(Sort of) Live from ALA in Chicago

13 07 2009
By the Bean (I'm in there somewhere)

By the Bean (I'm in there somewhere)

The frenzied atmosphere of the 21st century American Library Association Annual Conference is indeed a world away from that 1925 gathering.  There are so many things happening (and they all seem to be happening at the same time) it can be quite overwhelming.  Your hairdryer and WiFi become your best friends.

But both the weather and the mood have been great.  I’m dashing off right now to try to catch a bit of the (always entertaining) RBMS Exec meeting before heading over to the Theatre Library Association’s program at the Harold Washington Library Center, “The Plays the Thing: From Page to Stage to Archive in Chicago Theatres.”  Later this evening I’ll be returning to that same spot for a special tour of the Visual and Performing Arts department.  Whew!

Memories of ALA Annual Conferences Past

8 07 2009
Dancers at the PNLA luncheon, part of the 1925 American Library Association annual conference

Dancers at the PNLA luncheon, part of the 1925 American Library Association annual conference

As I head off for Chicago, it seemed a fitting time to share another exciting discovery from the PNW scrapbook collection.  With Edna’s help, I recently upgraded the bibliographic record for the Marguerite E. Putnam scrapbook.  Compiled especially to celebrate Putnam’s retirement from the University of Washington Libraries after thirty-five years, it was an especially lovely specimen, with pages contributed by the various departments of the library.

Also of interest, however, was yet another box of unsorted clippings and other material that went along with the volume.  Hidden amongst the clippings was an envelope containing eleven photographs.  The envelope was dated 1925 and sent to Putnam from F. W. Faxon, a giant of American bibliography and library history (though there’s currently no Wikipedia entry, so get to it!).  Or perhaps I am getting overly sentimental here since I sort of got my start in serials check-in.  Upon further investigation, it became clear that these snapshots were taken by Faxon at the American Library Association’s 1925 Annual Conference, which was held in Seattle.  All of the pictures were fascinating, but we both were especially captivated with the one above with its Isadora Duncan-ish dancers cavorting about on the UW campus.  Here’s how Library Journal (in somewhat tongue-in-cheek mode) described the event:

On Thursday, a buffet luncheon was served by the Pacific Northwest Library Association on the University of Washington campus, followed by exhibit dancing — not by librarians — in the Sylvan Theater…

Faxon apparently documented many of ALA’s early meetings.  Some of the same photographs (cropped differently) he sent to Putnam are available in digital form on the Digital Collections site of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (which holds the ALA archives), but not this one!


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