Oases Of Culture
A History Of Public And Academic Libraries In Nevada
Publication Year: 2003
Published by: University of Nevada Press
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The idea of writing a history of Nevada libraries did not originate with me. The inspiration came from Jean Ford, the most energetic nonprofessional friend of libraries in this state in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Her name appears repeatedly in these pages. Before Ford’s work was interrupted by illness in 1997, she called Joan Kerschner, then director of the Nevada Department of...
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For the first forty years of the state’s existence, most of Nevada was a land devoid of books. For a few lawyers they were rare and costly resources essential to the search for (or evasion of ) justice; no public law libraries existed in the earliest days except the one painstakingly assembled at the state capital.The idea that works of literature or technical information might be gathered in...
1. The First Forty Years: Pioneering Efforts in Reno and the Mining Camps
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Before public libraries existed, a few mining towns had reading clubs sponsored by fraternal orders or labor unions. In Gold Hill and Virginia City, the Odd Fellows lodges started book collections in 1865 and 1867, respectively. The latter grew to more than two thousand volumes within two years, when the organization decided to make its volumes available to nonmembers...
2. The State Library: The First Century, 1865–1965
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The Nevada State Library in Carson City, now the nerve center of the state’s public library system, is the oldest repository of books and official information in the state. Its mission and role have gradually expanded during its 135-year history. For its first three decades the so-called library was merely a collection of reference volumes for the use of officers of the state government.
3. Since 1965: The State Library, the Nevada Library Association, and Fleischmann Gifts
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Libraries are organic creatures; they outgrow their garments all too soon. One might surmise that a thirty-year cycle was operating for Nevada libraries during the first one hundred years of statehood.The facilities for most book collections in the modest rooms initially provided became inadequate after about three decades.The responsible custodians were sorely...
4. Washoe County
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The Washoe County Public Library System, the descendent of the Reno public library opened in 1904, is Nevada’s oldest. Even after the legislative hurdles of the 1890s (discussed above) had been overcome, Frank Norcross and his hometown allies faced formidable obstacles before Reno residents could borrow books from the shelves of their own public library.1
5. Fifteen Counties: A Panorama
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Nevada has long been regarded by insiders as having three subcultures: Washoe County; the fifteen counties that were sufficiently beyond the burgeoning commercial centers to maintain their special identities; and Clark County, the late-blooming giant in the Sunbelt. In the hundred thousand square miles beyond Reno, the social energy to establish public libraries emerged slowly.
6. Clark County
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Founded as a railroad town in 1905 by Senator William A. Clark of Montana, LasVegas did not have any collection worthy of the title “library” until more than ten years later. It made little progress for another three decades in giving substance to the name. Even after the construction of Hoover Dam on the Colorado River in the 1930s, the development of a vast industrial...
7. The University of Nevada, Reno
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The academic libraries of Nevada came into existence by much the same method as the public libraries, relying heavily on the service of volunteers and the generosity of donors. The libraries at the two universities and four community colleges were for considerable time on the fringes of the educational enterprises they were intended to serve. That situation was changing...
8. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas
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The tribulations of building an academic library in LasVegas were not as prolonged as the ordeal of developing public libraries in Clark County, but they were no less arduous.While the groundwork of the future UNLV (previously known as Nevada Southern University) had been laid in the mid-1950s, students had to rely on the meager public or school collections, or on an...
9. The Community Colleges
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While the universities struggled to build research collections to serve the diverse literary, scientific, and technical needs of faculties and students, Nevada’s four community colleges began to assemble traditional libraries by the same tedious process that the public libraries had known.They solicited and accepted donations of books and used any niches and crannies...
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Page Count: 184
Illustrations: 20 b/w illustrations, 1 map
Publication Year: 2003