Daniel W. Lester Library Postcard Collection


A Carnegie Library at McPherson College, c. 1910.

In November the ALA Archives received a very generous donation of over 6,000 library postcards from Daniel Lester, now called the Daniel W. Lester Library Postcard Collection. The postcards made a cross country journey, courtesy of Larry Nix, from Mr. Lester’s home to the ALA Archives where they are now open for researchers to access.

The majority of the postcards are from the United States and contain a wide range of photographic and pictorial cards of public libraries, Carnegie library buildings, academic libraries, presidential libraries, private libraries, library interiors, and even a few archives! While most of the postcards are from the United State, the collection does hold some international cards. Personal postcards to Mr. Lester were sent from the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Turkey, and Estonia, to name a few.

Hamilton Public Library

Hamilton Public Library postcard made of wood.

Many of the postcards in the Lester Collection show off the architecture of the library building, sometimes celebrating a new or historic building. You can see the change in some library buildings throughout the years with the postcards. Others reveal what lies inside the library, such as a “Treasure Room” in the Widener Library at Harvard University. And there are others that have surprised us at the archives, such as a couple of postcards made of leather, and a postcard of the Hamilton Public Library in Ontario that is made of wood!

These postcards are a wonderful addition to the archives collection of materials on library history. The archives staff thanks Mr. Lester for his generous donation and for making this collection available for researchers!

Here are other library postcard collections held by the ALA Archives:

Sjoerd Koopman Library Postcard Collection, 1900-2003

Celene Bishop Library Postcard Collection, 1900-80

Judy Muck Library Postcard Collection, 1900-2007


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One Comment

  1. Jerry A. McCoy
    Posted January 14, 2015 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

    As a deltiologist for over thirty year, It pleases me greatly to see that the humble postcard is finally being recognized by researchers as an important historical resource. Here at the District of Columbia Public Library’s Washingtoniana Division, I am working my way through metadata entry for the Willard R. Ross Postcard Collection. This collection consists of real-photo postcards taken by Willard R. Ross (1860-1948) of “hometown” Washington, DC and local environs between 1910 and 1930. What is unique about the collection is that it incorporates not only Washingtoniana’s collection but large collections owned by two local collectors who were generous in allowing their collections to be scanned and shared with the world. Check out the database at http://digdc.dclibrary.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/p16808coll3

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