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
For well over one hundred years, libraries open to the public have played a crucial part in fostering in Americans the skills and habits of reading and writing, by routinely providing access to standard forms of print: informational genres such as newspapers, pamphlets, textbooks, and other reference books, and literary genres including poetry, plays, and novels. Public libraries continue to have an extraordinary impact; in the early twenty-first century, the American Library Association reports that there are more public library branches than McDonald's restaurants in the United States. Much has been written about libraries from professional and managerial points of view, but less so from the perspectives of those most intimately involved—patrons and librarians.
Drawing on circulation records, patron reviews, and other archived materials, Libraries and the Reading Public in Twentieth-Century America underscores the evolving roles that libraries have played in the lives of American readers. Each essay in this collection examines a historical circumstance related to reading in libraries. The essays are organized in sections on methods of researching the history of reading in libraries; immigrants and localities; censorship issues; and the role of libraries in providing access to alternative, nonmainstream publications. The volume shows public libraries as living spaces where individuals and groups with diverse backgrounds, needs, and desires encountered and used a great variety of texts, images, and other media throughout the twentieth century.
Made Free and Thrown Open to the Public charts the history of public libraries and librarianship in Pennsylvania. Based on archival research at more than fifty libraries and historical societies, it describes a long progression from private, subscription-based associations to publicly funded institutions, highlighting the dramatic period during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when libraries were “thrown open” to women, children, and the poor. Made Free explains how Pennsylvania’s physical and cultural geography, legal codes, and other unique features influenced the spread and development of libraries across the state. It also highlights Pennsylvania libraries’ many contributions to the social fabric, especially during World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II. Most importantly of all, Made Free convincingly argues that Pennsylvania libraries have made their greatest strides when community activists and librarians, supported with state and local resources, have worked collaboratively.
What does it mean to turn the public library or museum into a civic forum? Made in Newark describes a turbulent industrial city at the dawn of the twentieth century and the ways it inspired the library's outspoken director, John Cotton Dana, to collaborate with industrialists, social workers, educators, and New Women.
This is the story of experimental exhibitions in the library and the founding of the Newark Museum Associationùa project in which cultural literacy was intertwined with civics and consumption. Local artisans demonstrated crafts, connecting the cultural institution to the department store, school, and factory, all of which invoked the ideal of municipal patriotism. Today, as cultural institutions reappraise their relevance, Made in Newark explores precedents for contemporary debates over the ways the library and museum engage communities, define heritage in a multicultural era, and add value to the economy.
The United States has more public libraries than it has McDonald’s restaurants.
By any measure, the American public library is a heavily used and ubiquitous institution. Popular thinking identifies the public library as a neutral agency that protects democratic ideals by guarding against censorship as it makes information available to people from all walks of life. Among librarians this idea is known as the “library faith.” But is the American public library as democratic as it appears to be?
In Main Street Public Library, eminent library historian Wayne Wiegand studies four emblematic small-town libraries in the Midwest from the late nineteenth century through the federal Library Service Act of 1956, and shows that these institutions served a much different purpose than is so often perceived. Rather than acting as neutral institutions that are vital to democracy, the libraries of Sauk Centre, Minnesota; Osage, Iowa; Rhinelander, Wisconsin; and Lexington, Michigan, were actually mediating community literary values and providing a public space for the construction of social harmony. These libraries, and the librarians who ran them, were often just as susceptible to the political and social pressures of their time as any other public institution.
By analyzing the collections of all four libraries and revealing what was being read and why certain acquisitions were passed over, Wiegand challenges both traditional perceptions and professional rhetoric about the role of libraries in our small-town communities. While the American public library has become essential to its local community, it is for reasons significantly different than those articulated by the “library faith.”
Americans tend to imagine their public libraries as time-honored advocates of equitable access to information for all. Through much of the twentieth century, however, many black Americans were denied access to public libraries or allowed admittance only to separate and smaller buildings and collections. While scholars have examined and continue to uncover the history of school segregation, there has been much less research published on the segregation of public libraries in the Jim Crow South. In fact, much of the writing on public library history has failed to note these racial exclusions.
In Not Free, Not for All, Cheryl Knott traces the establishment, growth, and eventual demise of separate public libraries for African Americans in the South, disrupting the popular image of the American public library as historically welcoming readers from all walks of life. Using institutional records, contemporaneous newspaper and magazine articles, and other primary sources together with scholarly work in the fields of print culture and civil rights history, Knott reconstructs a complex story involving both animosity and cooperation among whites and blacks who valued what libraries had to offer. African American library advocates, staff, and users emerge as the creators of their own separate collections and services with both symbolic and material importance, even as they worked toward dismantling those very institutions during the era of desegregation.
The cultural and intellectual history of the Silver State is examined through the creation of its libraries. In Oases of Culture, veteran Nevada historian James W. Hulse recounts the tortuous and often colorful history of Nevada’s libraries and the work of the dedicated librarians, educators, civic leaders, women’s organizations, philanthropists, and politicians who struggled to make the democratic vision of free libraries available to all Nevadans. From the establishment of the State Library in 1865, only one year after statehood, through the creation of tax-supported public libraries after passage of a library law in 1895, to the development of today’s modern university and community college libraries and the public-library information services that serve Nevada’s booming and increasingly diverse population, Hulse recounts the trials and triumphs of Nevada’s libraries. He also examines the role of Nevada librarians in fostering literacy and confronting the First Amendment controversies that have periodically shaken the nation’s cultural foundations.
When Alexandria, Virginia’s first public library was constructed just a few blocks from his home, Samuel Wilbert Tucker, a young, Black attorney, was appalled to learn that he could not use the library because of his race. Inspired by the legal successes of the NAACP in discrimination cases, he organized a grassroots protest to desegregate the library that his tax dollars supported.
Public in Name Only tells the important, but largely forgotten, story of Tucker and a group of Black citizens who agitated for change in the terms and conditions of their lives. Employing the combined strategies of direct-action public protest, nonviolent civil disobedience, and municipal litigation, Tucker’s initiative dovetailed with the national priorities and tactics of larger civil rights organizations. While Tucker’s campaign did not end with the desegregation of the Alexandria Library, but instead resulted in the creation of a “separate-and-unequal” Jim Crow Black branch, the sit-in demonstration represents a momentous early struggle for racial equity waged through civil rights activism.
"Margaret F. Stieg's thoroughly researched study, the first comprehensive examination of public libraries in Nazi Germany, reveals that library policy in the Third Reich was far more complex than we might assume, with the positive and the negative hopelessly entangled. . . . A solid and welcome contribution."
New public library directors quickly learn what seasoned directors already know: running a library means you’ve always got your hands full—balancing the needs of staff, patrons, facilities, library boards, and other stakeholders with professional responsibilities like community interactions, legal and financial requirements, and whole lot else that wasn’t exactly in the job description. Whether you are considering becoming a public library director, are brand new to the role, or have settled in but find yourself thinking “there’s got to be a better way,” authors Hall and Parker are here to help. This book walks you through the core components of getting up to speed and then provides templates, sample documents, checklists, and other resources that will make your job easier. Gleaned from their own decades of experience in library leadership positions, in this toolkit they
cover such key topics as employees, trustees, finances, legal issues, library policies, emergency planning, and technology;
discuss strategic planning and share advice on keeping up with trends;
offer nearly two dozen ready-to-use resources, including a Director’s Report Template, a Social Media Policy, an Employee Exit Questionnaire, a Library Cleaning Checklist, a Vision Statement worksheet, and more; and
suggest additional learning opportunities in each chapter to help you continue your learning journey.
This book recounts the history of an experimental regional library service in the early 1950s, a story that has implications far beyond the two Wisconsin counties where it took place. Using interviews and library records, Christine Pawley reveals the choices of ordinary individual readers, showing how local cultures of reading interacted with formal institutions to implement an official literacy policy.
Central to the experiment were well-stocked bookmobiles that brought books to rural districts and the one-room schools that dotted the region. Three years after the project began, state officials and local librarians judged it an overwhelming success. Library circulation figures soared to two-and-a-half times their previous level. Over 90 percent of grade-school children in the rural schools used the bookmobile service, and their reading scores improved beyond expectation.
Despite these successes, however, local communities displayed deeply divided reactions. Some welcomed the book-mobiles and new library services wholeheartedly, valuing print and reading as essential to the exercise of democracy, and keen to widen educational opportunities for children growing up on hardscrabble farms where books and magazines were rare. Others feared the intrusion of govern- ment into their homes and communities, resented the tax increases that library services entailed, and complained about the subversive or immoral nature of some books.
Analyzing the history of tensions between various community groups, Pawley delineates the long-standing antagonisms arising from class, gender, and ethnic differences which contributed to a suspicion of official projects to expand education. Relating a seemingly small story of library policy, she teases out the complex interaction of reading, locality, and cultural difference. In so doing, she illuminates broader questions regarding libraries, literacy, and citizenship, reaching back to the nineteenth century and forward to the present day.
With their cameras and notebooks in hand, photographers Sabine Schmidt and Don House embarked on an ambitious project to document the libraries committed to serving Arkansas’s smallest communities. Remote Access is the culmination of this fascinating three-year effort, which took the artists to every region of their home state.
Schmidt’s carefully constructed color images of libraries and the communities they serve and House’s rich black-and-white portraits of library patrons and staff shine alongside the authors’ personal essays about their experiences. The pages here come alive with a deep connection to Arkansas’s history and culture as we accompany the authors on visits to a section of the Trail of Tears near Parkin, to the site of the tragic 1959 fire at the Arkansas Negro Boys Industrial School in Wrightsville, and to Maya Angelou’s childhood home in Stamps, among many other significant destinations.
Through this testament to the essential role of libraries in the twenty-first century, Schmidt and House have created a clear-eyed portrait of contemporary rural life, delving into issues of race, politics, gender, and isolation as they document the remarkable hard work and generosity put forth in community efforts to sustain local libraries.
In the face of rapid change and an ever-widening constellation of challenges, it’s crucial for library leaders to pull back to the question of “why?” Plotting a sustainable way forward depends upon recommitting ourselves to our underlying values, such as customer service and community-building, while fostering the improvements that change makes possible. With passion, patience, and fortitude, libraries can stride confidently into the future. In this book, noted speakers and consultants Bignoli and Stara speak directly to library directors, managers, administrators, and technology staff, offering concrete guidance on setting or resetting strategic priorities. Taking an interconnected and specific approach to planning for and strengthening the library environment as a whole, their book
discusses why libraries should embrace change as a fundamental part of library life;
explores how to harness rapid change to provide more responsive, user-centered library service;
addresses the ways in which libraries straddle the physical and the digital, in areas such as service provision and collections, illuminating how they overlap and can be improved using similar philosophies;
presents both a comprehensive overview of library technologies as well as related team and change management advice, all grounded in user experience principles;
shows how the concepts of sustainability and flexibility apply to physical space planning and design, from furniture selection and arrangement to infrastructure; and
provides sound guidance on project management, problem solving, preparing for future challenges, personal reflection and self-care, and other leadership topics.
Filled with field-tested strategies and adaptable collection development policies, this updated handbook will enable libraries to bloom by maintaining a collection that users actually use.
"Manages to be a thorough and informative source on weeding library collections and yet also an easy, engaging read ... Recommended." That rave review from Technicalities sums up the acclaim and appeal of this bestselling resource’s first edition. Now Vnuk has revised and updated her text to keep pace with libraries’ longer-term shifts in collection development and access, such as a growing emphasis on digital collections and managing duplicate physical materials. She demonstrates how weeding helps a library thrive by focusing its resources on those parts of the collection that are the most useful to its users. Walking collections staff through the proverbial stacks shelf by shelf, this book
includes a new “Tales from the Front” feature, providing real-life case studies of librarians working on weeding projects;
explains why weeding is important for a healthy library and how it can positively affect library budgets;
systematically walks readers through a library's shelves, with recommended weeding criteria and call-outs in each area for the different considerations of large collections and smaller collections;
offers easily adaptable, updated sample development plans which reflect the latest thinking in collection development;
advises readers on weeding problematic materials, such as those that include racist themes and depictions;
presents updated and expanded guidance on special considerations for youth collections;
addresses reference, media, magazines and newspapers, e-books, and other special materials;
shares guidance for determining how to delegate responsibility for weeding, plus pointers for getting other staff members on board; and
gives advice for educating the community about the process, how to head off PR disasters, and what to do with weeded materials.