In looking at Swain’s WPA article and Van Slyck’s article about Carnegie, some interesting similarities and differences are apparent. Both articles examine how the American library has been shaped by the type of funding it receives. Clearly the Carnegie philanthropy follows a very capitalistic model while the WPA is government funded and the outcome is very different in each case. For example, the Carnegie philanthropy places a strong emphasis on the building and architecture of libraries, sometimes with little regard for the services offered, although the issue of children’s services and open stacks did eventually begin to make a difference. Whereas Swain’s article shows that the WPA prioritizes the collection, services and job creation. This shifting of an emphasis on facilities to services/outreach could be the result of many different factors, particularly within a time span that includes several wars, a developing capitalist nation and the professionalization of librarians. Still, both methods of library funding left the financing of upkeep, maintenance and materials to state and local entities (with the WPA only funding workers and Carnegie only funding buildings), thus in some ways determining the priorities of libraries within the American culture.
Yet both types of funding are a direct result of their respective eras, as “late nineteenth-century library buildings were the product of local philanthropy, gifts of men grown wealthy during the war” (1,Van Slyck) and the WPA stems from the US government creating jobs to aid local entities following the Great Depression.
What other similarities or differences do you see between these two very different funding programs? How can libraries develop a mission dependent from financial influence?