Bangkok Library Association, Bangkok, Siam

1913 Bangkok Library Association Subscription Dues Reminder Mailing Card addressed to Mrs. A. Link

1913 Bangkok Library Association Subscription Dues Mailing Card sent to Mrs. A. Link (front)
1913 Bangkok Library Association Subscription Dues Mailing Card sent to Mrs. A. Link (back)
Close-up of the Royal Coat of Arms of Siam (from upper right corner)
1897 Stereoscope image of the Royal Coat of Arms of Siam (public domain)

Bangkok Library Association

In 1869, the Ladies’ Bazaar Association, a charitable organization of English-speaking women living in Bangkok, Siam, founded the Bangkok Ladies’ Library Association to provide much-needed English-language books to the growing number of English-speaking residents of Bangkok. Bangkok, called “the key to Siam,” became home to many English-speaking missionaries and British trade agents during the reign of King Rama IV, due to trade agreements and Western expansionism.  

In the beginning, the small subscription library was open one day a week and staffed by volunteers. The library contents were housed in private homes and later the vestry of the Protestant Union Chapel. 

The library’s name changed to Bangkok Library Association in October 1911.

Jennie Neilson Hays 

Jennie Neilson Hays was born on September 19, 1859, in Aalborg, Denmark. As a Protestant Missionary, Miss Neilson arrived in Bangkok, Siam, in October 1884. In 1885, Miss Nelson began her relationship with the Bangkok Ladies’ Library Association conducting benefits for raising funds and assisting in library duties. Jennie Nelson Hays served as the Librarian of the Bangkok Library Association until her death of Cholera on April 26, 1920.  

Jennie Neilson Hays Passport Photo 1916

In a letter from the American Consulate, dated May 20, 1920, Carl C. Hanson, the American Vice-Consul in Charge, reported the death of Mrs. Hays to the Secretary of State of the United States, Bainbridge Colby.

The letter read:

Death of an American Citizen

Mrs. Jennie Neilson Hays

Sir:

I have the honor to enclose herewith a report of the death of an American citizen, Mrs. Jennie Nelson Hays, the wife of Dr. Thomas Heyward Hays, now living in Bangkok. Mrs. Hays always took the leading part on all occasions connected with public welfare and was well known for her charitable work. His Majesty the King of Siam sent a special message of condolences to Dr. Hays, and by the King’s command, a royal wreath was placed on the grave of Mrs. Hays. 

I have the honor to be Sir,

Your obedient servant,

Carl C. Hanson

American Vice Consul in Charge

After her death, Mario Tamagno, an Italian architect, was commissioned by her husband, Dr. Thomas Heyward Hays, to design a permanent home for the library on Surawong Road. The Neilson-Hays Library, a then state-of-the-art Neo-classical building, opened to the public on June 26, 1922.

Jennie and her husband, Thomas, are buried at the Bangkok Protestant Cemetery.

Mrs. Williamson

Lady Marion Maria Winifred Crozier Williamson served as President of the Bangkok Library Association.

Maria Crozier was born on October 21, 1875, in the former British territory of Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India. There she married Walter James Franklin Williamson on August 15, 1894. Sir Williamson was financial counsel to the government of Siam and later, a financial expert at the League of Nations. Sir and Lady Williamson are also known for the contribution to the ornithological community. Sir Williamson was a noted ornithologist whose collection is incorporated into the British Museum of National History. Lady Williamson is the namesake of the Indochinese Bush Lark species mirafra assamica marionae. Lady Williamson died on May 30, 1945, in London, England.

Mrs. A. Link

Erma Link was the wife of Adolf Link, a partner of B. Grimm & Co., importers, and merchants. Adolf Link joined B. Grimm & Co. as a manager in 1903. Under Adolf Link’s management, B. Grimm & Co. grew rapidly. However, at the outbreak of World War I, Siam joined allied forces and declared war on Germany. In February 1918, Siam’s government designated all German residents as enemies of the state. Consequently, Siam’s government seized the Link family’s possessions and placed the family in an internment camp in India. After World War I, the Links returned to Siam, but World War II resulted in house arrest. Despite the effects of the World Wars on the company, B. Grimm continues its 150-year history with Thailand, now operated by a 4th generation Link family. member

Cleveland Public Library, Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland Public Library, Pre-1932 Library Card No. 4006 and Card Sleeve issued to Walter R. Miller

Cleveland Public Library Pre-1932 Library Card (front)
Cleveland Public Library, Pre-1932 Library Card (back)
Cleveland Public Library Pre-1932 Card Sleeve (front)
Cleveland Public Library, Pre-1932 Card Sleeve (back)

Cleveland Public Library

In March 1867, a legislative statute was passed authorizing the Board of Education to tax the citizens of Cleveland for the purpose of funding a public library.  Housed on the third floor of the Northrup & Harrington Block on Superior Street, the library opened to the public on February 17, 1869, with approximately 2,000 books obtained from the public school library.  By August 1869, there were nearly 4,000 registered members.

Northrup & Harrington Building, Superior Street, Pre-1923 Public Domain Postcard

Between 1873 and 1879, the Library moved multiple times.  The Clark Building on Superior Street, the new City Hall, and the second and third floors of the old Central High School building on Euclid Avenue. 

In 1884, the Cleveland Public Library appointed William H. Brett as Head Library.  Brett, who was considered to be  one of the most influential librarians of the twenty century, introduced the then-novel idea of an “open shelf” system, whereby library members would have direct access to the books.  Brett served as Head Librarian until his untimely death in 1918.

William Howard Brett, Head Librarian of the Cleveland Public Library (1885-1911) (Public Domain)

In 1915, the Cleveland architectural firm, Walker and Weeks, won a competition to design a new library building, but due to the demands of World War I, construction was delayed until 1923.  Finally, in September 1925, the $4,000,000  classical Renaissance-style building opened its doors to the public.  

Cleveland Public Library, Superior Street, Pre-1923 Public Domain Postcard
Photo Erik Drost – photo licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en (no changes)

In 1997, the 10-story Louis Stokes Wing was dedicated and the main building underwent a $24 million renovation, including careful restoration of the original ceiling finishes,  original leather doors, exterior marble and historical light fixtures.  


The Louis Stokes Wing of the Cleveland Public Library.  The Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) June 12,1997, Page 75.

The Cleveland Public Library celebrated its 150-year anniversary in 2019.  Today, the Cleveland Public Library system has twenty-seven branch libraries.  

William H. Brett

William Howard Brett (1846-1918) was head librarian for the Cleveland Public Library from 1884 to 1918.  He is considered one of the “100 most important librarians of the 20th century”. Under Brett’s guidance, book circulation at the Cleveland Public Library went from 50,000 volumes in 1889 to over 3 million volumes in 1918, placing the library in the top three of the greatest libraries in the United States at that time.

Brett was known for introducing several new library management concepts that are still used today. While at the Cleveland Public Library, he instituted an “open shelf” concept whereby allowing library members to have direct access to library materials and the ability to browse and research independently. Another major contribution was “divisional arrangements.” Brett and his vice-librarian, Linda A. Eastman, divided the reference and circulating books into major categories and had dedicated staff handle each subject matter. Brett also championed separate children’s reading rooms believing that children deserved their own space.

Brett’s life and library career were cut short by a drunk driver in 1918.

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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.