference the odds are that you’ve brought home a few of the pinback buttons that vendors give away in the exhibits.  I have an enormous library button collection that I’ve accumulated at library conferences and which have been given to me by other collectors.  Below are a few buttons from my collection related to the American Library Association. More examples from my collection can be found HERE.



Monday, July 25, 2016

More Vintage Library Cards


I’ve added a few more items to my collection of vintage library cards which are shown below. For more vintage library cards see a previous post and the page on my website devoted to vintage library postcards. 

Boston Mercantile Library, 1823

New Haven Young Men's Institute, 1879


Milwaukee Public Library, 1901

Stockton, CA Public Library, 1912

Cincinnati Public Library, 1939


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Florence Woodworth and Dewey's Lake Placid Club


I’ve written several previous posts about Melvil Dewey and his Lake Placid Club. I’m writing another one because of the acquisition of a postcard mailed to Florence Woodworth at the Lake Placid Club in 1903 (see above).  Florence Woodworth was one of the female librarians who were closely associated with Dewey throughout his life. Woodworth first came into contact with Dewey as one of the students at the library school he established at Columbia University and which was later moved to the New York State Library in Albany, NY.  Woodworth was employed at the New York State Library in several capacities and held the title of Director’s Assistant for a number of years.  She was a boarder in the home of Dewey and his wife in Albany.  One of her special assignments included serving as one of the librarians for the Woman’s Library at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.  She was also in charge of creating the ALA exhibit at the Paris Exposition of 1900. Woodworth was a regular guest at the Lake Placid Club created by Dewey and his wife in Lake Placid, New York. Note that the postcard above is addressed to Morningside, NY which is the name that Dewey gave to the side of Lake Placid where the club was located.  Woodworth was a stock holder in the Lake Placid Company, and I have a fragment of a  share of stock in the Company held by her (see below).  Someone evidently cut out the fragment for Dewey’s signature. An interesting account of the history of Lake Placid can be found on this website.  In his biography of Dewey Irrepressible Reformer (ALA, 1996) Wayne A. Wiegand provides an excellent account of the creation and workings of the Lake Placid Club and the Lake Placid Company. 




Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Libraries at Night on Postcards


In a recent search of library postcards on eBay there were over 17,000 listed. As I have noted before on this blog, I limit myself to collecting only selected categories of library postcards.  One very select category is postcards showing library buildings at night. Of the more than 17,000 library postcards on eBay less than twenty were libraries at night.  In my collection I have fourteen. Below are some examples from my collection.


Denver Public Library
Jefferson Building, Library of Congress
Riverside, CA Public Library
Handley Library, Winchester, VA

Boston Public Library

Friday, June 24, 2016

Library Handwriting

Early Harvard College Library catalog card
Catalog card from a small Wisconsin public library
Last year OCLC, the global library cooperative that operates the world’s largest online union library catalog, announced that it was discontinuing its service of providing printed catalog cards to libraries.  This follows decades of libraries transitioning from physical card catalogs to computerized and online catalogs.  The Library of Congress which began distributing printed catalog cards to libraries in 1902 ended this service in 1997.  Before there were printed catalog cards and typewritten library cards they were handwritten.  In 1861 the Harvard College Library became the first library in the United States to use a public card catalog instead of a printed catalog as the primary method for library users to determine what books were available in the library. Harvard created its card catalog using female assistants to hand write the cards. By the start of the 20th century almost all libraries in the U.S. used card catalogs with most of the cards handwritten.  Legible handwriting was critical and what became known as “the library hand” was fostered.  Melvil Dewey was a proponent of a standardized “library hand”, and as late as 1916 the New York State Library School founded by Dewey was teaching Library Handwriting.  David Kaminski, an independent researcher, has undertaken an in-depth study of library handwriting.  His ongoing study is titled The Varieties and Complexities of American Handwriting and Penmanship: Library Hand and is available online.  In his online compilation of information related to library handwriting, Kaminski includes an excerpt from a discussion of which took place between Melvil Dewey and other library leaders at the American Library Association Lake George Conference in 1885 concerning handwritten catalog cards and their replacement by typewritten catalog cards.  Dewey was an advocate for the Hammond typewriter. Although typewritten and pre-printed catalog cards replaced handwritten catalog cards starting in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Some small libraries continued to use handwritten cards well into the 20th century. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

1874 Boston Public Library Overdue Book Notice



In a previous blog post I claimed to have the world’s largest collection of overdue notices on postal cards. Postal cards are the pre-stamped cards sold by the post office which were first issued in 1873. I also wrote posts about possibly the oldest (December, 1873) and second oldest (May,1874) overdue notices mailed on postal cards. I now have another contender for the second oldest overdue notice mailed on a postal card. It was mailed by the Boston Public Library on February 5, 1874, and is shown above and to the left. The postal card itself was printed for use in 1873 but the “3” has been struck out and replaced with a “4”.  It is an especially elaborate overdue notice citing the library’s rules about overdue books in their entirety. The library staff member taking ownership for sending the overdue notice was Edward Capen, Keeper of the Lower Halls.  The postal card notes that, “In charging yearly several hundred thousand volumes to borrowers, the utmost precaution will not prevent an occasional mistake; and borrowers are particularly requested to notify the Superintendent promptly of any errors on the Library’s part.” Although Edward Capen is listed on the postal card as the "Keeper of the Lower Halls" he had been appointed as the first "Librarian" of the Boston Public Library in 1852 by the Boston City Council and continued to officially hold this designation until 1874. In 1858 a position designated as "Superintendent" was created over the "Librarian" position. The first Superintendent was Charles Coffin Jewett. Although the overdue notice was not mailed on a postal card, I have in my collection of librariana an overdue notice mailed on Jan. 7, 1832 by the Sir P. Dun's Library in Dublin, Ireland. 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Melvil Dewey’s Shorthand





Melvil Dewey was obsessed with efficiency. One of the devices that he used to improve his personal efficiency was writing in shorthand.  The form of shorthand that he used was called tachygraphy, a system promoted by David P. Lindsley.  Dewey taught himself the system while at Amherst College, and became so adept at it that he began teaching other students how to use the system.  Dewey recorded his personal diaries using tachygraphy which has posed an obstacle to his biographers.  As a collector of postal librariana I was delighted to recently acquire a postal card (see above) in which Dewey used shorthand to communicate with George W. Cole in Fitchburg, MA in 1886.  At the time Cole was working on the catalog of the Fitchburg Public Library, and he obviously was also familiar with tachygraphy. Although the postal card is pre-printed with the logo of the Columbia College Library for which Dewey was the Chief Librarian, the card was mailed from Mackinac Island, MI on September 18, 1886.  I haven’t been able to determine why he was in Michigan on that date, perhaps for a holiday. Dewey's diaries are in the archives of the Columbia University Library.

Monday, May 16, 2016

ALA Washington Office 1982 First Day Cover



On July 13, 1982 the United States Postal Service (USPS) issued a postage stamp honoring Americas’s Libraries. The first day of issue ceremony for the stamp took place in Philadelphia at the Philadelphia Civic Center in conjunction with the annual meeting of the American Library Association. Participants in the ceremony included ALA President Betty Stone, Keith Doms, Director of the Free Library of Philadelphia, and Jane F. Kennedy, General Manager of the Library Division of the USPS. It is common practice to create special first day covers (envelopes) for new postage stamps that are cancelled with a “First Day of Issue” postmark. These covers usually include a cachet (illustration) and are created by commercial companies, organizations, and individuals. The American Library Association created its own first day cover (see below) which it sold to ALA members and collectors of first day covers.  The Washington Office of ALA also created a first day cover to celebrate the occasion. I’m a collector of first day covers for the 1982 America’s Libraries postage stamp, and I recently had the good fortune to receive as a gift one of the first day cover issued by the ALA Washington Office. Thank you Gail McGovern! The really neat thing about this cover which is shown above is that it is signed by Betty Stone, ALA President, and Eileen Cook, the Director of the ALA Washington Office. The cover includes an insert “An A B C For Dealing With Your Legislators”. The content of the insert was created by Rep. John E. Fogarty of Rhode Island for an ALA Legislative Workshop in 1965.  I wrote a previous post about Eileen Cooke and the other “Extraordinary Women of ALA’s Washington Office”. 




Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Uncovering a WI Library Postcard Mystery



I recently purchased a postcard on eBay showing the interior of the Jefferson (WI) Public Library, a Carnegie library building.  Wisconsin library postcards is one of the categories of postcards that I collect, and interior views of libraries are not common.  Only the picture side of the postcard was displayed on eBay so I was pleasantly surprised to find that the message side of the postcard had several interesting library connections.  I had to work a little to discover all of those connections.  The postcard was mailed form Jefferson, WI to a public library in Wisconsin. The name of the person to whom the postcard was sent and the name of the city in which the public library was located were obscured.  Under close examination I determined that a likely candidate for the city was Superior.  I had been in recent contact with Teddie Meronek, Area Research Librarian for the Superior Public Library, about another library history question, and I contacted her for the name of the director of the Superior Public Library in 1915, the year the postcard was mailed. She let me know that the director was Blanche L. Unterkircher, and again with close examination it was almost certain that this is who the postcard was sent to.  The message on the postcard reads: “Hello: Am just about settled. Spent a fine week at Milwaukee. Jefferson is a very pretty town and so far we are well pleased with it. Across the road from the house is the river and it surely is a beautiful spot. I’ve discovered a library – thank goodness – and now watch the circulation increase. Love from [crossed out].”  There are two stamped messages on the postcard. One states “From the Picture Collection of the Art Dept. of the Los Angeles Public Library” and the other “Post Card File”. How the postcard got from Wisconsin to the Los Angeles Public Library is still a mystery.  The postcard like many public library postcard collections was probably deaccessioned at some point and went into the hands of a postcard dealer. Now the postcard is back in Wisconsin.  It is a shame that someone felt that it was necessary to obscure the names of the postcard recipient and sender, but regardless I'm glad to add it to my collection.