By KATHY WOODRELL
On April 24, the U.S. Postal Service sold 46,000 Library of Congress commemorative stamps exclusively at the Library of Congress. Although the first day of issue in Washington was one of several prominent events, thousands of people attended "second-day" ceremonies for the commemorative stamp at more than 200 public, state, academic, school and special libraries across the nation. The term "second day of issue" is used to denote any stamp issuance event after the first day of issue. Most libraries held events between April 25 and May 31, although a few libraries, such as the Milton (Delaware) Public Library, held events later to coincide with a local celebration—in this case, the annual hot-air balloon festival in Milton.
Libraries around the country were encouraged to embody the American Library Association theme "Libraries Build Community." Although many libraries used their second-day issue events to forge or strengthen partnerships with local groups or organizations, to commemorate a local anniversary or to celebrate the founding of their own library systems, several viewed the program as a great reason for a party.
More than 600 libraries requested a stamp-issue-event planning kit from this writer, who served as the second-day issue sites program manager. All told, 220 libraries in 43 states and Puerto Rico held events.
During the American Library Association's annual conference in Chicago in early July, the George C. Hall Branch of the Chicago Public Library (the system's first branch to promote African American literary culture) was given a National Literary Landmark Award by Friends of Libraries USA. Chicago Postmaster Rufus Porter presented a matted and framed plate of the Library's Bicentennial stamp to Mary A. Dempsey, Chicago Public Library commissioner. The Library's commemorative stamp was also featured on the giveaway cover at the event.
Many libraries invited congressional, state and local officials to take part in stamp events. Rep. Rush Holt from New Jersey's 12th District spoke at the South Brunswick Public Library's unveiling of the Library of Congress stamp. Kansas Lt. Gov. Gary Sherrer attended the ceremony at the Lebo Branch of the Coffey County Library. At the Meadville Public Library in Pennsylvania, Mayor Richard Friedberg, a professional philatelist, made a brief presentation — both as the mayor and a stamp dealer.
Other second-day events include:
- Two Ohio libraries used stamp-issue celebrations to spotlight or plan a new building. The Huron Public Library combined the stamp event with the groundbreaking ceremony for a new library building, and the Fairport Harbor Public Library took advantage of the event to highlight plans for renovating the library and building a new senior citizen center.
- Both the Florida Library Association and the Oklahoma Library Association held second-day issue events as part of their annual conference. In Tuscaloosa, Ala., four libraries, the Tuscaloosa Public Library, the University of Alabama Library, Stillman College Libraries and Shelton State Community College Libraries, held a cooperative celebration.
- Two hundred people attended an event sponsored by Salisbury, N.C.'s Rowan Public Library held at the China Grove Roller Mill Museum; the small town of China Grove holds a place in postal history as the site of the first rural free delivery in North Carolina and one of the first three sites in the country.
- The Saline (Michigan) District Library planned its event to celebrate the library's centennial. Rare items from the collections were on display, and the public was encouraged to bring in books to be appraised by local book dealers.
- The Wisconsin Division for Libraries, Technology and Community Learning in Madison held a cooperative event for the Wisconsin Library Association and the State Historical Society. It also developed an easily adaptable cancellation for participating Wisconsin libraries throughout the state.
- Many participating libraries created special envelopes or "cachets" for fund-raising purposes. The Illinois State Library cachet featured Abraham Lincoln; profts from the second-day cover will benefit the Illinois Center for the Book.
- Friends of the Norwalk Public Library (Ohio) offered cachets designed by Martin Buchanan; all proceeds will benefit library programs. The Traverse Area District Library in Traverse City, Mich., also used the second-day event to raise funds.
- The Wyoming State Library developed a cachet combining a photograph of Mabel Wilkinson, a librarian in Platte and Park counties in the early 1900s, with an advertisement for a librarian. The candidate "must be able to get along with western people, ride and drive, as well as pack a horse, follow a trail, shoot straight, run an automobile and be able to rough it whenever necessary."
- The Carnegie-Stout Public Library in Dubuque, Iowa, held the stamp issuance with its annual event to recognize volunteers, using the theme "Library volunteers have our stamp of approval." The Emmaus, Pa., Public Library System linked its stamp event with the annual book sale.
- The Kate Love Simpson Morgan County Library in McConnelsville, Ohio, designed a pictorial cancellation featuring its building, and "Zippy the Postal Bear" attended the festivities. The Palestine (Texas) Public Library had local artist David Smith create a pen-and-ink drawing of the library for its commemorative envelopes.
- Several libraries, including the Gary (Indiana) Public Library and the Park City (Utah) Library served birthday cake to visitors in observance of the national library's 200th birthday.
Roberta Stevens, Bicentennial program manager, said, "Early in our planning, we decided to involve libraries and local citizens in the Bicentennial celebration as a goal of the program. We thank the U.S. Postal Service and the more than 200 libraries throughout the nation that illustrated with their second-day issue events that 'Libraries Build Community' and that the Library of Congress is 'America's Library.'"
As a gift in honor of the Bicentennial, each participating library is sending a canceled envelope commemorating its event for the Library of Congress Archive, housed in the Manuscript Division. Names of all participating libraries will soon be listed on the Library of Congress Web site at www.loc.gov/bicentennial/items_stamp.html.
Ms. Woodrell is a reference librarian in the Main Reading Room.