The Library History Buff

Promoting the appreciation, enjoyment, and preservation of library history



 Postal Librariana

Library History


A Postage Stamp or Stamps to Honor America's Librarians

Although a few people who have had a relationship with America's libraries have been honored on a postage stamp, no one has been honored on a postage stamp because they made a contribution to our nation as a librarian. This oversight should not continue. 

Although there are numerous librarians that merit being honored on a United States postage stamp, realistically speaking, the odds in favor of it occurring are slim.  [Don't you get just a little bit upset that not a single American librarian has been judged worthy of being honored on a United States postage stamp?] The key to success is having either large numbers of very motivated people lobby for such stamps or having a few very influential people lobby for such stamps. Lobbying for stamp subjects is an intense undertaking, and would require commitment by the library community. There is little evidence that such commitment would ever occur.

The Postmaster General has the ultimate responsibility of deciding on the subjects for United States postage stamps.  The Postmaster General gets advice from the  Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee of the United States Postal Service.

The normal process for advocating for a stamp subject is to write to the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee. 

Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee
c/o Stamp Development
U.S. Postal Service
1735 North Lynn St., Suite 5013
Arlington, VA 22209-6432.

However, it might be more effective to contact elected representatives at the national level and ask them to make the suggestion to the Postmaster General.  The Washington Office of the American Library Association could be helpful in such an effort.

Here are some possibilities for librarians on stamps:

Possibility #1:  A stamp honoring Augusta Baker (1911-1998).
Augusta Baker made a major contribution to library services for children and to the art of storytelling as the Coordinator of Children's Services for the New York Public Library and as Storyteller-in-Residence at the University of South Carolina.  In 2011, the 100th anniversary of her birth will be observed.  Since, it normally takes the United States Postal Service approximately four years to fully develop a new stamp, this would be ideal timing.  She would also be an excellent candidate for the Black Heritage series of stamps.  There are at least three constituencies that could be motivated to lobby for such at stamp:  those associated with the New York Public Library, those associated with the Library School of the University of South Carolina, and youth services librarians across the nation.

Possibility #2:  A stamp honoring Herbert Putnam (1861-1955).
Herbert Putnam served as Librarian of Congress from 1899-1939 and built it into a truly national library. Putnam was Director of the Minneapolis Public Library and the Boston Public Library before becoming Librarian of Congress.  He served as President of the American Library Association in 1898 and in 1904. The 150th anniversary of Putnam's birth will be celebrated in 2011. It would also be possible to lobby for a group of four stamps depicting former Librarians of Congress. Directors of national libraries have been honored by other nations on postage stamps.  The Library of Congress has a good track record in lobbying for stamps and they should probably take the lead in this effort.

Possibility #3:  A stamp honoring Arna Bontemps (1902-1973).
Arna Bontemps is a notable African American writer who served as Librarian of the Fisk University Library in Nashville, Tennessee from 1943-1966. He would be a good candidate for the Literary Arts series of postage stamps.

Possibility #4: A stamp that would honor all of America's librarians as a single group.  In 1957 the USPS issued a stamp honoring America's teachers on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the National Education Association.

Possibility #5: A group of stamps that would honor a select group of four or five distinguished American librarians. In 2006, the United States Postal Service issued a set of stamps to honor six Distinguished American Diplomats. A major obstacle to this option would be coming to some agreement on those librarians who most deserve to be so recognized. 

The members of the Library History Round Table offered these possible suggestions:

Sarah Byrd Askew
Pure Belpre
Sarah Bogle
Ruth Brown
Charles Ammi Cutter
John Cotton Dana
Melvil Dewey
Wilberforce Eames
Caroline Hewins
Charles Coffin Jewett
Virginia Lacey Jones
Clara Jones
May Massee
Carl Milam
Anne Carroll Moore
Julia Pettee
William Frederick Poole
Ernest Cushing Richardson
Herbert Putnam
Mary Utopia Rothrock
Kathryn Sharpe
Edward C. Williams

Who would you nominate?

Personalized Stamps

Personalized stamps can now be created that could depict famous librarians.  All that is necessary are digital images and money.  How about a money making project for a library group doing just that?

Zazzle Custom Postage


PictureItPostage by Endicia

A Public Library Stamp

Click on this link to learn about my efforts to promote a public library stamp.



 Postal Librariana

Library History


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Last updated: 02-01-2010    2005-2010 Larry T. Nix