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. 

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. 

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.

The Abraham Lincoln Library, Saigon, Vietnam

Library Membership Card No. 15-186 issued to Mr. To Ky Nghia

1961 The Abraham Lincoln Library Card (front)
1961 The Abraham Lincoln Library Card (center)
1961 The Abraham Lincoln Library Card (back)

The Abraham Lincoln Library, Saigon

The Abraham Lincoln Library was located in The Rex Complex on Nguyễn Huệ Street in Saigon.  The Rex Complex was designed by Vietnamese architect, Lê Van Cấu, for husband and wife, Nguyễn Phúc Ung Thị and Nguyen Thi Nguyet Nga.  Mr. Ung, a wealthy businessman  born into the Nguyễn dynasty, had long desired to obtain the property located near the Hotel de Ville, which was formerly occupied by a Citroën dealership.  In 1959, his wish came true and he and his wife began to renovate the building into a modern 100-room hotel. The renovated hotel featured the first escalator in Vietnam, three cinemas, a cafeteria, a dance hall, and the Abraham Lincoln Library.

Due to the Vietnam war, The Rex Complex was involuntarily surrendered to the Saigon Tourism Bureau in 1975.  In 1976, Ung Thi left Vietnam to join his wife and children in France where they remained until their deaths. The Rex Complex was renamed The Rex Hotel in 1986 and classified as a 5 star hotel in 2008.

The Abraham Lincoln Library located within the Rex Complex (postcard with no known copyright restrictions)
Front entrance to the Abraham Lincoln Library (postcard with no known copyright restrictions)

To Ky Nghia

Mr. To Ky Nghia lived at 15/83 Nguyen Trail in Cholon, Saigon, Vietnam.  

To Ky Nghia (no known copyright restrictions)

Merced County Free Library, Gustine Branch, Gustine, California

Pre-1946 Library Card issued to Madeline Agnes Leite

1946 Merced County Free Library Card (front)

Merced County Free Library

The Merced County Free Library’s Gustine Branch, opened in November 1910.  Born from the donations of benefactors, including the Merced County Ladies Library, a membership social library which operated out of Nelson Cody’s (Buffalo Bill’s cousin) Corner Drug Store at 17th and Canal Streets in downtown Merced.  The initial offering of 500 volumes were donated by Nelson’s wife, Anna Marie Nelson Cody, and were located in a back room at the Park Restaurant.  The Gustine Branch relocated in 1948 to 6th Street and 2nd Avenue at Henry Miller Park where it still operates.

Madeline Agnes Leite (1928-2009)

Madelyn Agnes Silva “Mattie” Leite Amaral was a California native and advocate for disabled persons. 

Manchester Free Libraries, Campfield Lending Branch, Manchester, England

Borrower’s Card No. 9199 (2nd Series) issued to Henry Thomas Manners on May 16, 1865

1865 Manchester Free Libraries Borrower’s Card (front)
1865 Manchester Free Libraries Borrower’s Card (back)

Manchester Free Libraries – Campfield Lending Branch

The Manchester Free Library at Campfield was the first lending library in England.   

Mirroring the Museums Act of 1845, which would “[empower] boroughs with a population of 10,000 or more to raise a ½d for the establishment of museums,” the Public Libraries Act (also known as the Free Library Act) was instituted in England.  While establishing the Act was not without argument, most notably the imposition of taxes, the voting body (the burgess-role) adopted the Act and became law with Royal Assent on August 14, 1850.

Soon after the Public Libraries Act was established, the Mayor of Manchester, John Potter (1815-1858), began a two-year effort to raise funds to house and stock the future library, and with the support of wealthy benefactors, the library finally opened with much fanfare on September 5, 1852.  Attendance at the opening ceremonies was over 1,000 persons, and included addresses from notable writers, Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray and Sir Edward Bulwark Lytton.

During the first weekend, nearly 10,000 people passed through the doors of the new library.

Etching by unknown artist of Manchester Free Libraries – Campfield Lending Branch, Manchester, England (Source:  “Manchester Public Free Libraries: a History and Description, and Guide to Their Contents and Use,” by William Robert, 1899) (Usage: no known copyright restrictions)

Edward Edwards (1809-1882) – First Librarian of the Manchester Free Libraries (1852-1857)

Edward Edwards was one of the three proponents of the  Public Library Act of 1850, and subsequently appointed the first librarian of the Manchester Public Library.  While being granted an £80 pension, his “passion for the spread of knowledge led to personal poverty.”  His books and papers being his only assets at his death, he died penniless at the age of 73.

Andrea Crestadoro (1808-1879) – Chief Librarian, Manchester Free Libraries (1864-1879)

Andrea Crestadoro was Chief Librarian of the Manchester Free Libraries from 1864 to 1879.  He is credited with the development and implementation of the Keyword in Context Indexing catalog system used at the Manchester Free Libraries.

Henry Thomas Manners (abt. 1819-1895)

Henry Thomas Manners was an English merchant for Fabric manufacturer, Ashton & Company of Manchester, England. 

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: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)(cropped)

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)
(Usage: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)(cropped)

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.  

The Public Library, Washington, DC (Also Known as the Carnegie Library)

1908 Card No. 84399 and 1909 Special Card No. 84399 Issued to Lewis Radcliffe

Library Card for the Public Library, Washington, DC (back)
Special Card (teacher) for the Public Library, Washington, DC (front)
Special Card (teacher) for the Public Library, Washington, DC (back)
Special Card (teacher) for the Public Library, Washington, DC (inside)

The Public Library, Washington, DC

The Public Library of Washington, DC, also known as The Carnegie Library or Central Public Library, is located in Mount Vernon Square at 8th and K Streets, NW. The Beaux-Arts building, designed by New York-based Ackerman & Ross, was dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt and benefactor, Andrew Carnegie, on January 7, 1903.  The Carnegie Library was the first public library in Washington, DC, as well as the first desegregated public building in the Nation’s Capitol.

The Public Library, Washington, DC (also known as The Carnegie Library
(Source: Library of Congress – Usage: Public Domain)

The Public Library of Washington, DC 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 – Photo by Theodore C. Marceau (1913)
(Source: Library of Congress Usage: Public Domain)

The “Central Public Library” was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1969.  In use for over 70 years as the main public library in Washington, DC, the Carnegie Library, after undergoing a $30M historic renovation, is currently the cite of the Apple Carnegie Library,  a multi-discipline learning center, which houses the DC History Center, Kiplinger Research Library,  three galleries, a museum store and an Apple products showroom. 

Lewis Radcliffe (1880-1950)

Lewis Radcliffe (Source: Binghamton Press, October 28, 1927

Lewis Radcliffe, born January 2, 1880 in Savannah, New York was an American naturalist, malacologist, and ichthyologist.  Educated at Cornell University (B.A. 1905) and George Washington University (M.S. 1915),  Radcliffe served as Deputy Commissioner of the United States Bureau of Fisheries until 1932. He was also the director of the Oyster Institute of North America until his death in 1950.