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A Circulating Library in the Southwest: J. S. Penn in Austin, Texas

Philip A. Metzger
The Journal of Library History (1974-1987)
Vol. 21, No. 1, Libraries, Books, & Culture I (Winter, 1986), pp. 228-239
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25541689
Page Count: 12
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A Circulating Library in the Southwest: J. S. Penn in Austin, Texas
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Abstract

In spite of the widespread existence of circulating libraries in the nineteenth-century United States, few of them were found west of the Mississippi. One of the exceptions was J. S. Penn's Circulating Library in Austin, Texas, begun in 1872 (not coincidentally, shortly after the arrival of the railroad in Austin) and lasting until about 1880. Penn offered a catalog of about 1,500 titles, mostly fiction, at a rental price suggesting that only the relatively well-off would have been able to afford to borrow books. Not only does Penn's circulating library provide an example of a genre rare in its part of the country, it also provides a glimpse of Austin's reading tastes at the time.

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