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.

2014 in review

It’s my one year blogiversary and I’ve learned a lot over the past year, sharing 99 posts so far, and I’m looking forward to sharing new series and content in 2015.

Here’s a look back at 2014…


Special libraries posts: The Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture, The United Irish Cultural Center’s Patrick J. Dowling Library, The California Academy of Sciences’ Library, and the Museum of Performance and Design.

I also visited the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley, the main library in Esfahan, Iran, and the Half Moon Bay Public Library.

pablo neruda

A series of book list posts: National Lighthouse Day, National Camera Day, Father’s Day, National Wildflower Week, National Poetry Month, St. Patrick’s Day, National Quilting Day, My Top 5 Books read in 2013, and My Top 5 Young Adult Books read in 2013.

randolph vt 1
A Then and Now series on vintage library postcards and what the libraries are like today:
Kimball, VT, Turners Falls, MA, St. Johnsbury, VT, Claremont, NH, White River Junction, VT, Woodstock, VT, and Lancaster, NH.

Posts on library services, such as how to help domestic violence victims, a fun post on National Bookmobile Day, why special libraries are interesting to me, and I experimented with taking a class at a local library.

And I shared too many weekly link wrapups and infographics on education, libraries, and technology to recap!

I’m planning some {hopefully} fun stuff for 2015 now.  If there’s anything you’d like to see, please let me know!

OMG I just won an award

I’ve been so busy and exhausted this week doing my first ever oral history interview and other things for class that I’ve been dying for the weekend so I can just curl up with a glass of wine and read.

But I just got a phone call from the local SLA chapter president telling I won the student award for my work helping on the strategic planning committee!!!!!  I feel so surprised and so honored and it was just the boost I needed to get me through these last couple of weeks of the semester!

Thank you, SLA  SF Bay Area Chapter!!


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: On fall books previews, bookless libraries, and more

It can’t be true.  I refuse to believe that fall semester is starting on Monday.  I was just finally beginning to relax and enjoy the break between sessions and it’s time to go back!  At least this semester I’ve got two really cool classes lined up.  I’m going to be doing a special studies project (more on that later) and a digital asset management internship and I’m super excited about both.

I’m going to go back to hiding under a blanket and pretending classes don’t start in less than 48 hours.  Enjoy the weekend!

A study finds that readers have less recall when using e-readers than print books.  What do you think?  I actually just started using a Kindle this week and I absolutely feel I’m absorbing less of what I’m reading compared to print.  I even chose a silly YA book to try out, knowing I might have some issues, and I can barely remember what I’ve read.

Another bookless library has opened.

The latest New Media Consortium Horizons Report has been released.  I learned about this report in my required management class, of all places, and found it a great resource on emerging technologies.

Amazon reveals its 2014 Big Fall Books Preview.  Which ones are you looking forward to?  I can’t wait for the latest book in the Louise Penny Inspector Gamache series , and I also recently discovered Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, so I may pick up that new one as well.

J.D. Salinger’s home is up for sale.  Just $679,000 for 12 acres!  You could barely get a two bedroom condo in San Francisco for that!

8 amazing books to wind down your summer.  Here in San Francisco, our nice weather hasn’t even started yet, but I think I’ll be adding at least a couple of these to the TBR pile regardless.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think it’s fascinating that a monkey selfie has generated a discussion about copyright ownership.  However, I do definitely feel for the photographer at the center of this.

3-D picture books for blind children.  Awesome.

23 creatively designed Little Free Libraries.  I like the ones made of trees and the movie theater design.

Author opinions on print vs. e-books.

Currently reading: Defending Jacob by William Landay

Museum of Performance and Design

Through the Bay Area chapter of SLA, I had the chance to visit the Museum of Performance + Design for a tour of their library and archives.  The Museum recently moved to the SOMA district from the Civic Center.  It was founded in 1947 by Russell Hartley, a dancer and avid collector of items related to the performing arts.  Formerly known at the San Francisco Performing Arts Library and Museum, it is the only independent organization in the country dedicated to the history of the performing arts and theatrical design.


The Museum boasts a collection of over 3.5 million items related to performing arts in the Bay Area, going back to the Gold Rush era, including theater, opera, magic, puppetry, mime, and circus arts.  The library is non-circulating, but it lends out items to other museums.

loft mpd

The Museum is open Monday through Friday and is housed in a loft, with space for exhibits, events, and research.  Right now, the featured exhibit is Shaping Character: Hats From Our Collection, and has lovely hats from companies like The Ballets Russes.  With the reflection from the glass cases, I wasn’t able to get to get a lot of good pictures, but there were some really pretty bejeweled hats and tiara- and crown-like hats on display.

ship hat mpd

pink hat mpd



hat 2

The head librarian shared just how avid the founder was in his collecting of performing arts materials.  In one example, she described how he would buy entire pallets of old San Francisco newspapers and cut out the articles he was interested in.  The Museum has clippings from newspapers going back to 1848 – and still have pallets of papers left to clip.  The clippings are filed chronologically, but aren’t indexed.  She also mentioned that he collected for 40 years without cataloging.

newspapers mpd

Newspapers from the 1800s waiting to be clipped

The Museum has an oral history project, with 70 histories recorded so far.  The Legacy Oral History Program originally started to chronicle the performances of those at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, and eventually expanded.  The Museum also received the papers of the oral history narrators.

In addition to the oral histories, the Museum has a lot of intriguing special collections, including the Anna Halprin collection, a pioneer in modern dance.  It’s the most researched collection they  have, and people inquire from all over the world to access it.  At 60 linear feet, it’s already large, and Ms. Halprin continues to add to it!  The Museum is also the official archives for both the San Francisco Opera and the San Francisco Ballet.

mtt mpd

The Museum also holds a 60,000+ item collection of sheet music; 1,300 reels of the KSAN radio station archives from 1967 to 1981, which are being digitized; a collection of autographed cabinet cards from performers; over 3,000 opera libretti; broadsides from San Francisco theaters from 1851 to 1882; the archives of the Pickle Family Circus; Stern Grove Festival concert recordings, a free local summer concert series; and the papers of Michael Smuin, award-winning dancer and choreographer.

storage mpd

As part of an NEA grant, they are digitizing dance videos, which are being shared with other grantee organizations.  Over 200 videos have been completed and are accessible at the institutions.

aisles 2

They have two online image collections – Collection of Chinese Theater Images in California and Collection of San Francisco Bay Area Theater Images and Memorabilia – and are digitizing 500 other images now.

digitization mpd

Digitization equipment

Other fun items include a life mask of ballerina Anna Pavlova and love letters from Marcel Marceau to a local woman with whom he had a 40-year relationship.  I really wanted to see their Lotta Crabtree collection, which their catalog says has four folders of clippings, pictures, and programs.  Lotta was a former child star, performing for Gold Rush miners, and went on to become the highest paid actress in the country.  Bay Area residents may have heard of “Lotta’s Fountain”, at the intersection of Market and Kearny Streets, where after the 1906 earthquake, people gathered to share news.  (Every year on the earthquake anniversary, survivors still meet here.)  Lotta donated the fountain to the city in 1875.

costume books mpd

Le costume historique -1888

Like many other libraries and archives, the Museum of Performance and Design has its challenges.  In recent years, they have been downsized from 11 staff to 3 – an Executive Director, a Head Librarian/Archivist, and a grant-funded Project Archivist.

Lots and lots of records

Lots and lots of records

Also, perhaps due to the collecting habits of its founder, or because it was housed in many different locations over many years, there is no provenance on many of the items in its archives.

maquette mpd

A maquette for The Nutcracker, 1967

All three staff were at the tour, which was led by the Head Librarian/Archivist, and all were very friendly and generous with their time.  If you are interested in any aspect of the performing arts, it is well worth a visit!

A costume design for Candide

A costume design for Candide

  • Number of staff – Three
  • Number of books – ?  Over 3.5 million items
  • Number of databases – ?
  • Number of computers for patron use – It looked like two
  • Favorite items/collections – Love letters from Marcel Marceau (Executive Director Muriel Maffre)
  • Target users – Anyone interested in the history of Bay Area performing arts
  • Circulation – Non-circulating
  • Special collections – San Francisco newspapers, audio collection, 60,000 item sheet music collection, Anna Halprin collection, KSAN radio broadcast archive from 1967 to 1981, Lotta Crabtree collection, Oral Histories from Bay Area performers, Stern Grove Festival concert recordings, San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Ballet
  • Notable items –  A life mask of ballerina Anna Pavlova, autographed cabinet cards of performers
  • Other services – Exhibits, events

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