“To meet him was to always meet an old friend:” F. W. Faxon

In honor of the upcoming American Library Association Conference:

A TOAST TO THE TRAVEL COMMITTEE
(Tune: “Lord Goffrey Amherst was a soldier of the King.”)

Oh, here’s to Mr. Faxon and our jolly A. L. A.
And the travel committee too,
And here’s to Mr. Phelan, who has left us by the way,
And forsaken our merry crew,
And here’s to Mr. Brown, who came direct from Brooklyn town;
To chaperone the party was his cue.
And here’s to Mr. Wellman, who’s our leader all the way,
and last, but not least, HERE’S TO YOU.

Chorus: A. L. A., A. L. A.,
‘Tis a name that’s known
From sea to sea,
A. L. A., A. L. A.;
From the A. L. A. are we. [1] 

ala-9901014-5-004

A Group of Librarians in Colorado
Record Series 99/1/14

One of the most beloved members of the American Library Association, Frederick Winthrop Faxon (1866-1936) “was not a librarian, but for almost forty years, he devoted himself to serving librarians and promoting the library idea.”[2]  A bibliographer and a businessman, his research on American magazines produced several bibliographies on the genre.  He was the owner of the F. W. Faxon Publishing Company, which produced among other publications the Annual Magazine Subject Index (1907-1949), Dramatic Index (1909-1949), Modern Chap Books and Their Imitators (1903), and a Checklist of Popular English and American Periodicals (1908).  As he wrote to his college class secretary, “I consider I have been the means of helping many library searchers for information.”[3]

In addition to his bibliography and publishing work, he was deeply involved with the American Library Association.  He served as Secretary from 1900 to 1903, Travel Secretary from 1896 to 1900, Chairman of the Travel Committee from 1902 to 1934, and an official delegate for the meeting of the Library Association of Great Britain in Liverpool in 1912.  Throughout his lifetime, he attended 43 ALA conferences.[4]

One of the highlights of the American Library Association Archives’ collection is a series of  F. W. Faxon’s photographs of the ALA conventions from 1894-1932.  His photographs and humorous narrations offer an intimate and entertaining view into the lives of librarians.  Viewers see unguarded librarians in the early 20th century show earnest glee as they wade into streams with their knickers and leather heels.  His witty narrations of librarians traveling to the ALA conferences enliven several years of American Library Association Papers and Proceedings.

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A Group of Librarians in Narragansett Pier,
Rhode Island
Record Series 99/1/14

According to the Wilson Bulletin for Librarians, “few men had more friends among librarians.”  When Faxon died in 1936, the Iowa Library Quarterly wrote “to those who have travelled on a special train to the ALA conferences, news of the passing of Frederick W. Faxon, of Boston, will come with a sense of loss.  He was genial, accommodating and to meet him was to always meet an old friend.”[5]

As Faxon wrote for the Papers and Proceedings of the Thirty-Eighth Annual Meeting in July of 1916: “Look back and consider what these years of A. L. A. membership and travel have meant […] (t)he broadening of our vision, the interchange of ideas with workers from all parts of our country, the ever-increasing incentive to make our libraries even more useful and efficient, such are a few of the advantages of membership in the American Library Association.” [6]

Have a great Conference!

The Staff of the American Library Association Archives

For more information:

Sullivan, Peggy. “Chugging To Conference The ALA Way.” American Libraries 12.2 (1981): 92.
Faxon Photographs and other Digital Collections in the ALA Archives.

The following Faxon articles can be accessed for free on the Internet Archive through the following links:

Faxon, F. W. “Pasadena Conference, 1911.” Bulletin of the American Library Association. Vol. 5, No. 1. Papers and Proceedings of the Thirty-Seventh Annual Meeting of the American Library Association (January, 1911), pp. 1-2.

Faxon, F. W. “Ten Thousand Miles of A. L. A. Travel.” Bulletin of the American Library Association. Vol. 9, No. 4. Papers and Proceedings of the Thirty-Seventh Annual Meeting of the American Library Association (July, 1915), pp. 199-207.

Faxon, F. W. “Times Past – Twenty-Four A. L. A. Conferences Recalled.” Bulletin of the American Library Association. Vol. 10, No. 4. Papers and Proceedings of the Thirty-Seventh Annual Meeting of the American Library Association (July, 1916), pp. 286-293.

 

References Cited:

[1] Faxon, F. W. “Ten Thousand Miles of A. L. A. Travel.” Bulletin of the American Library Association. Vol. 9, No. 4. Papers and Proceedings of the Thirty-Seventh Annual Meeting of the American Library Association (July, 1915), pp. 199-207.

[2] Cveljo, Katherine. “Frederick Winthrop Faxon.” Dictionary of American Library Biography. 1978.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Faxon, F. W. “Times Past – Twenty-Four A. L. A. Conferences Recalled.” Bulletin of the American Library Association. Vol. 10, No. 4. Papers and Proceedings of the Thirty-Seventh Annual Meeting of the American Library Association (July, 1916), pp. 286-293.

 

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