• A photograph of the auto book return at the Athens Regional Library in Georgia, 1958. Courtesy of the Athens Regional Library via Digital Library of Georgia.

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    Photograph of the auto book return at Athens Regional Library, Athens, Georgia, 1958 May 30
    • Date
    • 1958-05-30
    • Description
    • Photograph of the auto book return at the Athens Regional Library in Athens, Georgia, May 30, 1958.
    • Rights
    • Http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/NoC-US/1.0/
    • Partner
    • Digital Library of Georgia
    • Contributing Institution
    • Athens-Clarke County Library (Athens, Ga.)

  • Homeless men in the library reading room in St. Paul, Minnesota. Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society via Minnesota Digital Library.

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    Homeless men in library reading room, St. Paul
    • Description
    • photoprint
    • Rights
    • http://www.mnhs.org/copyright
    • Partner
    • Minnesota Digital Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • Minnesota Historical Society

  • The groundbreaking of a Weymouth Libraries site, 1977. Courtesy of the Weymouth Public Libraries, Tufts Library via Digital Commonwealth.

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    Weymouth Libraries - groundbreaking Pratt Site April 23, 1977
    • Date
    • 1977-04-23
    • Description
    • Title from item. Additional information on item: Left to Right: 1. [unknown], 2. [unknown] 3. Glenn Coffman, Assistant Library Director, 4. Marie Ennis, Trustee, 5. Claire Sheehan, Trustee, 6. Barbara McSwan, Trustee, 7. John Anderson, Trustee, 8. Ir... more
      Title from item. Additional information on item: Left to Right: 1. [unknown], 2. [unknown] 3. Glenn Coffman, Assistant Library Director, 4. Marie Ennis, Trustee, 5. Claire Sheehan, Trustee, 6. Barbara McSwan, Trustee, 7. John Anderson, Trustee, 8. Irene Thompson (Pratt Head Librarian), 9. Phil Jones, Trustee, 10. Eleanor Cooney, Director of Tufts Library, 11. [unknown], 12. Robert Deakin, Trustee (glasses on). Date from item. Ralph Sanford Photo. less
    • Rights
    • Rights status not evaluated. This work is licensed for use under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives License (CC BY-NC-ND).
    • Partner
    • Digital Commonwealth
    • Contributing Institution
    • Weymouth Public Libraries, Tufts Library

  • Interview with William (Bill) DeJohn, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, about his library work. Courtesy of Minitex via Minnesota Digital Library.

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    Interview with William (Bill) DeJohn, Minneapolis, Minnesota
    • Creator
    • DeJohn, William
    • Description
    • William (Bill) DeJohn received his Masters in Library Science in 1967 from the University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences. He was the Director of Minitex, which serves academic, public, state agency, and other speci... more
      William (Bill) DeJohn received his Masters in Library Science in 1967 from the University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences. He was the Director of Minitex, which serves academic, public, state agency, and other special libraries in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota, from 1984-2012. DeJohn was actively involved in efforts to further library resource sharing throughout the Minitex region and beyond. In the interview he answers questions submitted to him by library staff in the Minitex region. Bill discusses: his first library job at Daniel Boone Regional Library, Columbia, Missouri; early interlibrary loan work at the Missouri State Library; former University of Minnesota Librarian Edward Stanford and the beginning of Minitex; additional funding for technological developments in the 1990's that led to ELM, MLAC, and the MnLINK Gateway; influential people for library services during Bill's tenure; the future of Minitex; his secret reading addiction; and words of wisdom for library staff today.This interview also includes the following: An audio recording, recording table of contents, transcript, and photograph of the interviewee. less
    • Rights
    • Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0
    • Partner
    • Minnesota Digital Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • Minitex

Branching Out

In the nineteenth century, local governments and philanthropists built public libraries centrally in cities, counties, and towns across the country, giving Americans previously unprecedented access to books and other educational materials. As this movement gained momentum, central libraries started thinking critically about how to best serve geographically broader communities. Beginning in the late 1890s, central libraries opened smaller branches in cities to accommodate the explosion of urban population growth. As immigrants set up their own communities away from the more expensive city centers, new branch libraries helped provide services to these new enclaves.

These branch libraries made it possible for patrons to access library collections and services without needing to use public transportation, removing barriers to access like time and cost. Moreover, they brought programming and accessible meeting places to new parts of their growing urban constituency.

The expansion of the branch libraries boomed again in 1962 with the Library Services and Construction Act, which helped fund new library spaces for underserved communities. Now, there are more than 7,500 branch libraries in the United States—almost as many as central public library buildings—providing critical services and collections to patrons.