Thursday, July 24, 2008

Library Stories

In 1895... you had to be fourteen, and a boy, to get into the Astor Library, which opened in 1854, the same year as the Boston Public Library, the country’s first publicly funded city library, where you had to be sixteen.

Between 1881 and 1917, Andrew Carnegie underwrote the construction of more than sixteen hundred public libraries in the United States, buildings from which children were routinely turned away, because they needed to be protected from morally corrupting books, especially novels.

In 1896...a list [was made] of what [was] needed [to create a children's room in a library]: tables and chairs sized for children; plants, especially ones with flowers; art work; and very good books. The kids lined up around the block.

There's an excellent article in last week's New Yorker Magazine about "the battle that reshaped children's literature." Granted, I'm a huge library fanatic (like I'm a post office fanatic) so this topic was an easy give. It starts out with the above, solid, information, which I was shocked about (you had to be a 14 year old boy?!) and turns into this fantastic, drama-filled story about E.B. White and his struggle to publish and distribute Stewart Little. A fascinating tale (perhaps made more so because I just read Stewart Little, for the first time, this past year). By the end of the article, I was just happy for living in a time where libraries are one of the few accommodations created for the greater good. Come one, come all: No one is turned away at a library today.

2 comments:

comfies said...

it's true. libraries are the best place to go...

amy said...

mmmhh, i love libraries. I barely go anymore, now that i'm in new york, but i have very fond memories of them from when i was a child...