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Books, Bluster, Bounty

The Local Politics of Intermountain West Carnegie Library Building

Susan H. Swetnam

Publication Year: 2012

Books, Bluster, and Bounty examines a cross-section of Carnegie library applications to determine how local support was mustered for cultural institutions in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century West. This comparative study considers the entire region between the Rockies and the Cascades/Sierras, including all of Idaho, Utah, Nevada, and Arizona; western Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado; eastern Oregon and Washington; and small parts of California and New Mexico. The author's purpose is to address not only the how of the process but also the variable why. Although virtually all citizens and communities in the West who sought Carnegie libraries expected tangible benefits for themselves that were only tangentially related to books, what they specifically wanted varied in correlation with the diverse nature of western communities. By looking at the detailed records of the Carnegie library campaigns, the author is able to provide an alternative lens through which to perceive and map the social-cultural makeup and town building of western communities at the turn of the century.

Published by: Utah State University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. viii-ix

Gladys McQueen of the Carnegie Corporation Library in New York City and Brenda Hearing of Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library got this study off the ground by allowing me on-site . . .

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pp. 1-13

On the afternoon of July 28, 1910, citizens of Prosser, a small young town in eastern Washington, gathered for the dedication of a new public building. This was “an event of great importance in the history of the city,” . . .

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1. The Culture of the Intermountain West, 1890—1920

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pp. 14-39

Residents of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, rode a crest of excited optimism in 1907, certain that prosperity was finally about to arrive in their community. For twenty years Steamboat Springs had made its living as a . . .

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2. The Challenging Process of Applying for a Carnegie Library Building Grant

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pp. 40-65

Andrew Carnegie changed American public library history in 1898 when he began offering funds “wholesale” from his vast fortune for the construction of free public library buildings. Before that date Carnegie . . .

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3. Boom Towns: Carnegie Libraries and Boosterism

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pp. 66-87

One popular myth of the American West holds that the region once witnessed a golden age of idealistic support for books and reading. In the early days of settlement, as the story goes, pioneers who believed that life . . .

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4. Small Mormon Towns: Carnegie Libraries to Protect Youth

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pp. 88-111

Andrew Carnegie’s offer of building grants for free public libraries was greeted with particular enthusiasm in Utah. Twenty-four communities— the largest number of any state in the Intermountain West—applied . . .

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5. Carnegie Libraries in Religiously Diverse Utah Communities

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pp. 112-136

Though around the turn of the twentieth century, rural Latterday Saints perceived that their culturally hegemonic way of life was being challenged by a gentile invasion, outsiders had in fact lived in Utah for . . .

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6. Women’s Role in Bringing Carnegie Libraries to Settled Communities

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pp. 137-165

When Bertha Stull Green wrote these words to Andrew Carnegie from a high-desert hamlet in southwestern Idaho in 1906, she might have been voicing the hopes and frustrations of hundreds of her Intermountain . . .

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7. Oligarchies and Carnegie Libraries in Transitional Towns

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pp. 166-186

Most Carnegie public library building grant applications in the turn-of-the-twentieth-century interior American West might be called status quo projects in terms of their locally assigned significance. Proponents . . .

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8. Carnegie Libraries in the Service of Personal Power

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pp. 187-208

Among the most distinctive Intermountain West Carnegie applications are those that were undertaken as personal projects by individual powerful men, or by individual men who dreamed that . . .

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9. Contested Libraries

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pp. 209-224

As previous chapters of this book have documented, most successful Carnegie library building grant applications from the Intermountain West encountered only temporary and ephemeral obstacles. Carnegie’s own . . .

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10. Conclusion

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pp. 225-229

This project began more than twenty years ago with a series of questions. What drove ordinary citizens of the turn-of-the-twentieth-century Intermountain West to become advocates for public libraries? Who were . . .


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pp. 230-243


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pp. 245-251

E-ISBN-13: 9780874218435
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874218428

Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1