Friday, 16 November 2012

Love Your Library - Sepia Saturday

When I was at primary school the village library was held there. In those days (1940s) books were available once a week, stacked in a series of boxes. The library was run by the headmaster and his wife with villagers available as volunteers one night a week. I'm pleased to say that the head allowed me to volunteer at the age of 10.

So when I saw this week's prompt I thought that it would be just the theme for me. However it proved more difficult than I thought,

The picture comes from the collection of the New York Public Library and features a group of children avidly reading their books following a talk about books by the staff of the Library. The picture dates back to the 1920s.

Apart from  coats being worn this might have been a scene from the library at Stamford School where I was to go from aged 11 - 18. But  these days  cuts by governments in more countries than just the UK have led to closures and "Save Our Libraries" campaigns. Encouraging children to read is more important than ever  as I hope these old pictures will show:

Children Reading - 1916
Artist - Halonen, Pekka (1865-1933) - Google Art Project

A little later a US congress woman got involved:

US Congress woman Ruth Hanna McCormick - 1928
The photo from the Library of Congress shows her with a group of children reading at a table covered in books.

Children reading - 1911
(Credit: Chicago Daily News negatives collection, DN-0003451. Courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society.)

View of children reading at desks in a classroom at the Robert Emmet School located at 5500 West Madison Street in the Austin community area of Chicago, Illinois. 

Children's Reading Room - New Orleans Main library at Lee Circle - 1913
 (New Orleans Public Library photo)

I have no photos of the library at Stamford School or the library at the University of St Andrews (600 years old this year) in which I spent more hours than I can remember in the 1950s. So I'll end with this rather impressive picture from another place of higher education instead.

Norman Foster Staircase - London School of Economics - 2010
 (By John Picton -

Now all you need to do is love your local library even if it is loaning e-books these days. Don't forget to pop across to check out other bookish types at Sepia Saturday 152



Kat Mortensen said...

I'm a big proponent of reading and I'm sure I would have been right in there if I were a Congress woman.

These are wonderful images that you have shared, Bob.

Wendy said...

These photos remind me of the "Stacks" in my college library where volumes upon volumes of bound periodicals were stored. I can still dredge up the musty odor of old paper thanks to the hours (years?) of research. Today everything is online. The face of the library is ever-changing but I hope its purpose remains.

Kristin said...

Always like seeing pictures of children reading. That Norman Foster Staircase makes me dizzy just looking at the photo.

Postcardy said...

I love the main library here. They have a room for children there, though it doesn't look like the one in the old photo.

Kathy Morales said...

I have a fear of heights and that last picture has me feeling woozy! Interesting group of pictures! I still haven't adapted to reading on my iPad. I like the feel of a book in my hand.

Anonymous said...

It warms my heart to see all this reading.

Deb Gould said...

Oh, I love the columns in the New Orleans reading room! There's something about libraries, isn't there, that gets to us all!

Colleen G. Brown Pasquale said...

Reading is great, no matter where you read: classroom, library or beach.

Jo said...

Don't remember libraries when I was a kid although I certainly used to read a lot. Not sure where my books came from. I do remember virtually living at my local library when I used to live in Clapham Junction. It was just down the hill from me.

Our local library here in Canada is asking for donations right now.

Love your pictures Bob, I am an avid reader and love to see kids learning to enjoy such a great pleasure.

(Queenmothermamaw) Peggy said...

This has been a great theme. Some very interesting photos and info. I am an avid reader and even though I read on my Kindle I still have to visit my library and hold a real book every so often. I am reading Ken Follett's new trilogy of the 20th century now and I love the big 1000 page books.

Pat transplanted to MN said...

Some cuties there of the children at the reading table and the woman had to be seated on a low chair but appears comfortable nevertheless. I used our library a lot as a child, we never bought books back then, maybe that's why I'm such an addict today in purchasing books. Wow, that final staircase made me dizzy! Glad I did not have to walk it.

Peter said...

I just hope libraries (and book shops) are here to stay.

Jana Last said...

Wow! You were a library volunteer at the age of 10? That's great!

I love reading and think it's so important to help children gain a love for reading as well.

Great photos!

Alan Burnett said...

Children reading photographs were certainly popular back in the early days. I suppose it was a good subject in those days of slow shutter speeds as at least they would stay still.

laura.forestdreams:) said...

oh i LOVE my library!! i'm there at least once a week! i love books...i love to read!

i do feel a little dizzy after that last shot!! =)

happy sunday!

Liz Stratton said...

That Norman Foster staircase is enough to convince me to study Economics! :)

Too bad there are no photos of you at school as a lad.

Mike Brubaker said...

I think a fondness for libraries is a very common link in the Sepia Saturday club. I know I was also amazed by books and the library at that age. Even beyond our mutual interest in old photos, it is the love of reading that makes this blog circle so entertaining each weekend.


You've certainly rocked the theme this week, but the only concern I have is that these pics were often staged when there was some official person visiting. I know, I remember from my own school... So, how many kids actually read this avidly?!?
We'll never know...
Oh well!!