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October 6, 2010

Lighthouse Traveling LIbrary


From the Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy website:


Lighthouses were often times located in remote areas, and as such had no access to city services such as libraries, opera houses, entertainment, etc. enjoyed by most people who lived in a town or city. Light keeping was a lonely profession, in most cases supplies were brought by lighthouse tender ships. One of the items the tender supplied was a library box (above and below) on each visit. Library boxes were filled with books and switched from station to station to supply different reading materials to the resident families.


In 1876, portable libraries were first introduced in the Light-House Establishment and furnished to all light vessels and inaccessible offshore light stations, with a selection of reading materials. These libraries were contained in a portable wooden case, each with a printed listing of the contents posted inside the door. Proper arrangements were made for the exchange of these libraries at intervals, and for revision of the contents as books became obsolete in accordance with suggestions obtained from public library authorities.

The books were carefully selected from books of a good standard appropriate to the families who would use them. While largely fiction, other classes of literature were included in reasonable proportions including technical books when requested. The books and periodicals contained in the libraries remained the property of the Light House Establishment and each was marked in the front with the official Light-House Establishment bookplate (below).


The beautiful 3" x 4-½" bookplate label bears wonderful images of an iron pile lighthouse, Minot’s Ledge Light, and a lightship, and bears the words "The Property of the Light House Establishment."



[via Cary Sternick]

October 6, 2010 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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That is so neat.
I know squat about old books, other than that I love them. It was most interesting that today, in my final day of jury duty (didn't get called, drat it - got questioned for a kind of interesting murder case, but didn't meet the needs, ultimately), the little "library" that they have in the jurors holding pen had several beautiful really old-looking books, leather covers and everything. One I got the chance to actually fondle was a volume of The Waverly Novels, Sir Walter Scott, dated 1891. In amongst all the Danielle Steel(e?) and Stephen King! Curious.

Posted by: Flautist | Oct 6, 2010 6:37:43 PM

A great piece of history.

Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | Oct 6, 2010 6:33:32 PM

Funny to say, this was like the internet to most back then.

Most of us will never be on a month or two plus journey that anything other then existing was prized!


Posted by: Joe Peach | Oct 6, 2010 6:21:53 PM

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