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MBLC Celebrates 125 Years


Book repair at a Baltimore library

Women repairing books at the Enoch Pratt Library in Baltimore, Maryland as a part of the 1936 WPA projects. Over 94 million books in libraries throughout the U.S. were repaired by WPA workers.1

The project for cataloging and book repairing - sponsored by the WPA (Workers Progress Administration) and administered by the Board of Free Public Library Commissioners - repaired, cleaned and shellacked over fourteen hundred books in nine public and four high school libraries in the Commonwealth.2

With the support of LSTA funds, the MBLC today offers a preservation program focused on preservation advice/service to libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies throughout Massachusetts. Among the many services provided is the training in the preservation of library and archival material.

And if 2015 readers are curious about book shellacking, in the American Library Association's Mending and Repair of Books, 3rd ed. published in 1916, it is recommended to "hold book by printed matter and apply shellac, which may be diluted with a little wood alcohol, taking care to shellac edges well. Give two coats; between coats, suspend on cord overnight to dry. After last coat, rub with soft cloth slightly oiled with olive oil."3

What else happened in 1936?

  • Margaret Mitchell's novel Gone With the Wind was first published; it won the Pulitzer Prize during the following year. It was later made into a movie that debuted in Atlanta in 1939. Both the book and movie remain icons of American culture.4
  • Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink received the 1936 Newbery Medal for children's literature. Set in the 1860s, young readers in 1936 escaped the Depression with the story of 11-year-old Carolina "Caddie" Augusta Woodlawn of Dunnville, Wisconsin and her newfound life on the frontier.5
    The lean times of the Depression inspired many works of literature for young readers in decades since. 2000 Newbery Medal winner Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis told the story of Bud Caldwell, a 10-year-old orphan living in Flint, Michigan in 1936.6

book jacket images of Caddie Woodlawn and Bud Not Buddy
(Book cover images from Wikipedia)

1. "New Deal of the Day: Women and the WPA (part 5 of 10): Libraries, books, and reading," retrieved 06/04/2015 [link].
2. Forty-Seventh Annual Report of the Board of Free Public Library Commissioners for the Year Ending November 30, 1936.
3. Mending and Repair of Books, 3rd ed., American Library Association Library Handbook, No. 6, 1916, compiled by Margaret Wright Brown; revised by Gertrude Stiles.
4. [link].
5. [link].
6. [link].