Library of Hawaii, Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii

Pre-1954 Library of Hawaii Borrower’s Card No. M 8144 issued to Mrs. Margaret B. Jennings

Pre-1954 Library of Hawaii Borrower’s Card No. M 8144 issued to Mrs. Margaret B. Jennings (front)
Pre-1954 Library of Hawaii Borrower’s Card No. M 8144 issued to Mrs. Margaret B. Jennings (back)

Library of Hawaii

The Library of Hawaii, had its official beginning in 1909, when on April 17th of that year, the Territorial Governor of Hawaii, Walter Francis Frear (1863-1948), signed House Bill No. 143, Act 83, entitled “An Act to provide for the establishment and maintenance of the Library of Hawaii.” 1

Prior to the passing of the Bill, Governor Frear met with Andrew “Andy” Carnegie to discuss Carnegie’s offer of $100,000 to build a new public library building. By selling the property at the corner of Alakea and Hotel Streets, which was occupied by the The Honolulu Library and Reading Room Association (a membership library established in 1879), the proceeds  of the sale would aid in the establishment of the proposed public circulating library. In addition, the Association’s 20,000 volume inventory would be transferred to the proposed public library.2

The Honolulu Library and Reading Room Association at Alakea and Hotel Streets. Pre-1910. Photo by Ray Jerome Baker from the Bernice P. Bishop Museum, R. J. Baker Collection of the Kamehameha Preparatory Department. (Public Domain)

The Carnegie Library

In May 1910, it was announced that New York architect, Henry Davis Whitfield, Andrew Carnegie’s brother-in-law, was chosen to design the new library, and Honolulu architect, Henry Livingstone Kerr, would supervise the construction of the building.3 Whitfield, who also designed Eaton Hall at Tufts University (1908) and the Federal Building in Hilo, Hawaii (1915), was considered at the time to be the world’s foremost expert on library design, having already designed many of the larger Carnegie libraries. Kerr designed over 900 buildings in Hawaii, including Honolulu’s historic McCandless Building (1906) and the Yokohama Specie Bank Building (1910).

Construction of the new Library building began on Saturday, October 21, 1911, when a two by three foot by twenty inch ironstone cornerstore, inscribed “Library of Hawaii, 1911,”4 was laid by members of the Hawaiian Lodge during an elaborate ceremony officiated by the Masons. 

The Library Opens

On February 1, 1913, the Library of Hawaii opened to the public with much enthusiasm. Governor Frear, the recipient of Card No. 1, was issued the first book, “The Government of Our Cities,” by W. B. Munro, by the Librarian,Miss Allyn. A free concert by the Hawaiian Band, and speeches by Chairman A. Lewis, Jr., of the Library Board, and Prof. M. M. Scott of the Honolulu Library and Reading Room Association proceeded the official opening of the doors to the public.5

The Sunday Advertiser, Honolulu, Hawaii, February 2, 1913, page 10;

The two-story Mediterranean Revival style building located at 478 South King Street in Honolulu, was fronted by the signature Carnegie columns. Inside, patrons were greeted by an airy and spacious front delivery area, separate children’s area, catalogue, reading and reference rooms. A lanai reading room, and separate lecture, study, and children’s story rooms were located on the second floor In addition to the new library building, a traveling library was instituted to ensure citizens on islands other than O’ahu would have access to the new public service.6

Pre-1923 photograph by Rice and Perkins.(Public Domain)

In 1927, much needed renovations to expand the building were approved by the territory legislature. Two wings were added to the original building, as well as an open-air courtyard in the middle.

In 1978, the building was designated a historic site and was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Library of Hawaii is now part of the Hawaii State Public Library System, which is comprised of fifty-one libraries on all of the major islands. The library system contains over 3 million books and reference materials.

Margaret B. Jennings

Margaret Bronson Jennings (1924-2018) born February 15, 1924 in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was an LSU fan and a member and officer of the Krewe of Attakapas.

Sources: [1] The Honolulu Advertiser, Honolulu, Hawaii, April 17, 1909, page 2; [2] The Hawaiian Star, Honolulu, Hawaii, March 26, 1909, page 4; [3] The Hawaiian Star, Honolulu, Hawaii, May 21, 1910, page 5; [4] The Hawaiian Star, Honolulu, Hawaii, October 16, 1911, page 8; [5] The Honolulu Advertiser, Honolulu, Hawaii, February 1, 1913, page 10; [6] The Sunday Advertiser, Honolulu, Hawaii, February 2, 1913, page 10.

Pickering Library Association, Pickering, Missouri

1882 Pickering Library Association Dues Payment Receipt issued to J. J. Van Buren

1882 Pickering Library Association Dues Payment Receipt issued to J. J. Van Buren (front) 
1882 Pickering Library Association Dues Payment Receipt issued to J. J. Van Buren (back)

Pickering, Missouri

According to The History of Nodaway County, Missouri, published in 1882, Pickering, Missouri, located in the northwest region of Missouri, was home to about 200 residents in 1882. The town of Pickering was incorporated in 1879. While many businesses were developed in Pickering’s early days, there is no evidence that a public library was ever established. However, The History of Nodaway County, Missouri, references a circulating library (p. 674) and a library association (p. 682). The current population of Pickering is approximately 160, according to the 2010 census.

John W. Harman

John W. Harman (1842-1892) came to Pickering in 1872. In addition to being the secretary and librarian of the “circulating library” (see The History of Nodaway County, Missouri, p. 674). Harman was the Pickering station railroad agent, a hotel keeper, grain inspector, and postmaster, as well as a member and officer of A. F. & A. M. (Ancient Free and Accepted Masons) Lodge No. 473. Harman died of “consumption” in 1892. He is buried at the Mount Mora Cemetery in St. Joseph, Missouri.

Miles Wallis

Miles Wallis (born 3-10-1810-1903), a successful New York businessman and real estate dealer, came to Pickering in 1877, following his grandson, Dr. William M. Wallis, who settled in Pickering in 1872. Miles Wallis was the proprietor of the Pickering Hotel and served as the Mayor of Pickering. He was a co-founder and President of the “Library Association” (see The History of Nodaway County, Missouri, p. 682), and a generous contributor of “forty volumes of ‘standard works.'” Miles Wallis is buried at the Oak Hill Cemetery in Maryville, Missouri. The inscription on his gravestone reads: “93 years, 11 months, 6 days.”

J. J. Van Buren

A lifelong Missourian, and longtime resident of Pickering, James Jackson Van Buren was born November 23, 1849, in Savannah, Missouri. In 1879, Van Buren opened the town blacksmith business. Van Buren died October 17, 1926, and is buried at the Coleman Cemetery in Pickering, Missouri.

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


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

Winnipeg Public Library, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

1924 Winnipeg Public Lending Department and Non-Fiction Library Cards No. 22501 Issued to Robert Walls

1924 Winnipeg Public Library, Lending Department Library Card No. 22501,
issued to Robert Walls (front)
1924 Winnipeg Public Library, Lending Department Library Card No. 22501,
issued to Robert Walls (back)
1924 Winnipeg Public Library, Non-Fiction Library Card No. 22501,
issued to Robert Walls (front)
1924 Winnipeg Public Library, Non-Fiction Library Card No. 22501,
issued to Robert Walls (back

Winnipeg Public Library, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Winnepeg Public Library (Public Domain, Pre-1923 Postcard)

The Winnipeg Public Library had its beginning as a circulating library at the Historical and Scientific Society of Manitoba. In 1888, due to the disabling costs of maintaining their library, the Society transferred their 3,000 volume circulating library to the city and was renamed The City Library.  It was the intent of the Society for the transfer to become “the nucleus” for a new public library [from The Historical and Scientific Society of Manitoba Annual Report published 1888, p. 8].

Contrary to local gossip, it was not a free library. A news article in the Manitoba Free Press on February 25, 1888, sought to dispel the rumor, stating that the new library would continue to charge a $2 yearly membership fee to use the library. 

In July 1901, Andrew Carnegie Corporation began negotiations with the city of Winnipeg to fund a new library building. Conditions for funding a new library building were that the city would purchase a suitable site for the library and guarantee annual upkeep at a sum equal to 10% of the amount donated by the Corporation.  By August 1902, the city purchased a site at William and Dagmar Streets for $12,200.  In early November 1902, the Corporation released the funds for building the library, and on November 22, 1902, through an announcement in local newspapers, local architects were invited to submit designs for the new library.  In July 1903, Architect Samuel Hooper, and builders Smith & Sharpe were chosen for the tasks.  

On November 3, 1903, Sir Daniel McMillan (1846-1933), Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba, laid the library cornerstone, and on October 13, 1905, the library opened to the public.

In 1977, the Centennial Library (now known as the Millennium Library) was built at 251 Donald Street and the Carnegie building became a branch library, and subsequently, the City of Winnipeg Archives in 1995.  In 2013, the city began renovations to the Carnegie building, but due to serious damage sustained during a heavy rainstorm, the renovations were halted and the archive collections relocated.  The building currently stands empty and its future is unknown. 

Soldiers’ Home Library, Washington, DC

Soldiers’ Home Library

The Soldiers’ Home (now the Armed Forces Retirement Home) was built in 1851 using an endowment provided by U.S. General Winfield Scott. After his victory in the Mexican-American War, General Scott used proceeds gained through assessments on occupied Mexican towns and the sale of captured tobacco to build a home for retired and disabled American veterans. The Soldiers’ Home was built on a 500-acre tract of farm land know as Riggs Farm owned by George W. Riggs, founder of Riggs Bank in Washington, D.C.

In March 1877, an additional building meant to be used as a clubhouse, which was to house a bowling alley and billiards room, was added to the Soldiers’ Home campus. However, as construction began it was decided that the building was too elaborate to serve its original purpose and was, instead, opened as a library and reading room containing over 2,400 volumes. As the majority of the veterans living at the home were illiterate, a designated “reader” with a “good, clear voice” would read aloud the daily news, and other books and magazines. This earned the “reader” $7 a month, in addition to the monthly $7 pension he already earned.

The American Stick style building was razed in 1910.

Soldier’s Home Library, Washington, DC, Pre-1923 Postcard (front) (public domain)
Soldier’s Home Library, Washington, DC, Pre-1923 Postcard (back) (public domain)
From a 1903 Corps of Army Engineers map of the Soldiers’ Home, Washington, DC

The Queens Borough Public Library, Maspeth Branch, Queens, New York

Pre-1930 The Queens Borough Public Library, Maspeth Branch Library Card No. MA 421 issued to Edith Wietzke

The Queens Borough Public Library, Maspeth Branch, Queens, New York

In the Report of the Queens Borough Public Library (1906), it was noted that there were large communities in the Queens Borough without library facilities. Maspeth, with a population of 3,800, was among those communities named.  With this in mind, the Queens Borough Public Library opened a “traveling library station” at 80 Grand Street in Maspeth on July 27, 1911.  Traveling libraries were often housed in drug stores, recreation centers, or other public spaces and tended to by proprietors that were willing to look after the distribution of books. In addition, dedicated “library stations” were housed in rented rooms and open to borrowers three times a week. Trained librarians that travelled to the stations maintained the distribution of the books and would oversee a monthly rotation of the stock to provide readers with an always up-to-date selection. 

By July 1929, due to overwhelming use of the Maspeth library station, additional days and evening hours were added to the schedule giving borrowers additional time to use the library station facilities. 

Over the years, the Maspeth Branch library station was housed in multiple locations, including 80 Grand Street, Grand Street and Columbia Place, the Legion Building at 47 Grand Street (in 1923); 66-40 Grand Avenue (during the 1930s), and ultimately 69-70 Grand Avenue, when a new facility was built in 1973.

Maspeth Library in the News

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 8, 1921. Clipping courtesy of No known copyright restrictions.

Edith Witzke

Edith Wietzke (1913-unknown) was born in Vohwinkle, Germany.  In April of 1923, Edith and her mother, Meta (1888-1950), and father, Reinhold (1880-1977), left the turmoil in Germany for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  Two years later, in May of 1925, Edith’s father set off for America, followed by Edith and her mother three months later. The family settled in Maspeth, New York. 

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.

New York Public Library, Fordham Branch, Bronx, New York

1957 Borrower’s Card No. 6N-8530 Issued to Elliot I. Walsey

The New York Public Library (Bainbridge Avenue/Fordham Branch), Bronx, New York (Source: Wikimedia Commons/Julian A. Henderson) (Usage:

The Fordham Branch Library building, designed by the prominent New York architectural firm McKim, Mead and White, who was known for designing the main New York Public Library in Manhattan, opened for circulation on September 24, 1923.  

“Realty Notes,” New York Times Newspaper, May 25, 1923

The New York Public Library, Fordham Branch, was one of many public libraries and public buildings endowed by steel magnate,  Andrew Carnegie.  In the latter years of his life, he believed the rich had a responsibility to “improve society,” and hence, donated $350M (equal to over $5B today) to the construction of over 3,000 libraries and public spaces in his birthplace, Scotland, the United States, and around the world.

Andrew Carnegie by Theodore C. Marceau (1913) (Source: Library of Congress)
(Usage: Public Domain)

The “Fordham Branch Library” having become too small to accommodate neighborhood needs, closed in November 2005 and reopened as the Bronx Library Center at 301 East Kingsbridge Road on January 17, 2006.  The new 78,000 square-foot facility is a state-of-the-art, green library that houses the New York Public Library’s premiere Latino and Puerto Rican Heritage Collection.

The Bronx Library Center (Kingsbridge Road), Bronx, New York
(Source: Wikimedia Commons/Julian A. Henderson)

Elliot I. Walsey (1938-2012)

Elliot Ira Walsey, born September 26, 1938 in New York, New York, was an American business owner.  He was the founder and former President of Benchmark Graphics, Ltd.