Doin’ the dance

>My day off. A librarian away from his collection is like a pilot without a plane. I love my family (wife, kids, dog and cats), but I always feel the tug of the books . . . so much work to be done!

At any rate, today I dressed up and did a bit of “PR” by attending a nice event and receiving (on behalf of the PPL) an award for James Newell Arnold (1844-1927), who was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame. Arnold compiled the monumental Vital Record of Rhode Island, 1630-1850 (published in 21 volumes from 1891 to 1912). The volumes gather birth, marriage, and death records culled from city and town archives, newspapers and church records. According to a bio of Arnold published in 1908, he had assembled an impressive collection of 1500 genealogical works, 2500 history books, and about 10,000 pamphlets. Most of his library went to what is now the Knight Memorial branch, and later librarians (I have discovered) have removed parts of the Arnold collection (and other books as well) from Knight Memorial for various reasons. At some point I hope to finish this work in a systematic way, while trying to reconstruct or preserve in the record which books were in Arnold’s original collection. Some books will be left at Knight Memorial; what comes to PPL (and has come–many stacks of them are piled in the back corners of Special Collections) will be incorporated into the Rhode Island Collection, and duplicates will be set aside and consigned to auction. I don’t imagine we’ll get a tremendous amount, but it is hoped that some funds will find their way back to Knight Memorial.

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