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.
About the Author
Christine Pawley and Louise S. Robbins have both served as professor and director of the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Pawley's publications include Reading Places: Literacy, Democracy, and the Public Library in Cold War America. Robbins is author of The Dismissal of Miss Ruth Brown: Civil Rights, Censorship, and the American Library.
Table of ContentsPreface Introduction Christine Pawley Part 1: Methods and Evidence Main Street Public Library: Community Spaces and Reading Places in the Rural Heartland Wayne A. Wiegand Reading Library Records: Constructing and Using the "What Middletown Read Database" Frank Felsenstein, John Straw, Katharine Leigh, and James J. Connolly "Story Develops Badly Could Not Finish": Member Book Reviews at the Boston Athenaeum in the 1920s Ross Harvey "A Search for Better Ways into the Future": The Library of Congress and Its Users in the Interwar Period Jane Aikin Part 2: Public Libraries, Readers, and Localities Going to "America": Italian Neighborhoods and the Newark Free Public Library, 1900–1920 Ellen M. Pozzi "A Liberal and Dignified Approach": The John Toman Branch of the Chicago Public Library and the Making of Americans, 1927–1940 Joyce M. Latham Counter Culture: The World as Viewed from Inside the Indianapolis Public Library, 1944–1956 Jean Preer Part 3: Intellectual Freedom Censorship in the Heartland: Eastern Iowa Libraries during World War I Julia Skinner Obscenity in Iowa: Locating the Library in the Non-Library Censorship of the 1950s Joan Bessman Taylor "Is Your Library Family Friendly?" Family Friendly Libraries and the Pro-Family Movement Loretta M. Gaffney The Challengers of West Bend: An Institutional Approach Emily Knox Part 4: Librarians and the Alternative Press Meta-Radicalism: The Alternative Press by and for Activist Librarians Alycia Sellie From the Underground to the Stacks and Beyond: Girl Zines, Zine Librarians, and the Importance of Social and Textual Circulation Janice A. Radway Contributors