Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Libraries and Library Board

Okay, let's try this again. Blogger went a little nuts last time I tried to get this posted.

Like many libraries that started during the late 1800's, the Bartlesville Public Library was started by a local women's group. It was one of the libraries started to bring refinement and culture to the workers of the factory town. Do you think its roots, and those of the community, helped to influence the later issues that arose with the Brown controversy? Do you think these roots or the company town nature were what caused such striking differences between the library in Bartlesville and the one in the neighboring town? And how do you think Ruth Brown managed to get circulation figures like she did?

It seems that the (first) library board worked hard to cooperate with what the "community" wanted, while still attempting to maintain what they felt the library stood for. I myself was impressed that they had encouraged mixed storyhours. In the end things of course did not go so well. What examples of this type of situation have you seen or heard of in the modern day? What ideals do you see libraries and library boards holding up despite what the "community" thinks? Some examples besides patron privacy would be good.

Also, I was just thinking as I typed this, I was thinking about how I cannot comprehend what it would be like to work in a segregated library. Or to live in a time where segregation happened as the norm. What are other people's thoughts on this? Have any of you seen major changes in your lifetimes?


Kelly said...

It is important to remember that even during segregation, it's not like you'd only ever see white people around. Even though schools, libraries, and other public facilities were segregated, many white people had African-Americans in their homes all the servants. In the book, Louise mentions that many of Bartlesville's black residents worked in the homes of the white residents.

This highlights the irrationality of racial segregation. The good people of Bartlesville apparently didn't want their children sitting next to little black kids at an integrated story hour at the library, but had no problem with black women coming over to their houses every day to cook meals for their children, make their children's beds, and wash their children's clothes.

SarahStumpf said...

That is a great point Kelly. I have nothing more to add to it, but that is a great point.

I wonder how Bartlesville coped with desegregation after Brown vs the Board?