Archive for July, 2012

Early Portland (OR) Bookmobile Postcard

July 11th, 2012

The predecessor of the Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon was the Portland Library Association which was established in 1864. Originally, the Portland Library Association was a subscription library, but in 1902 it became a free public library serving all of Multnomah County. Bookmobile service was one of the strategies used to extend library service to the county. I recently acquired the postcard above showing one of the Library Association's early bookmobiles. The caption on the back reads: "The Graham Brothers Truck has been in service at Portland, Oregon, for over eighteen months and has exceeded the fondest expectations of the Library Association in increasing the number of rural readers. The inside of the body carries approximately 600 books." This bookmobile dates from the early 1920s. There is another view of the Graham Brothers bookmobile on the Multnomah County Library's Flickr site. There are also many other views of bookmobile service on the Library's Flickr site. The Multnomah County Library no longer provides bookmobile service.

Adrian, Michigan’s Carnegie Library

July 10th, 2012

Adrian, MI received a grant from Andrew Carnegie for a public library building on Dec. 20, 1904. The initial grant was for $20,000 but was later increased to $27,500. The grand opening for the new building which was an elaborate castle-like structure took place in February 1909. The postcard of the Carnegie building and the large crowd in front of it which is shown above is interesting in that it was mailed on July 25, 1908 several months before the building officially opened. The crowd shown on the postcard may have gathered for a parade. Note the two people on the top of the building on the left side of the postcard. The message on the back of the postcard reads in part: "What do you think of the library? Quite a crowd downtown wasn't there?" The Adrian Public Library vacated the building in 1978 and moved into a former J.C. Penny store because of space needs. Quite a change in architecture. The Carnegie building is now on the National Register of Historical Places and is occupied by the Lenawee Historical Society Museum.

USF Book Club August & September Selections

July 9th, 2012

The next two books being discussed by the USF Book Club are:

ImageThe Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje. Thursday, August 9th, 2012 in the Gleeson Library at noon in room 209. Request from Link+ or get to at SFPL.

In the early 1950s, an eleven-year-old boy in Colombo boards a ship bound for England. At mealtimes he is seated at the “cat’s table”–as far from the Captain’s Table as can be–with a ragtag group of “insignificant” adults and two other boys, Cassius and Ramadhin. As the ship makes its way across the Indian Ocean, through the Suez Canal, into the Mediterranean, the boys tumble from one adventure to another, bursting all over the place like freed mercury. But there are other diversions as well: one man talks with them about jazz and women, another opens the door to the world of literature…From the Hardcover edition

Wild: from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. September 7th, 2012 in the Gleeson Library at noon in room 209. Request from Link+ or get at SFPL.

…Four years after her mother’s death, with nothing more to lose, Strayed made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker–indeed, she’d never gone backpacking before her first night on the trail. Her trek was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone…cherylstrayed.com


Unidentified Early Women Library Workers

July 8th, 2012


I have two early artifacts (see above) showing images of unidentified women library workers. The first is a photograph of ten women and one man. There is no clue as to which library they work in. The second artifact is a Real Photograph Postcard which shows seven women. The postcard was mailed on July 10, 1907 from Aurora, Illinois to Newkirk, Oklahoma. There's a good bet that the library in the postcard is located in Illinois. Perhaps the University of Illinois Library. Both images are evidence of the feminization of the library profession in the United States. There were hardly any library workers in U.S. libraries in the mid-19th century. Barbara A. Mitchell in a chapter titled "Boston Library Catalogues, 1850-1875" in the book Institutions of Reading: The Social Life of Libraries in the United States (Univ. of Massachusetts Press, 2007) relates the hiring of women to create catalogues by Boston area libraries. The Boston Public Library was the first to hire women for this purpose in 1853. The initial salary for these women was $4 per week. In the first national library conference in 1853 there were eighty-two men present and no women. When the 1876 conference of librarians that resulted in the formation of the American Library Association took place in Philadelphia thirteen women were among the 103 attendees. In the next four decades major advances in the role that women played in library services took place. One significant aspect of these advances was the involvement of women in library education starting with the library school created at Columbia University by Melvil Dewey in 1887. Dewey later moved the school to Albany, NY when he became New York State Librarian. One of the first graduates of that school, Katharine Sharp, established a similar school at the Armour Institute in Chicago in 1893. That school moved to the University of Illinois in 1897 where Sharp became director of both the library and the library school. Because of health reasons she left Illinois in 1907, the same year as the postcard above was mailed. I don't think Sharp is one of the women in the postcard, but I can't be sure. Any help with identifying the libraries in which the photographs were taken will be appreciated.

Update: The women in the photograph on the postcard mailed from Aurora, IL have now been identified. See my post for July 25.

Carnegie Approves Funding for Mount Vernon, NY

July 5th, 2012


Andrew Carnegie made grants to 1412 communities in the U.S. to help fund the construction of 1679 public library buildings. Much of the paperwork and communication regarding these grants was carried out by Carnegie's Personal Secretary James Bertram. I recently acquired a letter (shown above) mailed by Bertram to Charles M. Miller in Mount Vernon, NY on April 9, 1908 in which Bertram notifies Miller of Carnegie's approval of $20,000 for the extension of the Mount Vernon library building. It is a wonderful addition to my collection of postal librariana and it will be prominently displayed in my philatelic exhibit - "America's Public Libraries and Their Forerunners 1731-1956". The Carnegie Corporation destroyed all of its correspondence relating to library building grants after microfilming it. The only physical correspondence surviving is primarily located in the communities that received or requested grants if it has not been discarded as was this letter. Mount Vernon received its original grant from Carnegie in 1901. In total it received $72,000 from Carnegie which is a very large grant for a single building in a community of this size. The Mount Vernon Public Library has some historic images of its building on its website.