Wisconsin Library Heritage Center

The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center is a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation promoting understanding and appreciation of the history of libraries and librarianship in Wisconsin.

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Happy National Bookmobile Day!

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 Southwest Wisconsin Bookmobile
This week is National Library Week and one day during the week (today April 15) is designated as National Bookmobile Day. Bookmobiles are a part of Wisconsin library history and the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center has developed a page on its website to highlight this aspect of our library heritage. Take a look.

Some WI Library Buildings 1904

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Wausaukee Free Library
In 1904 the Wisconsin Free Library Commission (WFLC) published a book titled Some Wisconsin Library Buildings. The book was comprised primarily of photographs of selected Wisconsin library buildings but also included a tabulation of all library building projects completed or in the process. The book notes that when the WFLC was organized in 1895 there were only three libraries in the state occupying their own buildings, but by 1904 there were 52 buildings either completed or provided for. Included in the tabulation were 29 buildings that had received Carnegie grants totaling $627,000. Other private individuals had made library building grants of $418,500 for a total of $1,045,500 from this source. By far the largest projects listed were the State Historical Society building which cost $620,000 from state funds and the Milwaukee Public Library building which cost $512,000 from municipal funds. The State Historical Society building was designed to house both the Historical Society’s library and the library of the University of Wisconsin. The most unusual library listed and pictured was the Wausaukee Free Library (see image above). The Wausaukee Free Library was established in 1901 and was part of a “social hall” that included the library and reading room, a lunch and dining room, and an amusement room. The building was donated by State Senator Harland P. Bird, a strong library supporter who served as President of the Wisconsin Library Association in 1904-1905. A digitized copy of this book can be found on the Hathi Trust website. 

Library Memorabilia Exhibit at Brown Deer Public Library

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Library Memorabilia Exhibit at Brown Deer Public Library

An exhibit of Wisconsin Library Memorabilia will be on display at the Brown Deer Public Library in Milwaukee County for the month of March.  The Wisconsin Library Memorabilia exhibit is sponsored by the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center and has been displayed at libraries around the state.  The exhibit includes souvenir items for many of Wisconsin's Carnegie libraries, the Milwaukee Public Library, other public libraries, and the Wisconsin Historical Society Library. A variety of souvenir items including china, spoons, paperweights, and picture postcards are part of the exhibit. More about the exhibit and how to schedule one for your library can be found HERE.

Wisconsin Library Bulletin 1905-1984

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wi-lib-bulletin-1909-72In January, 1905, just over 110 years ago, the Wisconsin Free Library Commission (WFLC), the predecessor to the Wisconsin Division for Libraries and Technology, published the first issue of the Wisconsin Library Bulletin (WLB). The new monthly publication was described as "A Magazine of Suggestion and Information" and was devoted to the improvement of Wisconsin's libraries. It reported on library activities and development within the state and provided a wealth of  practical information primarily for public libraries. The WLB was edited by WFLC Secretary Henry E. Legler. The first issue of the magazine can be found on the Hathi Trust website. That issue contained a summary of library progress in Wisconsin and a variety of articles and news items written by leaders in public library development and extension in Wisconsin. These included Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame members Lutie Stearns and Cornelia Martin. The WLB ended with a special issue in 1984. A complete file of the WLB can be found on the Hathi Trust website but not all issues are available in "full view". Efforts are being made by the Division for Libraries and Technology to rectify that situation. The image to the left shows the cover of the Sept.-Oct. 1909 issue.

 

Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Changes

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Larry T. Nix who has served as Chair of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center (WLHC) Steering Committee since its establishment in 2008 is leaving the committee. Committee member Paul Nelson will take over as Chair. Also leaving the committee after completing three terms on the committee are Peter Gilbert and Lori Belongia. Continuing members on the committee in addition to Nelson are Ruth Ann Montgomery, James Gollata, and Louise Robbins. New members joining the committee are Janis Berg, Mary Clark, and Steve Platteter. The WLHC is a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation. Activities of the WLHC include maintaining a website and blog [http://heritage.wisconsinlibraries.org/], sponsoring exhibits, and administering the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame.

Peter G. Hamon (1945- ), 2014 Library Hall of Fame Inductee

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Peter G. HamonPeter G. Hamon was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 6, 2014, at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Wisconsin Dells. Hamon was a leader in promoting statewide library legislation, funding and library cooperation. He was Director of the South Central Library System (SCLS) from 1981 to 2005. Under his leadership, SCLS developed a systemwide library automation system, established a statewide library delivery service and expanded from four counties to seven. He was an active member of the Wisconsin Library Association and served as President in 1991 and as Legislative Advocate for several years. He was active on the Council for Wisconsin Libraries (now WiLS) and served as treasurer, secretary and president of that organization. He was active in the American Library Association, and served as chair of the Public Library Systems Section of the Public Library Association. Hamon served on several state level legislative task forces, including the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Library Service to Jails in 1972, the Legislative Council Study on Library Services in 1997, and the DPI State Superintendent’s Legislative Task Force in 2001. Hamon was honored as Co-WLA/DEMCO Librarian of the Year in 2004. He and his wife, Ann, received the SCLS Foundation Cornership Award in 2009. 
 
Hamon was born in Macomb, Illinois, in 1945, but grew up in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. He started working in the Scottsbluff Public Library as a page in 1960, when he was 15. He later drove and staffed the Scottsbluff Public Library bookmobile. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, in 1967.  While attending Lawrence University, he worked in the University library in technical services and also at the Appleton Public Library. He received a Master of Arts in Anthropology in 1970 and a Master of Arts in Library Science in 1971, both at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma. While attending graduate school, he worked in the Interloan Department of the Library. He served as Head of Extension Services for the Oshkosh Public Library System from 1971 to 1975. He joined the Wisconsin State Division for Library Services as a Public Library Consultant in January 1976, and became Director of the State Reference and Loan Library in the Division in November 1976. He served in that capacity until 1981 when he became director of the South Central Library System.  
 
Hamon has contributed widely to the professional literature of librarianship, including: Public Library Service to Jails: Guidelines for Action by Ann and Peter Hamon. Madison Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin—Extension, 1975, and Budgeting and the Political Process in Libraries: Simulation Games by Peter Hamon, Darlene Weingand and Al Zimmerman, Englewood, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited, 1992.

WI Library Hall of Fame Inductees for 2014

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The Steering Committee of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center, a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation, has selected five individuals to be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame in 2014. They will join forty other individuals who have previously been inducted into the Hall of Fame. The 2014 inductions will take place at the WLA Annual Conference in Wisconsin Dells on November 6 at the Awards & Honors Reception .  The inductees are:

Gilbert Harry Doane (1897-1980) Doane served as Director of the University of Wisconsin – Madison General Library (1937-1943 & 1945-1956) and as Director of the UW-Madison Library School (1938-1941). He was head of the UW-Madison Archives program (1956-1962). He served in the U.S. Army’s World War II Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (“Monuments Men”) Project (1943-1945).

Wilbur Lyle Eberhart (1922-2010) Eberhart was the first administrator of the Division for Library Services in the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction after the Wisconsin Free Library Commission was abolished. He served in this capacity from 1965 to 1981 which included the period when Wisconsin’s public library system legislation was passed and implemented.

Peter G. Hamon (1945- ) Hamon served as Director of the South Central Library System (1981-2005). He was active in promoting statewide library legislation and funding, and served as President (1991) and as Legislative Advocate for the Wisconsin Library Association. He was honored as WLA/DEMCO Librarian of the Year in 2004.

Nolan I. Neds (1921-2006) Neds served as Supervisor of Neighborhood Libraries and Extension and as Deputy City Librarian of the Milwaukee Public Library (1965-1982).  He was a champion of  library service to the underserved in Milwaukee County, the State, and the nation. He was active in the Wisconsin Library Association and served as President (1970-1971).

Gertrude Thurow (1906-1993) Thurow served as Director of the La Crosse Public Library (1953-1975) and was instrumental in establishing the predecessors of the Winding Rivers Library System (1965-1975). She served as President of the Wisconsin Library (1955-56). Thurow was honored as WLA Librarian of the Year in 1959, and received WLA’s Special Service Award in1975.
More information about the contributions of these individuals will be forthcoming on the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Blog.

 

WI Library Hall of Fame Nominations Requested

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The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Steering Committee is accepting nominations for individuals to be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame in 2014. Nominations must be submitted by September 15, 2014. Procedures and a nomination form are located at http://www.libraryhistorybuff.com/wlhc-hall-of-fame.htm . Both the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center and the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame are programs of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation. Induction into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame is granted to individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the statewide improvement of library service in Wisconsin over a sustained period of time.  Individuals who have worked in and/or advocated for Wisconsin libraries will be considered.  Both living and deceased individuals will be considered. Final selection of inductees into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame will be made by the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Steering Committee. To see previous Hall of Fame inductees go to http://heritage.wisconsinlibraries.org/hall-of-fame/hall-of-fame/hall-of-fame .   Nominations should be submitted to Larry T. Nix (Chair of the WLHC Steering Committee) as email attachments at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  by September 15, 2014.  For additional information please feel free to contact Nix.

Exhibits for National Library Week

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hartford-loc-exhibit-72

The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center (WLHC), a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation, sponsors library memorabilia exhibits at libraries throughout Wisconsin. In 2014 exhibits will be on display at fourteen different public libraries. National Library Week is held each year and this year it will run from April 13 to April 19. Exhibits from the WLHC will be on display at the Jack Russell Memorial Library in Hartford and the Suring Area Public Library for the month of April to help celebrate National Library Week at these libraries. The exhibit at the Hartford library features memorabilia and souvenirs for the Library of Congress (see image above).  The exhibit at the Suring library features memorabilia for Wisconsin libraries (see image below). Both exhibits include early library souvenir china, spoons, and postcards. The Wisconsin Library Memorabilia Exhibit will move to Hales Corners in May, Black River Falls in June, Brown Deer in July, Hayward in August, Mukwonago in September, Marshfield in October, Middleton in November, and Hartford in December. 

suring-memorabilia-exhibit-72

Library Memorabilia Exhibit in DeForest

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Library Memorabilia Exhibit

An exhibit of Wisconsin library memorabilia sponsored by the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center will be on display at the DeForest Area Public Library in November and December 2013 and in January 2014. In the last part of the 19th century and in the first two decades of the 20th century an explosion of library construction took place in communities throughout Wisconsin. This construction boom was fostered to a large extent by Andrew Carnegie and other philanthropists. The new library buildings were a source of civic pride and as such were represented on a variety of souvenir items including china, spoons, paperweights, and picture postcards. Examples of these souvenir items and others which reflect the library heritage of Wisconsin are included in the exhibit. The exhibit is located in the DeForest Area Historical Society space within the public library. The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center is a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation. Larry T. Nix is the curator for the exhibit.

Library Memorabilia Exhibit

 

Children's Library for Adults Celebrates 50 Years

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Cooperative Children's Book Center

For fifty years the Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) in Madison, WI has been assisting librarians, teachers, and parents with the selection of the best books for children. The CCBC has been celebrating this milestone with a number of activities this year including a gala dinner on October 17th and a special display (see above) at the Center. The CCBC opened on the fourth floor of the State Capitol on June 23, 1963. The "Cooperative" in its name is based on its original establishment as a cooperative project of the Division of Library Services in the Department of Public Instruction, the School of Library & Information Studies (SLIS) of the University of Wisconsin, and the UW School of Education. Currently it is administered solely by the UW School of Education. It is now located at UW-SLIS. The CCBC was established for the following purposes: 1) provide a centralized children's book collection; 2) provide a historical collection of children's books; 3) provide training in evaluating children's literature; 4) aid libraries, teachers, parents in making wise and economical book selections; and 5) develop adult interest in children's literature. The CCBC's current vision also includes advocating for the First Amendment rights of children and young adults. The CCBC has been a national leader in promoting quality multi-cultural literature for children. Happy 50th birthday CCBC!

This article also appeared on The Library History Buff Blog.

Miriam Downing Tompkins (1892-1954)

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Miriam TompkinsMiriam Downing Tompkins was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on October 23, 2013 at the annual conference of the Wisconsin Library Association in Green Bay, WI. Tomkins was a national leader in advancing the role of the public library in adult education. She was a pioneer in library work with labor unions. She served as Director of the Training Class of the Milwaukee Public Library 1919-1921 and Chief of Adult Education 1923-1929. Under her leadership the adult education department of the Milwaukee Public Library provided a national model for adult education in public libraries that included information service, group service, and readers’ advisory service. She later served on the faculties of the library schools at Emory University and Columbia University. She was a delegate to the International Conference on Adult Education in Cambridge, England in 1929. She was born in Kalispell, MT, and received B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She is included in the Dictionary of American Library Biography

 

The Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame is a project of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center which is a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation.

Bernard Schwab (1920-1990)

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Bernard SchwabBernard (Bernie) Schwab was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on October 23, 2013 at the annual conference of the Wisconsin Library Association in Green Bay, WI. Schwab served as Director of the Madison Public Library from 1957 to 1981. Under his leadership the library built a new central library and five branch libraries were added. He established the Dane County Historical Records Center, the Municipal Reference Service, and the Madison Area Library Council. He helped to create the first Friends of the Library group in Wisconsin. The Madison Public Library was named Library of the Year in 1966. He served as President of the Wisconsin Library Association in 1966-67 and was named Librarian of the Year in 1970. Schwab was chair of the Wisconsin Council for Library Development in 1973-74. Schwab was WLA’s representative to the American Library Association (ALA) and served on ALA’s joint committee on library service to labor. Schwab was born in Brooklyn, NY. He received a Bachelor’s degree from the College of the City of New York in 1943 and a Library Science degree from the Pratt Institute. Prior to coming to Madison he held several positions at the District of Columbia Public Library in Washington, DC. Before becoming Director he served as Assistant Director of the Madison Public Library from 1954 to 1957. After his death in 1990, the City Council changed the name of the central library to the Bernard Schwab Library.

The Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame is a project of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center which is a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation.

Katharine MacDonald Jones (1866-?)

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Katharine MacDonald Jones was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on October 23, 2013 at the annual conference of the Wisconsin Library Association in Green Bay, WI. Jones was a national authority on the selection of materials for small public libraries. She joined the staff of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission (WFLC) in 1899, and served as Assistant Secretary of the Commission from 1901 to 1907. She became head of the Traveling Libraries Department of the WFLC when it was established in 1903. From 1906 until 1908 she was editor of the Booklist of the American Library Association. She was identified in 1936 by Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame member Matthew S. Dudgeon as one of ten individuals on “Wisconsin’s long library Roll of Honor.” Dudgeon said this about Jones: “the talented appraiser of books who for years, with little enough support, carried on here in Wisconsin the splendid beginnings of the American Library Association Booklist.” Jones graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1886. She was author of the publication Magazines for Small Libraries (WI Free Library Commission, 1908).

The Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame is a project of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center which is a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation.

Leonard B. Archer (1913-2003)

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Leonard ArcherLeonard B. Archer was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on October 23, 2013 at the annual conference of the Wisconsin Library Association in Green Bay, WI. Archer served as Director of the Oshkosh Public Library (1958 to 1978) and held as joint appointment as Director of the Winnefox Library System. He initiated bookmobile service for Winnebago County and was instrumental in establishing the Winnefox Library System. He was an advocate for intellectual freedom and served as chair of the Wisconsin Library Association’s (WLA) Intellectual Freedom Committee (1963-65). He was named Librarian of the Year by WLA in 1975. He was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal for work with the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in developing a “people’s university” in the public library. After retirement he moved to Middleton, WI in 1978 where he became active with the Middleton Public Library as a member of the library board and the Friends of the Library. He also served on the board of the South Central Library System. Archer was born in Petersburg, VA. He received a BA degree from the University of Richmond and a library degree from Emory University. Prior to coming to Wisconsin he worked in libraries in the District of Columbia, Detroit, MI, Plainfield, VT, and Rutland, VT. Archer was married to Marion Fuller Archer, who was a children's librarian, author, and faculty member at the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh. Meeting rooms at the Middleton Public Library are named for Leonard Archer and Marion Archer.

The Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame is a project of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center which is a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation.

 

WI Library Hall of Fame Inductees for 2013

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The Steering Committee of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center, a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation, has selected four individuals to be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame in 2013. They will join thirty-six other individuals who have previously been inducted into the Hall of Fame. The 2013 inductions will take place at the WLA Annual Conference in Green Bay on October 23 at the WLA/WLAF Business Meeting.  The inductees are:  
 
Leonard B. Archer (1913-2003) Archer served as Director of the Oshkosh Public Library (1958 to 1978) and held a joint appointment as Director of the Winnefox Library System. He was an advocate for intellectual freedom and was named Librarian of the Year by WLA in 1975.

Katharine MacDonald Jones (1866-?) Jones was a national authority on the selection of materials for small public libraries. She joined the staff of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission in 1899, and served as Assistant Secretary of the Commission from 1901 to 1907.

Bernard Schwab (1920-1990) Bernard Schwab served as Director of the Madison Public Library from 1957 to 1981. He was President of the Wisconsin Library Association in 1966-67 and was named Librarian of the Year in 1970.

Miriam Downing Tompkins (1892-1954) Tompkins was a national leader in advancing the role of the public library in adult education. She served as Director of the Training Class (1919-1921) and Chief of Adult Education (1923-1929) for the Milwaukee Public Library. 

More extensive coverage of the accomplishments of these four individuals and previous inductees can be found at the Library Hall of Fame website.

Madison's Central Libraries

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The Madison Public Library's new central library was dedicated today. The new central library is a substantial remake of the central library building which was built in 1965. For all practical purposes it is a new building. The first separate library building for the City of Madison was a building built with assistance from Andrew Carnegie.  That building which was located at 206 N. Carroll Street opened to the public on February 23, 1906. One of the most unusual aspects of the building was that the Library School of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission (the predecessor of the UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies) was housed on its second floor.  The Carnegie building was razed after the completion of the 1965 building to make way for a parking lot. The 1965 central library building was named the Bernard Schwab Library in 1990 in honor of Schwab who retired as the Madison Public Library's Director in 1981. He played a major role in the design of the building which was built during his tenure.

pc-wi-madison-100

1906  Carnegie Building

Madison Central Library 1965

1965 Building, Named the Bernard Schwab Library in 1990

Madison Central Library 2013

New Central Library 2013

 

Beloit Exhibit for National Library Week

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The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center is helping to celebrate National Library Week (April14-20) with an exhibit at the Beloit Public Library. The exhibit will be on display until the end of April.  The exhibit of Wisconsin Library Memorabilia is available for display at Wisconsin libraries with certain restrictions. Contact Larry Nix at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

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Library Memorabilia Exhibit at Kimberly - Little Chute

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The Kimberly - Little Chute Public Library is a joint public library that, as one would expect, serves the communities of Kimberly, WI and Little Chute, WI. Both communities have their own library building, but are served by a single administrator and staff. The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center is sponsoring an exhibit of Wisconsin library memorabilia at the Kimberly library that will run through the end of November, and an exhibit at the Little Chute library that will be on display in January and February of 2013. Images of the exhibit at Kimberly are shown below. Because of the unusually large display area at the Kimberly library, the exhibit at that library is one of the largest exhibits that has been sponsored by the WLHC. The exhibit has also been scheduled for the Deforest Area Library in March and April. Libraries wishing to schedule the exhibit for future months should contact Larry Nix at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Kimberly exhibit 2

Kimberly exhibit 1

 

Wisconsin's Library Lions

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Oshkosh postcard

By far the most famous library lions are those that grace the front entrance of the New York Public Library's building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. The Oshkosh Public Library in Wisconsin also has a pair of library lions and, like those in New York, they have provided an important visual symbol of the public library. Also like the lions of the New York Public Library, the library lions in Oshkosh are named. They were named Harris and Sawyer in 1977 for two of the prominent early donors to the library.  Earlier this month the Oshkosh Public Library celebrated the 100th anniversary of the installation of the lions in front of the library in 1912. The celebration included a variety of activities including a "Lion's Pride" mini sculpture contest. The lions sit in front of the library that was built in 1900. A major expansion and renovation of the building took place in 1994. The Oshkosh Public Library has a commemorative history of the lions as well as an overall history of the library on its website. The website of the New York Public Library has a page on its lions. There is also a good printed history of the New York Public Library lions titled Top Cats: The Life and Times of The New York Public Library Lions by Susan G. Larkin (Pomegranate, 2006).

 This post was previously published in The Library History Buff Blog.

 

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