Winter Park Institute

Wayne Wiegand

Historian and director of the Florida Book Awards


Wayne Wiegand: Main Street Public Library; Community Places and Reading Space in the Heartland, 1865-1965

Event Details

“There are more public libraries than McDonald’s fast food restaurants in the United States,” said Wayne Wiegand, Professor of Library and Information Studies and Professor of American Studies at Florida State University in the final lecture of this semester’s Winter Park Institute Scholar-in-Residence series.  Wiegand presented his research on libraries as the quintessential American institution to a mixed audience of students, faculty, staff, and local librarians in the SunTrust Auditorium on Wednesday, November 18.    

Speaker Bio

Wayne Wiegand is F. William Summers Professor of Library and Information Studies and Professor of American Studies at Florida State University.  He received a BA in history at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh (1968), an MA in history at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (1970), and an MLS at Western Michigan University and a Ph.D. in history at Southern Illinois University (1974).  Before moving to Tallahassee in 2003 he was Librarian at Urbana College in Ohio (1974-1976), and on the faculties of the College of Library Science at the University of Kentucky (1976-1986) and the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1987-2002).  At the latter he also served as founder and Co-Director of the Center for the History of Print Culture in Modern America (a joint program of the University and the Wisconsin Historical Society established in 1992).  In Spring, 1994, he was William Rand Kenan Jr. Visiting Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  In Spring, 1998, he was Fellow in the UW-Madison’s Institute for Research in the Humanities.  In 1999 he was elected to membership in the American Antiquarian Society, and in Fall, 2000, he was a Spencer Foundation Fellow.  Between July, 2004, and June, 2007, he served as Executive Director of Beta Phi Mu (the International Library and Information Science Honor Society).  As a member of the faculty of the FSU Program in American & Florida Studies, in 2006 he organized a coalition of ten Florida organizations (including state agencies and state library and humanities organizations) and now serves as Director of the Florida Book Awards, an annual competition covering eight categories of literature. 

Wiegand was named Herbert Putnam winner by the American Library Association in 1975, ALA Library Research Round Table (LRRT) Award winner for Best Research Paper (1978), twice ALA Library History Round Table (LHRT) Justin Winsor Award winner for best research paper submitted (1982; 1996), and three times winner of the Research Paper Award given by the Association of Library and Information Science Education (1984; 1987; 1993).  In 1990 he received the William Best Hesseltine Award for best article in the Wisconsin Magazine of History in 1989; in 1995 he received Southern Illinois University’s Delta Award for significant scholarship and writing in the field of history and librarianship.  In 1996 he was elected Fellow in the UW-Madison’s Academy for Teaching Excellence.  He also received the Muriel H. Wright Award for the best article (coauthored with Shirley Wiegand) in The Chronicles of Oklahoma in 2007.

In addition to over seventy scholarly articles, he is author of History of A Hoax:  Edmund Lester Pearson, John Cotton Dana and “The Old Librarian’s Almanack” (1979), Patrician in the Progressive Era:  A Biography of George von Lengerke Meyer (1988); Politics of an Emerging Profession:  The American Library Association, 1876-1917 (1986), “An Active Instrument for Propaganda:”  American Public Libraries During World War I (1989), and Irrepressible Reformer:  A Biography of Melvil Dewey (1996).  The last three were given the G.K. Hall Award for Outstanding Contribution to Library Literature (1988, 1991; 1997).  And with Shirley Wiegand he coauthored Books on Trial:  Red Scare in the Heartland(University of Oklahoma Press, 2007), which was named the Book-of-the Month for November, 2007, by the American Bookseller’s Foundation for Free Expression, and was an Oklahoma Center for the Book finalist in the non-fiction category.

Wiegand has also edited the Beta Phi Mu Monographs Series (1978-1993), Leaders in American Academic Librarianship, 1925-1975 (1983), Supplement to the Dictionary of American Library Biography (1991), and “The Library Bill of Rights,” the Summer, 1996, issue of Library Trends.  In 1994 he coedited with Donald G. Davis, Jr., the Encyclopedia of Library History.  In 1998 he coedited Print Culture in a Diverse America with James Danky, which was awarded the 1999 Carey McWilliams Award for scholarly contribution to multicultural literature, and in 2006 also coedited with Danky Women in Print:  Essays on the Print Culture of American Women from the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries.  From 1998 to 2002 he authored “This Month in History,” a column for ALA’s monthly American Libraries.  With Tom Augst, he coedited a special issue of American Studies entitled “The Library as An Agency of Culture” (Fall, 2001), which the University of Wisconsin Press reprinted (2002).  In 2003 he also coedited Defining Print Culture for Youth:  The Cultural Work of Children’s Reading with Anne Lundin.  He also edited the 6th  edition of Genreflecting:  A Guide to Popular Reading Interests (2005), in which he contributed the lead essay entitled, “On the Social Nature of Reading,” and with  Christine Pawley guest edited the Winter, 2008, issue of Library Trends entitled “Alternative Print Culture:  Social History and Libraries.” With James Danky and Christine Pawley he currently edits the “Print Culture History in Modern America” series for the University of Wisconsin Press.

Wiegand has lectured widely, and has served in various professional associations, including Chair of the ALA’s LHRT (1986-7), LRRT (1991-2), and Board Member for the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (1997-2003).  He served on the Editorial Boards of Library Quarterly (1995-2000) and Library History (1996-2008), and on the Advisory Boards of Libraries & Culture (1978-2009) and Lifelong Education & Libraries (Kyoto University; 1997-  ).  From July, 2003, to June, 2008, he served as coeditor of Library Quarterly with John Carlo Bertot.  An article he published in the January, 1999, issue of theQuarterly entitled “Tunnel Vision and Blind Spots:  What the Past Tells Us About the Present; Reflections on the Twentieth Century History of American Librarianship,” subsequently became the focus of a scholarly panel discussion at Library Research Seminar II (University of Maryland, 2001).  Papers from that session were published in the Quarterly’s January, 2003, issue. 

Wiegand currently has two books under publication consideration, “Main Street Public Library:  Reading Spaces and Community Places in America’s Heartland, 1876-1956,” and “`Right Here I See My Own Books:’ The Women’s Library at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.”  The second is coauthored with Sarah Wadsworth.  He is also researching a book tentatively entitled “The American Public School Library:  A History,” and coediting with Pam Richards and Marija Dalbello a world history of modern librarianship.  

For the academic year 2008-2009, he was on a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities to write a “People’s History of the American Public Library.” The project was also distinguished by the NEH Chairman as a “We the People” initiative.  For the academic year 2009-2010 he will be sharing time between Florida State University in Tallahassee and the Winter Park Institute of Rollins College in Orlando, where he will be “Scholar in Residence.”  His responsibilities at the latter include teaching an undergraduate course in book history and giving public lectures on the American public library as a civic institution.