Library Chronicles

A picture of a red library building with a horse-draw carriage in front of it.
Postcard of the Brooks Memorial Library at Brattleboro, Vermont.  Image and caption from American Library Association Archives.

The notes below offer histories of specific libraries from around the world.  Some notes offer general histories, while others focus on specific collections, facilities, and programs.  Libraries have played versatile, broad roles in many communities, serving as reading places as well as community centers for food drives, plays, town meetings, knitting bees, and more.  Please consider submitting the history of your library!


Note (August 22, 2016): Cold Libraries: United States Information Agency Libraries during the Cold War 1953 – 1991

By Andrew Hart

Author Bio: Andrew Hart is a reference librarian for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Library in Columbus, Ohio. Before working for the Bureau, Andrew was a prison librarian for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. He is very much interested in how libraries helped shape history and how libraries evolved over time. Andrew holds a B.A. in Criminology from The Ohio State University, and an M.L.S. from Clarion University. He is currently pursuing a second master’s degree in Social Science from Ohio University. Andrew is an Ohio Certified Public Librarian.

Introduction: During the Cold War, the United States desired to show the world that the U.S. culture and way of living (provided by capitalism) trumped life under communist rule. The United States Information Agency  fulfilled this lofty mission by providing information about America to communist countries through its famous Voice of America (VOA), a radio broadcasting program, and by a less famous medium, libraries and information resource centers… Click this link to read Mr. Hart’s full essay:  Cold Libraries.

Note (July 29, 2016): The Women’s Library and Information Center in Turkey: A Brief History

By Raymond Pun, First Year Student Success Librarian

Author Bio: Raymond Pun is the first year student success librarian in California State University, Fresno. He has worked in NYU Shanghai and NYPL as a reference librarian. He holds a B.A. in History and M.A. in East Asian Studies from St. John’s University and an M.L.S from CUNY Queens College. He is interested in library history in global perspectives.

A pciture of a library with a gate in front of it

Image by Creator: Ara Güler [Attribution or Copyrighted free use], via Wikimedia Commons

Today the Republic of Turkey is undergoing a transformation both internally and internationally. It is one of the most important countries in Europe since it bridges to the Middle East as well.  It is currently a democratic republic under the leadership of a President and Prime Minister.

Since the 1980s, Turkey has been governed by a series of military coups and by other entities that have repressed leftist politics and adopted a strongly patriarchal political system. Responding to the dynamic shift of social and cultural politics, a group of women were inspired to form a major movement to challenge the coups. These women organized conference meetings, led demonstrations, and campaigned against sexual harassment and violence towards women in workspaces and public spheres.  In addition, these women began publishing articles and creating academic journals and popular magazines pertaining to feminism and women’s issues in Turkey. Such was the beginning of a Women’s Library in Turkey.

In 1990, the Women’s Library and Information Center was opened to the public as the first research institute devoted to “collecting all published and unpublished works written by women in Turkey as well as audio visual material and to try to produce new material of the same kind through oral history” (Tekeli, 265).

One of the Library’s main resources is the women’s periodical collection from Turkey and other countries.  The subscription of foreign periodicals is useful to keep up with current debates and discourses in women’s studies.  In addition, the Library is concerned with promoting cultural activities.  Public forums on women’s health and issues have also been held in the Library.

The founder of the Library has explained the purpose of these activities: “We believe that a specialized library such as ours which has a critical role to play within the women’s movement cannot limit its task to collecting and protecting existing material but also must be active in the analysis, interpretation and generation of such material” (Tekeli, 267).  Thus the Library plays a crucial role in disseminating new ideas by allowing the public and scholars to openly engage with information resources and attend workshops.

In 1992, as a result of these educational opportunities, “over one hundred thousand signatures were collected to petition for an amendment of the Turkish civil code [to] condemn the ongoing brutality and sexual crimes against women” (Arat, 408).  The demonstration became successful in bringing awareness of violence against women.  Such campaigns would not be possible if there were no such institutions such as the Women’s Library and Information Center, the periodicals produced by the institution, and public forums held in the library, which address these issues in the Turkish context.

Today, the Library continues to play an important role in bringing awareness of women’s issues and rights in the state.


Arat, Necla. “Women’s Studies in Turkey.” Women’s Studies Quarterly. 24.1/2
(1996): 400-411. Print.

Arat, Yesim. “Women’s Studies in Turkey: From Kemalism to Feminism” New
Perspectives on Turkey.  9 (1993):  119-135.  Print.

Berktay, Fatmagul. “Women’s Studies in Turkey 1980-1990.” Women’s Memory,
Proceedings of the International Symposium of Women’s Libraries (1991):
271-275. Metis Yayinlari. Idst.

Gündüz, Zuhal. “The Women’s Movement in Turkey: From Tanzimat towards
European Union Membership.” Perceptions: Journal of International Affairs.
9. (2004): 115-134. Print.

Tekeli, Sirin. “Women’s Library and Information Center.” Women’s Memory,
Proceedings of the International Symposium of Women’s Libraries (1991):























A group of library patrons and librarians in square dancing outfits.

Cass County Library Square Dance Class (1947). Local libraries have served as staging areas for many community events. Image from American Library Association Archives.