DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Mar 12 2009

The librarian’s holiday

by Lesley B

I can’t go past a bookstore without stepping inside.

Well, actually I can, but only when it’s hot outside and I’ve got groceries in the car.

But there were no frozen peas in peril a few weeks ago when I took J’nai’s suggestion and went to Mobile for Mardi Gras. While waiting for that night’s parade to start, I stepped inside a book store and found this little green book waiting for me to take it home.  Published in 1929 by the American Library Association, The Public Library in the United States is a brisk statement by Arthur E. Bostwick on the proper role of the American public library in the twentieth century. Libraries have changed a lot since 1929 but what really struck me was how well this old book described the work of public libraries today. I was moved to see that the library reached out to job seekers in the dark days of 1929, just as DCPL is a resource for our patrons in today’s tough economy.

And who was Arthur E. Bostwick? Checking online, I discovered that Mr. Bostwick was a distinguished librarian who served as director of the St. Louis Public Library from 1909 until his death in 1942. He was a strong advocate for a open, progressive public library, which at the time meant letting readers pick out their own books and take them home. He’s a good writer and I found more of his work through Project Gutenberg and Google Books.

It may be that it was his modern thinking that kept his book on the shelf long enough to get a barcode. I’m looking forward to reading more of Mr. Bostwick’s articles online, but I never would have made his acquaintance if I hadn’t stepped inside a bookstore.

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