Daniel W. Lester Library Postcard Collection

A Carnegie Library at McPherson College, c. 1910.

In November the ALA Archives received a very generous donation of over 6,000 library postcards from Daniel Lester, now called the Daniel W. Lester Library Postcard Collection. The postcards made a cross country journey, courtesy of Larry Nix, from Mr. Lester’s home to the ALA Archives where they are now open for researchers to access. Continue reading “Daniel W. Lester Library Postcard Collection”

Library Buildings: Altgeld Hall, University of Illinois

University Library, 1907
“University Library, 1907,” RS 99/1/15

Another significant collection at the American Library Association Archives is the Library Building Photographs, Record Series 99/1/15.

Compiled from numerous creators and spanning over one hundred years of documentation, these images offer both a broad geographic and historical perspective of libraries.  These buildings range from magnificent classic libraries to quirky traveling book mobiles.

As a graduate student at the University of Illinois, I was intrigued to find a photograph of the University Library.

With sweeping columns and arches, it bears no resemblance to our current Library.  Was it before a remodel?  According to the Mathematics Department’s history page, the University Library moved to its new building (our current Library) in 1926 and Altgeld Hall was divided between the Department of Mathematics and the Law School, before completely transferring to the Mathematics Department in the mid-1950s.[2]

Undergoing several additions and renovations, the original stained glass dome of the rotunda was replaced in the early forties by a plaster dome inscribed with the names of U. S. Chief Justices of the Supreme Court to that date.  In the final 1956-57 addition, additional classrooms were added, “resulting in the blocking of many windows of the original structure and the enclosure of the East Reading Room.  The skylight that had been over the stained glass dome was also removed at that time.”  The Librarian’s Office was also converted to a Men’s Room and hallway.[3] Although compromising the original opulence of the building, the renovations itself serve as a testament to functional demands of a growing university.

For more information:

Department of Mathematics’ History of Altgeld Hall

Altgeld Past and Present Interior and Exterior Photographs http://www.library.illinois.edu/mtx/altgeld.html

Library Building Photographs Digital Collection at the ALA Archives

Other Digital Collections at the ALA Archives


Have Books, Will Travel

The beginning of the Twentieth century marked the start of expansion for American libraries. A nationwide movement to establish county library systems began in 1898.  This coincided with the spread of branch libraries, which began to appear in large cities in the early 1890s. The growing number of library buildings was due in large part to Andrew Carnegie, who built libraries in 1,412 communities. The first part of the century also saw a broader range of services as librarians reached out to groups that had previously been ignored by the library: children, immigrants, minorities, soldiers, the sick and the handicapped, the working class, and isolated rural community dwellers. Continue reading “Have Books, Will Travel”