ISBN 10: 0190248009 / ISBN 13: 9780190248000
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Inhaltsangabe: 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 are registered 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.

Inhaltsangabe: Despite dire predictions that public libraries would not survive the turn of the millennium, libraries are thriving. A 2013 report by the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project notes that in the previous decade "every other major institution (government, churches, banks, corporations) has fallen in public esteem except libraries, the military, and first responders." As of 2011, America had 17,110 public libraries. Two-thirds of Americans frequent a public library at least once a year; 172 million are registered borrowers. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of visitors increased 33%. In 2010 public libraries circulated 2.46 billion items-the most ever and a 38% increase from 2000.

Clearly, Americans love their libraries. Part of Our Lives explains why, and in doing so challenges conventional thinking about the American public library. Libraries' founders and managers have argued that the public library is, at its core, a civic institution essential to creating an informed citizenry, without which democracy cannot prosper. This book shows that this is only one of many roles. More important to library users from the mid-1800s through today are the commonplace stories and thousands of spaces that public libraries make available to construct and maintain community and promote social harmony. This book traces the American public library's history not by analyzing the words of authorities, but rather by listening to generations of public library users. Part of Our Lives shows that Americans have loved their public libraries for three reasons-the useful information they made accessible; the public spaces they provided; and the everyday reading materials they supplied that helped users make sense of the world around them

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