Saturday, July 17, 2010

Continuing Trends at CRPL

I am doing research at Cedar Rapids Public Library today, and I always get excited when I notice almost immediately the same trends occurring here that I've noticed in other parts of the state. For example, both Cedar Rapids' and Burlington's libraries were keen to advertise at the 'moving picture shows' starting in 1912. A frame would be shown with an ad for the library on it. Both also publicized themselves in the local newspaper (which seems to have been rather common around the state).
They also mention a 'Bohemian Library' which, since there is a sizeable eastern European population in Cedar Rapids, might be a separate foreign-language library? I'll have to look into it!
Just like today, many of these libraries are also facing shortages in space, but have tight funding that prohibits them from expanding. Cedar Rapids' seems more comfortable than most, but it's interesting to read the librarians' reports from around the state pleading that more money be given to them so their libraries can function.
Cedar Rapids and Iowa City especially were very active in the local schools. Both tried to distribute library cards and encourage reading at all grade levels, and nearly every month the librarians talk about visiting schools and speaking to classes. In Cedar Rapids, these visits included going out to country schools and providing books for classes. At one point in 1912 I believe, the librarian lamented that they did not have an automobile the library could use so these schools could be visited more frequently.

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