Association for Rural and Small Libraries Annual Conference recap

“You don’t have to be big to think big.”

“Create bolder goals.”

“Do most things well instead of all things mediocre.”

“Size is relative, not potential.”

“Focus on the things to be grateful for.”

“Small is not the same as less; look at what we do have!”

These quotes are a few of my favorites that I heard at the Association for Rural and Small Libraries Annual Conference, themed “Linking Libraries in the Lincoln,” that took place in Springfield, Illinois on Sept. 12-15, 2018. I have to say, this was one of the best national library conferences I have ever attended! The mission of the Association for Rural and Small Libraries is to provide “resources and support that empower those in small and rural libraries to deliver excellent service for their communities.” It’s also “a network of persons throughout the country dedicated to the positive growth and development of libraries.”

I had heard so many great things about the ARSL group. For years on the Indiana library Listservs I would see posts from Julie Elmore praising this group and how valuable it is for small and rural libraries. I finally got to see if for myself, as I joined ARSL earlier this year. On the ARSL Listserv you could tell that people were so psyched about the conference and the chance to meet new and old friends. The excitement was palpable! There are libraries out there that only have one staff person, which is why this group is so important. It can be very lonely working by yourself, but having the support and guidance of this group is priceless.

This year’s annual conference was originally capped at 500 people, but due to an overwhelming response, which saw the conference sell out in three weeks, an additional 250 attendees were accommodated! The conference committee, chaired by Elmore, director of the Oakland City Columbia Township Public Library in Oakland City, Indiana, did an amazing job finding overflow hotel space, rearranging layouts and wading through numerous wait lists.

Forty-nine of the 50 states were represented at this conference. In the picture, you see 26 librarians from Indiana alone, though many other Hoosier librarians didn’t make the picture. We had many opportunities to network with dine-arounds, trivia night and special tours of the Illinois State Library. I met some very cool librarians from states all over the country, including Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, New York, North Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. I met a lovely lady who said that the conference was a like a vacation for her because she’s the mother of seven kids!

There were so many presentations I wanted to see and despite a few being repeated, I ran out of time. The presentations were extremely practical and ran the gamut of what libraries are doing: library of things, coding, strategic planning, marketing and storytimes. Programming ideas included “Adulting 101” and an “Escape Room @ the Library.” Small and rural libraries are used to wearing many hats, so they know how to do it all and the awesome presentations reflected that fact.

Along with the presentations, we had excellent keynote speakers. President Abraham Lincoln, portrayed by historical presenter Kevin Wood, brought history to life with some of his recollections and insights. Author and Illinois native Elizabeth Berg stressed that “no place ever felt quite like home, except a library.” Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden joined us via live stream and talked about ways that the Library of Congress can truly be the library of the United States. Part of their strategic plan is to do more outreach and open up resources. Dr. Hayden said one way that libraries can take advantage of this is to live stream Library of Congress programs at their own libraries.

“Linking Libraries in the Lincoln” was a resounding success! There was such an overwhelming feeling of camaraderie among attendees who shared successes, encouraged each other and learned new things from passionate professionals. I definitely recommend attending this conference; you won’t be sorry you went. So be sure to mark your calendars for 2019. There is already a countdown clock for the next ARSL conference  on Sept. 4-7, 2019 in Burlington, Vermont. ARSL 2020 will be back in the Midwest – YEAH!

This post was written by Northeast Regional Coordinator Paula Newcom, Professional Development Office.

Picture it… Indianapolis… 1852.

Image traveling through a forest so thick that you could do it without ever touching the ground. You could go from tree limb to tree limb, with very little visible grass or flowers, just climbing along. Now imagine this area being Indianapolis, circa 1780. Up until around 1820, the area we now know as the capitol of Indiana was exactly that, a massive dense forest. Settlers then moved in, cleared land, began farms and started to form a community.

Several maps of early Indianapolis show the layout of the mile square, but it wasn’t until 1852 that we saw the first map of the city with any detail.

When we first got this map out and saw exactly what we had to deal with, we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy task to digitize it. In fact, the two pictures below show what the book looked like. It had been dissected, glued onto linen and folded to fit on the shelf, which was a very common library practice early on. Nowadays, we don’t do that.

Rebecca, our conservator, painstakingly took pictures of each section, then recreated the completed image that you now see in our digital collections. This was a several day process. Now this extremely rare map has come back together and we can study it and learn what the layout of the city was like in the early 1850s.

For example, the railroad lines and their depots beeline the map, showing how the trains moved merchandise, goods and passengers in all directions. Passengers might have seen a map like this hanging at the train station. Checking the legend, they could have found several houses for accommodations, such as The Palmer House (H) or The Bates House (J), both at the corners of Illinois and Washington Streets, just a few blocks up from the station. After getting settled in, they might have walked up to the governor’s residence to pay a call on Joseph Wright, Indiana’s governor in 1852.

The map also shows the small portion of the massive 296-mile planned canal system and its path through the city; only eight miles of the canal were completed. Beginning at the White River, the canal ran east, then headed north and south. The canal helped facilitate interstate commerce and also provided alternative transportation for passengers.

Most of the transportation routes, such as the canals and railroads, are south of the residential areas, including the current Lockerbie Square and the old Northside neighborhoods. Oftentimes, residential areas grew north of the industrial areas as winds would blow the smoke and pollution south.

Later maps, such as those published in 1855 and 1866, show fewer details. Both maps can be viewed on the Library of Congress’s website. We have the maps at the state library, but the Library of Congress has done such a great job digitizing their copies that we just refer researchers to those digitized maps. Our copies, sadly, are in need of much repair.

This post was written by Chris Marshall, digital collections coordinator for the Indiana Division at the Indiana State Library.

Talking Book and Braille Library November Book Club

There is one more chance this year to participate in the Indiana Talking Book and Braille Library Book Club! The final meeting of the year will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018, at 2 p.m. Eastern/1 p.m.Central. The book we will be reading and discussing is “News of the World” by Paulette Jiles, which is available to Talking Book patrons in audio (DB 86668), braille (BR 21741) and large print (LP 20739).

The novel follows an itinerant news reader as he escorts a ten-year-old white girl back to her family after her rescue from a Native American tribe. Participants can join the discussion by calling our toll-free dial in number, 877-422-1931, and entering the conference code 8762032518. Participants may also request that the library call them at the appointed time.

To request the book and to let us know that you are interested in attending, please contact Laura Williams via email or at 1-800-622-4970.

This blog post was written by Laura Williams of the Indiana Talking Book and Braille Library. 

ISL hidden resource – Federal documents at the Indiana State Library

The Indiana State Library participates in the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), serving as the regional depository for the state of Indiana. Providing access to government information is only one service offered by the library. ISL is committed to promoting government information literacy to all Hoosiers. That information is found on the Indiana Federal Documents website. Created to be the resource destination for learning and locating government information, Indiana Federal Documents contains tips and resources relating on the federal government geared for both researchers and librarians.

The Indiana Federal Documents site features blog posts promoting specific government resources, services or upcoming educational events. Beyond the blogs posts are research and subject guides. The research guides cover an overview of the SuDoc classification, how to research congressional documents and reports and how to research public and private laws. The subject guides are compiled government resources on a particular topic. The guides include the site, URL and a short description of the resource. Currently, there are subject guides for the following topics: children’s resources, college resources, family history resources and popular government resources. All of the sourced information comes from an official government agency or government project.

Indiana Federal Documents also includes information specific to librarians, like Indiana’s Light Archive Agreement, Indiana’s State Focused Action Plan, procedures, guidelines, links to government information webinars and government information Listservs. Additional resources relating to government information can be found from the federal documents collection page through the Indiana State Library. In addition to linking directly to IFD, the federal documents page has information on ISL’s history in the FDLP, information on Government Information Day (GID) conferences and links to prominent government resources. For any questions, or sources not discussed, Federal Documents Librarian Brent Abercrombie is available to contact for guidance.

This blog post was written by Indiana State Library Federal Documents Coordinator Brent Abercrombie. For more information, contact the Reference and Government Services at (317) 232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

IMDPLA Fest recap

IMDPLA Fest: a one day discussion of all things Indiana Memory – Digital Public Library of America. You can find the region’s best and brightest digitization minds sharing thought-provoking new projects, discussing best practices and elevating the conversation surrounding digital preservation…

…and me.

I’m not a digitization specialist in even the most generous sense of the word. But I do work with them, and I oversee a grant program that funds some of the projects. In order to better understand just what those LSTA digitization monies are paying for – and to follow the larger discussions surrounding digitization projects – I attended the fest as an onlooker with a vested interest. Turns out, you don’t have to be an expert to benefit from the expert discussion.

Keynote speaker John Bracken, executive director of DPLA, summarized recent studies on children’s increasing internet use, finding it to be a trend parents absolutely needed to embrace if they wanted their child to succeed, while simultaneously being something that should terrify them. The odd juxtaposition got a laugh, but was also a was a fitting segue to a discussion of the necessity of DPLA, and its informational gatekeepers, to adapt to changing technologies and to take quality, vetted content to people at their points of access.

There were concurrent breakout sessions on large-scale digitization projects, loosely broken into two tracks: visual resources and manuscripts. Those interested in visual resources were offered sessions on The Iditarod of Photo Digitization: Junior Achievement and Indiana: 1800s Land Records Accessed by Township Address. People like myself, who followed the manuscripts, were treated to an overview on the work of digitizing the letters and journals of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, and one about the challenges inherent in digitizing employee records from the Pullman-Standard Railroad Car Manufacturing Company. And isn’t that food for thought: one day, your employee records, complete with notes on performance issues, could be eagerly set upon by future digital historians, preserved for all the world to see. Decades from now, a room full of scholars could be debating whether your since-expired self has any right to privacy regarding your records, or whether your history of habitual tardiness or not playing well with others now belongs to the annals of history. Or, if we’re travelling down that rabbit hole, consider those journals from the sainted Theodore Guerin. Her letters and journals are darkly humorous, somewhat pointed, deeply personal… and now preserved for future study. They are a wonderful, thought-provoking resource that brings such humanity to this particular bit of history. They are also a reminder that I might want to seriously consider setting fire to all of my overly angsty middle school writings.

A break for lunch was followed by some lightning sessions highlighting useful digitization tools and sites, before wrapping up the day with two practical, nuts-and-bolts overviews on issues every digitization project faces: questions of copyright and fair use and best practices for creating useable metadata.

The back half of the day gave concrete instructions for people in the field, and an appreciation of the complexity of the issues for observers like me. If you ever thought that digitization merely involved slapping down a page on a scanner and calling it a day – well, this meeting of the minds would disavow you of that idea. My appreciation of the work of digitization continues to grow, as does my need to shred a terribly mortifying childhood diaries. You know… just in case.

This blog post was written by Angela Fox, LSTA and federal projects consultant, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Library Development Office at 800-451-6028 or via email.

Librarian certification by the numbers

It has been a busy quarter for the Certification Department at the Indiana State Library. In July, the Professional Licensing Agency on ISL’s behalf sent over 900 renewal notices to librarians with certificates that expire Sept. 30, 2018. As of Sept. 18, here is a tally of some of the activity that has taken place as a result:

  • 47 notices were returned as undeliverable
  • 23 libraries contacted the ISL about notices for 63 people they no longer employ
  • 6 former librarians contacted ISL directly to say they had retired
  • 175 people have renewed online
  • 192 renewals submitted by mail have been processed
  • About 40 people due to renew have upgraded their certificates instead.

There are currently 2,479 active certified librarians in Indiana. So how did we end up with well over a third of all librarian certificates expiring at the end of this month?

Indiana has a long history of certifying public librarians with the goal of maintaining the integrity of public libraries and the quality of services provided to public library patrons. Our current certification program began in 2008. The first step of that process involved issuing 2,277 grandfathered certificates to all staff working in positions requiring certification, regardless of whether or not they held the necessary credentials. This eased the transition to a new set of certification requirements by protecting those people already employed by libraries from losing their jobs due to the new requirements.

Grandfathered certificates have one significant limitation in that they are not portable. They only remain in force if the individual holding the certificate stays at the same library and in the same job classification held when the certificate was originally issued. Because of this limitation, over the years when the time came to renew most grandfathered librarians have applied for regular certificates instead.

To maintain certification a librarian must earn a prescribed number of librarian education units (LEUs) and renew their certificate every five years. This is true regardless of whether the librarian holds a grandfathered certificate or a regular certificate. Because this five-year certification cycle began by putting all librarians into the same renewal period, certification statistics ebb and flow significantly from year to year with a pronounced increase in both new certifications and renewals every five years.

The first big wave of renewals came in 2013, when 466 people renewed their certificates. We are now experiencing the second wave of renewals for that initial group of librarians certified in 2008. Though some members of this group have retired or left the profession, as of January 2018, our database still included over 400 grandfathered librarians. Many from this cohort have upgraded to regular certificates, but still fall in the same renewal cycle.

Here is a look at our certification numbers over the past ten years:

The number of new librarian certificates each year includes grandfathered librarians moving to regular certificates as well as those who are new to the profession or new to Indiana and those who have earned the credentials to move to a higher level of certification.

Librarian certification rules can be found in 590 IAC 5. They are officially promulgated by the state, but they are actually created and periodically reviewed by teams of Indiana librarians for relevancy and appropriateness. They were last reviewed in 2016, by a committee of librarians representing various professional levels and different-sized libraries throughout the state. The committee recommended some changes, but they overwhelmingly supported maintaining professional standards for Indiana librarians to ensure the public’s information needs are being met by appropriately qualified librarians.

Written by Cheri Harris, certification program director/legal consultant at the Indiana State Library. Find more information about certification on our website here.

Indiana Young Readers Center staff heads to the National Book Festival

Suzanne Walker and Caitlyn Stypa, staff of the Indiana Young Readers Center located in the Indiana State Library, attended the National Book Festival in Washington, D. C. on Sept. 1, 2018. This diary describes their time at the festival.

From the diary of Suzanne Walker, director of the Indiana Center for the Book and Indiana Young Readers Center librarian:

8/31/2018

Dear Diary:

Caitlyn and I had a very early start the day before the festival. I am not kidding when I say that I woke up at 4 a.m. Our flight was at 6:50 a.m. Yikes. I headed to Caitlyn’s house and woke up the neighborhood when her dog decided to wish me a very good morning repeatedly. We finally got on the road. I did miss my turn to go to the airport, which I’ve never done before. I blame the fact that Caitlyn and I were chatting. We chat a lot. All that being said, we arrived at the Indy airport and were on our way with no problem. Our flight was great.

Here we are at the D.C. airport getting ready to jump on the metro. Our first stop is the convention center to set up our booth!

Here is our booth for the National Book Festival. Indiana always tries to make a good showing at the festival. The festival is a free event with book sales, author talks and signings, multiple stages and lots of activities for visitors, including the Parade of the States. Each state shows up with their signature stamp and a book that they are highlighting. Visitors get a map of the USA and collect stamps from each state. The day is usually a blur of children pushing maps in our faces for us to stamp. This is both good and bad. The good part is that we can see a lot of people, but the bad part is it can become a bit repetitive. We are hoping that our unique decorations will make people ask us about our highlighted book, because what do lobsters have to do with Indiana? I’ll answer that later! Indiana always has great bookmarks to give away that are donated to us by Ball State University. This year was no different. We have thousands of bookmarks to give away.

Once our booth was ready, we had enough time to take in a museum before my evening meeting at the Library of Congress. We headed to the National Portrait Gallery and got to see the newest presidential portraits, a gallery of Native American portraits done by George Catlin and some more modern pieces including a map of the U.S. done in neon lights and television screens. I was really interested in the Catlin portraits because of the work we recently did on a new video describing the murals at the ISL. I was glad to see the Indy 500 represented in the modern neon map.

Caitlyn stayed at the National Portrait Gallery while I headed off to the Library of Congress for my meeting, which was primarily about Letters About Literature. It was all good stuff. Caitlyn and I met up after the meeting in an amazing location for two ISL employees to meet in D.C.

Clearly I was excited to find the Indiana Plaza. You can’t tell too much from this picture but it was HOT in D.C.

Our long day was topped off by dinner at Founding Farmers. We had a great time meeting up with old and new friends before we hit the hay to rest up before the National Book Festival tomorrow. Yawn. More tomorrow.

9/1/2018

Dear Diary:

Wow! What a great day we had at the National Book Festival! We started out with breakfast at the hotel and then did the quick walk over to the convention center. We were there by 8:30 a.m., with doors opening at 9 a.m. We said hello to lots of other states and had to run over to the Maine table to explain about the lobsters. Didn’t want any drama with a fellow state!

So here’s the story of why the Indiana booth was covered with Magic 8-Balls and lobsters: The book we chose to highlight in our booth this year was “Made You Up” by Francesca Zappia. Chessie, as we call her because we are now best friends, was only 19 when she wrote the book. She grew up in Indianapolis and is a dream to work with. The book is about a girl who has schizophrenia. She uses a Magic 8-Ball to help her decide what’s real and what’s not and lobsters also have a big role in the book.

And guess who showed up at our booth!? Chessie herself! Francesca was at our booth from 10 a.m to 12 p.m. signing books, bookmarks and helping us stamp maps. It was great to hang out with her and she loved the lobsters and Magic 8-Balls that decorated our booth. Did I mention that our decorations were drawn by an ISL staff member? True story! And they turned out great.

Here’s me and my good friend, Francesca Zappia.

People did ask about the lobsters. And we gave away all the “good stuff” by about 2 p.m. There are about 100,000 people who visit the National Book Festival each year, including Carl Harvey! Lots of Hoosiers also showed up at our table just to say hi and tell us where they are from. We talked a lot about the Indiana State Library and classic Indiana titles. We had a Magic 8-Ball that only answers one question: What Indiana classic should you read next? There are 20 possible answers in that thing! I got “Raintree County.” Caitlyn got “Princess Diaries.”

Here’s Caitlyn, stamping yet another map.

By 3 p.m. I was searching for an aspirin to help with the headache that was doomed to appear. Minnesota helped me out. We stamped more maps and at 5 p.m. we packed up our booth and heaved a sigh of relief. Another successful National Book Festival in the books (excuse the pun)!

After the festival we had dinner with representatives from Alaska, Wisconsin and Michigan. We swapped NBF stories and invited each other to see our representative state libraries. After dinner, Caitlyn and I might have gotten some gelato and then we definitely crashed. Good night!

9/2/2018

Dear Diary:

Caitlyn and I head back to Indy at 5 p.m. today. We have just enough time to see the National Mall and one museum before we head to the airport to get checked in for our flight. We had a great time representing Indiana at the National Book Festival!

Submitted by Suzanne Walker, Indiana Young Readers Center librarian at the Indiana State Library and director of the Indiana Center for the Book.

Papers of Indiana Representative Earl F. Landgrebe now available for research

“Don’t confuse me with the facts. I’ve got a closed mind. I will not vote for impeachment. I’m going to stick with my president even if he and I have to be taken out of this building and shot.”[1]

This infamous quote was given by Indiana Rep. Earl F. Landgrebe the day before President Richard Nixon formally resigned. Prior to being elected as representative for Indiana’s 2nd District, Landgrebe had served in the Indiana State Senate from 1959 to 1968. In 1968, he succeeded Charles A. Halleck as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in the same election that also put Nixon in the White House.

After Landgrebe was defeated in the 2nd District by Floyd Fithian, the Indiana State Library acquired his political papers from his period at the U.S. House of Representatives from 1968 to 1974. Previously sealed, the papers were recently processed – a project of about 18 months – and are now open for research under the identifier L625.

A piece of correspondence from Nixon to Landgrebe.

Typical hallmarks of 20th century political papers include correspondence with other politicians and notable contemporary figures, correspondence from constituents regarding issues of the day and in-depth discussion and research into issues that were important to the politician and the population they were serving. Besides standard correspondence between Landgrebe, his constituents and other notable Hoosiers and the day-to-day functions of a U.S. representative, the collection includes material on several other notable topics. For example, the Indiana subject files give a snapshot of the strengths and needs of the Hoosier state during the early 1970s. Organized alphabetically by topic or state agency, these papers show how the state was handling anything from education to veterans’ affairs at the time and to what extent Landgrebe was involved.

A draft of a speech on Gold Star Mothers.

Series 2, pertaining to legislative affairs, is the deepest area of the collection. There is extensive coverage on notable issues from Nixon’s administration, including Vietnam, the draft, Watergate, abortion and OSHA. Another area of interest, particularly to Indiana researchers, is the material on the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. After 1966, when the National Lakeshore was established, there were efforts to expand the boundaries of the park, which Landgrebe opposed, as he opposed most things! The first expansion bill wasn’t completed until 1976, but there is a great deal of information on the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in the collection from the years 1969 to 1974 when Landgrebe was in Congress.

A piece of constituent correspondence on Watergate.

In 1974, Landgrebe returned home to Valparaiso and resumed presiding over his family trucking business. He died on July 1, 1986. Despite being a contentious presence in the U.S. House as well as in his district, Landgrebe leaves behind a wealth of information about the legislation and social debates of 1970s America. This collection serves as a fruitful resources for researchers of Indiana politicians, 1970s politics, the Vietnam War, the history of Northwest Indiana and more.

[1] Pearson, Richard, “Obituaries: Earl F. Landgrebe,” Washington Post, July 1, 1986, Accessed September 6, 2018.

This blog post was written by Lauren Patton, Rare Books and Manuscripts librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at 317-232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

Creating a title for Indiana Voices

Earlier this year, I posted a blog entry about how books are selected for inclusion into the Indiana Voices audiobook collection. This time around I thought that I might share about the process that goes into taking the selected book from its printed form and turning it into either an audiobook on cartridge or a downloadable version for the Library of Congress National Library Service BARD website.

There are multiple steps needed to complete this process, including the aforementioned title selection. After selecting a title, the next step is pairing the book with the right narrator. Many of our program’s narrators are good at reading just about anything, but there are some that just seem to have the right voice for a particular genre. I like to match them up with the types of books that they seem to best convey.

Next, we move on the heart and soul of the process; the actual narration of the book.  Narrators must read ahead to get a feel for the structure and composition of the book and how they need to approach it. Narrators also have to read ahead in order to look for unfamiliar words, names or geographical locations, in order to get the correct pronunciations down.

The narration can take anywhere from six weeks to eleven months or longer to complete, depending on the length of the book. At present, the longest I have worked on getting one title recorded was about two years, but that did include a few breaks for that particular narrator to work on other recordings.

Once a title is recorded, it moves on to the next step, which is proofreading for errors. During the recording process, the narrator and the person monitoring the recording can only catch so many errors. That’s why this step is so critical. It ensures the accuracy of the recording by having another set of ears listen to the book as they read along with the printed text. The proofreader logs any mistakes that may have occurred. These errors could include omitted words, added words, mispronunciations or other such discrepancies that may have happened during the original recording.

After a title is proofread, the log sheet is checked and the discovered errors are corrected. This usually involves having the original narrator come in and re-read some of the text from the book.

The final step of the process is to add the electronic markers onto the completed recording so titles, annotations, chapter headings and such can be accessed during playback. The finished audiobook it is now ready to be either transferred to a cartridge or uploaded to the NLS BARD website.

Learn more about Indiana Voices by visiting this link.

This blog post was written by Linden Coffman, director of Indiana Voices. For more information about the Talking Book and Braille Library, call 1-800-622-4970 or send an email.

Janet Flanner: A writer of not so few words

“I love writing. I’m just nuts on writing. Just give me an inkpot and a paper and a pen, and away I go.” – Janet Flanner

Janet Flanner was born March 13, 1892, in Indianapolis, to a prominent Quaker family. Flanner’s father, Frank Flanner, Indiana’s first licensed embalmer1, co-owned a mortuary, currently known as Flanner-Buchanan, and also ran the first crematorium in Indiana. Her mother encouraged her to be an actress, but Janet had no passion for the stage. Instead, Flanner followed her own passion and became a writer.

After traveling abroad with her family and then studying in Indianapolis at Tudor Hall School for Girls, now known as Park Tudor School, she enrolled at the University of Chicago in 1912, leaving the school in 1914. Flanner returned to Indianapolis and became the first cinema critic for the Indianapolis Star. Starting in 1918, her column “Comments on the Screen” was one of the first of its kind – a review of films.

Indianapolis Star (1907-1922); Jun 2, 1918; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Indianapolis Star pg. B1

In late 1918, Flanner left Indianapolis and headed to New York and eventually on to Paris where she pursued the life of a writer and journalist. She served as the Paris correspondent of The New Yorker magazine from its humble beginnings in 1925, with her first column appearing in the September issue. She wrote under the pen name “Genêt.” During this time, Flanner also published her one and only novel, “The Cubical City,” set in New York City.

Janet Flanner, c. 1925

Working as a foreign correspondent during World War II, Flanner lived in New York City, later returning to Paris in 1944. Her work in The New Yorker not only included her famous “Letter from Paris” columns, but also a seminal three-part series profiling Adolph Hitler in 1936 and coverage of the Nuremberg trials in 1945. She also participated in a series of weekly radio broadcasts for the NBC Blue Network during the months following the liberation of Paris in late August 1944.

Ernest Hemingway with Janet Flanner, circa 1944.

Flanner continued to cover major events such as the Suez crisis, the Soviet invasion of Hungary and the strife in Algeria which led to the rise of Charles de Gaulle.

Janet Flanner in correspondent’s uniform, c. 1944, Janet Flanner Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (137) LC-USZ62-112977

In 1975, Flanner permanently returned to New York City where she was cared for by her long-time companion, Natalia Danesi Murray. Flanner also retired from from The New Yorker at this time. Among her books are “Paris Journal,” “Paris Was Yesterday,” “London Was Yesterday,” “An American in Paris” and “Men and Monuments.” Most of them made up of her columns from The New Yorker.

An exhibit of Janet Flanner materials from the Indiana State Library’s collection currently on display on the second floor of the library.

Flanner died on Nov. 7, 1978, of undetermined causes and was cremated. According to Murray’s son, William Murray, in his book “Janet, My Mother, and Me,” Flanner’s and Murray’s ashes were spread over Cherry Grove in Fire Island where the two had met in 1940.

Further Readings:
Women Come to the Front
Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame
Encyclopedia Britannia
Wikipedia

1. https://flannerbuchanan.com/history/

This post was written by Chris Marshall, digital collections coordinator for the Indiana Division at the Indiana State Library.