A Free Library in This City: The Illustrated History of the San Francisco Public Library
"Whereas, We, the citizens of San Francisco ... do most heartily approve of the project about to be inaugurated for the establishment of A Free Library in this City, and do pledge to the same our hearty and united support." With these words, an idea was born in San Francisco, an idea that eventually - well over a century later - achieved its apotheosis in the building of the New Main Public Library. This state-of-the-art cultural institution now stands as a tribute to all those who had the vision to conceive the idea and the energy to nourish this - through eras of triumph and tragedy. With masterful insight, Peter Booth Wiley narrates the fascinating story of this idea, tracing the concept of the library back to the origins of writing and human history itself, through the ages of antiquity to the first American libraries and beyond ... to San Francisco.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
Strangely comprehensive (the history of the San Francisco Public Library begins in Ancient Sumeria, apparently), but a well-written look at how a public library is dependent on the goodwill, and checkbooks, of the city's government and people. Speckled with very short essays from local authors on libraries, and some really great photos and illustrations. The essays show varying viewpoints, but there is in general consensus that libraries equal books. It is also interesting to note that when SF's new main was opened in 1996 there was a huge focus on cutting-edge technology. The roots of today's challenges are showing.
A Free Library in This City: The Illustrated History of the San Francisco Public LibraryUser Review - Book Verdict
This lavishly illustrated book, handsome enough for the coffee table, was published for the dedication of San Francisco's New Main Library in April 1996. In it Wiley, a prominent local bookman, offers a gracefully readable history of the Bay Area's long struggle to provide library services, set within the context of its contentious and sometimes corrupt city government. The first 87 pages offer a general history of libraries, from ancient cultures up through the origins of American public libraries. From then on the book's focus is the politicking, financing, fundraising, and building of San Francisco's libraries. Intended for the general reader rather than for library historians; however, the later chapters serve as an instructive history of a major building campaign. Recommended. [See also Wiley's "An Act of Political Will: SF's Quest for a New Central Library," LJ April 15, p. 36-37.--Ed.]--Elizabeth Brice, Miami Univ. Lib., Oxford, Ohio