Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Fight ignorance with vintage library posters - Dawn Finch

As a writer and passionate librarian I collect all things library and book related, and I have a particular love of vintage library posters. This this is just a small collection of my favourites. Library information posters have been produced all over the world, but in my opinion the very best are from the US and most are now part of the American Library Association's archive. This is a remarkable online resource and holds some fascinating material. The site is well worth a visit and at the foot of this gallery you can find links to some of my favourite parts of the collection.

Hope you enjoy these posters.....

I think they mean for you to ask for the book you want....but maybe they also had a shelf marked "friends"? I've known librarians keep all sorts under their desks.

The campaign for more books in the home is not exactly new.

A large number of library posters were produced in the war years as it was considered that ignorance was one of the greatest enemies a society faced. The ALA have a collection of wartime posters and you can find a link to these at the bottom of this gallery.
This campaign poster from 1918 encouraged people to donate fiction to soldiers serving at the Front. The government was concerned that soldiers would forget what they were fighting for, and so "good American literature" was regarded as essential to the mental well-being of the men. This campaign was so successful that by the end of the war over seven million books had been sent overseas with American soldiers.
The campaign had a rebirth in 1943, and has never officially ended.

At a time when fuel for vehicles was at a premium, people were being actively discouraged from driving by the Office of Defense Transportation, however this meant that library borrowing fell. It was considered that this was a serious enough issue to address and so there was an increase the number of mobile libraries and the librarians took the library to the people instead.

I do love a good book of fancies.

(yes, quite frankly this one is disturbing....)

Do visit the ALA archive as it's a remarkable resource. Here are links to some of my favourite parts of the archive:
  • The Archive Poster Collection
  • The FW Saxon photograph collection - this is a collection of photographs of librarians at ALA conferences from 1894 - 1932. I kid you not, it's brilliant!
  • WW1 collection - a collection of photographs showing the world of librarians during the war. This is one of my absolute favourites as I'm working on a librarian at war story (so hands off!) Watch out for a blog post about librarians in wartime coming soon...
  • War Service Posters - I could spend all day flicking around these collections.
Post written by 
Dawn Finch
Vice President CILIP
CWIG Committee member
Children's writer and school librarian

NB - Not all of these posters are part of the ALA archive, however it is my understanding that these are all public domain and all were part of public information campaigns. If you know otherwise, please do let me know and I will correct. Thank you.


Pippa Goodhart said...

Those are wonderful! Thank you.

Penny Dolan said...

Thanks for today's fine "gallery", Dawn - even that strange little girl with film star haircut. Wasn't Theodor Seuss Guisell, pre "Dr Seuss", originally involved in writing reading material for US soldiers once WWII revealed illiteracy in the recruits? And was inspired by that to create early readers that were entertaining fun? (I'm sure illiteracy was a problem here too.)

Dawn Finch said...

I believe he was. I shall have to see if I can find any of his material. It's fascinating that they knew how important fiction was for the people fighting overseas. I wonder what was most popular?

Penny Dolan said...

Ssssh! I'm also hoping that the "Donate A Book to Your Library" idea doesn't become the Austerity UK default for our Public Library Book stock. Gone Girl infinitum

A Midwest Bookmobile Librarian said...

I'm afraid the mobile library poster is not legit. True, the Office of Defense Transportation wanted to encourage citizens to save fuel, but the original poster was referencing vacationing at home, not visiting bookmobiles.

Artist Phil Bradley altered a number of WWI and WWII era posters, re-imagined as
library campaign posters.
This is certainly one of the funnier ones!