Sonoma County Wine Library

It has been quite a long time since I posted anything, but I have a very good excuse (I think).  I finished my MLIS!  It’s hard to believe that I finally finished my three years and a few months journey through grad school.  It was an exhausting fall and holiday season and I needed some time away from the computer to recuperate and relax!

One thing I did to celebrate was to go wine tasting for the day with the bf.  Coincidentally, BayNet was hosting a tour of the Sonoma County Wine Library that same day.  Even luckier for me, the bf was into supporting my nerdiness and happily went on the tour with me.

The tour was back in October, so forgive the lateness of this post.  Like I said, I’ve been avoiding the computer for a couple of months.  Anyway, it was a good turnout and the Wine Librarian (how do I get that title?!?), Jon Haupt, pulled out some fun items to share with the group.

The library is located inside the Healdsburg branch of the Sonoma County Library system.


They have about 6,000 items in the collection, including 1,000 rare books, ephemera, periodicals, and wine-related clippings.  Topics include agriculture, cooking, viticulture, food, cheese, beer and liquor, regions, the wine business, and winemaking.


They use the Koha catalog system for their OPAC.  The collection is cataloged using the Dewey Decimal System.


The periodicals area, with approximately 60 different magazine subscriptions



The oldest book in the collection, published 1518 (but much older than that), the Libri de re rustica by Marcus Porcius Cato.  (See the digitized version at the Internet Archive!)


This was a beautiful and enormous book from 1900 containing illustrations of French grapes.  (I didn’t catch the name of it, sorry, so please let me know if you know the title.)


This is a fun pop up book – Hugh Johnson’s Pop Up Wine BookPublished in 1989.


Another rare book was one published in Spain in 1584 the Libro de agricultura: que tracta de la labranca y crianca, y de muchas otras particularidades y prouechos del campo, by Gabriel Alonso de Herrera.  The book is on winemaking, which he said they might have used for reference in the California missions.  See the digitized version at the Internet Archive.)


This is the rare books and clippings area.


More rare books


Subject files.  The clippings are in a database, but new items are not currently being added to the existing database.

Like many other special libraries, the Wine Library did not have a collection development policy when the librarian began, and they are out of space for the physical collection. He has not had time to do any deaccessioning. The library also does not have a strategic plan, although he would like to create one.

I thought these were fun..

And then there is the ephemera!  I totally want this game.



And a scrapbook on the region


An interesting special collection at the library is of wine labels.


Some of the food and cooking titles


Finally, I passed by the famous seed library inside the main Healdsburg branch


It is a great special library and I’m so glad I had the chance to see it.  It’s open to the public, and I recommend you visit if you can!


Sutro Library tour

A little while back, I had the opportunity to take a tour of the Sutro Library in San Francisco.  This is one of my most favoritest libraries evah, so I jumped at the chance to get a behind the scenes look.  The library is part of the California State Library system and has one of the largest genealogy collections west of Salt Lake City, which is how I discovered it.  However, it wasn’t until more recently that I learned of all the amazing other things hidden away in their collection.  I thought they had a lot of goodies in the stacks, but there were even more in the archives.

sutro library sign

I began visiting the library somewhere around 10 years ago to try to find the birth family of my grandfather, who gave him up for adoption with no info other than his parents’ names.  Lo and behold, I broke the “brick wall” of this part of the family tree in a dark room of the library filled with microfilm machines and drawers full of census records.  Ever since then, I’ve loved this place.  Their resources are amazing.  I’ve even found my mother in a Honolulu telephone book.

sutro library books

The library moved in 2012 to a new space on the San Francisco State University campus.  Since that was the year I also began the MLIS program, I never had the chance to visit.  I was happy to discover it was worth the wait.  The space is of course much larger, but also brighter (no windows in the last place that I can remember) and felt more welcoming.

sutro library study area

The Sutro Library collections come from Adolph Sutro, a former San Francisco mayor and apparently an extremely avid book collector who had the largest private library in the world at the time.  Sutro felt that San Francisco was still pretty wild, as it wasn’t too long after the Gold Rush, and wanted to make the city more modern and cultured.  His philosophy was to buy in bulk, even purchasing books that had been thrown in the trash.  One such example is the library’s Mexicana collection, where Sutro bought the inventory of the largest book store in Mexico City, the Libreria Abadiano, yielding several thousand items pre-1900 and much more.

sutro library stacks

Unfortunately, Sutro died (1898) before the library he envisioned was built and the books were stored in two different locations.  Even more unfortunately, the 1906 earthquake and fire destroyed an astounding two-thirds of the books, yet 70,000 managed to survive.  Sutro didn’t keep an inventory (!) so the library is not sure what did not survive the quake, but they do have some receipts and other things to help piece together the original collection.

sutro library surname catalog

The real excitement began when we went into the closed stacks, and a conference room where the librarian had already brought out special items for the tour.

sutro stacks

sutro stacks

I learned that these enormous books are called elephant folios

elephant folios

Bound issues of The Star

the star london

A mysterious miniature cuneiform tablet that they don’t know how got into the collection

cuneiform tablet

Tlatelolco library, part of the Mexicana collection, from 1500s to 1700s

mexicana collection

A Shakespeare first folio from 1623, one of only 233 in the world (all of the books from here down were already opened, so I couldn’t get any pics of the covers.)

shakespeare first folio

A first edition of the King James Bible, 1611

king james bible

“King Charles I, his speech made upon the scaffold”, 1649.  This is the speech made before his execution.

king charles I speech

This book from 1470 is the first printed book of music.  I didn’t catch the name of it while I was there, but after exploring the library’s catalog, I believe this is the Constitutis, cuattentione dicende by Johannes Gerson.

first printed music book

A Japanese print

japanese print

An illuminated book

illuminated book

The library is cataloged with both Library of Congress (LC) and Dewey Decimal, and they are slowly converting everything to LC.

Some of the other resources available are:

  • A surname catalog (a bunch of people on the tour started checking to see if their surnames were in it!)
  • A locality catalog
  • 10,000 British pamphlets
  • American pamphlets from the 1500s-1800s
  • Works Progress Administration records
  • Sutro Baths posters
  • About 50 incunabula (pre-1500)
  • 4,000 family histories
  • Daughters of the American Revolution publications
  • Italian manuscripts from the 15th to 17th centuries

The library is open Monday through Friday from 10 to 5.   The library also offers email and online reference support.  The staff has always been very helpful and friendly when I’ve asked questions.

Holyoke Public Library Then and Now

Sorry so quiet lately, but I think I have major senioritis and have been trying to spend as much time offline as possible.  But, I have a bunch of new vintage library postcards to share, starting with Holyoke, MA!

Holyoke is one of the larger cities in western Massachusetts, located on the Connecticut River near Springfield, with about 40,000 residents.  It was the first planned industrialized city in the country and was once a huge paper manufacturer.

The Holyoke Public Library was founded in 1870 by the Holyoke Library Corporation as a private organization, at a time when the population was only 10,000 people.  After receiving a donation and 1200 books, it opened in an old schoolroom, with Sarah Ely serving as its first librarian.  As a private library, it charged $1 a year to check out books until 1886.  In 1876, it moved to a room in City Hall.  It was moved to its current location in 1902 in what was a 25,000 square foot building on Maple Street and is one of the few neoclassical style buildings in the city.  In 1912, a natural history museum opened in the library and stayed until the 1950s.  From the 1940s to 1950s, the system opened three branch libraries, but they appear to have closed.

The library then, circa early 1900s


And now, in 2013 after a renovation

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The library underwent a huge renovation in 2013, which added a teen room, computer lab and classroom, study rooms, a community room, and reading areas.  The remodel also added an additional 15,000 square feet to the building, and moved its entrance to what was originally the back.  What do you think about the new addition?  The design couldn’t be more different.

The library has 11 librarians and library assistants, and a History Room archivist, among other staff.  The History Room has information on Holyoke and genealogy resources.  It also offers digital collections.  The library has free streaming movies and music and career resources for patrons. And it has the common children’s, teen, adult, and reference services, online catalog, and events. The only thing that really struck me about the website is the very first thing on the home page is a large message asking for donations with a PayPal button.  I’m all about supporting libraries, but it seems like the services should be listed first and asking for donations toward the end.

When I wrap up classes in December, I think I’ll contact the History Room to see if they can help research a few Irish ancestors who lived in Holyoke back in the mid 1850s.  What a wonderful resource!


Holyoke, Mass Holyoke Public Library page

Holyoke Public Library official site

City of Holyoke History

Library grand re-opening article

2013 Images

Sunset Branch Library visit

I always tell myself I won’t feel bad when I get too busy with school and work to blog here, but I still do.  So, I’m back with a featurette on the Sunset Branch of the San Francisco Public Library, which I visited this week.

The Sunset Branch is one of eight Carnegie libraries here in San Francisco.  Built in 1918, it was also the eighth branch of the library.  According to the SFPL, the branch is at the site of an old barn that boys used to use as gun target practice!  I can’t even picture it.

The library in 1918.  It still looks pretty similar.

2100201701Image source


Different authors are featured around the exterior

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The front has some really pretty details

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I couldn’t get any pictures inside because it was packed.  It’s a two story building, renovated in 2007, with the main stacks upstairs and a children’s area downstairs.

See even more historical photos of this branch here.

Currently reading: Who Could That Be at This Hour? by Lemony Snicket and CSS3: the Missing Manual by David Sawyer McFarland while I wait for my next requested book to arrive at the library.

Esfahan, Iran main library

I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend!  How is it already December?!?  Back in late October, I had the chance to visit the main library in Esfahan, Iran.  Esfahan is a beautiful city, and Iran’s third largest.  Persians have a very long history of literature and poetry, and the huge Central Library of Esfahan Municipality definitely showed their love of books.



They had this nice origami crane statue in front, but no explanation why.


From the entrance.


It was kind of an odd set up because it appeared to be one building, but it wasn’t all interconnected.  You had to keep going back outside and through different doors to access different parts of the library.  Luckily, there were maps (in English!) at each entrance.



I randomly chose a door and wandered around for a minute.  The staff at the desks, who were all women, were quite surprised to see me walk in.  I asked a woman if anyone spoke English and she called a man over.  He didn’t introduce himself, but kept saying, “Welcome to my library” and proceeded to take me on a tour, even though I hadn’t even asked yet.  The tour was a little challenging because he could speak decent English, but couldn’t understand a word I said.  So, I just went with it.

This part of the library was sectioned off from all the rest and was just a small room.  It turned out it’s sort of like a “little free library”, where you bring a book and then take a book for free.  There was one woman staffing a desk in the room, presumably to make sure people followed the rules.


Through another entrance, he led me into the main part of the library.  These are the new books, which were featured in these locked cases right inside the entrance.  There were several (hard, plastic) chairs nearby for perusing these.


To the left of the new books was a large bank of computers for searching the catalog.


I was impressed with the number of computers, but overall it wasn’t too exciting until I saw the signs above the computers….



Oh yes, it’s true.  They had separate computers for men and women.  And incidentally, there were far fewer computers for women (8 for men, 4 for women).  I’m assuming they’re censoring out search results for women since this was the only place in the library that I saw segregated by gender.

Near this was a nice fish tank.


And this is a map of all the branch libraries in Esfahan.  You can’t see it in the pic, but each branch is lit up by a little bulb.  The guy leading me around told me that like our public library system, one account allows access to all the branches in the system.


Here are brochures (should have grabbed some!!) and more new books.


They had a large information center full of computers, but he unfortunately didn’t explain what exactly what people could use them for, if they had to sign up, etc.  Normally, I wouldn’t question it.  They’re just computers for patron use.  Except this was the first of four large computer labs with different names.  As you’ll read in a minute, there’s also a separate lab just for database access, so I don’t think that was what these were for.


This was their reference room.  They have over 10,000 books in this room and a lot of seating.  Reference books are non-circulating.  Resources are encyclopedias, dictionaries, etc. and I believe are written in Arabic and Farsi.




This was the periodicals room.



Here’s the circulation desk.  I was surprised by how closed off and unwelcoming it felt.


And this is their audiovisual section.  He said they have over 5,000 DVDs and CDs, but this was all that I saw.  There is a staffed desk for this section.


And just to the left of the above picture are the new CDs and DVDs.  Some of them appear to be software, but may just be tutorials on using software.


Down the stairs, they have an art gallery of Iranian artists that I think he said changes exhibits monthly.  There were more staffed desks down here.  I’m not sure if any of the art was for sale, or if it was strictly on exhibit.


Next to the gallery was an internet computer room.  I’m not sure what the difference was between this and the information center.



Not pictured were two other large computer labs.  One was labeled as “scientific databases”.  The way the staff person described it, it sounds as if the library is part of a consortium with local universities as a partnership to offer access to databases.  He mentioned the University of Esfahan and the University of Technology.   He didn’t say how many databases they offer.  I didn’t catch a sign for the other computer room.

He said there were three floors of books underground, which I assume are the main stacks.  He tried to show me even more of the library, but I didn’t have time to check it out.

He also told me about the library’s digital library (limited English version), which offers over 1,000 digitized manuscripts in Arabic, Farsi, and English.

Since the man couldn’t understand English, I wasn’t able to get more details on any of their services.  He was also moving very quickly so I couldn’t get a lot of pictures.  But it was still an interesting experience.  I am grateful that I had the chance to get a personal tour of an Iranian library.

Currently reading: Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor.

Bibliolinks: On the most expensive books ever sold and more

Happy Friday!  I’m finally getting rid of the jet lag that has been slowing me down since I got back home two weeks ago.  I’m still catching up on news and some class work, but almost back to normal.  Now I’ve just been trying to decide which classes to sign up for in the spring semester.  I’m so happy that I only have three electives left to take, but that also means I should probably be a little more thoughtful about which to register for.

This weekend, I plan to finish going through my Iran photos because people want to see them, doing some volunteering, and hopefully seeing friends.

stereo-2802 In the Great Sutro Baths, San Francisco, 1898.  Source.

stereo-2802.  In the Great Sutro Baths, San Francisco, 1898. Source.

Here’s some links for the weekend!

America’s top rated libraries for 2014.  Very happy to see the San Francisco Public Library system highly rated on the list.

Books to look for in November, from The New Yorker.

Have you heard about Sweet’N Low sponsoring an e-book for product placement?

The 10 most expensive books ever sold.

The new Palo Alto library has opened and I want to go see it.

The book designer’s challenge.

Cary Elwes has written a book on the making of “The Princess Bride”.  I must read this.

The Moscow Metro is now offering e-books for download while waiting for your train.

A handbook on federal librarianship, from the Library of Congress.

Digitizing 3-D photographs from the 1800s (direct link to collection here).

Library Thing for Libraries has improved its reading recommendations feature.

The secret stars of the San Francisco Public Library.  This article is a little older, but I’m just coming across it now.

Bibliolinks: 15 books by great comedians and more

Happy Friday!  It has been a very busy past couple of weeks for me.  My Edgewood Tales special studies project and my internship are way more time intensive than I originally thought they’d be and I’m hustling to stay on top of the projects.  But, I’m really liking everything and already learning so much about paper-based and born digital archival collections.  I know it will be a great semester even though it’ll be hectic.

This weekend, I’ll be continuing my search for historical records for my Edgewood project and cataloging more photos for my internship, but I’ll definitely make the time to enjoy the nice weather here in San Francisco!

Here’s a few links for your weekend.  Have a great one!

Rosa Parks’ archive is now on loan at the Library of Congress for the next 10 years.

5 tips for storing your books.

I totally want this book on the treasures of the Bodleian Libraries.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services has awarded over $9 million in grants to libraries and archives to improve services.

Literary school supplies for book lovers. I want the library check out card notebooks.

The Oakland Public Library is now lending tools and objects like bakeware, saws, and sledgehammers to patrons.

15 books by great comedians.