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Oases of Culture

A History of Public and Academic Libraries in Nevada


The creation of a library system in Nevada presented formidable challenges. Until the middle of the twentieth century, Nevada had the smallest population of any state in the Union, sparsely scattered over a vast area; most towns were very small; and the eco-nomy was largely based on agriculture and a boom-and-bust mining industry, uncongenial to the kind of long-term financial commitments needed to build, stock, and maintain libraries. Yet from the very beginning, efforts were made to create libraries. Many mining camps had reading clubs that offered residents a quiet place to peruse the latest newspapers and other materials, and fraternal orders, women's groups, and other organizations established small lending and subscription libraries. In Oases of Culture, historian James W. Hulse recounts the tortuous and often colorful history of Nevada's libraries and the work of the dedicated librarians, educators, civic leaders, women's organizations, philanthropists, and politicians who struggled to make the democratic vision of free libraries available to all Nevadans. From the establishment of the State Library in 1865, only one year after statehood, through the creation of tax-supporte