STRANGE TIMES 2020 – have we been here before?
This is one of a series of posts inspired by the 2020 Covid 19 pandemic. You can also see an article about the ephemera of the Spanish Flu in Australia in the soon to be released issue of The Ephemera Journal of Australia. OK there may be a further delay as our printer probably can’t operate until mid September. You will receive a copy if you join the Society $40/$25 a year or you can buy a single issue for $20 including postage.
In order to prevent the spread of disease by means of library books, a sterilising apparatus has been brought out in New York. It consists of a double- walled box of iron, in which are shelves for the reception of the books. The Telegraph (Brisbane), 6 February 1899, p. 4.
Despite this early report about books spreading disease, the procedure didn’t seem to be adopted here on any significant scale until the 1930s.
KEEPING GERMS AT BAY New Way to Sterilise Books
The old objections to the lending library as a carrier of germs have been overcome by the latest book steriliser, one of which has just been installed at the Myer Emporium.
In a neat glass case yesterday half a dozen books were standing while a current of air, impregnated with a powerful disinfectant, was forced through their pages for four hours. As soon as they were removed from the steriliser, every trace of odor of the disinfectant vanished, and they were ready to hand on to the members of the Lending Library, which has just been established by this enterprising firm. There are more than 3.000 books of fiction, travel, biography, the classics, and modern problems, not to mention children’s books on the shelves. Each one has had the cover treated with transparent lacquer, so that it is possible to actually wash them in hot water. The library is situated in the beautifully appointed Plaza Tea Rooms….The Advertiser and Register (Adelaide), 17 March 1931, p. 14.
LIBRARY BOOKS Sterilisation Necessary
All books returned to lending libraries should be sterilised before being again put into circulation, according to the health inspectors of Victoria, who passed a motion to this effect at their conference yesterday. The Age (Melbourne), 29 September 1938, p. 8.
A Trove search finds many advertisements making the sterilisation of books a point of difference from 1930 to 1938. Advertisements selling these circulating libraries referred to the sterilising equipment as one of the chattels.
KING’S NEW HYGIENIC LIBRARY
2000 BRAND NEW BOOKS All Books sterilised prior to re-issue, in specially constructed Hygienic Cabinet
….NOW OPEN; E. F. KING, Newport News Agency 376 Melbourne Road, Newport. Williamstown Chronicle (Vic), 15 November 1930, p. 4.
LIBRARY.—Mod. shop, 5 r., In east, sub., rent £2. 1000 APPROX. GOOD BOOKS, steriliser, £3 WKLY. PROFIT OVER RENT, 350 subscribers; GENUINE; £250. BURTON &_COOKE,_8)_Swanston-st C.. 1982 The Age (Melbourne), 1 August 1933, p. 14.
John Arnold has written an article about these circulating libraries which were sometimes a substitute for the standard public library and at other times had a ‘racier’ offering: ‘Choose your author as you would choose a friend: Circulating libraries in Melbourne, 1930-1960’.
Dayble’s Hygienic Library
Some of the Latest Editions Sexational Eve (Wilson Collison) Mating woman (Lois Bull) Her Wanton Majesty (Gleb Botkin) Wild (Vera Brown) The Purple Ball (Frank L. Packard) Golden Dawn (Peter B. Kyne)
ALL BOOKS STERILISED BEFORE RE-ISSUE OVER 2000 NEW BOOKS TO CHOOSE FROM. COR. CITY RD. & MONTAGUE ST., SOUTH MELBOURNE. The Record (Emerald Hill, Vic.), 10 March 1934, p. 1.
We have not been able to track down any information about Mason’s? An anyone assist?
From reader Richard Travers: In answer to your question about Mason’s Hygenic Library, this was Stinton’s Hygienic Library. In Eric Stinton’s son-in-law Bill Mason renamed it when he took it over in 1963. See John Arnold’s great article on Melbourne’s circulating libraries in the La Trobe Journal, 1987.