Librarian Tara Murray (right) with Victorian-era stamp cases, stamps of the Duchy of Oldenburg from an 1863 album, and books from the American Philatelic Research Library collection. (Photos: Abby Drey)

Bookend: Philatelic Relics

June 1, 2017

For the most part, APRL does not include stamps in its collection, “but they are occasionally included as collateral material. For example, the library owns two examples of the famous 1918 ‘Inverted Jenny’ error stamp, one of which was just recovered in June 2016 after being stolen from a stamp show in 1955. The first … Continue reading Bookend: Philatelic Relics


Maureen Brunsdale (Photo: Lyndsie Schlink)

Bookend: Not Clowning Around

May 1, 2017

Don’t ask Brunsdale to name a favorite item; instead, “it’s the stories that draw me in,” she says, such as the contents of a 1907 letter from circus magnate Otto Ringling to his brothers, suggesting that they purchase the rival outfit of Barnum & Bailey. Among other highlights of the collection: an elephant harness and … Continue reading Bookend: Not Clowning Around


Mark Procknik (Photo: K&A Photography LLC)

Bookend: A Whale of an Archive

March 1, 2017

It holds an immersive array of whaling-related materials: more than 18,000 books on US and international whaling history and New England regional history, 750,000 photographs, a 700-piece cartographic collection, 2,400 log books and journals—the largest collection in the world—and three first editions of Moby-Dick (Herman Melville worked in New Bedford as a whaler and used … Continue reading Bookend: A Whale of an Archive


Clockwise from top right: Pen Pictures, a book of channeled poetry by Robert Burns published in Lily Dale in 1900; the signature pink bookplate of Skidmore’s original library, the Cassadaga Lakes Freethought Association Library; memento mori hair bracelet found inside an 1882 channeled Spiritualist text titled Oahspe; Amanda Shepp examines The Sunflower, a Spiritualist journal published in Lily Dale, 1898–1909. (Photos: Brittany Ford)

Bookend: A Librarian with Spirit(s)

January 3, 2017

Shepp was hired in 2014 as the facility’s first professional librarian and has been busily cataloging its more than 10,000 books, rearranging them into 28 thematic collections and seeing that its rare newspapers and pamphlets are digitized. “In addition to multiple collections that focus on aspects of Spiritualism, others cover the suffrage and freethought movements,” … Continue reading Bookend: A Librarian with Spirit(s)


Meredith Evans holds a copy of the 1977 letter she mailed to President Carter when she was 4 years old. She wrote, “I would like to come to your house for my [birthday] party.” Photo: Pete Winkel

Bookend: Hail to the Librarian

November 1, 2016

As director of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta, Evans is the first African-American woman to be appointed as a presidential library director. The Carter Library receives almost 100,000 visitors per year, catering strongly to K–12 students. In fact, the former president requested that admission be free to those 16 or under … Continue reading Bookend: Hail to the Librarian


Meme Librarian Amanda Brennan has a none-pizza-with-left-beef party with some of her favorite memes (from left): LOL Wut Pear, The Signs as Fat Chefs in My Mom’s Kitchen, Little Grey Cat, and Pepe the Frog. Photo: Todd Boebel; Illustrations: Ursula Vernon (pear); Shutterstock (chef, cat); Matt Furie (frog)

Bookend: I Can Has Meme Job?

September 1, 2016

“I knew that I didn’t want to work in a traditional library,” says Brennan, who previously interned at Know Your Meme and MTV Networks’ tape library while earning her MLIS. Of her career path, she says, “It just kind of clicked—­I was up at 2 a.m. researching some weird internet thing [on Know Your Meme] and … Continue reading Bookend: I Can Has Meme Job?


Kenneth Clayton cuts James Trautman’s hair during a Barbershop in the Library event on June 20, 2016. Photo: Rebecca Lomax/American Libraries

Bookend: The Cutting Edge

July 13, 2016

“Teens wanted a space to talk about what was happening in their communities,” says Adewole Abioye, teen program director at the West Englewood branch who organized and facilitates the program. “The barbershop concept was used as a catalyst to get them talking.” The program debuted in December 2015 and is held the third Monday of … Continue reading Bookend: The Cutting Edge


Cara Bertram. (Photo: L. Brian Stauffer)

Bookend: ALA through the Ages

June 1, 2016

The ALA Archives have been around since 1973, and Bertram—who describes herself as an “archivist through and through”—knew about the Association and “how large an impact it had on history.” But she has been especially impressed with ALA’s World War I records, which she says are among her favorite items. Also prized is a scrapbook of … Continue reading Bookend: ALA through the Ages


Clockwise from left: AFU Director Anders Liljegren and librarian Ingrid Collberg; one of several alien models in the AFU archive; the AFU library walls, decorated with UFO book covers; UFO modeled after photos taken by US contactee George Adamski in the 1950s; The Supernatural Magazine, published in Dublin in 1809. (Photos: Clas Svahn)

Bookend: The Real X-Files

March 1, 2016

Director and archivist Anders Liljegren, who created AFU’s specialized subject classification scheme, works with Collberg and more than 20 volunteers. “Since 1973, AFU has grown from a single bookshelf to a facility used by researchers from many countries,” Liljegren says. “Ingrid’s background in working with French materials is particularly valuable.” AFU also houses 50,000 issues … Continue reading Bookend: The Real X-Files


Christy Karpinski and a selection of political buttons from the Busy Beaver Button Museum in Chicago. Photos: Rebecca Lomax/American Libraries (Karpinski); Busy Beaver Button Company (buttons)

Bookend: Pushing Buttons

January 2, 2016

Enter Christy Karpinski, who has since turned that internship into a permanent position as digital librarian and museum manager at Busy Beaver’s Button Museum, which now displays 9,000 pinback pieces of cultural history and ephemera. Karpinski’s background is in photography, but she has also made websites and organized digital collections of photos, which spurred an … Continue reading Bookend: Pushing Buttons


David Gibson. (Photo: Geo. Willeman/Library of Congress)

Bookend: Game On

November 1, 2015

David Gibson, a moving image technician, is LC’s videogame steward, and he earned the role by chance. “I was the youngest person in the office, so they gave me the job,” he says, laughing. He does credit gaming as a youth and while in graduate school with providing a background to archive the 4,000 videogame … Continue reading Bookend: Game On


K. C. Boyd (Photo: Andrew Nelles)

Bookend: Urban Renewal

September 1, 2015

“These are stories that are about inner-city life and urban life, and the kids could really relate,” says Boyd, now library media specialist and director of social media at Wendell Phillips Academy High School, where she has worked since 2010. When Boyd began advocating for the urban fiction genre, she was sometimes misunderstood. Many people, … Continue reading Bookend: Urban Renewal