The Resource Part of our lives : a people's history of the American public library, Wayne A. Wiegand

Part of our lives : a people's history of the American public library, Wayne A. Wiegand

Label
Part of our lives : a people's history of the American public library
Title
Part of our lives
Title remainder
a people's history of the American public library
Statement of responsibility
Wayne A. Wiegand
Creator
Subject
Language
eng
Summary
  • "Despite dire predictions in the late twentieth century that public libraries would not survive the turn of the millennium, their numbers have only increased. Two of three Americans frequent a public library at least once a year, and nearly that many areregistered borrowers. Although library authorities have argued that the public library functions primarily as a civic institution necessary for maintaining democracy, generations of library patrons tell a different story. In Part of Our Lives, Wayne A. Wiegand delves into the heart of why Americans love their libraries. The book traces the history of the public library, featuring records and testimonies from as early as 1850. Rather than analyzing the words of library founders and managers, Wiegand listens to the voices of everyday patrons who cherished libraries. Drawing on newspaper articles, memoirs, and biographies, Part of Our Lives paints a clear and engaging picture of Americans who value libraries not only as civic institutions, but also as social spaces for promoting and maintaining community. Whether as a public space, a place for accessing information, or a home for reading material that helps patrons make sense of the world around them, the public library has a rich history of meaning for millions of Americans. From colonial times through the recent technological revolution, libraries have continuously adapted to better serve the needs of their communities. Wiegand goes on to demonstrate that, although cultural authorities (including some librarians) have often disparaged reading books considered not "serious" the commonplace reading materials users obtained from public libraries have had a transformative effect for many, including people like Ronald Reagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Oprah Winfrey. A bold challenge to conventional thinking about the American public library, Part of Our Lives is an insightful look into one of America's most beloved cultural institutions"--
  • "Part of Our Lives challenges the conventional idea that public libraries are valuable mostly because they are essential to democracy. Instead, this book uses the voices of generations of public library users to argue that Americans have loved their libraries for the useful information they make accessible; the public spaces they provide; and the commonplace reading materials they supply that help users make sense of the world around them"--
Title
Part of our lives
Creator
Summary
Part of Our Lives challenges the conventional idea that public libraries are valuable mostly because they are essential to democracy. Instead, this book uses the voices of generations of public library users to argue that Americans have loved their libraries for the useful information they make accessible; the public spaces they provide; and the commonplace reading materials they supply that help users make sense of the world around them
Subject
Genre
Review
  • Reviewed by Eric Norton.As this work's subtitle suggests, Wiegand, a professor emeritus at Florida State University's School of Information, takes a user-centered approach in this history of American public libraries. Wiegand does a superlative job of featuring the voices of average community members as well as famous individuals who, by and large, have loved their public libraries. Other histories of the institution and the profession are written by and for librarians, and they concentrate on supplying information as libraries' sole raison d'être. In seeking the patron's perspective, Wiegand finds that the library's role in popularizing reading and providing community spaces is just as crucial to the people the library serves.Throughout the book, Wiegand points to the importance of fiction in the lives of library patrons. In the early 19th century, at the beginning of the public library movement in the United States, librarians were reluctant to stock fiction of any sort, but over time novels have become central to library collections. Popular formats such as comic books, romance fiction, and even series books for children took much longer to be accepted. By providing fiction, Wiegand argues, libraries connect readers to the "personal histories and emotional roller coasters others experienced." Furthermore, he feels that giving patrons a choice of reading material reinforces the democratic ethos and provides the bedrock of a strong community. The push and pull of the community and the library over materials is another of Wiegand's major themes. Libraries are often, but not always, more permissive than their communities' majorities. Faced with McCarthyism, some libraries avoided buying certain titles, while other librarians resisted community pressure to shun books seen as linked to communism. Passages even more painful for this reviewer to read include a section on one Southern library refusing to issue cards to African-Americans on a technicality, and another in which a library removed a local gay newspaper after the passage of a local referendum found a vast majority of citizens in favor of banning any materials depicting or advocating homosexual acts. But in general Wiegand sees the value in this interplay, and he feels community standards should outweigh any standards that librarians may set, such as the Library Bill of Rights as championed by the American Library Association's Office of Intellectual Freedom.Along with the information service championed by the profession and the reading loved by the public, Wiegand also tells the story of the library's importance as a gathering place in one example after another. From libraries' beginnings in this country, communities large and small have come together in their local public libraries for lectures, art exhibits, classes, movies, and all manner of programs. The author ably demonstrates that it is this participation in an institution, rather than simply visiting a physical building, that forms the strongest component of people's love for libraries. In my own experience, the heartfelt words of thanks from patrons of all ages for programs at my local library certainly validate Wiegand's findings. >Eric Norton is head of customer services at the McMillan Memorial Library in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. --Staff (Reviewed August 17, 2015) (Publishers Weekly, vol 262, issue 33, p)
  • Compared to most other major institutions, Americans hold their public libraries in high regard. Wiegand (emeritus, Sch. of Information, Florida State Univ.; Main Street Public Library ) explains why by tracing the history of the public library from the social libraries of colonial times to the modern institutions of the present. Uniquely, he emphasizes the perspective of patrons rather than that of professional librarians and managers. By searching digitized newspaper articles, published memoirs, and biographies, he unveils the voices of generations of library users (including those of famous patrons such as Oprah Winfrey, Kurt Vonnegut, and Sonia Sotomayor). From this collected data, the author concludes that libraries remain important because they provide reading materials, information access, and a valuable public space. Furthermore, public libraries adapt to the wants of patrons; for example, in finding a resolution to the longtime conflict of what constituted proper reading material. For years, many librarians disdained popular fiction as being beneath the needs of an educated, civilized society. However, Wiegand explains, libraries discovered that circulation declined when fiction was removed and as a result relented to the wishes of their patrons. VERDICT A compelling and oftentimes amusing read that will satisfy anyone interested in public libraries or in American history in general.— Dave Pugl, Ela Area P.L., Lake Zurich, IL --Dave Pugl (Reviewed September 15, 2015) (Library Journal, vol 140, issue 15, p90)
Assigning source
  • Provided by publisher
  • Provided by publisher
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10450867
Cataloging source
DLC
Dewey number
027.473
Index
no index present
Literary form
non fiction
Target audience
adult
http://bibfra.me/vocab/lite/titleRemainder
a people's history of the American public library
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/titleRemainder
a people's history of the American public library
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/titleStatement
Wayne A. Wiegand
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/titleVariation
  • People's history of the American public library
  • Part of our lives
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/titleVariationRemainder
a peoples history of the American public library
Label
Part of our lives : a people's history of the American public library, Wayne A. Wiegand
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier.
Content category
text
Content type MARC source
rdacontent.
Contents
Machine generated contents note: -- Introduction -- 1. 'Improv'd the General Conversation of Americans': Social Libraries Before 1854 -- 2. For 'Plain People': The American Public Library,1854-1876 -- 3. 'The Best Reading for the Greatest Number at the least Cost': 1876-1893 -- 4. 'The Liberty to Read What They Will and When': 1893-1917 -- 5. 'Habitations on a Literary Map:' 1917-1929 -- 6. 'One Island of Refuge': 1929-1945 -- 7. 'Winning the Battles of Daily Life': 1945-1964 -- 8. 'An Individual Meaningto Each User': 1964-1980 -- 9. 'Library Paste is a Precious Part of Social Glue': 1980-2000 -- Epilogue. 2000-Present
Dimensions
26 cm.
Extent
331 pages
Isbn
9780190248000
Isbn Type
: HRD
Lccn
2015014209
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia.

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