Part of Our Lives by Wayne A. Wiegand

Part of Our Lives

Despite dire predictions in the late twentieth century that public libraries would not survive the turn of the millennium, those libraries continue to thrive. Two of three Americans frequent a public library at least once a year, and nearly that many are registered borrowers. Although library authorities have argued that the public library functions primarily as a civic institution necessary for maintaining democracy, generations of library patro...

Details Part of Our Lives

TitlePart of Our Lives
Release DateSep 29th, 2015
PublisherOxford University Press
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Writing, Books About Books, Library Science, Librarianship, Science

Reviews Part of Our Lives

  • Dana
    I didn't exactly expect this to be riveting but it was way more dry than I expected. In a general sense I was interested in this subject matter, but I can't think of how one would learn about this without being bored stiff.Also a little off topic...can you no longer preview reviews? The button seems to have disappeared with the update.
  • Julie
    This was truly a fascinating read! I loved learning how the American Public Library got started & how it evolved over time according to society's needs. Today, Public Libraries continue to be valued at the center of our communities, as they facilitate learning & communication for ALL people.
  • Bandit
    Like so many voracious readers with limited budgets and space can attest to, library has been instrumental in my autodidactic pursuits. It is a privilege to be able to utilize the resources and stacks of the tenth largest library company is US, not to mention it is one of the few things that stay free in the country where the cost of living increases regularly and disproportionately to the wages. In short, libraries are important, one of the few ...
  • Denise
    When I pick up a “people’s history” of something I generally assume I'm in for popular-level social history, but this is decidedly not that. It was quite academic and hard to read, not in the usual way with big words in gigantic strung out sentences, but instead a very textbook style, where facts bombard you in an uncreatively flat strict chronological structure, written with as much flavor and panache as a Harbor Freight catalog. I think i...
  • Vanessa
    Wiegand truly knows his American library history, and it shows in this piece. As someone who does not know much about the development of libraries in the US, this book gave me a great background and truly walked me through the last 350+ years of history. I loved many of the anecdotes of how public libraries affected countless Americans, such as African American teens participating in sit-ins in the 1960s South. I like that Wiegand followed certai...
  • Sabrina
    It's hard to know what this book wants to be. It's the size of a small textbook, and somewhat formatted to look like one, too. However, it also attempts to be somewhat narrative in its chapters, and has very few sub-sections within chapters. It would have felt a lot less dense if the sections had been broken down, and at times it was difficult to understand why the author jumped from topic to topic without these visual divisions in the text.Howev...
  • Claire
    Fascinating subject (to me anyway), but I wanted more in-depth stories about how individuals experienced the library through time, and fewer statistics on how many people attended what type of event at which specific library in which specific year. At times I felt like I was reading a truly epic Director's Annual Report. I would have expected a book with "people's history" in the title to be a book that at least a biggish subset of "the people" m...
  • Liz
    I finally finished this book! While the topic was interesting, the presentation was too scholarly to be read easily but too disorganized to serve as research material. I did find it intriguing that nothing int he library world is new as there were consistently recurring themes throughout the book: libraries as community space, immigrant and low-literacy learning, canoodling (and more in the stacks), borrowing more than books and media from the li...
  • Victoria
    I was slowly slugging my way through this book and then started skimming. It is a subject near and dear to my heart, and the author did have some interesting details and historical perspectives - but it was dry and read like a textbook. However, if you want the big-picture history of American public libraries I'd recommend this book for a lookie-loo. Two words - Yay libraries!!!!
  • Kristine
    Part of Our Lives by Wayne A. Wiegand is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early September, possibly to get back into an academic groove as the fall semester began.Though it's written very slightly like a reference book, it's incredibly inspiring and uplifting to learn about the civic, uniting aspects about early libraries.
  • Mandy
    A fascinating and comprehensive account of public libraries in America from their earliest days to the present. As much a cultural history as simply a history of libraries, the book is full of anecdotes and personal testimonies, demonstrating how important libraries have always been and the vital role they have played in the nation’s development. Changing social attitudes, censorship, popular taste, the role of the library in the community, all...
  • Darren
    Society does not value its public libraries in the same way as it used to; the library is being forced to change and seeks to remain relevant in today’s different world. Yet a good library, staffed by knowledgeable librarians, can still be important and they can still be part of our lives. They are just serving us in a different way than before.This book argues that the average American has not fell out of love with the library and that they ar...
  • Susan
    This is probably a 3.5 but I gave it the benefit of the doubt because I don't think I could have written it any better than Mr. Wiegand did. The main premise of the book is that people love their libraries. The book is overstuffed with statistics and snippets of stories to back up this claim. One might think there were too many and that was the downfall of the book. But I can understand the dilemma: which one would you leave out? Perhaps leave ou...
  • Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
    Part of Our Lives is a fascinating and passionate treatise on the history, culture and contribution of American public libraries by Wayne A. Wiegand.With a focus on the perspective of 'library in the life of a user' Wiegand explores the important role libraries play in the life of individuals: as distributors of information and education, as a source of fiction that entertains and enlightens, and as social community spaces, debunking the notion t...
  • victor harris
    Comprehensive and detailed survey of the history of libraries in U.S. Heavy focus on issues that have bedeviled public libraries since their inception: censorship, acquisitions, do public preferences trump recommended reading materials, and the evolution of libraries to accommodate technology. Contrary to expectations, libraries have continued to adapt and survive and still service diverse populations. They remain a vital center for community ser...
  • Arlen
    As a library worker, I enjoyed this book very much but readers need to be aware that it is an academic study so it can be a bit dry. It was always fascinating though. It has been the call in recent decades that "libraries aren't just about books anymore." Well, after reading this history of the American Public Library you quickly realize libraries have never been "just about books." They are repositories of information but they are equally social...
  • La La - Everyone's Crazy Aunt
    A wonderfully detailed history of public libraries including patrons' points of view. This book also brings us to thinking about the function of libraries in our future. I was approved for this title via Netgalley in return for an honest review.
  • Edward Sullivan
    An excellent history of American public libraries. Cogent, concise, insightful, and entertaining.
  • Sherry
    Wayne Wiegand visited our library in August 2016, giving us a terrific synopsis of his research and this book.
  • Sarah - All The Book Blog Names Are Taken
    I have been reading this book since October, when I got it as an ARC via NetGalley. The beginning was just so dry; once I got into the early 1900s and beyond it picked up but man it take me a long time to get there. Full review to come.++++++++++++ 3.5 StarsI received this book (an embarrassing amount of months ago) as an ARC via N...
  • Jennifer
    The first paragraph of Wayne Wiegand's introduction to Part of Our Lives: A People's History of the American Public Library includes three quotes from famous authors about why they love libraries, the second an overview of recent Pew Research statistics on how Americans feel about libraries, and the third a historical and statistical overview of a decade's worth of usage data demonstrating what the nation loves to do at the libraries they love.If...
  • Crystal
    This book presents a very informative history of the public library from the 1800's through present day in America. I use our local library frequently but never really knew a lot of the history of its beginnings, how the various decades and what was going on politically and economically effected it, and the culture of various populations using it over the past two hundred plus years. It has clearly evolved to be a learning institution for all reg...
  • ZJ BQ
    I absolutely could not have written my first big research paper without this book. The section on the Carnegie libraries was particularly helpful to me, but I found the entire book to be a really interesting read! The pieces of anecdotal and statistical evidence used were not only compelling but underscored the vital importance of libraries to their communities and the impact they have on people.
  • Jacob
    A dry, very academic history of public libraries enlivened by the all to in-frequent snippets of misremembered or misheard book titles or other anecdotes from working librarians. A useful book, but I'd rather read librarian memoirs such as Don Borchert's Free For All .
  • Alexander
    Reading this book will give you a greater appreciation for the public library. Wiegand explores the morphing role of libraries within the community and US society at large in an effort to prove the staying power and adaptability of the American library.
  • Corey Friedrich
    Fantastic cultural history of America's public libraries! So many times I found myself saying, "Yes, yes, yes" as I read Dr. Wiegand's observations. This is one I will refer to again and again when making decisions about our library.
  • Ramona
    Very thorough. I found it a little daunting to read page by page, so I picked out what chapters interested me the most. Lots of facts, figures, and history, of course. Great addition to a librarian's home shelf.
  • MM
    I love public libraries and I loved this book about them. So many interesting stories in here — about U.S. cultural history like dress codes or public art, about politics, particular city libraries, and so on.
  • Eric
    I am a sucker for books on the history of Libraries. This one might be worth a re-read. I cruised through it pretty fast and I'd like to get back into it. Good stuff!