Throughout 2000, The Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania applied modern technology, techniques, and professional skills in its ever-challenging work blending the old and the new to preserve valuable records of our heritage.
In June of 2000, Kenneth W. McCarty was named Director of The Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania and later Joshua M. Silver was named Archivist. Bro. McCarty, with more than 30 years in the field of education and a knowledge of computers, is an asset in striving to make the Library and Museum technologically compatible with today's standards. Silver, who holds a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in historic preservation from the University of Pennsylvania, has taken up the ongoing work of cataloging and housing archival artifacts and computerizing in order to share more widely the treasures of Philadelphia's Masonic Temple.
To improve efficiency in their respective areas of responsibility, each staff member was provided with a new Acer computer, which enables them to communicate and retain information more efficiently and to make the Library and Museum more compatible with other computer systems in the Masonic Temple. Two new scanners enable information to be transferred into the memory of a computer, significantly reducing paper retention in the "hard copy" filing system. Also, a new color printer allows sharing and retention of pictorial and graphic information. Computerization of the Library has been explored and the information gained should provide a foundation for a modern library system. It is hoped that this will enable the creation of a database for the collection of approximately 70,000 volumes.
The Library, directed by Dr. Glenys Waldman, Librarian, and Cathy Giaimo, Assistant Librarian, addressed more than 300 reference questions, genealogical inquiries, and research investigations during the year, some taking a short time and others needing days to answer. Some specific activities included: revising and updating the data of District Deputy Grand Masters serving from 1822 to the present, providing background for the Masonic float for the Rose Bowl parade, gathering information on the history of Russian Masonry; and assisting the Grand Secretary's office in obtaining biographical information on all Past Grand Secretaries which is now on the web site. New purchases continue to expand the reference and circulating portions of the library and about 1,000 books were added to the computer database. Thirty items were rebound to insure their preservation. New steel and wood shelving was added to three-quarters of the reading room, which will increase shelf capacity and provide acid-free storage for that portion of the collection.
It is important to keep abreast of professional and technological developments. Dr. Waldman attended a "Beyond Search Engines" workshop at Drexel University and Mrs. Giaimo attended a data base research workshop. Both of them also attended a workshop presented by Sydney Plus, the database system source and support for the Library. Archivist Silver participated in two workshops dealing with paper conservation and water damage.
In the Archives room, a large area was reorganized to accommodate the new section of stack shelving. Old storage furniture was discarded and replaced with four sections of heavy duty steel post shelving to provide an additional 106 cubic feet of storage. The large collection of Masonic aprons and dozens of other items, originally stored in wooden drawers, were put in covers and/or acid-free boxes and shelved. Samples of the rug that was replaced in the Egyptian Room were stored for future reference and dozens of historic pieces also were placed in plastic covers and/or acid-free boxes. Three choice works were selected to be repaired by professional conservators and were sent out in November.
Significant archival research time was dedicated to assisting professionals obtain information on: Robert Wood, a famous iron contractor responsible for the staircases in the Masonic Temple; John Sartain, an artist whose pieces are part of the collection of the Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania; and the Keystone, a nineteenth century Pennsylvania Masonic weekly publication.
The Museum continues to receive pieces donated by brethren and members of their families. A lovely soup tureen, circa 1856, belonging to Union Lodge No. 121, was added to the collection of Masonic china. During the year, five display cases previously located in other parts of the Masonic Temple were relocated on the lower level and new displays were created from the archival collections. Those displays included swords, china, working tools, and items of interest from the Wanamaker collection. In addition, the spade used in the groundbreaking ceremony at the new Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia was displayed with a scale model block and tackle.
The Gift Shop
The Masonic Gift Shop had a face lift, remodeled to give it a very professional appearance. David Brett has been added to the staff to assist with the mail orders and retail sales. Two computers and a printer have made the gift shop more efficient and improved customer service.
The Mission: The Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania
The mission of The Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania is to maintain and operate for the use of Freemasons and the general public a library consisting of books, pamphlets, manuscripts, prints and related materials illustrative of the history, work, nature, and objectives of Freemasonry; and to operate a museum for the display of regalia, jewelry, emblems, and other items of whatever character dealing with Freemasonry and related subjects.
Members of the 2000 Board of Directors of The Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania
Hugh A. Jones, P.D.D.G.M., Chairman
(the late) John K. Young, R.W.P.G.M.
Arthur J. Kurtz, R.W.P.G.M.
Whitfield J. Bell
George R. Moad
Russell F. Weigley
Kenneth W. McCarty,
Executive Director and Secretary to the Board of Directors