Columbia University Libraries, New York

Temporary Columbia University Libraries Identification Card for Reference and Stack Privileges issued to Elenor M. Alexander on July 13, 1942 for one week expiring July 20, 1942

1940s Columbia University Libraries Card (front)
1940s Columbia University Libraries Card (back)

Columbia University Libraries

Columbia University’s Low Library (Public Domain – pre-1923 postcard)

The Library of Columbia University, also known as the Low Library, served as the main library from 1890s to the 1930s.  By the 1930s, the Low Library had over a million volumes and space because an issue, but with a .4 million dollar donation from the Standard Oil Company, the new Butler Library, with space for over 2 million volumes, was constructed and opened in 1934.  Today, the Columbia University Libraries hold more than 5 million volumes, as well as 2.5 million microform unites and 22 million manuscript items.  The Columbia University Library system collection would stretch nearly 174 miles.  It is the fifth largest academic library in the United States and the largest academic library in the State of New York.  The Low Library now serves as the university’s administrative center.

The libraries currently in the Columbia University Library System are:

• Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library

• Barnard College Library

• Burke Library at the Union Theological Seminary 

• Business & Economics Library (Watson) at the Columbia Business School 

• Butler Library

• Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research

• Columbia Center for Oral History

• Columbia University Archives

• Digital Humanities Center

• Digital Science Center

• Digital Social Science Center

• East Asian Library (Starr)

• Engineering Library (Monell)

• Geology Library

• Geoscience Library at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Pallisades, NY 

• Global Studies

• Health Sciences Library at the Columbia University Medical Center in Washington Heights in Manhattan

• Jewish Theological Seminary

• Journalism Library

• Arthur W. Diamond Law Library at the Columbia Law School  

• Lehman Social Sciences Library at the School of International School of International and Public Affairs  

• Mathematics Library

• Milstein Undergraduate Library of  Columbia College 

• Music & Arts Library (Weiner)

• Off-Site Shelving Facility (ReCAP)

• Rare Book & Manuscript Library

• Science & Engineering Library

• Journalism Library of Columbia Journalism School 

• Social Work Library of Columbia University School of Social Work

• The Gottesman Libraries of Teachers College

1954 commemorative 3 cent stamp celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Low Memorial Library

Dr. Charles Clarence Williamson

From the Library Journal April 1, 1920 (Public Domain)

C. C. Williamson (1877-1965) served as Director of the Columbia University Libraries and Dean of the Columbia School of Library Service from 1926 to 1940.  He began his career at the New York Public Library in 1911 using his background in economics to become the head of the  then new Division of Economics. His 1919 report for the Carnegie Corporation, The Williamson Report, criticized the educational requirements of librarians and believed a university graduate degree and not a college bachelor’s degree was the appropriate education for professional librarians.  In response to the Williamson Report, The Graduate Library School of the University of Chicago was founded in 1928 and provided librarians with a one year of postgraduate education in librarian science.  By the 1950s, most library schools offered master’s programs in library science.  In 1999, Williamson was named as one of 100 American librarians that made a lasting impact on library service.  

Elenor M. Alexander 

Elenor M. Alexander (Naughton) (1920-1995), born in Morristown, New Jersey, was the night supervisor at the Ocean County Observer for 10 years, and as a 40-plus year resident of Brick, New Jersey, served her community as a Girl Scout and Cub Scout leader.

Missouri Penitentiary Library, Jefferson City, Missouri

Early 1900’s Missouri Penitentiary Library Card

Early 1900’s Missouri Penitentiary Library Card (front)
Early 1900’s Missouri Penitentiary Library Card (back)

Missouri Penitentiary Library

Missouri Penitentiary, Jefferson City, Missouri (Public Domain, Pre-1923 postcard)

Called the “Bloodiest 47 acres in America,” the Missouri Penitentiary in Jefferson City opened in 1836.  It was Missouri’s primary maximum security prison and the oldest operating penal facility west of the Mississippi River when it closed in 2004.  

Inmate mugshot, Thomas J. Barker (Inmate Photograph Collection, Missouri State Archives, no known copyright restrictions)

Library Rules

  1. Write on Library Card at least twenty numbers precisely as they appear in catalogue.  For example:  4-25, 29-30, 37-9, 54-5 denotes that there are several copies of the same book in library.
  2. In moving, each man must take all books charged to him to new cell. 
  3. Each cell will be furnished with a catalogue.
  4. Each man will be charged and held responsible for all books received.  Changing books from cell to cell is forbidden.
  5. Each man is entitled to one book each week
  6. The librarians will note any injury done to books and report the same at once to the chaplain.  The man to whom the book is charged will be held responsible.
  7. Books will be changed once each week, as follows:





  1. Mechanical and special books from No. 5816 to No. 5950 are issued to those only whose positions in the institution make it necessary.
  2. Reference books from No. 5951 to No. 6083 do not go out of library except by special permission.
  3. Each man will be furnished with a Bible and such school supplies as may be necessary on application.
  4. The library is under the control of the Chaplain.

W. R. Painter

From the 1917 Mexico Weekly Ledger, Mexico, MO

William Rock Painter (1874-1947) served as Prison Chaplain and Librarian from 1901 to 1908.  He served as Missouri State Lieutenant-Governor from 1913 to 1917, and Interim Warden of the penitentiary in 1917.  As Warden, he advocated education to combat illiteracy and abolished “silent meals” in the cafeteria, believing that silent meals should only be used as punishment and not a rule of behavior for inmates.  Painter went on to become a leader in the Democratic Party in the Missouri State Senate serving from 1917 to 1929.

Hugh Stephens

Hugh Stephens (1877-1960) was an American businessman, heir to the Tribune Printing Company and publisher of the Daily Tribune. His wife, Bessie Miller Stephens, along with members of the Tuesday Club, a literary club founded in 1895, helped establish a subscription library in Jefferson City, and later, with the help of a grant from the Andrew Carnegie fund, a free library.

The Public Library, Fairbanks, Alaska

The Public Library, Fairbanks, Alaska (Public Domain pre-1923 post card)

The Public Library of Fairbanks located at 901 1st Avenue in Fairbanks, Alaska, was built in 1909, with funds provided by Philadelphia philanthropist and cartographer, George Coupland Thomas (1884-1955), who made his fortune publishing atlases, maps and tourist guides.  Prior to that, the city of Fairbanks had limited library services provided by the Episcopal Church.  The log building served as the public library until 1977, at which point the Noel Wien Public Library opened.  In 1978, the building was designated a National Historic Landmark due to the historic conference that took place on July 5 and 6, 1915, when the building was the site of a meeting between Alaska Native leaders and the U.S. federal government, during which native land claims were discussed.  It was not until the 1971, when the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act was enacted, that those matters were resolved. 

Cedar Rapids Public Library, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Cedar Rapids Public Library, Children’s Services, 1950s Borrower’s Card, issued to Stacy Chehak

Cedar Rapids Public Library, Children’s Services, Borrower’s Card
Early Maurice Sendak illustration

Cedar Rapids Public Library

Advertisement of the Free Library and Reading Room at First Avenue, The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Friday, January 12, 1883

On June 23, 1905, after having outgrown smaller spaces in the Granby Building and Dow Auditorium, which the Cedar Rapids Public Library occupied during the late 1800s, a new 29,000 sq. ft. building funded by Andrew Carnegie opened at Third Avenue and Fifth Street.  By the late 1960s, overcrowding would again become a problem.  New book donations were turned away and overstock was stored in the basement.  In the 1970s, through the donations of the Hall Foundation of Cedar Rapids and other private donors, a new 83,000 sq. ft. building was constructed at 500 First Street SE, which opened on February 17, 1985.  However, on June 13, 2008, the city of Cedar Rapids experienced catastrophic flooding which destroyed many private and city buildings, including the main public library.  Much of the adult and reference collections were destroyed and the library was forced to relocate to leased space while a new permanent location was constructed.  The new Ladd Library opened in August 2013 at 450 Fifth Avenue SE. The former Carnegie building is now the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art and houses the world’s largest collection of the “American Gothic” artist, Grant Wood among other noted Iowan artists.  

Cedar Rapids Public Library at 3rd Avenue and 5th Street (public domain postcard)

Anastasia “Stacy” Marie Chehak

Anastasia Marie Chehak (1953-2017) was a nationally-known diabetes expert, author and medical community leader. She was the founder of Anastasia Marie Laboratories, Inc. and The Voice of Diabetes Network, a live radio program. Serving on the US Senate Health Advisory Board under President Ronald Reagan was among her many achievements.  A 1978 graduate of the University of Oklahoma’s Health Sciences Center, she dedicated her life’s work to finding a cure for diabetes. 

The Forbes Library, Northampton, Massachusetts

Forbes Library, Northampton, MA (pre-1923 postcard – public domain)

The Forbes Library, also known as “the castle on the hill,” due to its solitary location, opened on October 23, 1894 at 20 West St, Northampton, Massachusetts.  Judge Charles Edward Forbes (1795-1881), a desiring a public library for the citizens of Northampton, left in his will a large sum for “purchase of a site and erection of a building for the accommodation of a public library, and for the purchase of books etc. to be placed therein for the use of the inhabitants of the said town of Northampton and their successors forever.”

William C. Brocklesby (1841-1910), who had designed a number of buildings at nearby Smith College, was commissioned to design and build a “fireproof building” to house the new library.  Brocklesby designed a Richardsonian Romanesque, three-story stone building with an all steel frame and a stone, slate and copper exterior. The large building could accommodate over 400,000 volumes.  The library underwent a complete renovation between 1998 and 2001 and is listed on the Register of Historic Buildings.  The Forbes Library is also home to the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library & Museum. 

The Vatican Secret Archives, Rome, Italy

Archivio Vaticano Admission Card No. 182 issued to O. Fr. Vittorio E. Barriga

1930 Vatican Archives Admission Card No. 182 (front)
1930 Vatican Archives Admission Card No. 182 (back)

The Vatican Archives

The Vatican Archives was established in1612 when Pope Paul V ordered all Church records to be assembled in one place.  Located in Vatican City, it is the central archive for all acts promulgated by the Holy See.  Also located in the Vatican Archives are state papers, correspondent, papal account books, and other church documents accumulated over the centuries.  Part of the Vatican Library until the sometime in the 17th century, Pope Paul V separated the archives from the main library, which limited access to scholars and completely closed off access to the public. In 1881, Pope Leo XIII reopened the archives for research.

The Vatican is currently undergoing an in-house digitization project to make archive documents more available to researchers and to provide an extra layer of preservation for aging documents.  Over seven million images have been digitized and are now available online.

The Vatican Archives (no known copyright restrictions)




Tessera di ammissione n. 182 rilasciata al O. Fr. Vittorio E. Barriga il 14 Febbraio 1930 (Admission card n. 182 issued to O. Fr. Vittorio E. Barriga on 14 February 1930)

Vale per entrare in Vaticano dal Portone di Bronzo a dalia porta presso Sant’Anna nei Giorni Comuni d’apertura dell’Archivio (Allows entrance to the Vatican from the Bronze Door to the door at Sant’Anna during open days of the Archive)


Per la validate occorre la fotografia, la firma del titolare e il bollo a data dell’Archivio. (Needs photograph, the holder’s signature and Archive date stamp to be validated.)

Firma del titolare (Signature of Holder)

Validita mesi (Months valid)

Scade il 14 Luglio 1930 (Expires on July 14, 1930)

Girard Free Library, Girard, Ohio

Girard Free Library Card No. Y 1708 issued to Sallie Miles

Girard Free Library, Library Card No. Y 1708 (expiration Nov. 1964) (front)
Girard Free Library, Library Card No. Y 1708 (expiration Nov. 1964) (back)
Girard Free Library, Library Card No. Y 1708 (member number type plate)

Girard Free Library

The Girard Free Library opened in 1921 and was housed in the 1861 Italianate-style building formerly called the Union School, Girard’s first school house.  Prior to  the opening of the library, the Union School was converted to the Village Hall, and subsequently, upon a large population surge and city incorporation, the Village Hall was converted to the City Building and became the home of the first public library in 1921. The Girard Public Library was located in the City Building until 1973 after which a new contemporary building was constructed on East Prospect Street, where the library can be found today.

Girard Town Hall (formerly the Union School) (pre 1923 postcard in the public domain)

Sallie Miles

Sallie I. Miles (1947-2011) was a 25+ year employee of RMI Titanium Co. in Niles, Ohio.  She attended Capitol University in Columbus with an emphasis in music and later attended Youngstown State University’s Engineering Department.