By the late nineteenth century, the United States had emerged as a major industrial nation and an increasingly important force in world politics. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, books set in countries outside the United States proliferated. In particular, books as part of a series, both fiction and nonfiction, were selected for inclusion in public library collections. It is not surprising that large urban libraries with diverse populations like St. Louis and Buffalo would acquire children’s fiction and nonfiction on themes related to life in other lands, but what did library collections in smaller, less diverse communities include? The view from small-town Main Street was similar to the view from large cities—children’s librarians acted on their belief that their patrons needed to have access to materials that discussed the world outside the borders of their town, state, and country. An analysis of titles held by five small midwestern libraries, book lists of the St. Louis Public Library, and lists of books included in the classroom collections from the Buffalo Public Library in the early twentieth century shows an increasing number of books that described life in other countries. This suggests that there was widespread agreement about the importance for children’s reading about life outside the borders of the United States.


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pp. 675-693
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