Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Having a blast at the library: early public programming in Lock Haven

An interesting ad for a library program!
Lock Haven Express,
September 23, 1914, pg. 2
Those who aren't familiar with historical research may be surprised to learn that many public libraries have spotty records concerning their own beginnings. Even though they often serve as repositories for their communities' history, libraries don't always retain their own annual reports, meeting minutes, correspondence, and other documents. Several years ago, when I undertook a study of library ownership of Mark Twain's works, I contacted nearly 4,000 public libraries across the United States, asking whether they still possessed old printed catalogs, accession ledgers, or other lists of their materials. Only 48% replied, and of those, only a third (or about 16% of all libraries contacted) maintained the records I needed (for further details about that project, see pgs. 9-11 of the November/December 2009 issue of Public Libraries, and pgs. 189-224 of the September 2009 issue of Nineteenth-Century Literature).

Sometimes, the lack of documentation isn't the library's fault. Such is the case in Lock Haven, PA, a city of about 10,000 people on the banks of the Western Branch of the Susquehanna River. There you'll find the Annie Halenbake Ross Library, which is one of the older libraries in the region, has two branches (at Beech Creek and Renovo), and serves other Clinton County residents through the mail. Unfortunately, the Susquehanna flooded Lock Haven more than a dozen times between 1889 and 1972, repeatedly destroying artifacts and documentation of local heritage. When I visited earlier this month, director Diane Whitaker stretched to show me the high water mark left in her library in '72. Even today, Ross Library holds an incomplete run of its annual reports. Some early photographs are stained and warped by muddy water.

Thus I have been using Newspaper Archive to reconstruct the library's first days. Although the current institution recently celebrated its centennial, libraries actually have a long history in Lock Haven. Like many other Pennsylvania communities, the town's schools and YMCA offered libraries, as did several churches. Sometime in the 1870s, Philip M. Price, one of the largest landowners and benefactors in town, donated his ownership of Highland Cemetery to a corporation which would use the proceeds to establish a public library. His hope was that income from the sale of cemetery plots, plus modest annual subscriptions from library users, would support the library financially (S. R. Peale, "The Merging of Lock Haven's Two Libraries," news article in Ross Library scrapbook, November 26, 1908, original source and page not given).

Thus far, I have not found trustee meeting minutes or other records concerning the initial days of the Price Library. But as of the early 1890s, it had 2,000-3,000 volumes, was open Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, and charged $1.50 per year for members who did not own stock (Lock Haven Express, June 21, 1890, pg. 1, and January 4, 1892, pg. 1). In 1892, the Price Library expanded its hours, opening daily from 9:30 a.m. to noon and 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. (Lock Haven Express, November 28, 1892, pg. 1). Such terms were in place at least through the end of the decade (Lock Haven Express, September 16, 1899, pg. 1). A woman named Elizabeth Karskaddon apparently served as secretary of both the cemetery and the library associations. When Annie Halenbake Ross, surviving spouse of lumber dealer and banker Franklin M. Ross, bequeathed her home and part of her estate to the city, to be used as a free public library, Karskaddon wrote a substantial editorial to support the merger of the Price Library and the newer institution (Lock Haven Express, September 26, 1907, pg. 4; October 16, 1907, pg. 8; August 5, 1908, pg. 4; and September 8, 1908, pg. 3). Several years later, Karskaddon attended the unveiling of a memorial plaque which the Ross Library dedicated to Price, thus providing a living connection between Lock Haven's old and new libraries (Lock Haven Express, December 1, 1911, pg. 4).

As I page through thousands of online articles from the Lock Haven Express, it is particularly interesting to observe the beginning and development of library public programming. Although the Price Library advertized new reading material from time to time, the newspaper is largely silent regarding other activities. However, the professional librarians at the Ross Library soon introduced public events. Within days of opening its doors, librarian Anne V. Taggert instituted "story hours" for children. Typically held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday mornings from November through May, they introduced a generation of Lock Haven residents to the legends of King Arthur (Lock Haven Express, November 26, 1910, pg. 4). Florence Hulings, who arrived from Oil City when Taggert resigned in 1911, continued the successful children's program (Lock Haven Express, July 20, 1911, pg. 5). During her tenure, Ross Library also offered a series of lectures for adults, delivered by faculty from the local "normal school" (now Lock Haven University) and Pennsylvania State College (now Penn State University). The first one, featuring Professor Homer H. Gage, concerned what he called "the social burden." Arguing that it cost the state greatly to house Pennsylvania's population of persons with mental illnesses, it appears that Gage advocated eugenics, an effort to improve public health through human sterilization, immigration control, and other stern measures many would oppose today (Lock Haven Express, May 6, 1913, pg. 4).

Several weeks later, the library provided an entirely different event. Nelson P. Benson lectured on "Three American Poets of Originality," Walt Whitman, Edgar Allan Poe, and Sidney Lanier (Lock Haven Express, June 3, 1913, pg. 5). Hulings herself delivered a lecture on the work of Charles Dickens (Lock Haven Express, March 17, 1914, pg. 4). Throughout the year, other speakers delved into "Our American Character,"  "The Social Problems of Today," and "the Home and the School," (Lock Haven Express, October 27, 1913, pg. 5; October 31, 1913, pg. 4; December 12, 1913, pg. 4; and February 23, 1914, pg. 4). For those not interested in literature or the social sciences, Ross Library offered other topics, including Alaska exploration and gardening (Lock Haven Express, February 24, 1913, pg. 4, and March 31, 1914, pg. 4). One item in particular caught my eye. Entitled "Dynamiting at the Library," it advertised an upcoming lecture by a "Mr. Twomey" who would demonstrate the latest methods farmers were using to loosen rocks, roots, and soil. Apparently, the Ross Library was willing to risk its apple tree being blown up on a Sunday morning in the name of attracting people to its events (Lock Haven Express, September 24, 1914, pg. 1)!

For reasons unknown, Ross Library pared down its adult lecture program by the end of the decade. Perhaps World War I, during which time Hulings was responsible for sorting and shipping all donations from Clinton and Centre County for a national books-for-soldiers campaign, left little energy for other initiatives (Lock Haven Express, November 17, 1917, pg. 5).  Maybe limited funding was a problem as well, for during the 1920s, Huling's successor, Mary E. Crocker, emphasized the need for additional money in many of her annual reports and public speeches (for example, see the library's annual reports of 1923 and 1924; Crocker's history of the institution, "Fifteen Years of the Ross Library," published in the Lock Haven Express, November 27, 1925, pg. 5; and her speech to the Rotary Club, published in the Lock Haven Express, December 9, 1925, pg. 1, 3). In addition, some libraries in Pennsylvania were looking toward underserved populations outside town borders. Following favorable state legislation in 1917 and 1931, those in rural areas shifted their attention to book wagon/bookmobile services. The fact that Clinton County commissioners began to provide appropriations to Ross Library lends to the idea that Crocker's interest in countywide service was growing (Lock Haven Express, January 13, 1925, pg 5). Also, more than her predecessors, Crocker took a leading role in the Pennsylvania Library Association, of which she was President in 1935.

Needless to say, any, all, or none of these reasons led to less experimentation in terms of public programming. Trawling Newspaper Archive, one find that Ross Library occasionally mounted art displays and other exhibits, but nothing like the course of adult lectures it provided before World War I. It appears that by the 1920s, it had settled into an annual routine of children's story hours during the winter and spring months with some additional activities during Children's Book Week, which was celebrated in November back then. Perhaps to free herself for other work, Crocker encouraged the formation of a "league" of local storytellers, whose members frequently "took charge" of the kids (Lock Haven Express, May 20, 1922, pg. 1).

Although Ross Library was not the first to offer public story hours or educational lectures, it is interesting to examine how this aspect of library work began and evolved in small cities like Lock Haven. It seems that the initiative of individual librarians was vital, and each person brought different interests and personal connections to the task. I am eager to learn whether Ross Library developed additional programs in the 1930s and 1940s, especially to help residents meet the challenges of economic depression and war.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Books and brews, ingroups and outgroups

United Brewers Industrial Foundation ad,
Lebanon (PA) Daily News, August 25, 1941, pg. 3
I belong to a facebook group called ALATT, or the "Awesome Librarians Associated Think Tank." Most of its active members are MLS candidates and new professionals, and their comments provide me with substantial insight into the concerns and ideals of the rising generation of librarians. Some use the group for quick polls of professional practice (questions such as "who is responsible at your school for helping students cite correctly?). Others share news articles about censorship, copyright, and other relevant issues. Sometimes, recruiters post job ads -- especially for positions which trend young, like "emerging technologies librarian."

And about once a week -- usually on Friday -- large numbers of ALATTers post pictures of their beverages of choice.

I'm not talking about exotic coffees, teas, or even energy drinks. I'm talking about all flavors of martinis; craft beers from every corner of the world; any concoction one could mix in a glass. Given our reputation for primness, outsiders would be surprised to know that a group of *librarians* uses "partying" as one of its tags.

This week I was reminded of the differences between ingroup and outgroup perceptions when I was slogging through the Lebanon Daily News. In my search for articles relating to the Lebanon Community Library's history, I uncovered a fascinating advertisement from the 1940s. Paid for by the United Brewers Industrial Association, it depicted an irate woman complaining to a librarian about a trashy book found in the library. Her moral rectitude is underscored by outdated styling, including upswept hair, a dark dress, and peter pan collar, but the artist also suggests the extremeness of her viewpoints by portraying her with flushed cheeks and hand on hip, as a wide-eyed librarian leans back in shock. The ad argues that people who oppose beer because of occasional "black sheep" retailers are similar to purists who demand that public libraries be shuttered because of a small number of objectionable books they find on the shelves. Such people infringe on American freedoms, including "your right to drink good beer, and our right to make it." It also reminds readers that beer is a substantial industry in Pennsylvania, employing more than 7 million people and funneling millions of tax dollars into government coffers. Having nothing to hide, the reputable trade group encourages the public to report any illegal activity to "dualy constituted authorities." Given that the United States had recently repealed Prohibition, had been suffering under a decade of economic depression, and was becoming involved in a global conflict against fascism, such arguments probably had a special resonance to people of the early 1940s.

It's interesting to ponder alliances between libraries and beer. Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, a prominent argument for establishing public libraries was that they offered wholesome recreation, especially for young men. Along with free kindergartens and high schools, public art museums and concerts, Christian revivalism, Chautauquas, public parks, team sports, and vocational education, the development of public libraries was part of a tripartite effort to mold the "head, heart, and hands" of Progressive-era  American society. Thus we might interpret the UBIA ad as an effort of the association's marketing team to identify a demographic that would be polar opposites of beer drinkers -- woman library users -- and argue the beer industry's case in terms that female bookworms might understand.

The mental association many people have between libraries and education remains, even today. For example, in the Pennsylvania Library Association's PA Forward initiative, libraries' role in public literacy continues to be the primary appeal we make to government officials, corporate funders, and other community power brokers. I don't doubt this image is an asset, but does it speak to everyone? What group would librarians now identify as polar opposites -- who today is analogous to beer drinkers of the 1940s -- and how do we reach out to them?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Lebanon, PA gets its first "Red Box": The Tabard Inn Library

All day today I've been cooped up at home, fighting a freezing rain that threatens to turn my front sidewalk into a lawsuit. Every few hours I pull on my boots, parka, and gloves, venture outside, chop up newly-formed ice, and throw down more salt. It is exhausting work. After I step through my front door and peel off my outerwear, I flop helplessly on the couch. Then I open my laptop and continue searching an online version of the Lebanon Daily News for articles about the history of the Lebanon Community Library.

By noon I was getting stir-crazy. So rather than go back inside, I laid my shovel against the porch and shuffled down to Turkey Hill, a convenience store a few blocks away. Just outside the entrance, several mothers and young children were shivering beside a Red Box, the saving grace of many a snow-day.  I didn't pay much attention -- just stomped my boots on the pavement, entered the store, bought a bucket-sized cup of Coke Zero, and returned home.

When Red Boxes first appeared about a decade ago, I remember the media marveling at such an "innovative" service. But as any historian knows, today's "new" is often older than we think. As it turns out, partnering with local stores to rent cultural materials has been a business model for more than a century.

Coincidentally, today I found some articles pertaining to Lebanon's Tabard Inn Library. As Larry Nix describes, the Tabard Inn Library was a subscription service which provided small towns with access to new fiction. Apparently, its founder, Seymour Eaton, targeted communities with at least 2,000 residents. He sought "men of good standing and education" to represent his company and "attend to the distribution and exchange of books" (for example, see ad in Williamsport Gazette and Bulletin, May 8, 1902, pg. 8). These men installed revolving cases of books which held about 120 volumes, and refreshed them with new materials once or twice each week (for example, see Bucks County Gazette, May 8, 1902, pg. 3). For a few dollars' fees, members obtained cards which enabled them to borrow and return volumes from a network of "stations" nationwide. Each time they borrowed items, they paid an additional few cents per week.

Since the company was based in Philadelphia, it's no surprise that Tabard Inn Libraries were quite common in Pennsylvania. I have found articles about them in many local newspapers, including the Bedford GazetteBucks County Gazette, the Chester Times, the DuBois Morning Courier, the Gettysburg Star and Sentinel,  the Lock Haven Express, the New Oxford Item, Titusville Herald, the Tyrone Daily Herald, the Wellsboro Agitator, and Williamsport Gazette and Bulletin. In Lebanon, a Tabard Inn Library opened in August 1902 at Ross's Drug Store on Cumberland Street. Later, it moved to Boger's Drug Store on South 8th Street.

Unfortunately, Eaton's incarnation of this sort of business didn't last long. According to Larry Nix, he declared bankruptcy in 1905. Perhaps Eaton was unable to compete with free public libraries, which were beginning to become ubiquitous in American communities around the same time. Inexpensive books and periodicals were also widely available. I have yet to explore newspapers from 1905 and later to learn what happened to the Pennsylvania collections.

Good ideas sometimes revive, though. Watching the line of eager customers outside of Red Box today, I pondered the fact that both a 19th-century children's book author, and one of the world's largest corporations (McDonald's) established the same type of business. The notion of placing books and DVDs in commercial places, where nonreaders congregate, is apparently a popular idea, but it is one which professional librarians have been slower to embrace.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Thaddeus Stevens, library advocate

Photo of Thaddeus Stevens by Saylor, not dated. Image courtesy
of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division,
image LC-USZ62-15441. Available online at 
http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2004672777/ .
Among Civil War-era figures, one person I have long admired is Thaddeus Stevens. When I was in high school in Massachusetts, I learned very little about him other than that he was a leader of the Radical Republicans. But during my first week as a college student in Washington, D.C., I walked by Thaddeus Stevens School which was quite close to GW's campus. An historical plaque nearby told of his pioneering roles in civil rights and education. This prompted me to write a paper about him. Although he was thoroughly despised by some of his contemporaries, I would like to think that I would have cheered him on if I'd lived in his era and had the chance to hear him speak on the floor of a legislature. One quote I particularly remember, made in the 1830s when he was defending Pennsylvania's public school law, was: "Build not your monuments of brass or marble. Make them of everlasting mind!" The facts that he had a disability (club foot) and often employed wicked sarcasm in his correspondence and speeches struck me on a human level, too. When the movie Lincoln was released last year, Tommy Lee Jones' portrayal of Stevens was my favorite part. I am certainly not Stevens' only fan -- there is actually a society based in Gettysburg dedicated to him.

So this week I was delighted to learn that I have another reason to like Stevens. I was visiting the Adams County Historical Society as part of my effort to document public libraries in Gettysburg and surrounding communities. The Adams County Library System was founded in 1944, but I figured there must have been earlier attempts to establish libraries. After all, Gettysburg was a county seat, hosted a college and seminary, and was a crossroads for anyone traveling through the region.  As early as the 1850s, it had a chapter of the Young Men's Christian Association, an organization which frequently offered libraries and reading rooms to its members.

Sure enough, looking through the historical society's vertical files, I found a transcription of the constitution of a "Library Society of Gettysburg," as well as related articles from the Adams Centinel newspaper. Glancing over the list of officers, I spotted a "Thaddeus Stevens, Esq." who was a member of the library's "Committee on Superintendence and Selection." This prompted me to consult several biographies about Stevens. I was slightly deflated when I found that at least some historians already know about the Great Commoner's library interests. For instance, Hans L. Treffouse's Thaddeus Stevens: Nineteenth-Century Egalitarian and Bradley Hoch's Thaddeus Stevens in Gettysburg: The Making of an Abolitionist mention the 1822 library as well as the Gettysburg Literary Association, another organization which was founded in 1841 and over which Stevens presided. But given that scholarly commentary on these libraries is brief, I imagine that others have not been as interested in the topic as I am. And given that their works were written a decade or more ago, they may not have had the same access to period newspapers as I currently do.

Newspaper Archive seems to have complete (or near-complete) runs of several antebellum Gettysburg publications. Using the database, I learned that a group of local citizens published notices in both the Adams Centinel and the Republican Compiler, inviting those who were interested in "devising some mode of purchasing books" and able to "contribute the only real and substantial aid, pecuniary aid" to attend a meeting the following day at the county courthouse (Adams Centinel, April 17, 1822, pg. 3). At the gathering, which occurred on April 18th, 1822, Thaddeus Stevens was among 3 men appointed to draft a constitution for the new organization. The resulting document, which was printed in local newspapers, stipulates that each member purchase at least one initial "share" for $5.00 plus pay a semiannual subscription of $1.00 for each share he held. Volumes could be borrowed and returned on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and were to be handed out on a first-come, first-served basis (Adams Centinel, May 8, 1822, pg. 3.). Stevens was also placed on a committee to develop a list of titles for the group to purchase.

For the next several years, documentation in the newspapers is sketchy. It appears that the group met on a quarterly basis. During its February 5th, 1824 meeting, items on the agenda included "reducing the amount of the semi-annual installments, and of extending to a longer period the time limited by the Constitution for retaining books" (Adams Centinel, January 28, 1824, pg. 3). Other than announcements regarding elections, subscription dues, and upcoming meetings, nothing is said until a series of ominous advertisements in the May 7th, 14th, and 21st, 1828 Adams Centinel, urging all subscribers to return the society's books to S. S. King. Apparently, there was an urgent need to account for each volume, because a second series of notices, appearing in the July 16th, 23rd, and 30th issues of the Adams Centinel list specific titles that have yet to be returned. It is only from these articles that one learns a few of the titles the group owned, including "The Sketch Book, The Federalist, Johnson's Works, Percival's Poems, Junius' Letters, ... Rob Roy, Beauties of Shakspeare, ... Dwight's Travels, and ... Fielding's Works." Between mid-July 1828 and mid-December 1833, I found no further articles about the Gettysburg Library Society. Then, an article invited all stockholders to a meeting to be held on Christmas Eve at S. S. King's office regarding "business of interest." (Adams Centinel, December 23, 1833, pg. 6). One might presume that the organization folded around that time. Furthermore, when a Mechanics Institute was founded in Gettysburg a few years later, and its continuance was being debated in the news, one advocate mentioned that that it was only through the institute that members had the opportunity to borrow reading material -- added evidence that the Gettysburg Library Society had ceased to exist. By 1843, additional notices requesting patrons to return the society's volumes mentioned that the collection was now "in the care of the Franklin Harmony Society," so perhaps it donated them to the other organization (Adams Centinel, August 14, 1843, pg. 3). Similar notices appeared in the Adams Centinel throughout August, September, and October of that year.

Despite the apparent demise of the Gettysburg Library Society, Thaddeus Stevens wasn't to be discouraged. He joined other residents in a gathering at Thompson's hotel on February 4th, 1841 to establish a local chapter of the National Society of Literature and Science, to be called the "Literary Association of Gettysburg." He was promptly elected president, with Reverend S. S. Smucker and Reverend James C. Watson as Vice-Presidents. Although this new group aimed to subscribe to and share periodicals, the newspapers place more emphasis on its public lecture series. I found no information about any books or magazines the group may have purchased. However, notices of upcoming lectures, as well as their full-text, appear in the Adams Centinel. The first was provided by Dr. Henry Krauth, and delivered on April 5th, 1843 at Christ Church. As appropriate for an organization that aspired to circulate reading material, Krauth discussed the importance of thoroughness over quantity. Likening reading to eating, he described that books must be "chewed ... masticated ... swallowed ... triturated ... pounded ..." In other words, thoughtful "reflection" was essential to digesting the ideas found in print (Adams Centinel, April 19, 1841, pg. 1).

Over the next year, the association offered public lectures on a variety of topics. For example, on April 4th, 1842, Henry W. Thorp, the principal of the local female seminary, spoke on the history of the Anglo-Saxons (Republican Compiler, April 18, 1842, pg. 2, and April 25, 1842, pg. 1). In July 1842, Reverend S. S. Smucker, a vice-president of the association as well as president of the local Pennsylvania College, spoke about "the monetary derangement and difficulties of the the times; their causes and remedies" (Adams Centinel, July 18 and 25, pg. 1). On November 7th, Daniel M. Smyser provided a lecture on the crusades (Adams Centinel, November 14, 1842, pg. 6), and on December 19, 1842, Professor W. M. Reynolds of Pennsylvania College entertained an audience with poetry (Adams Centinel, December 25, 1842, pg. 1, and January 2, 1843, pg. 1).

Unfortunately, it appears that this group suffered its demise soon after Stevens moved to Lancaster in 1842. Searching Gettysburg newspapers 1843 through 1850, I found no further articles about the association. I cannot say that I am certain I found every item that was published about the association, since I was using an online database -- a mere "copy of a copy" -- rather than hand-searching the printed papers. However, given that the association's vice president, S.S. Smucker, was president of Pennsylvania College (now Gettysburg College), it is interesting to observe that around the same time, ads appear in local newspapers welcoming the public to attend events organized by his students. For example, a series of notices in the August 28rd, 1843 issue of the Adams Centinel invited residents to come to commencement exercises at Christ Church, a lecture by Reverend James R. Keiser before the Alumni Association, and an address before the student literary societies by Reverend John Todd -- all scheduled in September (see pg. 3). Locals were also welcomed to annual "literary contests" between the student Philomathian and Phrenokosmian Societies (for example, see Adams Centinel, April 3, 1843, pg. 3). It appears that these or similar public events continued to occur at least through 1850, when I stopped searching the newspapers. Perhaps the local college absorbed some of the literary society's activities, or the college's programs made the society's less necessary after Stevens departed.

If only I had the resources and time to pursue this fascinating topic further! For one thing, I wonder if the Papers of Thaddeus Stevens at the Library of Congress or the Papers of Samuel S. Schmucker at Gettysburg College offer any additional material. Also, in light of Stevens' commitment to racial equality, one topic worthy of pursuit is the particular wording of the constitution for the Gettysburg Library Society. Perhaps indicative of Stevens' egalitarianism, the constitution refers to "persons" rather than "men," and states that all individuals who comply with the organization's rules would be "entitled to equal rights and privileges" in the library. It may be insightful to compare this to other library documents of the era to learn whether it was unique in employing language that was neutral in terms of gender and race. I'm also curious whether Stevens was involved in any library movements while he lived in Burlington, VT (1810-1814), York (1815), Lancaster (1842-1858), or Washington, D.C. (1859-1868). As with many pathbreakers in American History, there may be much more to Thaddeus Stevens than we ever knew.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Haynes, Davies, and Statistics of Public Libraries: the next chapter

Haynes McMullen was a pre-eminent scholar of early libraries in the United States. He wrote a series of articles documenting libraries in various states, including an article on Pennsylvania. Several years ago, his notecards were added to the Davies Project, a database compiled by Harold Shapiro, Vivian Shapiro, and Stephen Ferguson which attempts to identify all the libraries that existed in the United States prior to 1876.

When I first learned of the Davies Project, I was floored by the amount of painstaking effort it represents. I was especially impressed by McMullen's use of state-level legal resources. At first, such tomes might seem like odd sources for library historians, but for states like Pennsylvania, they are very helpful. Prior to 1874, when a new state constitution and incorporation law was enacted, citizens who wished to organize a company of any kind needed to obtain a charter from the state legislature. Thus, pre-1874 volumes of Laws of Pennsylvania include documentation of the founding of dozens of libraries and related associations. For libraries after 1876, there is no equivalent to the Davies project. Most historians rely on Statistics of Public Libraries (title varies), which was published every few years by what when then the U.S. Bureau or Office of Education. To this day, the U.S. Department of Education maintains a national directory of public libraries and collects data about their staffing, collections, and funding. In Google Books, one can find the full-text of the 18761886, 18931897, 1903, 1909, and perhaps other editions. Tables within these volumes attempt to list every library in each state having a certain minimum number of volumes (300 in early years, 1,000 in later years).

Although all these resources are invaluable starting points, I am learning that they are far from comprehensive. This week I have been "laid up" with a bad back. Wanting to remain productive from my sofa, I have been searching a digital version of the Lebanon Daily News. I am hoping to reset communal knowledge on a certain point. 'Word around town is that no public libraries existed in Lebanon prior to the 1920s, when the local Women's Club opened its book collection to residents. Yet my gut instinct, formed from years of researching library history in dozens of Pennsylvania communities, tells me that there were likely attempts to establish libraries long before then. Using the Lebanon County Historical Society's collection of city directories, I found listings for various libraries and literary associations over the years. However, it is impossible to tell from a name and address how long each one existed, how many books it had, whether its collection was open to the public, or whether it was widely used. Since neither Lebanon Community Library or LCHS held records of these organizations, the Lebanon Daily News was my last resort.

Given my past experiences searching newspaper databases, I was skeptical that a long run of the Lebanon Daily News would be available cover-to-cover as the vendor claims. Yet for this particular title,  I haven't yet noticed any substantial gaps in Newspaper Archives' offerings. So far, I have used all issues from 1873 through 1887. I can confirm that there were in fact *many* libraries in Lebanon prior to the 1920s, including one which called itself a "Public Library."

In Lebanon, one could find libraries in churches and among religious groups. The local Catholic Club, the St. Mary's Literary Institute, the Salem Lutheran Church, the First Reformed Church, and the Chestnut Street Evangelical Church all had book collections for their members (LDN, April 8, 1873, pg. 1, September 8, 1874, pg. 1, August 27, 1883, pg. 1, February 19, 1885, pg. 1, and September 25, 1886, pg. 4). The Sunday School of the Methodist Episcopal Church held a strawberry and ice cream "festival" and a "pink tea" to build up its library (LDN, June 8, 1882, pg. 4, and March 8, 1887, pg. 1). When a new building for the Young Men's Christian Association was erected in 1872, the space included "library rooms" on either side of the entrance (LDN, December 7, 1872, pg. 1). Of these libraries affiliated with religious organizations, it appears that the YMCA was the most enduring, visible, and widely-accessible in the community.

Lebanon schoolchildren, educators, and professionals also organized libraries. Within the school system, the Gibraltar Literary Institute, a club for high school girls, repeatedly raised funds for a book collection as did the Franklin Literary Institute, a club of grammar school boys (for Gibraltar, see LDN, February 14, 1881, pg. 1, October 28, 1882, pg. 1, February 17, 1883, pg. 1, and February 5, 1885, pg. 1; for Franklin, see March 21, 1882, pg. 1, March 24, 1883, pg. 1, and December 2, 1884, pg. 4). A library for county teachers was proposed, but as of 1887, prospects were "not flattering" (LDN, January 26, 1887, pg. 1, and February 15, 1887, pg. 1). The G. Dawson Coleman Institute, which offered educational courses to working class men, mentioned a library in its advertisements (for example, see LDN, November 1, 1883, pg. 1). Lebanon's Amateur Scientific Association had a library as well (LDN, March 8, 1879, pg. 1). At the same time, attorneys in Lebanon formed a county law library (LDN, February 26, 1878, pg. 4).

In addition, some fraternal organizations and social clubs possessed book collections. For example, the local camp of the Patriotic Sons of America frequently sought funds for its library and occasionally exhibited their collection to the public (LDN, June 11, 1881, pg. 1, June 22, 1883, pg. 1, September 26, 1883, pg. 4, July 26, 1884, pg. 4, June 16, 1885, pg. 1, and June 20, 1885, pg. 1).

There were even some attempts among business entities to avail reading material to Lebanon residents. For example, from 1875 to 1881, Miss Clara A. Sherk operated a "circulating library" of popular fiction out of her stationery shop on Cumberland Street (LDN, May 18, 1875, pg. 1, and March 28, 1881, pg. 4). Even Miller & Co., an organ manufacturer, invited the public to use its book collection of more than 3000 works on organs (LDN, April 17, 1876, pg. 1).

The most tantalizing one I have found so far, though, is a "Public Library" started by the local chapter of the Women's Christian Temperance Union. The library got off the ground around 1879 and was still in operation as of 1887, where I left off in my newspaper searching this morning (LDN, January 30, 1879, pg. 1). Using fundraising methods strikingly similar to the Warren Library Association, this group held a "Loan Exhibition" during the winter of 1883 to raise money for books, and required users to purchase "tickets," a form of annual subscription (LDN, January 19, 1883, pg. 1, January 22, 1883, pg. 4, January 26, 1883, pg 1, March 13, 1883, pg. 1, March 19, 1883, pg. 1, January 13, 1885, pg. 4, and January 20 , 1885, pg. 4). The Public Library opened on April 4, 1883 at 618 Cumberland Street with about 625 volumes with hours on Wednesdays and Saturdays (LDN, April 4 , 1883, pg. 1). I'm definitely eager to trace it in subsequent pages of the Lebanon Daily News.

Checking these institutions against the 1876 and 1886 editions of Statistics of Public Libraries, I am struck by the federal government's  poor grasp of the number and variety of libraries in our country. There are no Lebanon libraries listed in the 1876 volume. The 1886 edition lists only a "Public Library" (probably the one established by the WCTU), which was then a subscription library of 2,000 volumes; an unheard-of "James Coleman Memorial Library," which was a free, general library of 1,300 volumes; and a "Public School" library of 1,000 volumes. Of course, any experienced library historian would tell you that the government's classification of libraries during this time is problematic at best. Yet it still seems troubling that Lebanon's YMCA, church, and club libraries seem to go unmentioned.

Historians who look no further than federal sources may fail to understand the pervasiveness of literature and reading activities in their communities. Given that newspapers come online each day, I wonder if we are approaching the next chapter to McMullen's and the Shapiros' grand projects. When will scholars use newspapers to uncover additional libraries during the colonial and antebellum period and add listings to Davies? When will we use newspapers to supplement any database that may be created from Statistics of Public Libraries? I am not sure I want to spend thirty years of my life, as McMullen did, on a national undertaking. But I now know that I need to use more newspapers as I expand my knowledge about Pennsylvania. Instead of limiting my searches to the date when the current public library was founded, it may be fruitful to search all years available.