Archive for May, 2015

ALA in San Francisco 1891 Revisited

May 30th, 2015
The blog of the American Library Association Archives recently had an excellent post about ALA's 1891 meeting in San Francisco. That reminded me of an earlier post that I made on this blog about that same ALA meeting. I'm reposting it below.

My collection of postal libraiana consists primarily of envelopes that have no contents. Occasionally, however, I will come across the contents with no envelope, and sometimes those contents contain an interesting story. Such is the case with a three page letter (partially shown above) written by George T. Clark to his cousin Ida on November 10, 1891. At the time he wrote this letter, Clark was Deputy Librarian for the California State Library in Sacramento. The most interesting part of the letter is a paragraph in which he discusses the 1891 Conference of the American Library Association in San Francisco. It reads in part: 

"Last month the American Library Association held its annual conference in San Francisco, one of the same kind that I attended at the Thousand Islands [1887 ALA Conference]. But California is so far away that not so many attended this year as usual. Only about fifty came from afar but they represented states all along the line from Massachusetts to Colorado. A Worcester man, S. S. Green, was president. The week they were here I spent with them in San Francisco, and enjoyed witnessing the effect upon them of a little experience of California. Local committees had arranged for their reception here in Sacramento, San Francisco and at other places they visited so I hope they carried pleasant memories of their visit home with them. Even nature exerted herself to entertain them and the very first night showed her appreciation of their presence by touching us up with the liveliest earthquake we have had in years.”

Clark went on to become Librarian of the San Francisco Public Library in 1894 where he served for thirteen years. In a strange flashback to his mention of the 1891 San Francisco earthquake in the letter above, he was Librarian of the SFPL during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake that destroyed the central library along with two of its branches. He became Librarian of Stanford University in 1907 where he completed his career. Clark helped found the California Library Association and served as its second president in 1898.

More Summer Reading!

May 29th, 2015

Here’s the next installment of summer reading suggestions and discussions from library staff. Got any books piled next to your bed that you’re going to dive into? Tell us in the comments!

8f342c8568a5a79b47ec_imageWhat: Dead Wake; the last crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Lawson.
Where: On a beach in Hawaii
How: Print
Why: It’s the centennial of World War I and I want to read the latest on why we should “Remember the Lusitania.” Lawson is a terrific writer of narrative non-fiction (Devil in the White City). And I like my disaster stories grounded in reality. Move over, San Andreas.

— Kathy Woo, Librarian Emeritus 

What does intersectional, multi-racial organizing look like?  Through a collection of reflections and case studies, Criss Crass explores strategies for movement building across race, class, gender, and sexuality.

— Amy Gilgan, Reference Librarian and liaison to the School of Education 

Well, I’m responding to the call for book reviews no matter how dry and dusty the subject. The book is “The Yorkist Age: Daily Life during the Wars of the Roses” by Paul Murray Kendall (New York: Norton, 1962), a cultural history of 15th century England. This is the century idealized by Shakespeare and then thoroughly romanticized by the Victorians, of knights in armor, the Princes in the Tower, and the villainous Richard III. But aside from the later dramatic exaggerations of the personality and style of these royal figures, their actual power and influence was also less than one would expect, being limited by geographic distances which seem minor to us now (References to the Wars of the Roses are often prefaced with “so called” for this and other reasons). When you add to this the rise of towns, guilds, and mayors, a fascinating picture of daily life emerges from the habits and customs of ordinary people. Interestingly, the people of this age and place, which was to be the focus of so much dramatization, really valued producing plays of their own. According to Kendall, these morality plays were the pride of the towns, and players could be seriously fined for giving a bad performance. Another interesting element of these productions was a sort of paganization of biblical characters, on stage, and also in religious processions. Townsfolk would literally “play God” and audiences would cheer a favorite character, King Herod, who would be judged by how well he played the raging tyrant, jumping from the stage, frothing at the mouth, and banging his head on the cobblestones below. Good times, Fifteenth Century Style!

— Stephen Hall, Library Assistant for Digital Projects

Library Hours – Summer 2015

May 28th, 2015

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
― Henry James

Gleeson Library’s Hours for Summer 2015
are now posted on our website here:

Staff Summer Reading (part 1)

May 22nd, 2015

It’s a mass of black gowns and caps in front of the library today, so we’re going to kick off summer with our first installment of Staff Summer Reading posts! We’ll tell you what we’re looking forward to reading this summer, or what we’ve read that you might like. Grab a book and get cozy. Summer’s just beginning.


A Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon

I want to read about this girl’s life. How she went from lounging by her typewriter to making art and experimental, post-punk, noise rock on a stage in front of thousands. Kim 71HkdwaBP5LGordon’s new memoir, A Girl in a Band, takes us from her art school days in Los Angeles to the No Wave music scene in New York, to the break up of her marriage and Sonic Youth. To me, Kim Gordon has always seemed to be unapologetically herself. She’s creative, noisy, and answers to no one. I think I’m gonna pop in my cassette tape of Sonic Youth’s 1994 album “Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star,” and Kim’s gonna be my anthem for the summer.

— Gina Solares, Head of Cataloging and Metadata Management

DM2way2smallerTwo-Way Mirror: A Poetry Notebook by David Meltzer

David Meltzer’s Two-Way Mirror: A Poetry Notebook has long been a favorite book of mine. Hearing in the last year that City Lights would soon be reissuing an expanded and updated edition was one of the best poetry surprises to come my way. This is a book that decidedly more people should be reading; digging and appreciating all it has to offer. City Lights Books and editor Garrett Caples have without doubt done the poetry world a full on solid by bringing Meltzer’s book back in print. While today’s twitter-fed MFA communities may at first be puzzled by how righteously Meltzer celebrates the printed text as object this book is destined to become a regularly utilized classroom text. At the very least every creative writing program office would benefit from having a copy on hand. Poets & Writers should be all over it. The book’s value as an educational tool was after all in part the original impetus behind its initial publication. Read more at The Rumpus.

— Patrick Dunagan, Periodicals & Bindery Specialist



Jim Crow book coverThe new Jim Crow : mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

For folks seeking to understand the historical context preceding the BlackLivesMatter moment, this book is essential! Michelle Alexander provides an overview of the inherent racism built into the U.S. “justice” system.

— Amy Gilgan, Reference Librarian and liaison to the School of Education


May 14th, 2015

.This coming Friday take a break from finals and take a picture with a Book-Face!!!

Here’s what to do:

1. Find a book with a face on the cover and take a picture with it as your own

2. Post your picture to Instagram and hashtag #Bookfacefriday and #Gleesonlibrary

3. Tell a Friend!!!

Come check out our display of possible book-face books or wander through our stacks and find your own!!