Saturday, June 24, 2017

An Archival Mystery... Solved in the Children's Room!

Have you ever wondered about the large metal book press solidly fastened to the circulation desk in the Children's Room?  I hadn't given it much thought, myself, long assuming that it was just a helpful fixture in the library.  We use it to repair books and it couldn't be handier.


The counter itself is a piece of Gardiner history.  For many decades, it belonged to the  Maxcy Insurance office on Water Street.
Working in the Community Archives Room (and relatively obsessed with all things historical in the library), I had read the plaque on the counter and knew that the desk had stood in a long-operating, family-owned insurance office here in Gardiner for many, many years.  Somehow, however, I never paused to consider just why an insurance office would need a book press....
The counter was donated to the Library by the daughters of an employee who ultimately inherited the company.
In the 1830s, Smith Maxcy brought his growing family to Gardiner from Windsor, Maine, and operated a grist mill on Bridge Street.  He was widowed three times in his life, raising five sons and three daughters in Gardiner.  The eldest son, Josiah, married Eliza Jane Crane and remained in Gardiner, where they raised five sons of their own.  In 1853, Josiah established his own insurance agency, which, as several of his sons joined the business, ultimately became Josiah Maxcy & Sons Insurance.  It operated for over a century in the upper floors of where Ampersand Dance Studio is now located. 

We were lucky to receive a donation of a large collection of Maxcy business and family materials in the Archives some years ago.  Josiah and his son William Everett Maxcy were significantly involved in Gardiner business, as well as many municipal and charitable activities and the collection provides amazing glimpses into our local history over many decades.

One item, in particular, has fascinated me for some time.  It is a book of numbered pages of the thinnest paper - it resembles onion or tracing paper, but even thinner.  There is an index in the front of the volume and each of the tissue-thin pages bears a hand-written (or, occasionally, a type-written) letter.  All are dated about 1913.  When a researching descendent stopped by some months ago, we were equally flummoxed by just what this book was and how it was created.  The pages were too thin to write on directly - they would tear too easily - and, clearly, the book contained "copies" of official correspondence sent out by the office.  These weren't carbon sheets and they hadn't been compiled and bound together after they were created.  





Naturally, a Google search helped to deliver some additional evidence and we found both an answer AND a second mystery revealed and solved.  It turns out that this bound volume was a "letter book" or a "pressed letter book" and was a state-of-the-art method of copying outgoing correspondence in the mid- to late-19th century and early 20th century.  

Much faster than re-writing a copy of a letter, these books required the use of a special copying ink in writing the initial letter and then quickly placing the letter beneath a moistened page of tissue paper in the letter book.  Then, with sheets of oil cloth inserted to protect the other pages,   the volume was slid into the press and the top was screwed down to tighten and impress the moist page against the freshly written letter.  What resulted was an inverse image of the letter on the back of a page of tissue paper thin enough to read properly from the front!
One of our Google search hits came in this illustrated chapter discussing various examples of "Business Practices and Technology" one might find in archival collections.

The process may not have required an advanced skill set to complete, but it did demand a bit of savvy in its operation.  The sloppy example below was found in our letter book and was likely an instance of too much moisture allowing the ink to bleed.



 The explanation of this common technique of copying office papers was simultaneously informative and enlightening.  A-ha! Our book press in the Children's Room had certainly come with the desk when it was donated and it's long history had absolutely nothing to do with book repair.  
Instead, it was likely one of the first and most used "copy machines" in town!


- Dawn Thistle, Community Archives Room






Saturday, June 17, 2017

Book Sale 2017

 Have you ever wondered what a Library Book Sale might look like???

Following are some pictures of the creation and set up of Gardiner Public Library's annual Book Sale.


Many, many boxes of books and media have been unloaded from the closet.  They appear miraculously (please note the sarcasm in that word) in the Hazzard Reading Room.


The boxes seem to multiply!
The sorting has begun!
More sorting fun!
Empty boxes are beginning to appear!
An empty table!!!  It won't be empty long, I'm sure.
For those of you using an actual computer, and not a device of some type, imagine this photo turned 90 degrees.  What appears as the bottom is actually the right side of the picture.
This is a wall of EMPTY boxes!!!
It's truly beginning to take shape!
Looks like every inch of space is being used!
We even use the floor under the tables.

Ann Russell, Technology Librarian







Saturday, June 10, 2017

Amish Macaroni Salad



Looking back at my previous blogs, I saw that on July 25, 2015 I had posted one about Marjorie Standish and particularly her Macaroni Salad Recipe.  I recently made a variation called Amish Macaroni Salad that was equally wonderful but different from hers.  It came from www.allrecipes.com; try it out this summer.

Amish Macaroni Salad
  • Prep 15 m
  • Cook 10 m
  • Ready In 1 h 25 m
Recipe By:CONNIE0751
"A colorful and flavorful macaroni salad made with hard cooked eggs, bell pepper and celery in a creamy dressing. Best macaroni salad I have ever had. I always get many requests for recipe. Enjoy!"
Ingredients
  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 3 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons dill pickle relish
  • 2 cups creamy salad dressing (e.g. Miracle Whip)
  • 3 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon celery seed
Directions
  1. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add macaroni, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until tender. Drain, and set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the eggs, onion, celery, red pepper, and relish. In a small bowl, stir together the salad dressing, mustard, white sugar, vinegar, salt and celery seed. Pour over the vegetables, and stir in macaroni until well blended. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.
Scott Handville, Assistant Library Director

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Great Summer Reads from Minerva!


As you are packing for your vacation, or heading out to camp, don’t forget to take a stack of books with you! Summer is a great time to relax with a good book. Following are some great summer reads you may want to take with you! They can be reserved through via Inter-Library Loan through the Minerva catalog system.


The Salt House by Lisa Duffy

A beautifully written novel set during a Maine summer, about a family finding their way through grief, love, and hope after an unforgettable accident.




Secrets in Summer by Nancy Thayer

A young woman who works at the Nantucket library during the day gets some unexpected new neighbors for the summer. As she is drawn into their lives over the course of the summer, she has a dilemma and must decide what she truly wants.





Gone Gull by Donna Andrews

A young woman spending the summer at the Biscuit Mountain Craft Center is helping her grandmother run the studios. But someone is committing acts of vandalism, threatening to ruin the newly-opened centers reputation.




Magic by Danielle Steel

Each year the “White Dinner” takes place on a summer evening. The stories of seven people are interwoven, lives will be forever changed on an unforgettable night of possibilities.



Sarah Duffy, Library Assistant