National Library Week: 10 fascinating historical images of libraries and their patrons

By Hillary Brady, April 16, 2014.
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Happy National Library Week! Libraries have been cornerstones in communities for decades. Now, through DPLA and others, content can go beyond neighborhood residents checking books and in and out of their local libraries. Those same valuable and historic resources, from institutions across the country, are now available to millions of users—for free.

To celebrate, here is a list of 10 fascinating historical images of libraries and the publics they serve. They are listed in no particular order, and the collection has many more interesting pieces of American library history. Check it out and share what you find with us via Twitter, with #dplafinds.

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A “packhorse” librarian travels on horseback to deliver books and magazines to rural people throughout Kentucky as part of a Depression-era WPA program.

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A group of librarians don their best dresses and hats for a group photo in Asbury Park, New Jersey, circa 1919.

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A librarian in the Woman’s Army Corps reads to a resting soldier during World War II.

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Four children and a dog wait anxiously for a bookmobile—the girl’s copy of “Molly in the Middle” must have been overdue.

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“Looks Like a Good Book.” A photo of a librarian reading to two wheelchair bound men in leg casts, helpfully captioned.

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A New York Public Library book wagon makes a stop, to an eager crowd. Check out the shelves lining the inside of the car!

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The hand-drawn pencil sketches for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Chapaign library—arguing that the “new scheme” for the building should face east instead of north.

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Wayne County, North Carolina’s first librarian organizes books—on a built-in rotating set of shelves—in the back of the library van, in 1941.

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Children sit, nose in books, in the reading room of their Los Angels public school library, part of their encouraged “independent reading.”

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The rules from a bookplate, for the New Jersey Traveling Library: one book per person can be checked out for two weeks, with a one-cent fine for every day late.

Feature photo courtesy of Ellen Forsyth on Flickr:

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