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History of Libraries Seminar (Senate House, London)

January 23, 2015

The next seminar in this series held in London will take place on Friday 23 January.

All are welcome. Please note date (different day of the week to usual).

Venue: The Senate Room (first floor), Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU, at 5.30 p.m.

Professor Wayne Wiegand (Professor Emeritus, Florida State University) will speak on: `“Improv’d the General Conversation of Americans”: Social Libraries Before 1854’.

With the help of a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, I launched a major book-length research project tentatively entitled Part of Our Lives: A People’s History of the American Public Library. The study differs from others because it takes a “bottom up” perspective rather than a traditional “top down” approach. In addition, it looks beyond librarianship’s conventional discourse by tapping newer humanistic scholarship on reading and the public sphere to more accurately assess the historical role of library as place. I propose to extract from Chapter One those parts of the narrative that “explain the emergence of libraries in the ‘public sphere’” between 1731, when Franklin started the Library Company of Philadelphia, and 1854, when the Boston Public Library opened and became the prototype for the subsequent American public library movement. I will comment on connections between social libraries and public sphere activities like the 19th century lyceum movement, art galleries, and “reading rooms” intended for discussion more than silence.


This will be a joint meeting with the Community Libraries conference.

Details of forthcoming seminars will be found on the Institute of English Studies website, ies.sas.ac.uk, or email IESEvents@sas.ac.uk.


January 23, 2015
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The Senate Room (first floor)
Senate House, Malet Street
London, WC1E 7HU United Kingdom
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+44 (0)20 7862 8500
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