Date of Award

Summer 8-2011

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

Committee Chair

Dr. Andrew Haley

Committee Chair Department

History

Committee Member 2

Dr. Max Grivno

Committee Member 2 Department

History

Committee Member 3

Dr. Melanie Norton

Committee Member 3 Department

Library and Information Science

Abstract

In the wake of the public library movement in the southern United States during the early twentieth century, local librarians began providing library services for those whom they deemed to be their most valuable resources, children. Representatives of a new profession, children’s librarians campaigned for better tomorrows by collecting good books specifically for young readers while providing safe, comfortable spaces that encouraged an atmosphere of instructive entertainment.

Supplemental to the development of a unique children’s department, library administrators sought strong working relationships with the city’s various public schools. The public cooperative that developed between libraries and schools brought thousands of children into the library as well as furthered the institution’s commitment to community activity. As librarians struggled to shape a body politic worthy of the nation’s democratic heritage, they inevitably constructed a culture of children’s literacy and readership. Through the development of collections, the maintenance of segregated spaces, and community involvement, children’s librarians inevitably contributed to transmitting an aggressive white racial ideology. This study Focuses on the New Orleans Public Library’s experience from 1900 - 1930s, and relies heavily on the library’s Annual Reports. However, contemporary professional articles from the Library Journal place the Annual Reports within a broader picture of regional and national public librarianship during the early 1900s which enhance the historical value of this study.

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