Librarians Through the Years


Dorthea Lange is one a handful of photographers that everyone knows. If you don’t know her name, you know her work:

Wary looking woman sits with a baby in her arm and her chin in her hand. Two children stan on ether side of her, brying their faces in her shoulders.

Florence Owens Thompson aka “Migrant Mother” by Dorthea Lange via Wikipedia

I like Lange’s portraits from the Great Depression. They are what I expect when I see New Deal art: downtrodden people but still people with dignity. Then I saw a photo of hers in this collection of librarians through the years. The lighting is beautiful and dramatic.

I love that librarians were included in her documentation of the time…and that the Farm Security Administration included libraries as part of their camps and public works.

When funds were tight in the 30s, they recognized the importance of libraries and created them…now when funds are tight, libraries are facing cuts. This makes me angry. But this blog isn’t about that.

I wanted to celebrate librarians. These photos in this Mental Floss article are great snapshots of librarians at work from the 1890s to the 1940s.

My aunt is a librarian and she has always fought to keep information free and accessible — be it romance novels or internet access — for everyone. She’s worked in libraries that had giant mushrooms growing in the bathrooms because they didn’t have the funds to take care of them (as a kid, I thought it was the coolest shelf), and she’s recruited her family to spend part of their Christmas vacation reshelving books during a remodel. I wish I had a picture of her at work to include in the article.


2 thoughts on “Librarians Through the Years

  1. bethfinke

    Three cheers for librarians — am sharing this link with every one of them I know, thanks for writing this —

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