Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Today's work of art: Page from an old library book

If you can see the beauty in this page from the front of a discarded library copy of The People of Montana, we're kindred spirits and you're definitely on the right blog.

There's so much of interest here. So much of the story of where and how this book was used ... a tale told by its stamps, stickers, circulation-card pocket and more.

Let's start with the book. The People of Montana was written by Ralph C. Henry1 and published in 1958 by the State Publishing Company in Helena, Montana. The 237-page volume was used as a civics and social studies textbook for public-school students in Big Sky Country. It includes chapters on Montana's history, climate, geography, cities and towns, government and school system.

The circulation-card pocket tells us that the book was shelved in the Carnegie City Library in Kalispell, Montana.2 The Carnegie City Library, constructed with a $10,000 grant, was one of 17 Carnegie libraries built in Montana between 1901 and 1918. It is now, appropriately, Kalispell's Hockaday Museum of Art.

The Carnegie City Library was part of the Northwest Montana Federation of Libraries, a regional cooperative that was formed in 1945 and provided book-lending and bookmobile services to the region.

The People of Montana was given the number 978.6 — the designated number for general Montana history — in the Dewey Decimal System. It was, according to a hand-written note, shelved in the Juvenile books section.

At some point later in its life, the book became part of the Flathead County Library System3 and received a barcode. It was checked out in February 1993 and March 1995, according to a pair of stamps. And then, at some unknown point, the book was stamped WITHDRAWN. It eventually found its way to at least one used-book store before ending up in York, Pennsylvania.

The Flathead County Library System, by the way, has also gone by the wayside and been renamed as (or replaced by) ImagineIF Libraries. The ImagineIF collection includes several books on Montana history by Ralph C. Henry, whose middle name, it turns out, was Chester. Those titles include Treasure State: The Story of Montana for Junior Montanans and Our Land Montana: The Story of Our Treasure State.

As a final fun note, here's a closeup of the tiny logo at the bottom of the circulation-card pocket. I wonder what company that is.

Thematically related posts

Also, I've recommended it before, but you should absolutely check out Kerry Mansfield's portfolio of images of old and discarded books.

1. Ralph C. Henry also used the pen name "Eric Thane" for some of his other history and non-fiction writing, according to a note at the beginning of the book. That's a bit interesting, because you don't see many non-fiction authors using pen names.
2. Kalispell is the birthplace of Brad Bird, director of The Incredibles.
3. Flathead County was founded in 1893 by Wurb Flathead, a descendant of Dimwit Flathead.

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