War Service Library of the American Library Association

1918 War Service Library Bookplate

American Library Association’s Library War Service

In 1917, the American Library Association established the Library War Service to provide books and services to American World War I soldiers stationed at home and abroad, as well as, military hospitals and prisoners of war. 

To raise money for the library fund, the bookplate, designed by C.B. Falls, was distributed to department stores, banks, and other places to be purchased for $1.00 by the establishment’s clients.  The purchaser could place their name and address on the bookplate, which would be pasted into a book that has been previously donated to the War Service Library.

Through public monetary and book donations, the ALA established at least 43 camp libraries and distributed approximately 10 million books and magazines, including braille books to soldiers that lost their sight in battle. The ALA also hired over 234 trained librarians to staff the camp and military hospital libraries through the grants from the Carnegie Corporation.  

New York City book campaign – Photo by: Abel & Company, Inc – From the U.S. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division (public domain)

The camp library buildings were designed by architect E. L. Tillman and were equipped to hold approximately 10,000 volumes, and came with a small vehicle for library related tasks such as transportation of books.  Some camp libraries were equipped with fireplaces to provide ambiance and “a touch of home and civilization.” 

Camp Lee (Virginia) Camp Library, Pre-1923 Postcard (public domain)
Interior of the Camp McClellan (Alabama) Camp Library, Pre-1923 Postcard (public domain)

The Library War Service remained active through 1919, after which the library services became military-managed.  

Charles Buckles Falls

Charles Buckles Falls (1874-1960) was an American artist, and illustrator.    He is best known for his poster and advertisements for the U.S. military and American Library Association during the first World War.

Young Men’s Mercantile Library Association of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio

1882 Young Men’s Mercantile Library Association of Cincinnati Member’s Ticket (Circulation No. B. 69) Issued to J. H. Barker

1882 Young Men’s Mercantile Library Association of Cincinnati Member’s Ticket (Circulation No. B. 69) Issued to J. H. Barker (front)
1882 Young Men’s Mercantile Library Association of Cincinnati Member’s Ticket (Circulation No. B. 69) Issued to J. H. Barker (back)

Young Men’s Mercantile Library Association of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio

The Young Men’s Mercantile Library Association of Cincinnati was established in April 1835 by Moses Ranney and 44 young men seeking to improve their skills within their mercantile trades.  Lacking useful resources to improve their skills, they banded together to open a library that would cater to the needs of the undereducated and those seeking self-improvement.  With seed money of $1800 and 700 volumes, the Library began operations in the Daniel Ames’ Building on Main Street, below Pearl, for $12.50 per month. Being a modest operation on a shoestring budget, there was no librarian, so all library duties were performed by the Directors. However, due to a steady increase in membership, the Library was able to elect their first librarian by the end of the first year.  By 1836, the Library had approximately 1200 volumes.

The Library held art exhibits, literary readings and lectures by noted clergy, businessmen, and literary figures such as William Makepeace Thackeray, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Horace Greeley.  The Library also encouraged the advancement of women by extending invitations to Harriet Beecher Stowe and Eliza Logan.  Periodicals and worldwide newspapers, such as the London Times were available, as well as foreign language books. The Library also offered classes in languages, mathematics, book-keeping and penmanship.

Early etching by unknown artist of the First Cincinnati College Building.  (No known copyright restrictions.  Used in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 and the Doctrine of Fair Use)

In Spring of 1840, the Library began its association with Cincinnati College and moved into rented rooms in the Cincinnati College building located on Walnut Street.

The Fire of 1845

On January 19, 1845, the Cincinnati College was destroyed by fire.  Due to the heroic efforts of nearby members, many volumes were saved and transferred to rooms at the corner of Fourth and Sycamore Streets for temporary housing.  This calamity offered the Library a unique opportunity.  In consideration of the sum of $10,000 donated by the Library to go toward rebuilding, the Cincinnati College granted the Library ownership in perpetuity to a suite of rooms in the new building. Plans for a new 3-story building “exclusive of the attic” having “a modern edifice of Grecian Doric order” were announced in the Cincinnati Enquirer on March 3, 1846. The front area on the second floor would be designed for the accommodation of the Library. 

Moving Forward 

The Library remained active during this period of displacement.  In 1853, a block of native marble taken from the Ohio River bedrock was donated to the construction of the Washington Monument.

Engraving on native marble block donated to the building of the Washington Monument in 1853 (public domain)

In addition to continued civic activities and cultural events, membership grew to 2,500 (by 1855) and the number of volumes available to members increased through purchase and donation to over 15,000.  In 1859, women were permitted to join the Library.

The Fire of 1869

On October 20, 1869, a second fire destroyed the Cincinnati College building. Plans to build a new 4-story building were put into place by late 1869, and the Library temporarily moved to the A. E. Chamberlain & Co. building at 137-139 Race Street (between 3rd and 4th Streets).  By 1871, the new 4-story building was opened and the Library was back on Walnut Street.  

1890s photo by unknown photographer of Cincinnati College Bulidng on Walnut Street.  (No known copyright restrictions.  Used in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 and the Doctrine of Fair Use)

In the early 1900s, the Cincinnati College Building was sold to local business interests and a new 12-story building was built on the Walnut Street site.  A 1905 city directory lists the Library address as 11th Floor Mercantile Library Building.  The Library continues to operate from the Mercantile Library Building.  It is one of the last subscription libraries in the United States.

Early 1900s photo by unknown photographer of Mercantile Library Building at 414 Walnut Street.  (No known copyright restrictions.  Used in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 and the Doctrine of Fair Use)

Moses Ranney

Moses Ranney (1810-1853) was a local business man and a leading figure in the organization of the Young Men’s Mercantile Library Association of Cincinnati. He served as the Library’s first President from 1835-1840. Born in Middletown, Connecticut to Moses Ranney, Sr. and Elizabeth Gilchrist, his father, Moses, died shortly after his birth.  As a young man, he travelled to Cincinnati with his mother and established a business. In 1837, he married Catherine Maria Luckey (1818-1906), and together had six daughters, five of which pre-deceased Ranney.  

A melodramatic article on the vices of drinking published in the February 1, 1855  Lancaster Gazette indicated Ranney’s life took a downward spiral and that he lost everything due to alcoholism.  Perhaps a kernel of truth due to the trauma of loss of multiple children took its toll.

From the Lancaster Gazette, February 1, 1855

Moses Ranney died on August 20, 1852, in New Orleans, Louisiana of Yellow Fever.  He was buried in the Cypress Grove Cemetery.

From the Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), August 22, 1852
From the Richmond Weekly Palladium (Richmond, Indiana), September 23, 1853

H. B. Morehead

Harry “Henry” Blackburn Morehead (1847-1899), son of  Kentucky Governor James T. Morehead, was a stockbroker and principal owner of H. B. Morehead & Co., a stocks and bonds brokerage.  In 1891, being a majority stock holder, he  assumed control and management of the Commercial Gazette Company.    He succumbed to tuberculosis in 1899. He is buried in the Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio.

From The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 28, 1899

J. H. Barker

Joseph H. Barker (1854-1902), son of Capt. Jonathan H. Barker (1814-1900), steamboat captain for the Cincinnati to Louisville Daily Packet Line, was a supervisor for the New Water Company.  He succumbed to liver disease and is buried in the Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati,

Kelly High School Library, Chicago, Illinois

Pre-1943 Kelly High School Library Bookmark

Kelly High School, Chicago, Illinois

Named for Thomas J. Kelly, the Irish nationalist, Kelly High School located at 4136 S. California Avenue in Chicago, Illinois, opened in December 1928 as a junior high school, only serving grades six through ninth.  After the Board of Education abolished all junior high schools in Chicago in July 1933, Kelly began the1933 school year as a senior high school.  Kelly High School is the third largest high school in Chicago

How to Use the Card Catalog

“The catalog tells what books are in the library.  It is alphabetically arranged by author, title and subject.

The letters and figures in the upper left hand corner of each card show where the book may be found on the shelf.

The books are arranged on the shelf by numerical order from 000-999 and under each number by the author.  Individual biographies are arranged under the number 921 and the last name of the person whose life it is.  

Fiction books are separately grouped and are arranged alphabetically by the author’s last name.

Reference books such as encyclopedias are shelved in a separate section of the library.”

Dewey Decimal Classes

000-099 Journalism, etc

100-199 Psychology, philosophy

200-299 Religion, mythology

300-399 Sociology, economics, government

400-499 Grammar, vocabulary

500-599 Science, mathematics

600-699 Technical, trades, business

700-799 Arts, music, sports

800-899 Poetry, short stories, plays

900-999 Histories – ancient, modern U.S.

910-919 Travel, adventure, geography

920 Collected biography

921 Individual biography

Fiction books arranged on the shelf by the author’s last name.

If you have any difficulty finding what you need we will be glad to help you.

Thomas Joseph Kelly

Thomas Joseph Kelly (1833-1908) was an Irish revolutionary and leader of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB).

Los Angeles Public Library System, Helen Hunt Jackson Branch, Los Angeles, California

Pre-1944 Los Angeles Public Library System, Helen Hunt Jackson Branch, Library Card No. 4H 3669 issued to Mrs. Clara M. Cota

Pre-1944 Los Angeles Public Library System, Helen Hunt Jackson Branch, Library Card No. 4H 3669 issued to Mrs. Clara M. Cota (front)
Pre-1944 Los Angeles Public Library System, Helen Hunt Jackson Branch, Library Card No. 4H 3669 issued to Mrs. Clara M. Cota (back)

Los Angeles Public Library, Helen Hunt Jackson Branch

In the mid 1920s, community growth began to strain the existing Central Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library System.  Accordingly, the Helen Hunt Jackson Branch opened to the public on November 1, 1925 at Naomi Avenue and 25th Street in Los Angeles.  Named after the 19th Century American writer, Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885), who penned the classic novel, Ramona, which told the story of a romance between Ramona, a Scottish-Native American orphan girl and Alessandro, a Native American sheep herder, set during the days of the California missions. The novel had significant positive impact on the cultural image of Southern California. The Spanish Colonial Revival building was designed by C. E. Noerenberg and boasted a 25’ x 26’ main reading room, a separate 22’ x 23’ children’s reading room, and a community room and kitchen. 

In 1940, the Helen Hunt Jackson Branch ceased operations as a fully staffed branch library and was converted to a station with a shortened, weekly 21-hour operating schedule.  Eventually, the Helen Hunt Jackson Branch ceased operating as a library and was eventually converted into a church building (Rock of Salvation Church).

In 1987, the Helen Hunt Jackson Branch and several other branch libraries in Los Angeles were added to the National Register of Historic Places.  

1925 photo of Los Angeles Public Library System, Helen Hunt Jackson Branch, at Naomi Avenue and 25th Street in Los Angeles, California (Photo from the SPNB Collection – Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection and used in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 and the Doctrine of Fair Use)

Miriam Matthews

Miriam Matthews (1905-2002) was the first African American Librarian for the Los Angeles Public Library System, and the state of California.  Called the “Dean of California Black History,” Matthews was instrumental in the creation of Black History Month.  During her tenure at the Helen Hunt Jackson Branch, Matthews found a small cache of books devoted to black history in California.  She then began researching and preserving the contributions of African Americans to California history and created the Los Angeles Public Library System’s first research collection on Black History.  

In 1926, Miriam Matthews earned a Bachelor’s degree, followed by a Certificate in Librarianship in 1927 from UC Berkeley.  After graduating, Matthews passed California’s civil service exam despite attempts by civil service administrators to sabotage her efforts.  In July 1927, Matthews began working  as a Substitute Librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library System’s Robert Louis Stevenson Branch, and within three months, became a full-time Librarian.  Matthews remained a branch librarian until taking a leave of absence to earn a Master’s degree in Library Science from the University of Chicago in 1945.  After returning to Los Angeles, she was promoted to regional librarian and supervised a dozen branch libraries.  Matthews worked with the Los Angeles Public Library System from 1927 until her retirement in 1960. 

Around the World

Afrikaans: biblioteek ~ Albanian: librari / bibliotekë ~ Amharic: ቤተ መጻሕፍት / bēte mets’aḥifiti ~ Arabic: مكتبة / maktaba – Armenian: գրադարան / gradaran ~ Azerbaijani: kitabxana ~ Basque: liburutegia ~ Belarusian: liburutegia ~ Bengali: গ্রন্থাগার / Granthāgāra ~ Bosnian: biblioteka ~ Bulgarian: библиотека / biblioteka ~ Catalan: biblioteca ~ Cebuano: librarya / laybrari ~ Chichewa: laibulale / nkhokwe ya mabuku ~ Chinese (simplified): 图书馆 / Túshū guǎn ~ Chinese (traditional): 圖書館 / Túshū guǎn ~ Corsican: biblioteca ~ Croatian: knjižnica ~ Czech:  knihovna ~ Danish: bibliotek ~ Dutch: bibliotheek ~ English: library ~ Esperanto: biblioteko ~ Estonian: raamatukogu – Filipino: library ~ Finnish: kirjasto ~ French: bibliothèque ~ Frisian: bibleteek ~ Galician: biblioteca ~ Georgian: ბიბლიოთეკა / bibliotek’a ~ German: Bibliothek ~ Greek: βιβλιοθήκη / vivliothíki ~ Gujarati: પુસ્તકાલય / pustakālaya ~ Haitian Creole: bibliyotèk ~ Hausa: laburare ~ Hawaiian: hale waihona puke ~ Hebrew: ספריה ~ Hindi: पुस्तकालय / pustakaalay ~ Hmong: tsev qiv ntawv ~ Hungarian: könyvtár ~ Icelandic: bókasafn ~ Igbo: oba akwukwo ~ Indonesian: perpustakaan ~ Irish: leabharlann ~ Italian: biblioteca ~ Japanese: 図書館 / Toshokan ~ Javanese: perpustakaan ~ Kannada: ಗ್ರಂಥಾಲಯ / Granthālaya ~ Kazakh: кітапхана / kitapxana ~ Khmer: បណ្ណាល័យ / bannaly ~ Korean: 도서관 / doseogwan ~ Kurdish: pirtûkxane ~ Kyrgyz: китепкана / kitepkana ~ Lao: ຫ້ອງສະຫມຸດ / hongsamud ~ Latin: bibliothecam ~ Latvian: bibliotēka ~ Lithuanian: biblioteka ~ Luxembourgish: bibliothéik ~ Macedonian: библиотека / biblioteka ~ Malagasy: fitehirizam-boky ~ Malay: perpustakaan ~ Malayalam: ലൈബ്രറി / laibraṟi ~ Maltese: librerija ~ Maori: whare pukapuka ~ Marathi: ग्रंथालय / granthālaya ~ Mongolian: номын сан / nomyn san ~ Myanmar (burmese): စာကြည့်တိုက် / hcar kyany tite ~ Nepali: पुस्तकालय / pustakālaya ~ Norwegian: bibliotek ~ Pashto: کتابتون ~ Persian: کتابخانه ~ Polish: biblioteka ~ Portuguese: biblioteca ~ Punjabi: ਲਾਇਬ੍ਰੇਰੀ / lā’ibrērī ~ Romanian: bibliotecă ~ Russian: библиотека / biblioteka ~ Samoan: faletusi ~ Scottish Gaelic: leabharlann ~ Serbian: библиотека / biblioteka ~ Sesotho: laeborari ~ Shona: raibhurari ~ Sindhi: لائبريري ~ Sinhala: පුස්තකාලය / pustakālaya ~ Slovak: knižnica ~ Slovenian: knjižnica ~ Somali: maktabad ~ Spanish: biblioteca ~ Sudanese: perpustakaan ~ Swahili: maktaba ~ Swedish: bibliotek ~ Tajik: китобхона / kitoʙxona ~ Tamil: நூலகம் / nūlakam ~ Telugu: లైబ్రరీ / laibrarī ~ Thai: ห้องสมุด / H̄̂xngs̄mud ~ Turkish: kütüphane ~ Ukrainian: бібліотека / biblioteka ~ Urdu: لائبریری ~ Uzbek: kutubxonasi ~ Vietnamese: thư viện ~ Welsh: llyfrgell ~ Xhosa: ithala leencwadi ~ Yiddish: ביבליאָטעק / biblyotek ~ Yoruba: ile ikawe ~ Zulu: umtapo wezincwadi

Biblioteca Centrală de Stat (The Central State Library), Bucharest, Romania

Biblioteca Centrală de Stat (The Central State Library) (Pre-1923 public domain postcard)

Biblioteca Națională a României (BnaR) (The National Library of Romania), formerly Biblioteca Centrală de Stat (The Central State Library) located in Bucharest, is the largest library in Romania. Over its 100 year existence, the library has had several names depending on the political regime at the time.  

In 1986, construction on a new building began, but came to a complete halt during the Romanian Revolution of  December 1989 resulting in the overthrow of communism and the execution of communist leader, Nicolae Ceauşescu and his wife, Elena.  In 2009, the Romanian government renewed construction and the new library building containing 14 reading rooms opened to the public in 2012, and currently holds approximately 13,000,000 volumes.

The original building located in Old Bucharest at Strada Ion Ghica and Strada Doamnei currently houses an antiques center.