The Last Printer on Printers Row | Chicago magazine

Chicago was once the publishing capital of the country. If it wasn’t for a single beer in 1982, there wouldn’t be any namesake businesses in this South Loop district anymore.

This interesting story caught my eye when it first appeared in one of my book publishing news emails back in September of this year. That’s because I knew Chicago’s history as the publishing center of the U.S. a 100 years ago (Yes, not New York, but Chicago), and because I had attended a couple of times the Printers Row Book Festival, held annually out in the streets where the printers operated.

But I didn’t realize how deep the demise of the industry was, though I should have guessed it. While many of the major printers moved out, one company held on. Here is that story. I quote the first few paragraphs; the rest may be found at the link below.

A century ago, Chicago was the publishing capital of the country. It all started when the man who changed the printing industry forever—Ottmar Merganthaler, the German inventor of the Linotype machine—moved here in 1886 and set up shop a few blocks from Dearborn Station, at the intersection of Polk and Dearborn. Over the next 30 years, the neighborhood went from vice district to Printers Row, home of book publishers like M.A. Donohue & Co., magazine and catalog printers like R.R. Donnelley and Sons, and even mapmakers like Rand McNally.

Today, you can still see the legacy of these paper giants in the neighborhood’s architecture—narrow blocks and wide windows for maximum sunlight, books hidden in the ornamentation of early Chicago School skyscrapers, and terra cotta murals depicting the history of the printing press. But after printing technology changed in the 1950s, and sprawling factory floors were needed to house automated press machines, all of the printers fled Printers Row for the suburbs.

Well, all except for one. And if it wasn’t for a single beer in 1982, they would have left, too.

Source: The Last Printer on Printers Row | Chicago magazine | Politics & City Life September 2017

Published in: on November 17, 2017 at 12:16 PM  Leave a Comment  

PRC Seminary – New Building! 1973-74

Besides assisting me in the PRC Seminary library, Kevin Rau also helps with some archival projects, which, being a lover of history – especially church history! – he always enjoys.

The last few weeks he has been taking some time to sort through some old issues (donated loose ones) of the Standard Bearer, with his eyes alert especially to items related to PRC history – seminary news, church organizations/anniversaries, minister ordinations, mission news, memoriams, etc.

Sem-new-building-1973-74_0001

Yesterday, while going through some early 1970s issues, he found some news reports on and pictures of the construction of the new seminary building at it current location (4949 Ivanrest Ave., Wyoming, MI) when our theological school moved from the basement of First PRC in Grand Rapids, where it had been stationed for nearly 50 years.

Sem-new-building-1973-74_0002Since we did a feature on the 1993-94 addition to that building yesterday, today we will go back another 20 years to the construction of the original structure. And yes, you will note how free and clear the property was at that time of its current surroundings – not only tall trees, but also malls, stores, houses, and churches.

Sem-new-building-1973-74_0003In fact, I heard a cute story from our secretary yesterday (when I showed her the SB pics) that when they first moved into the area, she and her husband (the former registrar, whose name will go unmentioned to protect the guilty!) used to go on the roof of seminary on 4th of July evening – from which perch they could view fireworks in all directions! Can you see it? What a hoot, as a friend of mine would say. 🙂

Sem-new-building-1973-74_0004Happy Friday to you all! Have a safe and blessed weekend.

Published in: on November 10, 2017 at 3:49 PM  Leave a Comment  

The Oldest Treasures From 12 Great Libraries – Atlas Obscura

This wonderful library item recently was featured on Atlas Obscura, and today it is our “Friday Fun” post for this first Friday of November 2017. The editors gave this brief introduction to the post:

In the history of writing, bound books as we know them today arrive fairly late, so there are no actual “books” on this list. Instead, this is a wondrous collection of illuminated manuscripts, papyrus scrolls, and clay tablets. Some of these items you can even see in person, if you pay a visit.

Have you ever wanted to “see” some of these rare treasures? Now you can – through these images, but also in person if you wish. Find out more by visiting the link below, after reading the opening paragraphs next.

We asked some of our favorite libraries: What’s the oldest item in your collection?

When you start to think about the oldest books that a library might hold, there are any number of rabbit holes you can fall down. What’s the oldest book in any particular city? What’s the oldest book in the world? Well, what do you mean by “book”? The oldest written text? The oldest manuscript? The oldest printed material? The oldest bound book?

Librarians take these kinds of questions very seriously, so when Atlas Obscura contacted some of our favorite libraries to ask about the oldest books in their collections, we were treated to a wealth of information about the treasures they hold.

The New York Public Library, for instance, has not only cuneiform tablets and ninth-century gospels, but also a Gutenberg Bible and a copy of The Bay Psalm Book, one of the oldest books printed in America. In addition to its own cuneiform tablets and Gutenberg Bible, the Library of Congress holds one of the oldest examples of printing in the world, passages from a Buddhist sutra, printed in A.D. 770, as well as a medieval manuscript from 1150, delightfully titled Exposicio Mistica Super Exod.

Source: The Oldest Treasures From 12 Great Libraries – Atlas Obscura

Published in: on November 3, 2017 at 6:47 AM  Leave a Comment  

North Country Michigan in October

Shoreline near Arcadia, looking north

With a seminary reading recess on the calendar today and the latest Standard Bearer issue completed this morning (the second special Reformation issue!), my wife and I took the rest of the day off to take an overnight trip north along the western shoreline of our beautiful state.

Pt. Betsie Lighthouse – great waves today, as the wind picked up the farther north we went!

Yes, in mid-October the shoreline is still a fine destination. It was a mild day and we hoped the fall colors would be full and  brilliant. They were not, as the north country is also behind what it usually is. But it was still a splendid day as we stopped in Manistee, Point Betsie lighthouse, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, and Crystal Lake in Beulah.

Sleeping Bear Dunes, looking northwest toward the Manitou Islands

Included here are a few pictures from the many we took. Enjoy a taste of our day!

View of upper and lower Glenn lakes from the national park scenic loop

Though Saturday calls for storms and lots of rain, it’s a beautiful morning in Beulah-land so far (picture below is Crystal Lake with the Saturday morning sunshine on it). I spent some childhood summers at a cottage here with my family and family friends. Brings back good memories of fishing, swimming, and family/friends fun.

It was a good day (Saturday) to stay north. Though most of the lower half of the state had heavy rain, the north country didn’t receive it until late in the day.

So we went farther north, taking beautiful M-22 up and around the Leelanau peninsula. The fall colors were better and the views of the lake fantastic. At the top of the peninsula is Leelanau State Park, where sits the stately Grand Traverse lighthouse. But before you get to that, you walk by this unique northern white cedar tree (above).

Once again, the skies opened and we enjoyed sunshine and 60 degree (F) temperatures.

They even did a fog horn demonstration and opened up that separate 1889 building, which is now a museum. 

But the lighthouse – built in 1858! –  is definitely the magnificent structure on this northernmost point of the peninsula, serving the ships and sailors for many years.

****************************************

This last part of the post was designed for a “Friday fun” item (even though I conclude this post on Saturday night after we returned home).

Lest we forget our Reformation month tribute, we include this photo I took at grandparents’ day at Adams’ Christian School on Wednesday. It is also a Friday fun item. If only we could hear Luther comment on this pumpkin picture 🙂

The Libraries of Famous Men: Louis L’Amour | The Art of Manliness

It has been some time since we posted an item from this ongoing series from “The Art of Manliness,” (cf. this post) but with their recent posting of a new one on “The Libraries of Famous Men” we are prompted to do so too.

This “AOM” post highlights the library of the noted Western author Louis L’Amour, of whom I am sure many of our male readers (and their sons – I had one who loved to read his books!) are familiar.

Below is a portion of the extended article on L’Amour, his personal library, and his books. A familiar story-line emerges from these library articles: famous men who wrote good stories were first of all good readers – which explains their own extensive libraries. Read on, and be inspired to build your own manly library – and, then, perhaps you too may become a writer. 🙂

Though he’ll rarely be praised for writing beautiful or lyrical prose, L’Amour is one of the top 25 bestselling authors of all time, and when you ask grandpas — yes, as a whole category — about their favorite authors, he seems to almost universally top their lists. L’Amour writes with a realistic quality that isn’t easily matched in the genre, balancing both the romance and realities of Western life. His action scenes are superb, but more striking are his lifelike depictions of the landscape, the horses and horsemanship, the movements and habits of American Indians. Few have ever researched and truly lived the West like L’Amour.

As a reader, L’Amour’s only match may have been Theodore Roosevelt himself. The Western writer had a library of over 10,000 books, and averaged reading 100-120 books per year — “reading approximately thirty books a year on the West in its many aspects” both for pleasure and in order to stay on top of his writing game.

And it wasn’t just books either — he regularly read magazines, newspapers, and even small town pamphlets and brochures. He noted that it was in those smaller collections of the printed word where one got into the nitty gritty of understanding things and that “They are often valuable additions to the larger pages of history.”

I found this section of the article interesting too. Be inspired to read!

Louis L’Amour’s Philosophy of Reading

1. Reading is your education. Even though Louis didn’t graduate high school, and his only college degrees came much later in life in the honorary form, he received quite an education, entirely of his own doing. He realized that to be successful, he would need to be educated, and that college was not in his cards. So he pursued an autodidactic curriculum of his own volition:

“The idea of education has been so tied to schools, universities, and professors that many assume there is no other way, but education is available to anyone within reach of a library.”

Source: The Libraries of Famous Men: Louis L’Amour | The Art of Manliness

Save

Published in: on October 6, 2017 at 9:21 AM  Leave a Comment  

The Women Who Rode Miles on Horseback to Deliver Library Books – Atlas Obscura

This fascinating story appeared on the August 31, 2017 email highlights of the Atlas Obscura website. It was headed by the simple title, “Librarians are amazing.” Being one and , therefore, being somewhat prejudiced, it would be easy to agree. But I will let this story from the Great Depression years inform your own mind.

Below are a few excerpts; find the rest of it at the link below. O, and be sure to look at the amazing archived pictures, especially at the end – a fine collection on the Kentucky pack horse librarians!

They were known as the “book women.” They would saddle up, usually at dawn, to pick their way along snowy hillsides and through muddy creeks with a simple goal: to deliver reading material to Kentucky’s isolated mountain communities.

The Pack Horse Library initiative was part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration (WPA), created to help lift America out of the Great Depression, during which, by 1933, unemployment had risen to 40 percent in Appalachia. Roving horseback libraries weren’t entirely new to Kentucky, but this initiative was an opportunity to boost both employment and literacy at the same time.

…By the end of 1938, there were 274 librarians riding out across 29 counties. In total, the program employed nearly 1,000 riding librarians. Funding ended in 1943, the same year the WPA was dissolved as unemployment plummeted during wartime. It wasn’t until the following decade that mobile book services in the area resumed, in the form of the bookmobile, which had been steadily increasing in popularity across the country.

 

Source: The Women Who Rode Miles on Horseback to Deliver Library Books – Atlas Obscura

Published in: on September 29, 2017 at 7:30 AM  Leave a Comment  

The Rare-Book Thief Who Looted College Libraries in the ’80s – Atlas Obscura

Our post today may not be a very funny “Friday Fun” item, but it sure is strange and interesting.

Read on about the man who eluded librarians, library security, and police for years, stealing nearly half a million dollars worth of rare books from college and seminary libraries, wiping away marks of previous ownership, and reselling them to unsuspecting booksellers.

Below is the beginning of this tale of library-book terror, followed by a picture of one of the 19th-century travel books the clever cleptomaniac confiscated.

On the evening of December 7, 1981, Dianne Melnychuk, serials librarian at the Haas Library at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, noticed an unfamiliar gray-haired man of early middle age lingering around the card catalog near her desk. He had attempted to appear inconspicuous by way of nondescript, almost slovenly dress, but at almost six-and-a-half feet tall, with a 225-pound frame, he stood out.

Something about him rang a bell. Melnychuk discreetly followed him up to the sixth level of the stacks, and carefully observed him from the end of a row of shelving. In spite of the glasses he wore that evening, his face clicked in her memory.

A little later the article tells us more about this infamous book thief and how he plied his trade:

Far from casual, James Shinn’s approach was premeditated. It is believed that he would compile a “want list” of valuable books by reading library journals to find titles of value. Next, he would scan the National Union Catalog to determine which libraries held the desired items. He made an extensive study of library security techniques that allowed him to accumulate tools and tricks to avoid them. And he rarely bothered with a book valued under $300.

To finish reading this fascinating story, visit the link below.

Source: The Rare-Book Thief Who Looted College Libraries in the ’80s – Atlas Obscura

Published in: on August 25, 2017 at 4:02 PM  Leave a Comment  

Friday Fun: Cubs-Diamondbacks’ bullpen antics during rain-delays

On this rainy Friday here in West Michigan, my thoughts turn to the rain delays at Wrigley Field in Chicago yesterday, when this cool front started to make its way through the area.

In another classic display of bullpen entertainment, the Cubs pitchers challenged the Arizona Diamondbacks to some friendly competition. And what you are about to see is the result.

Great, fun baseball stuff. Even if the Cubs lost. No wonder they are the lovable winners! 🙂

Need a good laugh on this cool, gloomy Friday afternoon? Cheer up with these images and video. Yes, by all means, watch the video found at the link below.

Here’s part of the description as found on the MLB.com website:

The D-backs beat the Cubs, 10-8, on Thursday in a game that featured three rain delays (Paul Goldschmidt homered after EACH one). Although much action happened on the field, perhaps the most important action occurred during the second stoppage in play in the Wrigley Field bullpens.

Source: Antics amaze in D-backs-Cubs delays | MLB.com

Published in: on August 4, 2017 at 3:59 PM  Leave a Comment  

Letis Collection Book Plates

20170707_112932

The last couple of weeks Andrew Koerner, my new summer library helper, and I have returned to cataloging some more books out of the Letis collection.

20170705_083725While the majority of the best books for our seminary library have been incorporated from this collection, we are now working on some of the specialty books (Dr. Letis had, for example, a good number of books on Roman Catholicism, feminist theology,  and biblical higher criticism.).
20170705_152913One of the interesting features of some of the older books is the book plates in the front. Some reflect Letis’ own stamp on the book he purchased,  while others reflect the former owner, including individuals and libraries – and in one case, a convent.
20170707_112323I post pictures of a few here for your enjoyment.
20170707_112059I bought some beautiful plates a few years ago from a local book store, and have placed them in a few of my favorite books. 🙂

20170707_112530

20170707_112418

20170707_112656

Published in: on July 7, 2017 at 9:44 PM  Leave a Comment  

Beautiful Miniature Books – in Iowa! Atlas Obscura

This week the geography folks at Atlas Obscura featured another great book item in one of its daily mailings (You are receiving these, right?!). This one is about a collection of miniature books at the University of Iowa. – including a teeny, tiny book containing the Bible book of Genesis (see the image here).

Here is the first part of the story about this collection. Read the rest at the link below. And visit the entire collection at the UI link in the quotation below.

In 1896, the Salmin Brothers, a Padua-based publishing company, produced Galileo a Madama Cristina de Lorena (Galileo’s Letter to Christina). It had an embossed cover and slipcase, but it had another, exceptional feature: It was sized at just 0.7 by 0.4 inches. Within, the text is printed in “fly’s eye type,” which is so small that when the Salmin Brothers first used it, for Dante’s Divine Comedy, it reportedly damaged the eyesight of the typesetter. This time, it was used in a title about one-third the size of the previous example—the smallest book ever printed with hand-set, movable type.

Galileo’s tiny tome is just one of some 4,000 miniature books held at the University of Iowa, most of which were gifted to the institution from a single collection. The donor, Charlotte M. Smith, was an avid collector of rare books, but as volumes began to overwhelm her bookshelves, she turned to miniatures. Her first purchase was a 3.75-inch-tall edition of Clement Clarke Moore’s A Visit From St. Nicholas (more commonly known by its opening line, “‘Twas the the night before Christmas … ”).

Source: Beautiful Miniature Books That Are Worth Sacrificing Your Eyesight For – Atlas Obscura

Published in: on June 2, 2017 at 6:28 AM  Leave a Comment