Author to Discuss Library Research at Simpson

Are American libraries as democratic as they appear?

That’s one of the questions author and eminent library historian Wayne A. Wiegand is expected to address when he appears March 26 on campus as part of the Iowa History Center at Simpson College’s Speaker Series.

His talk will begin at 7 p.m. in Lekberg Hall in the Amy Robertson Music Center on the Simpson campus. The public is invited to the free event., which is sponsored by the Iowa History Center. A reception and book signing will follow the talk.

Wiegand is the author of, “Main Street Public Library,” in which he studied the growth of four Midwestern public libraries, including one in Osage, Iowa, from the late 19th century to the federal Library Service Act of 1956.

After analyzing the collections of the four libraries and why some acquisitions were passed over, Wiegand concluded that the libraries, rather than acting neutral, were often susceptible to political and social pressures.

The book “questions the conventional rhetoric of the small-town public library as a foundation for an informed citizenry, but strongly affirms its continuing role as a harmonizing community space used by young and old alike,” said Christine Pawley, director of the Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Wiegand, the author of several books, is currently the F. William Summers Professor of Library and Information Studies Emeritus in the School of Library and Information Studies at Florida State University.

The Iowa History Center at Simpson College is committed to preserving and promoting the state’s history and encouraging a public conversation about the story of Iowa.