Reading Publics: New York City's Public Libraries, 1754-1911 by Tom GlynnReading Publics: New York City's Public Libraries, 1754-1911 by Tom Glynn

Reading Publics: New York City's Public Libraries, 1754-1911

byTom Glynn

Hardcover | January 22, 2015

Pricing and Purchase Info

$107.81 online 
$114.50 list price save 5%
Earn 539 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


On May 11, 1911, the New York Public Library opened its "marble palace for book lovers" on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. This was the city's first public library in the modern sense, a tax-supported, circulating collection free to every citizen. Since before the Revolution, however, New York's reading publics had access to a range of "public libraries" as the term was understood by contemporaries. In its most basic sense a public library in the eighteenth and most of the nineteenth centuries simply meant a shared collection of books that was available to the general public and promoted the public good. From the founding in 1754 of the New York Society Library up to 1911, public libraries took a variety of forms. Some of them were free, charitable institutions, while others required a membership or an annual subscription. Some, such as the Biblical Library of the American Bible Society, were highly specialized; others, like the Astor Library, developed extensive, inclusive collections. What all the public libraries of this period had in common, at least ostensibly, was the conviction that good books helped ensure a productive, virtuous, orderly republic-that good reading promoted the public good.

Tom Glynn's vivid, deeply researched history of New York City's public libraries over the course of more than a century and a half illuminates how the public and private functions of reading changed over time and how shared collections of books could serve both public and private ends. Reading Publics examines how books and reading helped construct social identities and how print functioned within and across groups, including but not limited to socioeconomic classes. The author offers an accessible while scholarly exploration of how republican and liberal values, shifting understandings of "public" and "private," and the debate over fiction influenced the development and character of New York City's public libraries in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Reading Publics is an important contribution to the social and cultural history of New York City that firmly places the city's early public libraries within the history of reading and print culture in the United States.

Tom Glynn is a librarian at Rutgers University, where he is the selector and liaison for British and American history, the history of science, American studies, and political science.
Title:Reading Publics: New York City's Public Libraries, 1754-1911Format:HardcoverDimensions:460 pagesPublished:January 22, 2015Publisher:Fordham University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0823262642

ISBN - 13:9780823262649


Table of Contents

Introduction: Readers, Libraries, and New York City Before 1911Chapter 1: The New York Society Library: Books, Authority, and Publics in Colonial and EarlyRepublican New YorkChapter 2: Books for a Reformed Republic: The Apprentices' Library in AntebellumNew YorkChapter 3: The Past in Print: History and the Market at the New-York HistoricalSociety LibraryChapter 4: The Biblical Library of the American Bible Society: Evangelicalism and the EvangelicalCorporationChapter 5: Commerce and Culture: Recreation and Self-Improvement in New York'sSubscription LibrariesChapter 6: "Men of Leisure and Men of Letters": New York's Public Research LibrariesChapter 7: Scholars and Mechanics: Libraries and Higher Learning in Nineteenth-CenturyNew YorkChapter 8: New York's Free Circulating Libraries: The Mission of the Public Libraryin the Gilded AgeChapter 9: The Founding of the New York Public Library: Public and Private in theProgressive EraConclusion: New York's Public Libraries and the Elusive Reading PublicsWorks CitedNotes

Editorial Reviews

"A deeply researched, well-written, and solid contribution to library history literature that will interest not only members of the library profession but also scholars and students of intellectual, cultural, social, urban, and print culture history whose own research has been heavily influenced by the rich collections Glynn discusses."