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Friday, August 22, 2014

Ms. Rosa Lee

We are constantly analyzing our collection, getting new things, getting rid of obsolete things, and repairing titles that are an important part of our state history. A staff member recently made an interesting and (we think) humorous find while they were working to preserve our 1893 edition of the State Agencies Biennial Reports.

In the report submitted by State Librarian Rosa Lee Tucker, we get a peek into what budgeting looked like for the 1892-1893 fiscal year. This is our favorite excerpt:
"The appropriation of one hundred dollars per year for reference books, given by the last Legislature, has been judiciously expended. Encyclopedia Britannica, twenty-five volumes; Century Dictionary, six volumes, and Webster's International, all expensive books, were purchased. Double the amount could have been spent with advantage. It is to be hoped the Legislature of 1894 will give a generous appropriation for this department to the Library."

$100! Can you imagine? Well, according to the inflation calculator found here, $100 in 1892 would be worth about $2631.58 today.

We did a little digging to see how much her reference items would cost today. While the Encyclopedia Britannica is no longer being updated in the print format, you can get a year-long membership to their online edition for $69.35 a year. The Century Dictionary is no longer in print, but you can view older editions online at the California Digital Library through the University of California. Finally, The Webster's International Dictionary can be purchased for $129. That totals $198.35 today, or approximately $7.54 in 1892. Sorry, Ms. Lee!

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