Wiegand provides histories of four upper midwestern libraries and then devotes a chapter to analyzing the catalogs of these libraries up to about 1970. The libraries studied are The Bryant Library in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, The Sage Library of Osage, Iowa, The Charles H. Moore Library of Lexington, Michigan, and the Rhinelander Public Library in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. The study is interesting as it shows the development of these small town libraries through the ages. Today's libraries scorn censorship, but it was not a problem for most of these libraries in their early days. They scorned some of the dime novels of the day. Book selection was usually made by committee in the early days and later became a responsibility of the librarian. One thing that really surprised me were the late hours many of the libraries kept. Libraries often did not open until mid-afternoon and were open until as late as 10 p.m., closing during the supper hour. The bibliography is fairly extensive, providing an excellent starting point for those interested in further research. Wiegand has done a good job researching the literary history of these communities. My only criticism is that the text becomes mired down with details that make for tedious reading in places. This book, however, is intended for a more scholarly audience, and persons interested in these communities as well as persons interested in literary or library history will find it fascinating. This review is based on a advanced readers galley received through NetGalley for review. 4 stars.
Labels: book reviews, libraries, Midwest