The James V. Brown Library, Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Pre-1934 Reader’s Card No. 51582 issued to Lawrence Mulliner

Pre-1934 Reader’s Card No. 51582 issued to Lawrence Mulliner (front)
Pre-1934 Reader’s Card No. 51582 issued to Lawrence Mulliner (back)

The James V. Brown Library

The James V. Brown Library, Williamsport, Pennsylvania (Pre-1923 public domain postcard)

The James V. Brown Library, at 19 East Fourth Street in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, opened its doors to the public in 1907.  James V. Brown, a wealthy business owner, had long desired to build a public library for the citizens of Williamsport, but plans in earnest didn’t begin until 1899 when Brown purchased a plot of land on which to build the new library.  Brown then hired Philadelphia architect, Edgar V. Seeler, to design the new library.  By May 1900, Seeler had proposed a grand, French Renaissance building, complete with monolithic, twenty-two foot, dual columns flanking the entrance.  Seeler designed the building to include an art gallery space, marble statues imported from Italy, an elevator, steam heat and electric lights throughout.  

Edgar V. Seeler’s Rendering of the proposed James V. Brown Library (from the Altoona Tribune, December 1, 1901)

The cornerstone was laid on March 10, 1906, and the library opened to the public on June 17, 1907. 

The James v. Brown Library Reading Room and Delivery Desk (pre-1923 public domain postcard)

The James V. Brown Library Reader’s Card Application

1918-1928 Reader’s Card Application (front)
1918-1928 Reader’s Card Application (back)
1918-1928 Reader’s Card Application Return Envelope (front)
1918-1928 Reader’s Card Application Return Envelope (back)

James V. Brown

James V. Brown (from the Altoona Tribune, December 1, 1910)

James Van Duzee Brown, born on March 4, 1826, was a business owner and philanthropist in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.  He amassed a large fortune through a number of early business ventures, including lumber, coal and flour milling.  He was an early founder of the First National Bank in Pennsylvania, President of the Williamsport Water Company and the Citizens’ Gas and Water Company.  Prior to his death, he pledged $400,000 to build a public library.  James V. Brown died on December 8, 1904, three years before completion of the new library.    

The Panama Canal Library, Panama Canal Zone

The Panama Canal Library, Panama Canal Zone, 1941 Library Card No. 06953 issued to Mrs. M. E. Nantz

The Panama Canal Library, Panama Canal Zone, 1941 Library Card No. 06953 issued to Mrs. M. E. Nantz (front)

The Panama Canal and The Panama Canal Zone

In 1903, the Republic of Panama, having just gained independence from Columbia, granted the United States full control of a 20 mile wide stretch of territory in the Isthmus of Panama to build a canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans to create shipping routes.  In addition to the construction of the canal, homes, schools, hospitals, offices and recreational areas were built for the thousands of Americans that would protect and oversee operations of the canal.   

The Panama Canal Zone was built to resemble an American suburb, complete with cream and gray stucco houses and manicured lawns.  American automobiles were imported and movie theaters showed the latest movies being shown in the States. Peak population was around 100,000 during 1950-1953.  Although “the Zone” was described by some as “a kind of paradise,” it was anything but for many residents.  A “rigid social hierarchy”  and Jim Crow by-laws enforced social and racial inequities.

In 1999, the Panama Canal Zone was transferred back to the Panamanian government, thus ending U. S. involvement in the maintenance and protection of the Panama Canal.

The Panama Canal Library

In 1914, The Panama Canal Library was established providing an official reference service for the Panama Canal Zone.  The library system consisted of nine stations — a Main Library, three branches and five circulating libraries.  Anyone that lived in or worked in the Canal Zone was eligible for library privileges. However, non-U.S. Citizens or anyone not working for or living in the Canal Zone was required to make a refundable deposit when borrowing materials.  In 1951, the Panama Canal Library became the Canal Zone Library-Museum.  

Mrs. M. E. Nantz

Maria Nantz (1898-1990) was born in Puerto Rico.  Her husband, Merle Edward Nantz (1902-1989) was a Civil Engineer for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Corp of Engineers, working in Wyoming, the Panama Canal Zone, and Nebraska. They retired to Sarasota, Florida. 

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. 

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.