Scott Richmond deposited A Battle for Identity: Public Libraries in England and Wales 1850-1943 on Humanities Commons 4 years, 1 month ago
The aim of this dissertation is to consider the nineteenth century origins of public libraries in England and Wales, and their development up to the mid-twentieth century, in order to examine how the informational role of the library established a dominant position within the library profession. It suggests that the history of libraries has focused on the informational role of the library and that as a result significant areas of library history have been neglected. It also argues that government and library users rarely viewed the role of libraries in terms of information but as having a broader social role and impact. The main conclusions drawn from this study are that the promoters of public libraries were motivated by the desire to improve the social and economic conditions of the working-class, that governments often viewed libraries as a means of maintaining social control, and, at times of war and social crisis the library played an important role in maintaining social cohesion. Ultimately, the emphasis placed on the informational and educational role of the library played an important role in establishing librarianship as a respected profession, and helped to differentiate public libraries, as well as proving to those who funded them that they were of value and importance.