cover of book

Free to All: Carnegie Libraries & American Culture, 1890-1920
by Abigail A. Van Slyck
University of Chicago Press, 1996
Paper: 978-0-226-85032-0 | Cloth: 978-0-226-85031-3
Library of Congress Classification Z679.2.U54V36 1995
Dewey Decimal Classification 727.80973

Familiar landmarks in hundreds of American towns, Carnegie libraries today seem far from controversial. In Free to All, however, Abigail A. Van Slyck shows that the classical façades and symmetrical plans of these buildings often mask a complex and contentious history.

"The whole story is told here in this book. Carnegie's wishes, the conflicts among local groups, the architecture, development of female librarians. It's a rich and marvelous story, lovingly told."—Alicia Browne, Journal of American Culture

"This well-written and extensively researched work is a welcome addition to the history of architecture, librarianship, and philanthropy."—Joanne Passet, Journal of American History

"Van Slyck's book is a tremendous contribution for its keenness of scholarship and good writing and also for its perceptive look at a familiar but misunderstood icon of the American townscape."—Howard Wight Marshall, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians

"[Van Slyck's] reading of the cultural coding implicit in the architectural design of the library makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the limitations of the doctrine 'free to all.'"—Virginia Quarterly Review
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