>The Next Phase of Library History Research

>For those who read my blog posts a few months ago, you might remember this post where I celebrated the completion of my manuscript on Iowa libraries during World War I. Recently, I heard from a publisher I sent a proposal and sample chapter to, and they made some great suggestions for improvements that they wanted to see before the manuscript was sent through peer review. I wanted to share some thoughts here, but more importantly I wanted to solicit some input from folks who have read my research (or listened to me talk about it). I want my manuscript to be as awesome as possible, and I bet there are some great suggestions out there!

Continue reading “>The Next Phase of Library History Research”

>ALA Talk available online

>Hello readers!
I had initially planned to publish my talk from the Library History Round Table symposium at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in a peer-reviewed journal, but it occurred to me that my other talk (from Library History Seminar XII) is going to be on the same research, and most likely in the same journal. So, I added my conference talk to my Scribd account to share with everyone! While you’re there, you can follow me with your account too. Sometimes they get picky about downloading things if you haven’t uploaded your own work, so I can also e-mail the PDF of the talk to anyone who is interested. Otherwise, go here to read the document in full online.
The talk discusses three of the six libraries I researched (Burlington, Davenport, and Mt. Pleasant) more in-depth, whereas my talk from September discussed al 6 libraries, but with somewhat less detailed attention paid to each in order to keep within time constraints. The published version of that talk will be about 25 pages, so that will give me a chance to pay a little more attention to each of them.
If you have any questions or comments, let me know!

March 2011 update: Scribd accidentally deleted my account, meaning that you cannot read this paper on their site. Sorry folks!

>The Library of Tomorrow…Yesterday!

I ran across this rather lengthy quote while adding to my chapter on libraries from 1914-1916, and was so pleased by it I couldn’t wait to share it with you! It’s from the 1914 annual report, written by Iowa City Public Library’s librarian, Helen McRaith. Unfortunately my Internet was down yesterday (and most of today), so I had to contain my excitement until now:

“The modern idea of the function of a library is this—to study the literary needs of its own community and then to endeavor to meet these needs to the fullest extent, even if tradition must be violated in so doing.
The old-fashioned library was a cloistral place appealing only to the scholar, who moved silently among dust-covered tomes. The modern library possesses a different atmosphere and one more akin to that of a business office; most of the readers have the appearance of seeking information which will be of assistance in their daily problems rather than abstract knowledge.
There is a similar change in the appearance and attitude of the librarians. Formerly they seemed to look on the library as an end in itself and as a collection of interesting curiosities, they were willing to let it remain a stagnant literary pool. Now they must be alert specialists, keen to keep a stream of vital, useful knowledge flowing from the library to all parts of the community.” (Iowa City Public Library 1914 annual report, pg 1).
This reminds me so much of some of the current discussion circulating around the changing field of librarianship, even though it was written almost 100 years ago. Her writing has the same tone of excitement that I feel in my own blog and in reading the posts of other LIS bloggers, about the library as a place of expanding opportunities and of librarians as being people who are redefining the field rather than just participating in it.
There are a couple places in particular where her writing sounds like it could have been lifted out of a modern blog (and then had the language antiquated a bit, of course): there is so much concern right now about justifying the value of libraries, and a lot of that justification comes through pointing out that the library is used for practical purposes, as McRaith says, “…seeking information which will be of assistance in their daily problems rather than abstract knowledge.”

>Map of Censorship in Iowa Libraries during 1918

>I know I’ve mentioned this before, but there is a wonderful Google map that shows all the book bans and challenges in the U.S. over the last 3 years.  When I ran across this map a while back, it gave me the idea to do a similar thing with the Herbert Metcalf letters that inspired my WWI Iowa libraries project. (Metcalf was the man to whom librarians around the state sent letters indicating that they had removed items from their shelves in response to his request).
I made the map and used it for a class presentation, and just recently dug it back up while I was poking around Google. For those who are interested in Iowa or World War I history, this might be of interest to you. You can find my map at this link.

Continue reading “>Map of Censorship in Iowa Libraries during 1918”

>WWI & WWII-era Color Photos as Teaching Resources

>In recent months, I have been directed toward three websites that display color photos from the first two decades of the 20th century. While my knowledge of photographic methods is limited at best, it seems that the color is imparted using different methods that were just being developed. I was so excited to find these, because the color photos make the lives of people about 100 years ago seem much more real. I thought I would share them to those who might find them useful as teaching aids or for research.

Continue reading “>WWI & WWII-era Color Photos as Teaching Resources”

>Liberty Cabbage, Materials Access, and a Visit to Wisconsin

>I’ve been working on my thesis, but my time lately has been overwhelmed with moving and with polishing my talk for Libraries in the History of Print Culture. Since I haven’t had time to visit any new libraries in the last month, I’ve enjoyed getting to review what I’ve already learned and refine my assumptions and methods.
After my last talk (at ALA) I got really positive feedback and also some great questions from the Q&A. Some of the most helpful was from Wayne Wiegand (who has written the book on WWI US libraries), who encouraged me to reconsider my approach slightly. I was talking about censorship as an official act, while the organization that was encouraging censorship (the Iowa Council of National Defense) was actually a volunteer organization. I’m not sure how I missed that, but I’m glad to have people interested enough in my research who also have the knowledge to provide constructive criticism!

Continue reading “>Liberty Cabbage, Materials Access, and a Visit to Wisconsin”

>Continuing Trends at CRPL

>I am doing research at Cedar Rapids Public Library today, and I always get excited when I notice almost immediately the same trends occurring here that I’ve noticed in other parts of the state. For example, both Cedar Rapids’ and Burlington’s libraries were keen to advertise at the ‘moving picture shows’ starting in 1912. A frame would be shown with an ad for the library on it. Both also publicized themselves in the local newspaper (which seems to have been rather common around the state).

Continue reading “>Continuing Trends at CRPL”