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Wanda Coleman By The Book

September 19, 1993

Public librarians are grateful to Wanda Coleman for her support ("Borrowed Time," Three on the Town, Aug. 15), but we are also shaking our heads over her possibly revisionist memory. While it was usually true that children could not check out adult materials on a child's library card, neither my colleagues nor I have experienced or even heard of a public library that segregated books into "boys" and "girls" sections.

Most American public libraries were outgrowths of the proliferation of women's study groups between the 1870s and 1920s. It was primarily the sweat and knowledge of those women that made public libraries happen in America. While some librarians might have initially steered a girl or boy to the kinds of books traditionally preferred, it is unlikely they would have made it an institutional policy.

I hope no one jumps to an incorrect conclusion that libraries were just one more example of male domination against women, when, in fact, they have been a prominent antidote to that.



Coleman's column brought back memories of travels to the library with my "pop" in the West Adams district of Los Angeles where I grew up. No memories surfaced, however, of being directed where to read.

Once again, Coleman proceeds to leap into the stratosphere with her accusations that South-Central's libraries are targeted for "shortened hours." I now live in the San Fernando Valley, where our libraries have suffered numerous cutbacks of their hours. The plight is tragic for all. How unfortunate it is seen as targeted at South-Central.



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