This week’s blog post is inspired by a piece of history found within the pages of a book in the history section of the library.
Donations to libraries have often been designated in honor of the donor or in honor of a person chosen by the donor by placing a bookplate inside the book. One such bookplate used in books in the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library in the past bears this image:
“Ex libris” is a common phrase on bookplates, especially in personal libraries, as it is Latin for “from the books” or “from the library,” usually followed by the name of the individual or organization that owns the book.
This bookplate indicates that the book was donated to the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library by the Mansfield Memorial Library Board.
As previously discussed in this blog, the Memorial Library Association (or Board, later) was the originator of the public library in Mansfield. The membership of the Memorial Library Association was, from its foundation, female, although men could become honorary members. The organization was founded in 1887 and first had its library in the Memorial Building, also known as the Soldiers and Soldiers Hall, on Park Avenue West.
However, when the Carnegie library on West Third was built (what is now the Main Library), the Memorial Library Association was replaced in its oversight role by a board of trustees appointed by the city. Instead, the Memorial Library Association carried on its work in supporting the library by hosting lectures, fundraising, and donating materials to the library. This is where our bookplate comes onto the scene, placed into books that were donated to the library, especially when the books were donated in memory of someone.
While the Memorial Library Association had been supporting and donating materials to the library since it opened in 1908, this particular bookplate was used beginning in about 1941. In the Mansfield News Journal from April 27th, 1941, the bookplate made its public debut, and is cited as having been designed by Louis Lamoreux, a local architect best known for designing the “Big House” at Louis Bromfield’s Malabar Farm, now Malabar Farm State Park [Mansfield News Journal, 27 April 1941, page 14]. Some of the early books to bear this bookplate were North American Wildflowers, which was donated in memory of Mrs. Frank Black, and Flowers and Fruit Prints of the Early 18th and 19th Centuries, donated in memory of Mrs. Henry Weaver. Both women were past presidents of the Memorial Library Board.
Have you come across anything seemingly inconspicuous that was hiding years of history lately?