Old Las Vegas

John C Fremont

John C Fremont

Long before the casinos and show business, Las Vegas was an important place in Nevada. It all began when John C. Fremont drew a map during a camping trip in 1844…

In Early Las Vegas by Dr. Karen Miller, take a look at the early years of Las Vegas as depicted in period drawings and photographs. The city takes its Spanish name from a group of springs providing an oasis from the desert.  Each of the six chapters is preceded by an explanatory note about the time period.

In the first chapter, a drawing by one of the settlers shows Las Vegas as it appeared in 1855.  One thing you’ll immediately notice: not much else around besides desert! It would serve as a traveler’s rest stop for many years as the Mormon and Old Spanish Trails ran through the area.  Eventually there was mining and ranches.

Boulder Dam

Boulder Dam 1942

In 1902, Helen J. Stewart, a local ranch pioneer, sold some land which lead Las Vegas to become an important city in the west.  The construction and arrival of the railroad through southern Nevada helped Las Vegas take off in 1905.  Another major development occurred in 1928: President Calvin Coolidge authorized the construction of Boulder (now Hoover) Dam. This major public works project helped Las Vegas through the Great Depression. Although the book ends in the 1930s, you can see how Las Vegas was shaped during its history. Today you can visit a few of the historical landmarks shown in the book.

Other related Nevada titles are available from Arcadia Publishing.

This month, the American Library Assoc. (ALA) Annual Conference returns to Las Vegas for the first time since 1973.

Las Vegas Sign

Las Vegas Sign

For me, this will be my second time visiting Las Vegas.  I first went there as a college student on a family summer vacation.  My dad had been on a business trip in metro Phoenix, AZ beforehand so we flew to Las Vegas after he was done. We stayed at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino which was then a new addition on the famed Strip. We visited Hoover Dam and drove through one of the state parks.  Despite the desert heat, I enjoyed the trip.

Hope to see you in Las Vegas!  Stay cool while you’re out and about.  And don’t forget to have plenty of water and sunscreen!

 

To PUBLIB readers who attended ALA in 1973, please share your memories in the comments!
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Old Chicago Revisited

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As ALA Annual returns to Chicago this month, it will be my second time there for a library conference.  I enjoyed seeing the city when Annual was held there 4 years ago. I hadn’t been to Chicago since I was a high school freshman.  My parents and I lived south of the city for a year, and we frequently visited.  As I did 4 years ago, I plan to do some historical sight seeing.  Below are a few local history books I have read and enjoyed about Chicago.

Chicago: A Biography by Dominic Pacyga

Chicago Fire Map - 1871

Chicago Fire Map – 1871

From a seasonal hunting ground of Native American Indians to a frontier trading post to a major metropolitan city, the history of Chicago is told as a biography.  I learned a lot about the city reading this book. The 1871 fire is only one event of many in Chicago’s history. Pacyga is a native of the city.  Maps and black and white illustrations included.

Then & Now: Chicago’s Loop by Janice A. Knox & Heather O. Belcher

Originally published in 2002, the famed Loop is shown in past and present photographs. The name dates to 1882 when an old cable car route ran through what was then the business district.  Some places have changed since the photos were snapped while others still remain intact today.

Marshall Field’s by Gayle Soucek: THE department store that helped define Chicago.

The store was founded by Marshall Field, a transplant from Massachusetts. At the time of Field’s arrival in 1856, Chicago was a bustling city. However there weren’t many stores to shop. Field changed that. Harry G. Selfridge, founder of Selfridges in London, got his start here. (His life story is the subject of “Mr. Selfridge” on PBS’s “Masterpiece Classic”) My parents and I visited the famed store a few times.

As an aside, I was shocked to see the same building renamed as Macy’s in 2009.  It was bad enough seeing Hecht’s, a longtime D.C. department store chain, renamed as Macy’s!*

State Street by Robert P. Ledermann

If you went to shop in Chicago, this street is where you did it.  Take a look back of what it was like to be on State Street and what’s ahead for the famed street. It includes a chapter about other well known stores and lots of wonderful photos.

Lithuanian Chicago by Justin G. Riskus

Lithuanians were among the immigrants of various nationalities who settled in Chicago during its history. Released in January by Arcadia Publishing, this book is a photographical history of the Lithuanian-American community.  If you have a Lithuanian relative or two who settled in Chicago in your family tree, this book should be of interest.

Encyclopedia of Chicago: an online resource about Chicago with maps and other special features

In Old Chicago

In Old Chicago

Finally, if you have a chance to see it, the Oscar winning 1937 movie “In Old Chicago” is a fictional dramatization about the O’Leary family and the 1871 fire. It is in black and white; it is currently available on DVD.

Whether you’ve been to Chicago previously or going for the first time, enjoy visiting the city and see you at McCormick Place!

* Two of Hecht’s sister stores were Filene’s and Kaufmann’s, based in Boston and Pittsburgh respectively.

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Favorite Books of 2012

Favorite Books for 2012 – Library Inspired Selections

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On November 15, 2012 David Faulkner david.faulkner@austintexas.gov via listserv.oclc.org announced on Publib :

What is the best book you read this year? The book could have been published any year as what matters is that you read it in 2012.

Let me know either through Publib or via my email david.faulkner@austintexas.gov and I’ll compile the results and make them available early in the new year – you are free to nominate as many books as you want..

All genres and forms of books are open so nominate your favorite:

  • graphic novel
  • children’s book
  • romance novel
  • audiobook, etc.

This will be the 10th year I’ve compiled this list so if you’d like to see previous lists you can find them all on Best of Publib ~

David
Austin (TX) Public Library

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Local History with Beignets: Discovering Vieux Carre/French Quarter

Discovering Vieux Carre/French Quarter

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~ Elisa Babel, MLS

Louisiana Purchase

Louisiana Purchase

The room where the Louisiana Purchase was signed.  How an apartment in 1850 would’ve been furnished.  The magnificence of historic St. Louis Cathedral. Documents written in Spanish, French, and English. How New Orleans celebrated Mardi Gras in yesteryears. These are a few of the things I saw while visiting the museums in the French Quarter.

This was my third ALA Annual and my first time in New Orleans. I stayed at the Holiday Inn-French Quarter on Royal Street so history was on the doorstep.

June 24

Friday was my free day so I spent the day discovering the history of the city.  After going to the convention center to get my badge and tote, I set out for the afternoon in the French Quarter. I had an early lunch at Café Beignet which was a short walk from my hotel.  I enjoyed a croissant sandwich and a side of beignets.  Délicieux! Delicious!  I liked the Café because it was quieter and not as busy.

My first museum stop was the Historic New Orleans Collection complex on Royal Street.  Here I viewed “The Threads of Memory” exhibit–a display of rarely seen documents about the Spanish presence in North America. The collection also included some documents on Louisiana under French control and then American acquisition. Moving on to the next gallery, I was impressed by colonial Spanish religious art in North America.

Cathedral St. Louis

My next stop was at St. Louis Cathedral, the Mother Church of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. The church is named for the royal patron saint of France. The Cathedral has a long history and is the oldest continuously used Catholic cathedral in the United States. I was impressed by the magnificent interior.  One of my favorite parts of the building was the ceiling. I spent a few minutes praying and took a few photos. The next day I returned for the 5 pm Mass after a long day at the convention center.  As a souvenir of my attendance, I took the church bulletin on my way out.

After leaving the Cathedral, I went to the Cabildo.  This building had once served as the seat of government during Spanish colonial rule. Later it was home of the Louisiana State Supreme Court before it became a museum in 1911.  Aside from learning a few facts in school, I never knew about the city’s long and rich history. It had changed hands between the French and Spanish before the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.  On the second floor, I visited the room where the signing took place and the painting of the 1803 ceremony.  I remembered seeing that painting in my American history textbook in grade school.  When I finished visiting all the exhibit rooms, I’d gotten a fascinating tour of New Orleans through time.

Before leaving my hotel earlier, I had made a reservation for a 4 pm walking tour of the French Quarter.  I met my tour guide Mike from Magic Tours in front of K-Joe’s Restaurant. Two others were supposed to come but they didn’t!  We walked through the French Quarter, stopping at various landmarks along the way including Jackson Square, the riverfront, Napoleon House, the Pharmacy Museum, and Madam John’s Legacy.  Mike told me fascinating historical bits and architecture about the city.  I now know why oversized colored water jars were placed in period pharmacy windows. Duelling behind the Cathedral? I’m sure the priests weren’t happy about that!  Since it was a hot day, Mike frequently directed me towards shade.

June 28

I had the morning free before going to the airport and home.  I went to the 1850 House off Jackson Square.  This is one of the buildings built by the Baroness Micaela Almonester de Pontalba in 1850 hence the name. I entered the house through the gift shop on the ground floor and mounted a staircase. The rooms are furnished as they would have been of the time period.  Various families lived there along with their slaves and household staff in the back.  In 1927 it became a state museum.

New Orleans Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras New Orleans

My second and final museum was the Presbytere next to St. Louis Cathedral. Originally the Presbytere housed the Capuchins, a Catholic religious order.  In the 19th century it was used as a courthouse then became a state museum in 1911. Originally I didn’t plan to go.  A reproduction of a 19th century Mardi Gras poster outside did it for me. Once inside, I ran into one of my colleagues as she was coming out from an exhibit on Hurricane Katrina. We went up to the Mardi Gras exhibit on the second floor.  It’s a fun exploration of how this New Orleans tradition evolved over the centuries.  There’s also a room about how Mardi Gras is celebrated by the Cajuns in the nearby Louisiana parishes.

Afterwards we went out to lunch near the Cabildo and then I had to leave for the airport.  Although most of my time was split between the convention center and the French Quarter, I had a great time in New Orleans.

Just as you get a generous serving of food in any restaurant in New Orleans, I could say the same about its local history.  Plus having a few beignets on the side.

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Civil War 150: DC

Civil War 150 : District of Columbia and Freedom Rising

~ Elisa Babel, MLS

Fort Sumter

This month marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War–the opening salvo was at Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor in the early morning hours on April 12, 1861.

The war not only changed the nation–it also changed Washington, DC as a capitol and hometown.

Last month I read Ernest Furgurson’s Freedom Rising, a nonfiction book about DC during the Civil War years. Since I work in DC, the 150th anniversary seemed like a great time to discover the city at that time.

Furgurson writes a fascinating and informative story of how the Civil War impacted the city and shaped it to what is today. When President-elect Lincoln arrived for his inauguration in February 1861, there wasn’t much about DC to attract people for a visit. As the book progresses through the war years, Furgurson introduces the reader to the people, events, and places in the city as well as what happened officially. 

I enjoyed the descriptions of city life and neighborhoods at the time.  The landmarks mentioned are either still standing today or long gone. I recognized some of the people who came to DC for one reason or another while others I didn’t know. 

By April 1865, DC is no longer the sleepy town it once been. Black and white maps of the city are included. I enjoyed this book and learned more about DC along the way.

Around the city and in Maryland and Virginia, you can find Civil War heritage sites to discover and enjoy.  The Washington Post is featuring a special section online  of the 150th anniversary.

On April 15, Emancipation Day will be observed in the District of Columbia.  This city holiday commemorates the signing of the DC Emancipation Act signed by President Lincoln in 1862,  freeing all slaves in DC. 

This Emancipation was enacted  nine months before the more famous Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.

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Best of PubLib 03.14.10

Best of Publib Current Topics and Archives

Video coming soon

This edition of  Best of Publib covers the weeks of March 1st  through March 14th 2010. This edition includes questions about collection development, thought-provoking discussions about  known inaccuracies in ‘non-fiction’ works , circulation manager duties ,  humorous anecdotes regarding blondes ,  and the impact of closing public school libraries: 

Take our Poll!  

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Best of PubLib ALA Midwinter Exhibit Hall Review

Best of PubLib at the ALA Midwinter Meeting Exhibit Hall Review

This week,  Best of Publib covered the ALA Exhibit Hall at the Boston Convention Center.   The HD video below includes hundreds of vendor displays.  We hope it will help you imagine the experience if you were not able to attend, or help refresh and reinforce what you learned.  

 
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Boston Convention and Exhibition Center

The Boston Convention Center was an excellent venue for ALA. The train brought us to South Station - just a few minutes away from the hotels and convention amenities.   There are many local publishers and library suppliers within a short distance, so start-ups and unique product suppliers could present affordably.  And, Boston rocks!  The Freedom Trail, Duck Tours , along with world-class museums and libraries are within short distances of the convention center.  

The organizational effort by ALA and attention to detail by the library vendors was outstanding. It was easy to lose track of time on the exhibit hall floor amidst the panorama and noise.  It took on a casino / carnival atmosphere with prizes to win and vendors pitching their games. High above, you could use the Food Court sign as a directional beacon.  

Of all the hundreds of vendors represented, we chose to review five.  

The first is : I-Concepts which defines itself as Innovative Concepts for Nonprofit Organizations.  We could imagine many libraries outside of Boston benefiting from this service, along with fostering a general appreciation of local history archives.  If you are looking for a way to both encourage collection use and raise funds – i-concepts may be the answer. The Amelia Earhart print was fascinating.  

LibraryThing.com/forLibraries

The second  is : LibraryThing. Tim Spalding along with his gregarious black-shirted  horde truly represented the best of Open Source, Library 2.0 and viral marketing. They were eager to engage and highly entertaining.  

The third vendor is : LE@D-Lifelong Education @ Desktop from the University of North Texas   This group was absolutely charming and demonstrated infectious enthusiasm for their services. They dressed in some of the most colorful attire at the exhibit.  Le@D  provides highly affording library training. According to Director – Kevin Haney (in the middle with the green shirt) – costs are as low as $15 for a course! Enthusiastic library training –  Deep in the heart of Texas!  

New York Times

The fourth vendor is: The New York Times offering 50% off Home Delivery Service
 Marketing was conducted by On the Avenue Marketing Group with this excellent salesperson hawking half-price subscriptions. She may have been the hardest working individual in the exhibit hall. Yet, it was somehow troubling that this was the limit of representation of the New York Times publishing empire.  

III

The fifth vendor is: III – Innovative Interfaces Incorporated. III is one of the heavy hitters in the Library industry. Many libraries are dependent on their products and they have  a loyal base. I worked on two transitions to III – the first at Brown University from CLSI and the second at CLAN libraries from Horizon. I have used III for over twenty years and find it offers outstanding service. However, what I observed in the exhibit hall was troubling.  

The III booth was very well-appointed and designed with several interactive product displays. It supported a large group of associates to answer questions. Yet, few were actually engaged in discussions with anyone but their co-workers. A librarian approached two of the representatives to thank III for providing a pass to the exhibit hall. One of the representatives took a look at the librarian’s badge and said something to the effect of :

 “Well ______ must have been giving away those passes all along the east coast, we had another librarian from ____ stop by earlier “.

Then the rep rattled off a few names of people they considered important from that same institution and basically dismissed the librarian. There was no sales pitch. No offer to demo. Merely, a dismissal. 

Library Service, especially in the public library sector, ideally levels the playing field. Service is equal. In contrast, some vendor representatives have obviously been instructed to find out the station of the exhibit hall attendee, determine if they were of the buyer / influencer class and dismiss the others. Yet, the nature of libraries and librarians as technology consumers requires generating interest throughout an organization and getting everyone to buy in. If you have six vendor representatives at an exhibit and you don’t have a crowd around your people, then you should generate interest by engaging everyone.  All of the library vendors were start-ups at one point.   

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The exhibit hall may be the most effective way to get hands on experience with some of the newest and most exciting products in the library world.  The meager twenty-five dollar entrance fee – or having an inside vendor representative hook you up for free makes the experience well worth the visit.  

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