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History of Public Libraries
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History of Public Libraries


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  • 2. Bookmobiles 1905 Mary Lemist Titcomb creates the first bookmobile using a horse-drawn carriage at the Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown, Maryland Customizing the Logo 1912 The first automotive bookmobile! It was an International Harvester Autowagon with a customized body to carry books 1915 A motorized "library bus" was introduced in Hibbing, Minnesota
  • 3. Libraries during Wartime Customizing the Logo
    •   1914 WWI Begins
      • Public libraries saw war as an opportunity to extend their services and to increase their professional authority
      • While the US remained neutral, libraries attempted to provide materials that offered a fair and balanced reporting of the war abroad
      • German and British governments vied to influence America's official neutrality through propaganda campaigns conducted through public libraries 
        • Sent unsolicited materials
        • Anonymous donations to be spent on German books
        • Donated books
        • Sent lists and bulletins recommending German books
  • 4. Libraries during Wartime Customizing the Logo
    •    1917 US enters WWI
      • Libraries are convenient, efficient, and readily available to disseminate information about the war 
      • Federal, state, and local government welcomed their help 
        • Government agencies sought to tap the library as a resource for circulating information they wanted give the public
  • 5. Goals for Libraries during WWI Customizing the Logo
      • "Act as an agency of patriotic publicity" to post and distribute any government war literature
        • President's messages and war proclamations, federal legislation, any state decrees and bulletins concerning the war, and useful information from the Red Cross and other voluntary associations
        • If this information was not freely available, the public library had a responsibility to get it 
      • All public libraries should furnish reading material on patriotism, the flag, military and naval training, and the "truth" about the war
      • Set up bulletin boards identifying the nearest recruiting station, post lists of opportunities for national service in the armed services, identify members of the national and state councils of defense
  • 6. Libraries during Wartime Customizing the Logo
      • Huge increase in circulation of war books
      • Display areas with maps charting Allied advances
      • Served as recruiting stations, community spaces 
  • 7. Libraries during Wartime Customizing the Logo
      • ALA's War Service Library provided reading materials to soldiers and sailors at home and abroad
        • Operated camp and hospital libraries
        • Distributed books in Europe & Siberia; books-by-mail program
        • Book drives to solicit magazines for military hospitals
      • This program laid the foundation for today's armed services libraries 
      • Public libraries aided in collecting books for the War Service Library to stock training camp facilitates across the nation
  • 8. Propaganda Customizing the Logo
  • 9. Libraries during Wartime Customizing the Logo
      • Worked together with schools to indoctrinate children 
      •   Intellectual freedom issues:  
        • Withdrawal of questionable literature
        • Some libraries boasted about book burnings
        • Refusal to admit new material of a "suspicious nature"
        • Ensured that patriotic literature be given the widest dissemination possible 
      • American public librarians fell victim to the same wartime hysteria as many professions and institutions
  • 10. Libraries during the Depression Customizing the Logo
      • Public libraries tried to provide training in useful skills for people recently unemployed or those struggling to make ends meet
      • Capitalized on the growing general fear of the unemployed by positioning the library as a mechanism for social control
        • The library, by keeping the masses busy with reading, would prevent the spread of revolutionary thought 
      • Belief that by reading and reflecting on the right books, an educated citizenry could develop a rational solution to the depression
      • A poster slogan: "Turn discontent to constructive reform"
  • 11. Works Progress Adminstration (WPA) Customizing the Logo
      • Library projects covered library extension, book repair, and book cataloging and indexing
      • Library Extension program established thousands of new libraries
      • Book repair projects provided jobs and saved libraries and schools money through the reconditioning of dilapidated books
      • Federal Writers Program authors like Studs Terkel, Nelson Algren, Saul Bellow
      • The WPA ’s Historical Records Survey undertook massive indexing and cataloging project
  • 12. Works Progress Adminstration (WPA) Customizing the Logo
      • Packhorse librarians in Appalachia
      • Houseboat librarian along the Yazoo River in Mississippi
  • 13. Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Customizing the Logo
      • 1933 TVA created to provide navigation, flood control, electricity, and economic development in the Tennessee Valley
        • Most rural counties in the Tennessee Valley had no public library, and some were extreme in their isolation
      • 1934 TVA hires Mary Utopia Rothrock, the director of the Knoxville Public Library to supervise the TVA libraries
        • Set up the first rural library in Norris, Tennessee, the model company town
      • Rothrock believed it was critical to make books available in remote locations
        • Established small 4,000- to 5,000-volume libraries in stores, post offices, and filling stations
        • “ Wherever they live or work, the library follows.”
  • 14. Public Libraries during WWII Customizing the Logo
      • Even after Pearl Harbor, librarians in Hawaii still took books to army camps
      • Libraries around the country were shook up
        • Moved collections, worked with police & fire departments, strengthened security, trained midwives
        • CPL shifted emphasis from industrial training to defense issues
          • mounted war maps
      • Worked with government agencies to help disseminate information
        • US Information Service, Office of Civilian Defense
        • Desire for libraries to be a part of federal programs
      • War information centers to help citizens keep up with rapid changes and new regulations (i.e. Detroit Public Library)
  • 15. Public Libraries during WWII Customizing the Logo
      • Story time featured tales of legendary Americans who "seemed to embody American ideals"
      • Helping the war effort:
        • Knitting,  cutting bandages, and studying first-aid
        • Registrars for rationing
        • Spoke to women about wartime regulations, food conservation
        • Bookmobile drivers brought news to those without radios
  • 16. Public Libraries during WWII Customizing the Logo
      • Shrinking staff
        • Called into service
        • Left for jobs in the war industry with lucrative salaries
        • Some women left to marry or follow their husbands
      • Some libraries granted unpaid leaves and promised jobs upon their return
      • Employed older women
      • Hired Japanese women, but they were not allowed any contact with the public
      • Firemen and red cross drivers took over bookmobile routes
  • 17. Public Libraries during WWII Customizing the Logo
      • 1944 ALA wants libraries to assist in military and industrial demobilization 
        • Revival of library adult education efforts
      • 1945 War is over! Demand for technical,war, and peace books die down
      • Readjustment to civilian life
        • Shifted to recreational reading
        • Growing interest in race relations
        • Home & design, precursor to consumer culture of 1950s
      •   Individual libraries responded differently; some didn't change in response to war
      • Those kept their communities' needs in mind fared better than those who did not
  • 18. McCarthyism & Libraries Customizing the Logo
      • Those who wanted to weed out subversion in libraries focused on:
        • library staff
        • library services 
        • collection
      • Logistical challenges as well as federal laws blocked many books and periodicals from entering the United States
      • 1952 Rep. Harold Velde proposed a bill to provide that the Library of Congress should mark all subversive matter in the collection and compile a list for the guidance of other libraries in the US. The bill never made it out of committee
  • 19. McCarthyism & Libraries Customizing the Logo
      • Challenged books, films, and periodicals deemed overly sympathetic in their treatment of the Soviet Union
      • Also criticized libraries for not including books that they viewed as shining examples of American patriotism 
        • Sen. Joseph McCarthy ’s book, McCarthyism, The Fight for America: Documented Answers to Questions Asked by Friend and Foe
      • Labeling: system of stamping books to indicate that the author had known Communist affiliations
      • Variations on labeling: Stamped books should not be circulated, only available in reference
  • 20. Loyalty Programs
      • 1947 President Truman signed the Executive Order 9835 AKA The Loyalty Order
      • Employees required to sign an oath indicating whether or not they had or continued to have any affiliations with organizations considered subversive
      • Those who admitted to affiliations, were suspected of lying, or refused to sign the oath were investigated, which often led to being fired and blacklisted
      • As many librarians were public employees, they were required to submit to loyalty programs operating at the state or local level
  • 21. Banned Items Customizing the Logo
      • Howard Fast's Tom Paine for vulgarity, but more likely because of his ties to the Communist Party
      • Series of articles that were critical of the Catholic Church
      • The Nation was a well-known political magazine whose leftist editorial stance had long been established