Play Ball! America’s Pastime in the Library

Library Resources | August 01, 2018

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Discover how libraries and museums throughout the country are celebrating baseball, America’s favorite pastime, with baseball library exhibits chronicling the sport from its inception to the modern era and everything in between.

The 2017/8 baseball season is in full swing, entering its second half. The All-Star Game was played last week in our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., and soon after came the flurry of predictions for teams who would participate in the World Series. . Libraries and museums throughout the country are celebrating baseball with baseball exhibits chronicling the sport from its inception to the modern era and everything in between.

National Library Covers the National Pastime

This summer, the Library of Congress debuted a new exhibit, Baseball Americana. It lives up to its name by displaying items from baseball history and telling their stories. One can visually compare a fingerless baseball glove from the 1800’s with the modern-day slugger Ichiro Suzuki’s glove, and it’s clear how much the sport has changed over time. In addition to covering the Major Leagues, the exhibit also displays items from women’s baseball leagues, baseball played in Japanese internment camps, and from the Negro Leagues. As Christopher Lancette reported in his article on the exhibit, “She [Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress] said that one of her hopes for the Baseball Americana exhibit was that it would make the Library more open and accessible to a new audience -- an audience that she hoped would go on to become active users of the Library. She spoke of the exhibit’s potential for building bridges.”

African-American League History in Museums and Libraries

To honor the history of African American Leagues in the United States, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum was created in 1990 in Kansas City. It has evolved into a 10,000 -square foot home for artifacts covering the rich history of African-American baseball. Beyond its four walls, the Museum keeps history alive through educational programming and outreach programs. It works hand-in-hand with schools and in cooperation with Kansas State University, has developed an e-Museum with a wealth of electronic resources for teachers, such as lesson plans, historical timelines, and research resources. It also has traveling exhibits, such as Shades of Greatness, which uses art to share the history of the Negro Leagues. Libraries at academic institutions such as Georgia Tech, Northeastern University, and Sinclair Community College, have hosted the exhibit.

She [Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress] said that one of her hopes for the Baseball Americana exhibit was that it would make the library more open and accessible to a new audience

Baseball Exhibits and Experiences in Local Libraries

Libraries of all shapes and sizes can host baseball exhibits to share the history of the game and pique the interest of younger patrons as a sport they might be interested in. The traveling exhibits from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum are available for hire for libraries. In addition, libraries could reach out to local sports museums to inquire about items they might take out on loan. A baseball card collection could be displayed- with patrons loaning their cards.

Engaging Digital Magazines to Learn More About Baseball

Flipster offers a wide-variety of digital magazines for all sports but many that are specifically for baseball aficionados of all ages. For young readers, Junior Baseball offers game advice, entertainment, tips from MLB stars, profiles of teams, games, contests and more. Baseball Digest and Baseball America provide articles about today’s and tomorrow’s stars in the game and statistics from the minor leagues to the major leagues. Sports Illustrated and ESPN: The Magazine have many articles on baseball as well as other popular sports. Request a free trial of Flipster to check out your options to gain access to more than 1,500 magazines, coloring books, comic books and more!

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