Edmund Lester Pearson's Old Librarian's Almanack

Copyright © 2002 by Hugo S. Cunningham
Quoted text is copyright © 1909 by Edmund Lester Pearson
first posted 20020821
last updated 20020821

The Old Librarian's Almanack

Wayne A. Wiegand, The History of a Hoax: Edmund Lester Pearson, John Cotton Dana, and 'The Old Librarian's Almanack', Beta Phi Mu, Pittsburgh PA, 1979; cloth, 75 pp.
(Beta Phi Mu is "The International Library and Information Studies Honor Society.")
Pp. 37-71 of Mr Wiegand's book are a reprint of
"Philobiblos," The Old Librarian's Almanack: A very rare pamphlet first published in New Haven Connecticut in 1773and now reprinted for the first time, The Librarian's Series/The Elm Tree Press, Woodstock VT, 1909.

Edmund Lester Pearson (1880- 1937) was a professional librarian. He got an AB degree from Harvard College in 1902, and a B.L.S. (Bachelor of Library Science?) degree from the New York State Library School at Albany in 1904. From 1904 to 1909, he held posts at the Washington DC Public Library, the Library of Congress, the War Department, and a private library in Asheville NC. In 1909, he returned to Newburyport MA to devote full time to writing.

Pearson's "Old Librarian" views library patrons as insufferable nuisances distracting librarians from their true vocation (personal reading), when not an actual danger to precious books they itch to steal or damage. Patrons certainly had no useful suggestions to make on what books to acquire. No librarian in 1909 would admit to sharing the "Old Librarian"s attitudes, but some of the satire could apply to bureaucracies in general.

Table of Contents for the Old Librarian's Almanack, as reprinted by W.A. Wiegand:

SubjectPage number in Wiegand
Cover, supposedly reproduced from 177337
1909 "Librarian's Series" title page39
Pearson's 1909 preface to the "reprint"40-42
Eclipses and listing of major stars44
Introduction supposedly from 177345
Entries for January 1774 (2 pp. format)46-47
    Doggerel; moon phases; "calendar, weather, & c."
    An essay or verse on the librarian's craft
Identical 2-page format for months Feb-Dec48-69
A Cure for the Bite of a Rattlesnake (satirical).70-71
Pearson copied the astronomical and weather tables wholesale from a genuine 1773 New Haven CT almanac authored by Joseph Perry. Similar items are still printed today in the "Farmer's Almanac."

Some Quotations from The Old Librarian's Almanack:

p. 49 (Feb 1774)

p. 53 (April 1774)

p. 57 (June 1774)

P. 59 (July 1774)

p. 61 (August 1774)

P. 63 (September 1774)

P. 65 (October 1774)

Return to quotations page themed on havoc.

Return to general quotations page.