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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003

Book Reviews

The Dallas Public Library: Celebratzng a Century of Service, 19ox-2oo. By Michael V.
Hazel. (Denton: University of North Texas Press, 2001. Pp. xii+252. List of illus-
trations, preface, appendix, notes, index. ISBN 1-57441-141-1. $29.95, cloth.)
At the turn of the century, Dallas was well on its way to becoming a great cen-
ter of business and industry. While economic resources abounded, intellectual
resources were scarcer, and the city strove to achieve an image of culture and
civility. To meet this goal, civic leaders knew they needed one essential resource-
-a free public library. The library's birth is "the story of a group of dedicated
individuals who mobilized public opinion, won the support of a wealthy philan-
thropist, and constructed a model facility in an amazingly short period of time"
(p. 1). Indeed, motivated Dallas clubwomen initiated the movement and, in two
and a half years, they raised over $12,00ooo locally, persuaded Andrew Carnegie to
donate $50,000 more, constructed a building, and opened the library with near-
ly ten thousand books.
In The Dallas Publzc Library, Michael V. Hazel traces the institution's history
from its beginning in 1901 as a single library with a staff of five to a central
library and twenty-two branch libraries with a staff of nearly six hundred. Hazel
tells the story of dedicated librarians and directors who created and maintained
library programs that served the educational, recreational, and cultural needs of
Dallas residents. Despite constant budget shortages and space limitations, library
staff remained committed to providing the best available services for the ever-
expanding Dallas population. In return, the people of Dallas have shown incred-
ible support for the library throughout its one hundred years. As Hazel demon-
strates, not only have they passed many bond proposals to give the library more
money, but they have also met proposed budget cutbacks with fierce opposition.
Friends of the Dallas Public Library and other faithful patrons have even raised
millions of dollars in private donations, proving the public's dedication to main-
taining the library's quality.
The Dallas Public Library is mostly arranged chronologically. However, some
chapters are set apart to highlight a specific topic. For example, one chapter
details the operating history of the first branch library in Oak Hill, while another
chapter focuses on the African American struggle to gain equal access to public
libraries in Dallas. This arrangement allows for some overlap in chronology, but
it is hardly distracting. Extensively researched, the book relies on newspaper and
journal articles, personal and official correspondence, Board of Trustees min-
utes and other various annual reports, as well as many oral history interviews.
Hazel illustrates the book with more than two hundred photographs that depict
scenes from the library's history as well as Dallas's history.
As a native Dallasite, Michael Hazel has used the collections at the Dallas
Public Library for research, study, and recreation for more than forty years.
While his admiration for the institution is readily apparent in this work, the
book is well balanced and provides a narrative that is both entertaining and edu-
cational. Scholars of urban, women's, and local history will enjoy Hazel's history
of the "crown jewel of the city" (p. 224), as will anyone who appreciates the
Dallas Public Library and its contributions to the city.



Southwest Texas State University


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed May 6, 2016.

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