Blog—Source Material

Libraries Rule (and Have Library Rules)

Next time you visit the Newberry, don’t forget to check your ink bottles in the cloak room.

“Rules of the Library” sign made by James Hayes, ca. 1950s.

“Rules of the Library” sign made by James Hayes, ca. 1950s.

Next time you visit the Newberry, don’t forget to check your ink bottles in the cloak room.

Made by lettering artist James Hayes in the 1950s, this “Rules of the Library” sign once hung in the halls of the Newberry. Though some of these rules are still enforced (like no smoking), a few have changed (we’re now happy to help with puzzles and quizzes).

The sign reads the following: "The Newberry Library. Rules of the Library. The following must be checked at the cloak room: briefcases, packages, overcoats, large bags, umbrellas, current newspapers, ink bottles. All persons leaving the building must show for inspection all: books, papers, packages, etc. Children under twelve are not admitted to library. Smoking is not permitted. Reference service is not offered to persons working on puzzles or quizzes. The librarian."
“Rules of the Library” sign made by James Hayes, ca. 1950s.

The sign itself lives on as an embodiment of the artistry of James Hayes. His unique calligraphic style—like the flair of the final “The” and the display capitals of the title—shines through prominently in this piece.

Hayes’s unique style can be seen in the flair of the sign’s final “The.”
Hayes’s unique style can be seen in the flair of the sign’s final “The.”

Just as fascinating is being able to see Hayes’s process, as shown by the tracing paper mockups that are part of the James Hayes Papers at the Newberry.

Hayes’s mockup of his “Rules of the Library” sign is done in pencil and on tracing paper.
Hayes’s mockup of his “Rules of the Library” sign, done in pencil and on tracing paper, is part of the James Hayes Papers here at the Newberry. Call number: Wing Modern MS Hayes, Box 21, Folder 203.

The collection also includes Hayes’s printed pieces, client files, correspondence with lettering artists around the world, and pieces Hayes collected from other calligraphers.

James Hayes came to Chicago in 1926 to attend the School of the Art Institute, where his mentor was Ernst F. Detterer—the Newberry’s curator of printing history from 1931-1947. From 1932 to 1942, Hayes worked in the display department of Marshall Field & Company while doing freelance calligraphy on the side.

Promotional material Hayes created for the Marshall Field & Company on green card stock. The piece reads, "Books 1941-1942. Student aids, world affairs, reference, adventure, sports and out of doors, mystery, travel, humor, fiction, poetry, history, art, drama, biography. Marshall Field & Company."
Promotional material Hayes created for the Marshall Field & Company while he worked in their display department, ca. 1940s. Call number: Wing Modern MS Hayes Box 21, Folder 174.

Hayes continued to work as a freelance lettering artist in Chicago for most of his career. He created countless signs, logos, lettering, and printed pieces for hundreds of clients, including Ryerson Steel, Rush Presbyterian St. Luke’s Hospital, the Bank Marketing Association, and R.R. Donnelley & Sons.

One of Hayes’s major publications was a catalog for an exhibit on the Roman Letter. Admired and hailed as influential in the printing community, the exhibit was held at the gallery of the R.R. Donnelley & Sons Chicago headquarters from 1951-52. Hayes’s catalog was widely distributed by Donnelley and reprinted by the company in 1965.

The cover of the catalog reads, "The Roman Letter."
Hayes created the catalog for the R.R. Donnelly & Sons exhibit on the Roman Letter in 1951. Pictured here is the cover of the catalog. Call number: Wing Modern MS Hayes, Box 47, Folder 32.
The inside front cover reads, "The Roman Letter. A study of notable graven and written forms from twenty centuries in which our Latin alphabet moved toward its high destiny as the basic medium of printed communication throughout the western world."
Hayes created the catalog for the R.R. Donnelly & Sons exhibit on the Roman Letter in 1951. Pictured here is the inside front cover of the catalog. Call number: Wing Modern MS Hayes, Box 47, Folder 32.

Though Hayes made countless print pieces, his bread and butter—and what he was and is best known for—was the bookplate. Bookplates are printed or decorative labels that are pasted into a book, oftentimes to indicate ownership. In addition to making bookplates for many of his clients, Hayes collected a number of bookplates from other artists around the world (which are now part of our collections here at the Newberry). Hayes even designed a bookplate for the Newberry, another one of his major clients.

The bookplate reads, "The Newberry Library, Chicago 10, Illinois." At the top is a spiral design with "N" and "L" on either side.
Hayes created this bookplate for the Newberry Library in 1967. Call number: Wing Modern MS Hayes, Box 26, Folder 66.

Following Detterer’s passing in 1947, Hayes directed the Newberry’s Calligraphy Study Group until it disbanded in 1960. Hayes also had a hand in designing several elements of the Newberry’s brand identity in the mid 20th century, including a calligraphic logo that was used in brochures, signage, and other printed products for decades.

The logo has "NL" in the middle. "The Newberry Library, Chicago" is written around the perimeter.
Logo Hayes created for the Newberry Library, ca. 1950s. Call number: Wing Modern MS Hayes, Box 21, Folder 203.
NL written in script with an oval surrounding it.
Logo Hayes created for the Newberry Library, ca. 1950s. Call number: Wing Modern MS Hayes, Box 21, Folder 203.

Hayes’s work was widely exhibited and included in published collections of contemporary calligraphy from the 1950s until his death in 1994, and his impact on the calligraphic world can’t be understated. Here at the Newberry, Hayes’s contributions have undoubtedly helped to shape our brand identity into what it is today.

About the Author

Haku Blaisdell is the Communications Coordinator at the Newberry Library.

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