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Dissertation Information for William Newman

NAME:
- William Newman

DEGREE:
- Ph.D.

DISCIPLINE:
- Library and Information Science

SCHOOL:
- Case Western Reserve University (USA) (1980)

ADVISORS:
- Dorothy Melville Sinclair

COMMITTEE MEMBERS:
- Jesse H. Shera
- Conrad H. Rawski
- William Holmes

MPACT Status: Fully Complete

Title: Congress and the Public Library: Legislative Proposals and Action for Federal Assistance 1938 to 1956

Abstract: The year 1938 witnessed the first time that legislation specifically allocating Federal funds for the purpose of the extension and improvement of public library services was introduced in the United States Congress. The legislative process was culminated in 1956 with the enactment and initial funding of the Library Services Act providing Federal aid for the extension and improvement of library services for rural areas.

This study examines the actions of the United States Congress from 1938 to 1956 with respect to such legislation, including historical background and reasons for the passage and failure of such legislation. The viewpoint is through the perceptions of Congress; their motivations are of concern, not those of external bodies such as groups pressuring for or against the passage of such legislation.

The basic area of exploration is the identification and analysis of factors and conditions influencing the actions of the Congress, with the basic aim in mind of ascertaining why legislation providing aid for public libraries failed to pass the Congress from 1938 - 1955 and why success was attained in 1956. Second, it is also hoped that some lesson may be learned from the study for those who may wish to secure Federal aid for public library service in the future.

Basic sources of information used include records of the Congress, personal letters and questionnaires from some of the parties who were involved, Federal statutes, Presidential communications, reports of Federal agencies and reports and other materials of organizations concerned with Federal aid for public libraries, especially the American Library Association (A.L.A.).

An analysis of the evidence indicates that there were many reasons why Federal aid with the specific purpose of furthering the development and growth of public library services in and to rural areas did not pass the Congress until 1956. Some of the basic factors, from the perspective of Congress, affecting the fate of such legislation were (in no rank order): (1) Concern that Federal aid would bring about Federal control. (2) Opposition to financial support as a state and local responsibility. (3) Doubt that there was widespread, general, public support. (4) Concern that a program of Federal grants would become permanent. (5) Concern that Federal funds go to where they were needed most. (6) Concern that poorer states would not match Federal funds. (7) Doubt that states would be stimulated to provide public library service on their own, after cessation of Federal assistance (five years). (8) Objection to Federal aid on economic grounds.

It was necessary for a favorable resolution of all of these matters--plus some lucky coincidences--in order for Federal aid for public libraries to pass the Congress. This did not occur until 1956. The resolution was due in part to the development of a conception of the Federal government as a potentially positive force for making changes in society. It was also a tribute to the efforts of the chief proponent of Federal aid for public libraries, the American Library Association. Just as some of the blame for earlier failures may be in part attributed to their actions (such as the tactic until 1946 of placing Federal aid for public libraries under general educational bills) so must much of the credit for success go to the Association.

As to lessons for the profession, the basic idea is that an understanding of the Congress is vital: its workings, membership, and influences on it. Anything and everything which may effect the fate of legislation should be thoroughly studied. Take nothing--and no one--for granted.

MPACT Scores for William Newman

A = 0
C = 0
A+C = 0
T = 0
G = 0
W = 0
TD = 0
TA = 0
calculated 2008-01-31 06:01:19

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Students under William Newman

ADVISEES:
- None

COMMITTEESHIPS:
- None