This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Puyallup Public Library. It is the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Carnegie library building and of the library becoming an official city department.
Throughout the year, you’ll see the library celebrate in a number of significant ways, and I hope you will join with us in celebrating not only our heritage but also a very bright future ahead.
You may already have noticed our new 100th anniversary logo, which appears on our Bookmark newsletter and our new library cards.
So what was happening in the world of books 100 years ago? Can you name the author who won the 1913 Nobel Prize for literature? (Come by the library, and we can help you out with that, and many other questions!)
The year 1913 saw the debut of a new play by George Bernard Shaw called “Pygmalion,” which later became the Broadway musical and, later, film, “My Fair Lady.”
Eleanor H. Porter published a novel called “Polyanna,” which later became a beloved Disney film starring Hayley Mills.
And be sure to run to your nearest bakery to pick up a madeleine to eat (and retrieve your childhood memories) in honor of the 1913 publication of “Swann’s Way,” the first volume in Marcel Proust’s massive novel, “Remembrance of Things Past.”
But along with Proust’s notable look backward, 1913 also was a year that saw the world of art move into the future in a dramatic way.
Igor Stravinsky, whom I think is the great composer of the 20th century, premiered his ballet, “The Rite of Spring,” which provoked a huge riot at its initial performance in Paris on May 29, 1913.
At times, the noise of the audience was so loud that the orchestra could not be heard. The audience threw anything they had available at the stage. The headline for the article sent from Paris via Marconi wireless telegraph to the New York Times read: “Parisians Hiss New Ballet: Has to Turn Up Lights.”
Check out a recording of this piece from the library, listen to the music, and ask yourself if it motivates you to throw rotten fruit at your stereo system. I doubt it will, and it’s fascinating to think how music, which seems so incredibly normal today, was considered subversive and unlistenable exactly 100 years ago.
In this new year, we’ll look to the past, but we’ll also look to the future of how the Puyallup Public Library can continue to be an indispensable part of this community.
A novel particularly relevant to Puyallup’s pioneer heritage that appeared in 1913 is Willa Cather’s “O Pioneers!” Like the persevering Swedish immigrant characters in Cather’s novels, Puyallup pioneers made this area prosper, even in the face of devastating crop failures, such as the hop lice infestation of 1862, after which many farmers turned to berries.
Puyallup always has reinvented itself to stay modern without forgetting where it came from. And that’s what the Puyallup Public Library will be doing — staying at the forefront of technology and not forgetting the core mission of a public library and what makes it possible: you, the citizens.Tim Wadham is the director of the Puyallup Public Library. He can be reached at 253-841-5452 or by email at email@example.com.