The Lost Art of Library Postcards

I’d like to imagine there will always be people who find it necessary to fit the experiences of a vacation into the small space provided on a postcard, but I’m doubtful. The idea of buying, filling out, and dropping one into a mailbox has become a quaint relic of our pre-Instagram past.

An even sadder truth is that we don’t celebrate our public libraries the way we once did. Yet, as anyone who’s ever dug through a box of vintage postcards will remember, the public library was once a landmark, a source of public pride that represented the best of a city. And while there are many of us who still feel that way about libraries, in recent years we’ve watched them lose funding, and cities have torn down a number of these classic buildings where so many have gone seeking knowledge. As we work to keep our local libraries open, these beautiful 20th-century postcards serve as nostalgic reminders of just what we’re fighting for.


Boston Public Library, 1908 Carnegie_Library,_Houston,_Texas_(postcard)

Houston Public Library, 1907 NYC_Public_Library_postcard_1920

New York Public Library, 1920


Muncie, IN. Public Library, 1941 Carnegie_Library,_Dallas,_Texas_(postcard)

Dallas Public Library, circa 1906 medford-library-1910

Medford, OR. Public Library, circa 1920


Columbus, IN. Public Library, circa 1921


Columbus, OH. Public Library, date unknown


Elmhurst, New York Public Library, 1920


Chicago Public Library, circa 1900 LIB10.039

Chelsea Mass. Public Library, 1923 LIB10.040

Falmouth, MA. Public Library, date unknown


Carnegie Public Library, Marion, IA., date unknown


Santa Rosa, California Public Library, circa 1920 newberry2

Newberry Library, Chicago, IL., circa 1906