Library services to immigrants: The debate in the library literature, 1900-1920, and a Chicago case study

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The library literature of the early twentieth century records the issues and concerns of librarians as they struggled to develop responses to the changes caused by urbanization, war, and industrialization. Much of the debate centered on the "immigration problem" and how the library could effectively serve a changing population. This period saw an impassioned dialogue over the role of the librarian in the Americanization process, the desirability of collecting materials in non-English languages, and the scope of services that should be provided to an expanding population. The Chicago Public Library is examined to see how these issues affected a local library's services and collections. The debates of the early twentieth century are not merely historical curiosities. Echoes remain in more contemporary discussions on the role of libraries in an age of videos, Internet access, multiculturalism, and international crisis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)342-352
Number of pages11
JournalReference and User Services Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 1 2003


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences

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