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Libraries In Public Before The Age Of Public Libraries: Interpreting The Furnishings And Design Of Athenaeums And Other ‘Social Libraries,’ 1800-1860, Adam Arenson
Before public libraries became common in the United States, both elite and striving men sought out social libraries to read business newspapers, attend lectures, appreciate art and good company, and generally learn or relish in respectability. For single male clerks living in rented rooms, the library served as a crucial "third place," away from home and work, where sociability and education could flourish. This chapter describes how elements of the private library, the parlor, and the bookstore informed the furnishing and design of the social library. It reveals how the spaces were intended to be utilized--and what legacies remained for ...