American Libraries before 1876

By Haynes McMullen | Go to book overview

Chapter 6
Libraries Belonging to Organizations That
Were Not Formed to Establish Libraries

The libraries discussed in chapter 5 have been considered as ones that most clearly indicate the desire of Americans to have and use books. However, many significant collections were owned by various organizations whose members, for whatever reasons, felt that the formation of a library should be only a part of the association's activity.

Sometimes the books clearly provided information about whatever subject was of most concern to the members of the group (as law books owned by a bar association); sometimes the collections were general or miscellaneous (as the contents of libraries owned by women's societies); and sometimes the collections were mixed (as in libraries owned by the Young Men's Christian Associations, which deliberately offered some secular books as enticements to attract readers with little or no interest in religion).

Earlier, it was mentioned that the order in which various kinds of libraries are discussed in this study may be unimportant. However, there may be some advantage, in following here as closely as possible, the same order as in the part on social libraries. Table 6.1 presents the same kind of information as Table 5.1. Some kinds of societies that considered the maintenance of libraries part of thenpurpose were quite similar to the library societies discussed in chapter 5. For example, the members of bar associations, covered in chapter 6, may have been as concerned about their libraries as were the members of law library societies, discussed in chapter 5.

Three kinds of libraries that were formed by voluntary organizations are not considered in this chapter but are examined in chapter 7: libraries owned by colleges or professional schools, hospital libraries, and libraries in asylums that existed for the care of persons with disabilities. These three kinds of institutions often belonged to voluntary organizations, but substantial numbers were operated by the federal, state, or local government. Changes in the role of private and public ownership over the years have seemed to provide a sufficient

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