This essay explores the establishment of public library service in Portland, Oregon, which occurred when the Library Association of Portland, a private subscription library, opened to the public in 1902. Four main elements of the transition are identified and examined: opposition by library board members to opening to the public; the 1900 bequest of a major collection of books, left to the association by merchant John Wilson with the condition that the collection be made available to the public at no charge; the role of Mary Frances Isom, the new and untried head of the library in 1902; and the library's unusual form of governance, under which the Library Association board operated the institution under a contract arrangement with the city and county, which provided its funding.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 432-464
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.