The Role of the Public Library in Adult Reading
by Grace T. Stevenson — 1956
The great industrial expansion of the nineteenth century and the growth of popular education resulted in a demand for more books available to all, and the public library became the institution for the continuing education of all men. Public libraries had their early beginnings in the parish libraries of Maryland and North Carolina in the late seventeenth century. Later came the town libraries of New England. Early libraries were usually subscription or association libraries; mercantile or mechanics libraries founded by business houses or associations of working men to provide read- ing for employees. Some of these still exist. The really progressive free library became possible when Massachusetts, leading the way for other states, gave legal sanction to the expenditure of public funds for the establishment and maintenance of public libraries.
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