The Gilded Age and Progressive Era were pivotal times for those state libraries founded in the colonial era. Like many such institutions, the State Library of Pennsylvania (SLP) was initially established to archive and supply information pertinent to legislators and government officials. Into the 1860s staff found the notion of circulating collections “simply preposterous” and affirmed that the SLP’s mission was to “facilitate the business of government.” Yet after the Civil War, successive state librarians broadened the SLP’s concerns, activities, collections, and spheres of influence. Examination of librarians’ reports, news coverage, and other sources illustrates how their vision of the possibilities and responsibilities of state libraries expanded over time, embracing the concerns not only of government officials but also of citizens, fellow practitioners, and posterity.


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pp. 26-49
Launched on MUSE
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