I really enjoyed reading this.... Wiegand's basic thesis is that libraries were established by Midwestern protestant elites as mechanisms through which the virtues they appreciated of civicness could be expressed. In the back of the local elites minds was the hopeful idea that libraries would contribute to local social harmony. And by and large, their bet paid off.... in the 50 years after the Civil War, when the entire nation had been militarized, and huge swathes destroyed, there was remarkably little social disharmony in these thousands of Midwestern towns. (The South is another story of course!)
Here's a blurb from the Mitchell County Press News...
The former Osage Public Library (now the location of Osage City Hall) is featured in a new book that was released just last week. The classic Carnegie library here is one of four Midwest libraries featured in the book "Main Street Public Library: Community Places and Reading Spaces in the Rural Heartland, 1876-1956, published by University of Iowa Press. American library historian Wayne Wiegand is the author of the book.
In addition to having its own chapter, David Rottinghaus, a local artist used the old "Sage Public Library" as a background for a painting he entitled "Little Bird Watchers." The Rottinghaus image was used for the book's cover.
The book, which featured libraries in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan is available at the current Osage Public Library, (constructed in 1995) and will soon be available nationwide. The American Library Association is also reviewing the book in major periodicals.