Discipline and the Discipline: Histories of the British Public Library
Abstract

This essay suggests that historians of British public libraries may be restricted in their ability to pose certain questions about their subject matter because of the structure of the institutions of library history. These limitations are particularly illustrated by the popularity of myths of the "good old days" within library commentary, by the treatment of critics of public libraries, and by the problematic deployment of concepts such as social exclusion and problem patrons. Some of these difficulties may, however, be overcome, either within or outside of the current institutional orientations of library history, by reflection on the concept of public history.