Posts Tagged ‘Classic Fiction’


Weber Days Book Display–Read Like It’s 1897

by Heidi Lauritzen on May 6th, 2018

A fun piece of Iowa City history lives in our Library’s archives:  the accession books that show the book purchases that the Library made in its early years. The Iowa City Public Library opened on January 21, 1897, and the first 1,050 entries in the first accession book were recorded on January 14, 15, and 16, 1897.  The best part is, we still circulate some of those original titles.

A book display on the first floor gathers together a sampling of the more than one hundred titles that you can still find at ICPL.  Many of the titles are what we call “classic fiction”, and you can probably guess some of the authors represented:  Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Henry James, Jonathan Swift, William Thackeray, Jules Verne, and William Shakespeare.

There’s a sprinkling of children’s fiction as well: Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, Little Women and Little Men by Louisa May Alcott, and  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll to name just a few.

A few entries in the accession book particularly caught my eye: Looking Backward, 2000-1887 by Edward Bellamy (first published in 1888—when the year 2000 must have seemed impossibly far away, and is now in our past); and Confessions of an English Opium-Eater by Thomas De Quincey (still a timely issue, alas). In the publishing norms of the time, the author entry in our accession book for Cranford is written as “Mrs. Gaskell”.  Our catalog today does give the author her full name, Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell.

With poetry, we do not have an exact match in title in many cases, but we still provide collections from authors represented in the Library’s opening day collection. Elizabeth Barrett Browning, John Keats, Henry Longfellow, Alexander Pope, Alfred Tennyson, and William Wordsworth continue to be found at ICPL.

Kick off our month of Weber Days activities by reading a classic book that’s been in circulation in Iowa City for 120 years! And for a full listing of Weber Days events at the Library, look here.