Archive for January, 2013

Debates in the Digital Humanities Lecture

January 29th, 2013

Debates in the Digital Humanities Lecture

Gleeson Library Rare Book Room 3rd Floor. Feb 7th. Twitter #USFDH http://bit.ly/X9K76O

The University of San Francisco will be hosting a lecture and reception with Matthew Gold, Editor of Debates in the Digital Humanities (U of Minnesota Press, 2012).


For SEX, See the Librarian

January 25th, 2013
If you haven't read Jeanette C. Smith's The Laughing Librarian: A History of American Library Humor (McFarland, 2012), you're missing out on a great book (see my review). One of the chapters in her book is titled "For SEX, See the Librarian". This phrase derives from the practice of some libraries, mostly in the past, of keeping books with a sexual theme in a location other than open stacks, a practice that would be frowned on by most librarians today. The catalog card for a book in this collection would sometimes be marked with the phrase "For SEX, See the Librarian". Smith notes that the phrase, of course, led to humorous interpretations and has been cited in a number of newspapers and periodicals as being seen in the card catalogs of libraries. She mentions that one library after being challenged about its use changed the heading to read "SEX: (for SEX, ask at desk)". The chapter in Smith's book includes numerous examples of library and librarian stereotypes being used in sex related humor in our popular culture. The postcard shown here is of British origin, and is from my collection, not Smith's book. It is a variation of the "sexy librarian" or "naughty librarian" anti-stereotype sometimes portrayed in the popular culture. I apologize for any offense the image may cause. To see another  postcard showing British library humor click HERE.

50 Years of Working in Libraries

January 24th, 2013

This month marks a significant personal anniversary for me. Fifty years ago this month I took a job at the Nashville (TN) Public Library (see library history), and as they say, the rest is library history. It was only by chance that I got the job as a library clerk/page. I had put in a generic application for a job with the City of Nashville several months before, and was surprised when I got a call from the public library asking me if I would be interested in working at the library. I started work in the historic Carnegie library building (shown in the postcards above), but that only lasted a few months before the library moved to temporary quarters while the Carnegie was razed and a new building was built. At the time I was a sophomore at Peabody College, and I ended up working at the public library through the summer following my graduation from Peabody. My experience at the Nashville Public Library was the major reason I became a librarian. At the time Peabody had an ALA accredited library school and I was able to take four core library science courses as an undergraduate before going to the University of Illinois for graduate library school. Over the course of the two and a half years that I worked at the Nashville Public Library I performed almost every task you can perform in a library from mending books to working on the reference desk. It was a true apprenticeship. An unusual aspect of working at the library was the arrangement that permanent full time employees only worked during week days and a part-time crew worked at night and on the weekends. At least two of my fellow part-time workers went on to hold significant library administrative positions. The children's librarian, the only professional librarian on duty in the evening, later became director of the Nashville Public Library. It was a great starting position in library work and it was an experience I will always treasure.

George Washington’s Inauguration and the New York Society Library

January 21st, 2013

It is inauguration day in our Nation's Capital so I thought it would be a good opportunity to highlight a photograph in my collection. It is a photograph of an early print depicting George Washington's inauguration on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York City on April 30, 1789. Federal Hall was the home of the New York Society Library in 1789 at the same time that the seat of our Federal government was in Federal Hall. Congress and the President were able to use the library allowing the New York Society Library to make the claim of being the first library of Congress. In 2010 a story made the national news about two books borrowed by George Washington from the New York Society Library but for which there was no record of their return. I wrote a previous post about that story and another post about the digitization of the charging ledger at the New York Society Library which recorded Washington's initial transaction. The photograph above was used in a newspaper article in 1929. The original print was printed and sold by Amos Doolittle of New Haven Connecticut in 1790 from a drawing by Peter Lacour. A copy of the original print is located in the I.N. Phelps Stokes Collection of American Historical Prints of the New York Public Library.

Early Harvard College Library Bookplate

January 20th, 2013
The design of the bookplate shown here was used by the Harvard College Library from the 1760s through the first part of the 19th century. This particular bookplate was used in a book purchased from a library fund established in 1842 and was received on April 24, 1844. It is a recent addition to my collection of institutional library bookplates. I was fortunate to locate information about the bookplate in an article in the Bookplate Archive of the Libraries & Culture journal. The article was written by W. H. Bond in 1987. The bookplate was designed by Nathaniel Hurd of Boston (1730-1770). Bond's article notes that the original bookplate was used to identify books donated by Thomas Hollis V. Books donated by Hollis were an important part of the rebuilding of the Harvard College Library after a fire destroyed most of the library's collection in 1764. Harvard's electronic library catalog is named Hollis. Harvard has now established an elaborate system of identifying books purchased through named library funds with digital bookplates