In December 1917, the United States officially entered World War I with a declaration of war on Austria-Hungary. The Selective Service Act had passed in May 1917 in preparation for US involvement, and over 24 million men who had registered for the draft, were poised and ready for military training should they be called to service. To facilitate the training of new inductees, the US Department of War established thirty training camps throughout the US. The construction of Camp Bowie, a 2,186-acre facility outside of Fort Worth, began on July 18, 1917.
On November 11, 1918, the signing of the Armistice de Compiègne brought the end of World War I and victory to the US and its allies. Camp Bowie became a demobilization center and officially closed on August 15, 1919.
Camp Bowie reopened in 1940 and continues to be used as an active military training center.
American Library Association’s Library War Service
In 1917, at the behest of Herbert Putnam, the Librarian of Congress, and Secretary of War, Newton D. Baker, 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.
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. In addition, “crafts teachers” were hired to teach convalescing soldiers skills such as mechanical drawing.
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.”
The Library War Service remained active through 1919, after which the library services became military-managed.
Pre-1873 Nashville Library Association Legislator’s Ticket issued to W. M. Beek
Nashville Library Association
On May 13, 1871, the Committee on Organization published an article in the Nashville Union and American calling on the citizens of Nashville, Tennessee to come together to “consider a project of [no] deeper interest or importance” than to organize a public library “to advance the material progress of the people.” By June 1871, there was a membership of 300, and on July 4th, the central room of the State Bank Building at Union and Cherry was secured rent-fee as the location of the library. A yearly fee of $5 was instituted (approx. $150 today), as well as lifetime and honorary memberships at higher rates. The library was available to men and women from 8am-10pm, Monday through Saturday. The citizenry of Nashville was encouraged to donate books and publications to fill the shelves before opening day. Dr. D. H. Rains was engaged as Librarian. On September 11, 1871, the Nashville Library Association (NLA) opened its doors to the public with more than 3,000 mostly-donated volumes on the shelves. For the next four years, the NLA would offer the lastest periodicals, newspapers and literature to their members, as well as lectures, concerts, poetry readings, spelling bees and more.
On July 2, 1875, the Tennessean newspaper reported that the NLA had leased the library to the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) for a term of three years. As membership and attendance had been declining, the YMCA proposed contributing funds to relieve the NLA of certain debts, and would take full charge of the library to “resuscitate its dying energies.”
In January 1882, the YMCA published their intentions in the Tennessean to return the management of the public reading room to the NLA “since those for whom it was intended do not care to sustain it.” The YMCA no longer deemed it wise to divert donations from YMCA supporters meant to “aid young men” to the continued support of a failing public reading room. At the same time, the State Bank Building, built in 1838, was sold and dismantled stone-by-stone in February 1882.
The YMCA took rooms at the Olympic Theater Building to continue service to their membership, and by December 1882, management of the library returned to the NLA; however, the library struggled to remain open. In an article in the Tennessean newspaper dated December 28, 1882, R. A. Campbell, Secretary of the NLA, beseeched Nashville citizens to “cast your bread upon the waters” and support the public library. There is no significant information as to the continued operation of the NLA after December 1882.
Post-1890 Presbyterian Sunday School of Alpena Library Card issued to Mrs. Polson
The United Presbyterian Church of Alpena, Michigan
The congregation of the United Presbyterian Church of Alpena organized in 1884 when the Detroit Presbytery of the United Presbyterian Church of North America reported that a “special mission” had been established in Alpena. The first worship service took place on July 20, 1884. A new church building opened on Washington Avenue in 1885.
Rev. Thomas Middlemis
Rev. Thomas Middlemis was born in Belfast, Ireland on December 28, 1839. According to Thom’s Almanac and Official Directory for the United Kingdom of 1859, he was associated with the Ballibay Presbytery of Castleblayney. On August 7, 1866, he married Jeannie Coulter who ten months later on June 3, 1867 at Killycard Cottage in Castleblayney, Ireland. In 1871, Rev. Middlemis immigrated to the United States. He married Jane Burns (born 1842-1926) April 25, 1872. They had three children, George Ross (1883–1949), Alice Maud (1875–1904), and Thomas, Jr. (1875–1928). The Middlemis family lived at 114 E. Maple in Alpena Michigan until his death from heart failure due to pneumonia on January 19, 1903. Rev. Middlemis, Jane Burns, Alice Maud and Thomas, Jr. are buried in the Evergreen Cemetary in Alpena, Michigan.
Located in the northeast region along the shores of Lake Huron, Alpena was originally part of Anomickee County founded in 1840 (which was changed to Alpena in 1843). Alpena became officially incorporated on March 29, 1871.
Alpena is a pseudo-Native American word with an approximate translation of “a good partridge country.”
The Fires of Alpena
Most of Alpena was destroyed in the Great Michigan Fire of 1871, a series of simultaneous forest fires that burned 1.5 million acres and caused hundreds of deaths. Less than one year later, on July 12, 1872, another fire destroyed 15 acres of homes and businesses. The damages amounted to at least $250,000 (equal to nearly $6M in 2022), at least three people were killed, and hundreds were left homeless. Alpena was again hit by a disastrous fire on July 11, 1888.
As of 2000, there were approximately 10,000 full-time year-round residents in Alpena. The summer months bring an influx of tourists to enjoy the otherwise sparsely populated Northeast Michigan (lower peninsula).
Post-2006 Nekrasov Central Universal Scientific Library Single Reader’s Card
Nekrasov Central Universal Scientific Library
The Nekrasov Central Universal Scientific Library had its beginnings at the First Library Congress in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1911, when Alexander Aleksandrovich Pokrovsky (Александр Александрович Покровский)(1879–1942), a Russian librarian and bibliographer, proposed the establishment of a network of public libraries throughout Imperial Russia. That proposal resulted in establishing The Central City Library of Moscow, which opened its doors eight years later on January 1, 1919..
Since the library was established after the Russian Revolution of 1917, the catalog of The Central City Library of Moscow was comprised of “nationalized” inventory seized from private and state-run collections, book warehouses, and abandoned shops that became the property of Vladimir Lenin’s Bolshevik regime that had taken control during the revolution. The People’s Commissariat for Education, also known as Narkompros (Народный комиссариат просвещения, Наркомпрос), led by Anatoly Vasilyevich Lunacharsky (Анатолий Васильевич Луначарский), coordinated the centralization and inventory of collections.
The first location of the library, No. 10 Novaya Basmannaya Ulitsa (Новая Басманная ул., 10) was an elaborate private apartment abandoned by an attorney that fled Russia during the revolution. Subsequently, the abandoned residence came under the jurisdiction of the Moscow worker’s council, also known as Soviet (сове́т)1. This building currently houses the Department of Labor and Social Protection of Population (Департамент труда и социальной защиты населения города Москвы).
In 1925, due to the growing demand for library resources, the Central City Library of Moscow relocated to Arbatskaya Ploshchad (ул. Арбат, 2/1) and merged with the Central Reference Library, which already occupied a part of the building. The combined libraries were renamed the Moscow Provincial Central Library. The new, combined library added new services such as bookmobiles, book delivery, and specialized reading rooms, including youth and periodical reading rooms. In 1936, the library’s name was reestablished as The Central City Library of Moscow.
Although readership declined during WWII, the library became a vital source for information and news from the war front. Mobile libraries were formed to serve military personnel, evacuation centers, and hospitals throughout Moscow. During air raids, the librarians would flee to bomb shelters with newspapers and books so that townspeople would have reading materials and news about current events while sheltering.
In 1946, to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the poet, N.A. Nekrasov, the library was renamed the N.A. Nekrasov Library.
During the 1950s, the N.A. Nekrasov Library had a dramatic increase in readership and the volumes held by the library increased from 74,000 to nearly 300,000; however, not all of the inventory was available to the public. In June 1955, to accommodate the increase in library inventory, the library was moved to the former estate of Princess Anna Sergeevna Saltykova (Анна Сергеевна кн. Салтыкова) (1848-1917) at No. 20/1 on Bolshaya Bronnaya (Большая Бронная ул).
During the 1960s, the library inventory doubled to nearly 600,000 books, a library card system was created, and a card catalog was instituted.
In late 2002, the Saltykova mansion began historic renovations, so the library was transferred to a former weaving factory (until 1990) and hotel (until 2002) at Baumanskaya Street, House No. 58/25, Building 14. The Single Reading Card was introduced to enable readers to access information throughout the Moscow public library system via the OPAC-Global automated information system.
Today, the library, now known as the Nekrasov Central Universal Scientific Library, functions as not only a library, but a cultural hub and teaching center for library services across Moscow. The library is a member of the International Association of Metropolitan City Libraries (formerly INTAMEL) and participates in a number of international organizations and professional associations, including UNESCO, who on March 3, 2022, issued a statement (here) condemning Russia’s invasion and escalating violence in Ukraine. In the statement, UNESCO demanded “the immediate cessation of attacks on civilian facilities, such as schools, universities, memorial sites, cultural and communication infrastructures, and deplores civilian casualties, including students, teachers, artists, scientists, and journalists. These include women and children, girls especially, disproportionately impacted by the conflict and displacement.”
There are 306 libraries in 73 regions of Russia.
Footnotes: 1 The English translation of Soviet is “council.”
1902 M. Steinert & Sons Company Music Circulating Library Membership Ticket issued to Dr. G. W. Brown
The M. Steinert & Sons Company Music Circulating Library
The advent of the pneumatic player piano, invented in 1895 by Edwin S. Votey, made piano and organ music accessible to everyone regardless of musical ability. The Pianola and Aeolian pianos were gaining popularity, and M. Steinert & Sons Music Company sold them alongside traditional instruments such as the Steinway and their own Steinert brand pianos. Steinert’s offered patrons a circulating library of Aeolian and Pianola music rolls for a subscription fee of $10 (three months), $15 (six months), or $20 (one year). Subscribers living within 75 miles from Boston were entitled to borrow for up to two weeks up to twelve rolls at a time. Subscribers living more than 75 miles from Boston were allowed to borrow for up to four weeks up to 24 rolls at one time.
The M. Steinert & Sons Music Company operated on “Piano Row” in the Steinert Building at 162 Boylston Street in Boston from 1896 to 2015. At the same address, four stories below street level, is Steinert Hall, a concert auditorium, considered by early-1900s Bostonians to be the “headquarters for the musical and artistic world of cultured Boston.” Steinert Hall was closed to the public in 1942 due to fire code restrictions. M. Steinert & Sons continues to be a top destination for quality pianos and instruments.
Pre-1972 Reader’s Card No. 2238 issued to Hữu Tuấn Nguyễn
Thư viện Quốc Gia in Saigon (National Library in Saigon)
Occupying the site of the old Maison Centrale de Saigon (Khám Lớn Sài Gòn), a much-maligned and overcrowded penal facility built in 1865, construction of the National Library building, designed by Vietnamese architect, Bùi Quang Hanh, began in December of 1968. The cornerstone was laid by South Vietnamese Premier Trần Văn Hương (1903–1982). Considered by many to be the height of the war in Vietnam, the 1968 cornerstone ceremony became an opportunity for Premier Hương to announce that there would be no ceasefire with North Vietnam.
Built in a mid century modernist style and costing more than 130 million piastres ($400,000 USD), and the new library building was inaugurated by South Vietnamese President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, in a ceremony held on December 23, 1971. During that ceremony, Thiệu took the opportunity to share his confidence in South Vietnam with reporters.
After the reunification of North and South Việt Nam, the National Library in Saigon was integrated into the national library system of the Socialist Republic of Việt Nam, and renamed Thư viện Quốc gia II, Thành Phố Hồ Chí Minh (the National Library II in Hồ Chí Minh City. Shortly after, in 1976, the library was renamed Thư viện Khoa học Tổng hợp, Thành Phố Hồ Chí Minh (Hồ Chí Minh City General Sciences Library), the name by which it is known today.
1879-1880 Brookline Public Library Card No. 3373 issued to Miss Anna White
Brookline Public Library
The Brookline Public Library was born out of an inconvenience to Benjamin F. Baker, one of the first trustees of the Board of Trustees of Brookline. Baker contemplated and investigated the idea of a public library as early as 1847. Although any formal action to establish a public library wasn’t until 1856 upon a failed attempt to consult an unowned reference book.
After gathering support for his public library proposal from prominent Brookline citizens, Baker succeeded in having Articles 7 and 8 inserted into the “warrant” (agenda of items) for the annual town meeting held on March 16, 1857:
The articles were accepted at the following town meeting held on March 30, 1857, and on December 2, 1857, Brookline’s public library was opened to the public.
The first home of the Brookline Public Library was a 36 1/2 x 29 foot room in the Brookline Town Hall. The modest space was fitted with shelves on two walls, and equipped with a desk for delivery of borrowed books. The first librarian, John E. Hoar, served 17 years, resigning on September 19, 1871, when his duties as school principal became too demanding.
New Library Building
Although additional rooms were provided for the Town Hall library, by 1861, the library inventory had increased to 11,000 volumes, necessitating the need for an even larger space. In 1867, the town trustees approved the building of a new library, and on October 9, 1869, the new library building opened to the public.
In 1888, at a cost of $16,500, an additional wing was added to the library building, as well as a reading-room in 1891. This additional provided space for 75,000 volumes.
Another New Building
A growing community necessitated yet another library expansion. In 1907, the library Trustees In June 1909, R. Clipston Sturgis Cornerstone was laid November 1, 1909
Brookline Public Library In the News
Miss Anna White
Anna Catherine White, born October 27, 1864, was the daughter of the co-founding namesake of the R. H. White & Co. department store in Boston, Massachusetts, Ralph Huntington White (1841-1917).
Died January 7, 1895 in Aiken, South Caroline. She is buried next to her father’s museleum at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
R. H. White & Co.
 1893 Annual Report of the Trustees of the Public Library of the Town of Brookline, pp. 7-12
In January, 1867, Henry Bill, a successful business-owner in nearby Norwich, contacted prominent members of the Ledyard community and gave notice that it was his desire to establish a free library for his “native town.”
Through the generous donations of books and funds from Henry Bill and his brothers, Ledyard and Gurden, the Bill Library opened Monday, October 7, 1867, with approximately 1,000 books housed in custom-made bookcases installed in the Congregational Church.
A New Library Building
Eventually, the small library in the Congregational Church became inadequate, and plans to build a new library building, separate from the church, was planned. With $3,000 donated by Henry Bill and his brothers, and land donated by Henry Bill, the new building was built on the “Common” across from the Congregational Church. The new Bill Library was dedicated on September 13, 1893, during the annual meeting.and dinner of the trustees of the Bill Library Association.
The original building was expanded in 1971 and again in 1982, and is still located at 718 Colonel Ledyard Highway. The library collection contains over 67,000 volumes, and circulates nearly 165,000 items a year to a population of 15,000 residents.
Born in Groton, Connecticut on May 18, 1824, it was Henry Bill’s desire to “leave a permanent testimonial of [his] great regard for [his] native town,” and so established the Ledyard Library Association with an initial donation of $1,000.
Henry Bill died August 14, 1891, and is buried in the Yantic Cemetery in Norwich, Connecticut.
Edmund Spicer, born January 11, 1812, was the first Librarian of the Bill Library Association (1867 to 1890). He died May 1, 1890, and is buried in the Spicer Cemetery in Ledyard, Connecticut.
Sadie Elizabeth Main
Sadie Elizabeth Main born March 13, 1870, daughter to John L Main and Phoebe Frink Main. She married Herbert Richardson (1856-1930) in 1891. Sadie Elizabeth Main died December 18, 1940 and is buried in the Pachaug Cemetery in Griswold, New London County, Connecticut.
Pre-1937 Istituto Fascista di Cultura Biblioteca Library Card N.641, Issued to Alberto Sorani
Established as a result of the March 29, 1925, Conference of Fascist Culture (“Convegno degli istituti fascisti di cultura”) at Bologna, Italy, The Fascist Institute of Culture (“Istituto Fascista di Cultura”) was responsible for the “protection, dissemination and development of the ideals and doctrine of fascism within and abroad, and of Italian culture in general.”
In 1941, the Institute claimed over 210,000 members.
Giovanni Gentile (1875-1944), the architect of the Manifesto of the Fascist Intellectuals (“Manifesto degli Intellettuali del Fascismo”), and ardent supporter of Prime Minister Benito Mussolini, was the founder and first President of the Institute (later known as the National Institute of Fascist Culture (“Istituto nazionale di cultura fascista”). Gentile served as President of the Institute until 1937, during which time he was Scientific Director and an editor of La Treccani, the Italian Encyclopedia of Sciences, Letters and Arts (“L’Enciclopedia Italiana di scienze, lettere ed arti”), a 37 volume encyclopedia set, produced from 1925 to 1937. Appendices to the set are still available, the last being published in 2018.
Giovanni Gentile was assassinated in Florence, Italy, on April 15, 1944 by Gappista commandos (Italian Communist Party) for his fascist theories and commitment to Mussolini’s fascist dictatorship.
Benito Mussolini, his mistress, Claretta Petacci, Goffredo Coppola, Giovanni Gentile’s successor, and 16 other fascist leaders, were executed on April 28, 1945, by the National Liberation Committee (CLN) (“Il Comitato di Liberazione Nazionale”), an organization comprised of members of the main political parties and movements of Italy. The execution of Mussolini effectively ended the fascist dictatorship of Italy..
1930s H. C. Farrow Drug Stores Lending Library Ticket No. 6
The H. C. Farrow Drug Stores
The H.C. Farrow Drug Store, operated by Harold Claude Farrow (1900-1971), was located at 139 High Street, Isle of Sheppey, Sheerness-on-Sea, Kent, England, during the 1930s,.
Prior to the Public Libraries Act of 1850, libraries in England were mostly privately-funded institutions that allowed access through membership or subscription fees. Costly membership fees often precluded those with insufficient means from using early libraries.
A solution to this problem came by way of lending libraries. Often a small room or a shelf in a local business, church or school, lending libraries offered the general public a means for borrowing books in localities that were without public libraries.