Any library that has been in operation for one hundred years has developed a rich and varied collection of materials both for home use and for in-house reference purposes. Many items from NOPL's predecessor institutions--the Fisk Library and the City Library--remain on the shelves, especially in the reference collections on Loyola Avenue. The small sample from the Library's holdings represented on this and the next panel give testimony to the heritage that this institution is preserving and to the wealth of information that it offers to its users.
Margaret Ruckert, left, head of the Louisiana Department, with the Library's 1962 exhibit of carnival memorabilia. The Louisiana Division's Carnival Collection today includes thousands of original invitations, dance cards, programs, and krewe favors produced by and for dozens of carnival organizations over the last 130 or so years.
A generous gift from Martha Gasquet Westfeldt made possible a circulating collection of art prints at the New Orleans Public Library. Originally housed at the Milton H. Latter Memorial branch, this collection moved to the new Central Library in 1958. A segment of the collection is pictured in this photograph taken at Latter, ca. 1950.
The combination of these two libraries gave to the city a collection of over thirty thousand books. These books were of a much higher standard and more scholarly character than those usually found in circulating libraries.... The books of both the Fisk and the Lyceum were selected by ripe scholars who gathered such material as a studious body of readers would enjoy and delight in; and the combined libraries provided, for its size, one of the most complete collections of the classics of all languages and all times that existed in this country.[Annual Report, 1907, p. 6]
The Latter branch also housed the LaHache Music Library, including NOPL's collection of phonograph records, a portion of which is shown in this 1950 photograph. The recordings also moved from Latter to Central in 1958. The Periodicals, Arts and Recreation Division continues to circulate records along with cassette recordings and compact discs. The newer recording formats are also available at several of NOPL's branches.
One of the Library's most extensive photograph collections, the David Barrow Fischer Collection of steamboat images, was donated by members of the late Mr. Fischer's family. The Fischer Collection is housed in the Louisiana Division.
The international nature of New Orleans and the growing number of multilingual citizens in the city, prompted a search for special funds to increase the foreign language collection. With a grant of $450.00 from the Friends of the New Orleans Public Library and $1731.00 from the Hernsheim Fund, the library collection in foreign languages was augmented to 15,000 volumes. Works by outstanding contemporary and classical authors in fiction, social science, and poetry were purchased. Although major areas of purchase included works in French, German, and Spanish, books in Greek, Italian, Polish, Hebrew, Serb, and the Scandinavian tongues were also added. [Annual Report, 1968, p. 2]
Many old and rare volumes from the Library's past remain in the collection today. The Beauties of Shakspeare, published in 1780, is an interesting example of a popular collection of excerpts from the Bard's voluminous works. This photocopy of the title page from volume one is an enlargement from the original "pocketbook" format.
One of the oldest and rarest volumes in New Orleans Public Library's book collection is this 17th-century French genealogy. It is shelved in the Louisiana Division, which has housed NOPL's genealogy collection since the 1970s.
Three Departments of the Main Library were moved the first part of 1963 in order to help us give better service to the public.... The Louisiana Department was moved to the third floor and made a closed reference department. Research work may now be done in the quiet atmosphere necessary for concentration. The Art and Music Department was moved to the second floor where its collections are now accessible to people who come to see the many displays of art and related subjects on the bridge. The Fiction Department was moved to the main floor with the result that many patrons do not have to use either the elevator or the stairs during their visits to the Library. Our public is enthusiastic about the changes. [Annual Report, 1963]
In conspicuous contrast to the ancient du Chesne tome is one of the newest genealogical tools available--CD ROMs. NOPL offers the Latter Day Saints Family Search collection of CDs along with a number of discs that index census records, marriage records, and other research materials.
NOPL's record collection was traditionally strong in the areas of jazz and opera as evidenced by these two selections.
The Martha Gasquet Westfeldt Art Collection, donated by Mrs. Westfeldt, brought Library patrons Oriental ceramics dating back to 200 B.C., a related collection of art reference books, and a fund to inaugurate a long-awaited service--a circulating collection of framed art reproductions. The sixty-nine prints purchased during the year were in constant demand, with long reserve lists for many of the pictures. [Annual Report, 1952]
NOPL has long maintained a large and important Government Documents collection comprising tens of thousands of publications issued by agencies of the U.S. government. These documents cover a seemingly infinite variety of topics. Where else are you likely to find illustrations of prize specimens of American poultry from the last century? These are from the Dept. of Agriculture's Yearbook for 1896.
This map of a portion of the New Orleans harbor, showing details of land structures not likely to be found elsewhere, is from the Annual Report of the Mississippi River Commission for the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 1895 published as part of the Report of the Secretary of War (1895). The volume is part of NOPL's Government Documents collection, housed in the Business and Science Division.
In compliance with an act of the Louisiana Legislature, all books in German have been withdrawn from every department. [Annual Report, 1916-1919, p. 11]
One of the special resources in NOPL's genealogical collection is the 128 volume set of Lineage Books published by the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. According to this letter, most of the set originally was on loan from the local Sons of the American Revolution. Mrs. C. Robert Churchill changed the deposit to a donation in her husband's memory following his death in 1946. [Herbert S. Livaudais Donation, in memory of Samuel H. Livaudais, Sr.]
The New Orleans Public Library's periodical collection dates back well into the 19th century. This number of Scribner's Magazine dates from the month of the Library's establishment.
One of the many local periodicals represented in the Library's collection is the Mascot, a weekly tabloid that chronicled the seamy side of New Orleans during the gilded age of the 1880s. The Louisiana Division has microfilm copies of the Mascot for the period 1882 through 1895.
The United States Library for the Blind has been established in the New Orleans Public Library. The credit for this outstanding achievement is due to Dr. Herbert Putnam, Librarian of Congress. The New Orleans Public Library has now thousands of volumes in Moon and Braille Types, as well as disks for the Talking Book, which we are circulating to the blind who reside within the territory half way between New Orleans and Atlanta, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Dallas. [Annual Report, 1932-1934, p. 11]
In addition to the Government Documents collection housed in the Business and Science Division, the Library's Louisiana Division holds an excellent collection of state documents. Shown here is the cover of Governor Murphy J. Foster's 1900 message to the Louisiana Legislature.
This photo of a Charity Hospital horse-drawn ambulance is from the 1906 Annual Report of the hospital. The Louisiana State Documents Collection holds copies of these reports from 1880 through 1964.
The Haspel Doll Collection, installed June 9, attracted numerous persons. This group of 500 dolls from practically every nation is perhaps the finest in the South. Its value to students of geography and costume has been outstanding. Through the generosity of the Haspel family the dolls are to be kept in the Library permanently, or until either of the contracting parties desires a change of plans. [Annual Report, 1941, p. 7]
This reproduction showing a detail from a classic Doric portico was made from one of dozens of engravings in Peter Nicholson's three volume Principles of Architecture, published in London during the year 1836.
This finely lithographed invitation to the 1873 ball of the Knights of Momus is one of thousands in the Library's Carnival Collection, one of several special collections housed in the Louisiana Division.
Cox Cable New Orleans through the Arts & Entertainment Network, donated to the library "The A&E Library Theatre." The donation consists of a 20" TV monitor, a videocassette recorder, a collection of six A&E program cassettes varying from classic dramas to historical documentaries, comedy, performing arts and five companion books. [Annual Report, 1990, p. 4]
Although NOPL no longer circulates art prints, its collections still include many art books filled with fine reproductions of classics representing all art forms. This reproduction of Edouard Manet's "At the Cafe" is from Samuel Rocheblave's 1941 volume, French Painting XIXth Century.
We have expended much time and energy in the effort to complete [the United States document] collection and fill in all gaps. We have met with considerable success in this undertaking and I believe we now have a more complete collection of United States Government documents than any other library south of Washington. [Annual report, 1911, p. 11]