This page features links to physical and virtual exhibits that showcase the history of libraries.

Rule No. 5

Link to Virtual Exhibit: https://www.ruleno5.org/

Curators Bio:

A.M. Alpin is an award-winning filmmaker, librarian, and scholar who uses digital and analog technology to tell compelling stories. Her body of work explores themes of memory and how we create personal and public histories.

Amanda Belantara is an audiovisual artist-anthropologist and librarian. She aspires to cultivate community and social change through creative exchange and incorporates sound recordings to uncover aural perspectives that are often missing from written works.

(biographies from press release)

Description from the Editor:


That is one of the only words I could find that can come anywhere close to describing Rule No. 5. 

Named for Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library Science, Rule No. 5 is a novel multimedia exhibit by Amanda Belantara and A.M. Alpin–but it transcends this form. It is an immersive sensory experience that takes us deep into the mind of library workers, expressing what they think, what they feel, and how they perceive their libraries. 

Indeed, I think Belantara and Alpin’s exhibit can be described as an opera about libraries, as it brings together an incredible variety of artistic forms.  You’ll find poetic tributes; classical music; miniatures and artifacts; kaleidoscopic imagery; state-of-the-art cinematography; scintillating metaphors; rhetorical questions; kinesthetic experiences; and amazing sound compositions.  The creators weave these together into an entrancing exploration of the soul of libraries.

a person at an exhibit, with a reflection, and streams of light

Image from exhibit web site.

“A fairy godmother with the most wonderful gifts”: Margaret Chase Behrend’s remarkable donation to Clemson’s library

Link to Virtual Exhibit: https://spark.adobe.com/page/F6n1burMKi22E/

Curator Bio: Sue Giaimo Hiott has a BA in American Studies from Dickinson College and a MA in Applied History and MLIS from the University of South Carolina. She worked at the South Carolina State Museum and Tennessee State Museum before joining Clemson University Libraries in 1990 as Curator of Exhibits in the Special Collections and Archives unit. In addition to creating physical and virtual exhibits, she enjoys working with historical photographs and posting highlights from the collections on social media. This virtual exhibit is adapted from a 2012 physical exhibit she created for the Special Collections exhibit area.

Description from the Curator: From the late 1930s to the 1970s, Margaret Chase Behrend donated the papers of her late husband, engineer Bernard A. Behrend, and more than 3,000 books, as well as magazines and pamphlets to Clemson’s library.  The donation included numerous classic and significant works in the history of science and mathematics, as well as needed resources to support the college’s growing curriculum in literature and the arts. Behrend’s donation was a remarkable and unexpected gift to what was then a small, rural, state-supported school with limited resources.

Margaret Behrend head of table from Mss 41 Rudolph Lee Papers, Special Collections and Archives, Clemson University

Serving Students: A History of Milner’s Library

Link to Virtual Exhibit: https://ir.library.illinoisstate.edu/servingstudents/

Curator Bio: Angela Bonnell has a MS in History from Illinois State University and a MLIS from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She has worked at Illinois State University’s Milner Library since 1998 as the Head of Government Documents. Prior to that she worked in the libraries at the Wisconsin Historical Society and Beloit College. She loves helping patrons use government documents and primary source materials in their research! She also enjoys facilitating the Library’s Exhibits Committee that continues Ange. V. Milner’s tradition of highlighting student work and library materials. This virtual exhibit is adapted from a 2018 physical exhibit Bonnell created for Milner Library.

Description from the Curator: Illinois State University has known five libraries since it was founded in 1857. From its humble origins in a 160-square foot space carved out from an entryway, to its current six-floor site, each library has offered improvements over its predecessor. Today’s Milner Library owes its student-centered philosophy to the University’s first fulltime librarian, Ange. V. Milner. Over the course of her nearly 40-year career, Milner created a library integrated into the curriculum and research needs of the University. This exhibit offers a glimpse into Milner’s forward-thinking initiatives that laid the foundation for today’s library named in her honor.

Caption: The three color photos show some of the panels as they were displayed during the physical exhibit in Milner Library. The black and white photo (The Index, 1932) shows the library at Illinois State Normal University in about 1898 on the second floor of the building now known as Cook Hall, then referred to as the  Gymnasium. Ange. V. Milner, the University’s first fulltime librarian stands at the right.

The Essex Library Association: A Brief History & Ex Libris: Essex Library News through the Decades

Link to Virtual Exhibits: https://ela2019archiving.omeka.net/exhibits

Curator Bio: Deborah Smith has a B.A. in cultural anthropology from Oberlin College, an M.A. from New York University, and an M.L.I.S. from Kent State University. She is certified by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media program for public librarians, Creating Local Linkages. Since 2019 she has served as Executive Director of Essex Library Association, the principal public library for the 6,500 residents of Essex, Connecticut. In 2020 the library’s reference team launched a digital archive using Omeka. The archive (ELAted:Curated!) currently contains two collections on the library’s history and communications. In 2021, the library joined Archive-It’s Community Webs project to curate web-published community history materials.

Description from the Curator: Most of the public libraries in Connecticut were started in the late nineteenth century by groups of civic minded individuals. Essex Library Association began as a collection of 500 donated books in 1889. For the first few decades of its existence the Library was open to members only, who paid $1.00 per year. Today, library operations are partly funded by the Town of Essex, with additional support provided from an endowment and an annual appeal.

“Essex Library Association: A Brief History” shares historical photographs and documents from 1889 to the present. “Ex Libris: Essex Library News through the Decades” currently contains 54 of the library’s newsletters, dating from 1978 to 2020.