çonflict and control in the Carnegie library
As with the Garrison book, I feel a little too personally close to some of this for totally dispassionate critique. My first job in a library was as the lowliest staff member in a Carnegie-library branch of the Cleveland public library, presided over by a stern factory-manager librarian, where immigrant children were sent to wash their hands before they could touch the books. This really did happen within living memory, folks! And this was not all that long ago.
And the Union City Indiana public library, which also features in VanSlyke's book, was my first library experience. One of my earliest memories is of being really afraid of the librarian who presided high up at the huge central desk in the Union City library. At least it seemed huge to a four year old. I remember fondly walking to the library with my grandfather and then walking home with him and his reading the books to me. But the in-between part, going into the library, was pretty scary. I remember feeling glad that my grandpa was there to protect me in the library. He was "somebody"in Union City, as the retired manager of the Western Union telegraph office, so he was on good terms with the town elite. (I didn't understand this part back then.) And he always took off his hat and spoke politely to the librarian, and she seemed to like that. So I just stuck close to him while we picked out books and I tried to pretend that the librarian wasn't there. We had to go to the library pretty often too, since you were only allowed to take out three books at a time.
So, there are some childhood (and young-adulthood) recollections to round off the last two chapters of Van Slyke. And with hindsight, I see that without Carnegie's philanthropy, a tiny place like Union City could probably not have supported a library at all...