Archive for August, 2011

St. Louis Mercantile Library Bookplate

August 30th, 2011
The primary purpose of a bookplate is to indicate the ownership of the book in which it is located. Bookplates in books in institutional libraries often have the additional purpose of acknowledging the person or fund that purchased the book for the library. The bookplates of the St. Louis Mercantile Library (now incorporated into the University of Missouri - St. Louis Library), in addition to showing ownership, have provided a substantial amount of information about the library and its policies and procedures.  I acquired several older books which had been weeded from the library and each contained a different bookplate. One of these is shown above. The bookplate indicates that the library was organized in 1846 and incorporated in 1847.  It indicates that books can be kept for two weeks with a fine for detention beyond that period of two cents per day. It contains an important notice which tells the library user that damage to the book could result in a fine equal to four times its cost.  Mercantile libraries were membership libraries created in the 19th century to serve merchants and their clerks. The bookplate above indicates that a clerks entrance fee was $2 with an annual subscription fee of $3. Fees for proprietors and others was $5 initially and $5 annually. A life membership could be obtained for $50. Books were evidently given an accession number and this one is number 50,371.  There are some other markings which probably indicate classification and/or shelf location. The bookplate was in a novel published in 1878 titled In Paradise by Paul Heyse.  Bookplates are very collectible and I have a modest collection of institutional library bookplates. You can see some my bookplates HERE. Another St. Louis Mercantile Library Bookplate article.

Library Book Boxes

August 24th, 2011

My library book box
Milwaukee Public Library book boxes

Book boxes in Sweden's library museum 

Hans Krol with book boxes in library museum in Amsterdam
 I try to say no when someone offers or lets me know about a large library artifact in order to keep my basement from  becoming a library museum.  A colleague caught me in a weak moment, however, when he alerted me to a wood library book box that was being offered on Craigslist.  He even offered to pick up the book box, which was located in Sheboygan County, WI, some distance from my home.  The large wooden box is not impressive in the least, but it is a connection to the real library world of the past.  In all probability the book box was used to transport one of Wisconsin's many traveling libraries.  Sturdy boxes such as this one have been used by libraries worldwide in the past to transport books.  Some examples are shown above.

The Chronicle of Higher Education

August 19th, 2011

The Chronicle of Higher EducationGleeson Library | Geschke Center, with support from the College of Arts and Sciences, is pleased to provide campus-wide online access to The Chronicle of Higher Education, “the No. 1 source of news, information, and jobs for college and university faculty members and administrators.”

On-campus access is available now, and is automatic and password-free.

For off-campus access, use the link below (or start from the Library web site), and you will be prompted to enter your name and USF ID number.

Also included in the Chronicle web site is a searchable archive of previously published content; all the commentary and essays from their weekly magazine, The Chronicle Review; all the data from the annual Almanac and other Chronicle reports in easy-to-search databases; special single-topic reports on admissions, diversity, information technology, and more.


August 17th, 2011

Fusion is a new tool that will allow you search, in one place, the majority of the library’s books and articles. It will include all the materials in our library catalog Ignacio, as well as the content of the majority of our many, many journal article databases.

Figuring out where to start looking for articles and books can be very confusing when the library offers more than 200 database options. Fusion will be the clear place to start.

Questions and Answers:

  • Will Fusion include everything the library has?
    No, but it will include so much of what the library has that it will almost always be the best place to start your search.
  • When would Fusion not make sense as the first place to search?
    Some examples: If you’re interested in finding only books, then our library catalog Ignacio would be a more appropriate place to begin. If you’re looking specifically for statistical data or encyclopedia/dictionary entries or images, it would be better to use a database devoted to those specific types of information.
  • I’m very proficient using the databases in my subject area. Is there any reason I should use Fusion?
    Because Fusion will have such broad coverage, it may locate relevant materials published in other fields that you wouldn’t otherwise find in a subject-specific database.
  • So then why would I want to choose a subject-specific database anymore—can I just use Fusion instead?
    Fusion will not be replacing any of our subject-specific databases. These databases offer valuable advanced searching capabilities tailored to their subject areas.
  • When will Fusion be available?
    We’re building it right now. We hope to make it available some time in September.

The Technical Jargon

Fusion is an example of a trend in libraries of web-scale discovery services. Our service will be provided by Ebsco Discovery Service.

Wayne Wiegand’s Melvil Dewey Notes

August 16th, 2011

Wayne Wiegand, noted library historian, is making available to an institution or an individual an invaluable library history research resource, the voluminous notes he compiled in researching Irrepressible Reformer (ALA, 1996), his definitive biography of Melvil Dewey. All that is necessary to obtain this resource is to make a modest donation to  the Ed Holley Lecture of the Library History Round Table of the American Library Association.  Wiegand had intended that the note cards be auctioned off at a fundraising event last September at Library History Seminar XII in Madison, WI, but that fell through. As one of the auction coordinators, I took temporary custody of the Dewey notes which are recorded on 4 by 6 inch note cards and housed in sturdy file boxes. Wayne recently retrieved those boxes of notes freeing up much needed space in my basement. Although Wayne is interested in obtaining some funding for one of his favorite causes, he is more interested in assisting a researcher or researchers in advancing their study of Melvil Dewey and/or American librarianship. Wayne feels that a new biography with a different take on Dewey should come out every decade or so. He thinks that with his notes a researcher would be two thirds there on such a biography.  While in my custody I had ample opportunity to explore the Dewey notes, and I can attest to the value of this historical resource. Organized in chronological order the notes follow Dewey through his entire life. Of particular value are Wayne's notes on the Dewey manuscript collection at Columbia University which provide detailed transcriptions.  Since Dewey interacted with a major portion of the library community during his life, anyone studying other aspects of library history during the Dewey era would also benefit from the notes. From my perspective, the notes provide an extraordinary glimpse into the research techniques of one of our most esteemed library history scholars.  They remind me again why I'm content to be a library history buff and not a library history scholar. A very nice article could be written just about Wayne's research approach to the Dewey biography.  A reasonable donation to the Holley Lecture would probably be in the $200 up range (plus shipping costs) with the best offer claiming the prize. Wayne can be contacted at  Wayne Wiegand recently retired as  F. William Summers Professor of Library and Information Studies, and Professor of American Studies, School of Information Studies, Florida State University. A nice article by Christine Pawley about Wiegand and his career appeared in the Spring 2011 newsletter of the Library History Round Table.