Part of Our Lives

A People's History of the American Public Library

Hardcover, 344 pages

English language

Published Jan. 21, 2015 by Oxford University Pres.

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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 …

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  • Books and reading
  • Public libraries
  • General
  • Library users
  • Libraries
  • Public opinion
  • Attitudes
  • Libraries and society
  • Social History
  • History
  • Libraries and community


  • United States