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The World Public Library Blog Newsletter Volume 1, Number 19

by Michael_Hart 18. July 2011 21:07

Who Invented The First United States Lending Library?

The World Public Library Blog Newsletter
Volume 1, Number 19
Monday, July 18, 2011

by Michael S. Hart
Founder, Project Gutenberg
Inventor of eBooks

Who Invented The First United States Lending Library?

Hint:  he also invented bifocal reading glasses.

Not enough?

He also few a kite in a thunderstorm to prove lightning was really made out of electricity.

Yes, amazing as it seems, the person who invented those libraries so many of us get our books from and who also discovered electricity was Benjamin Franklin!!!

Now for the real question:

What would Franklin be doing if he were alive today?

One answer is that he should have combined all three of these major accomplishments, and he would have invented electronic books, put them in a vast library, and would be selling reading glasses so everyone could read them!

We tend to forget just how resourceful founding fathers really had to be in those days to create a new country, a country without most of the benefits of the old world from which they had come.  These people worked hard for the purpose of putting together some semblance of these benefits that would serve colonial frontiers in a place where most of ye olde benefits simply didn't exist.

In 1731-1732, Franklin and his "Leather Apron Club" did something that had never been done here before, created a collection of books that could be lent out to inspire the general community to read more and become educated.

Just as today, you had to have a library card and these were not quite free, but given the price of books those days it was a serious bargain, very much like a members only group such as The World Public Library.

Franklin's original group created what they called "The Library Company," meaning a group of persons interested in the creation and operation of a library in the day-- and The Library Company still exists today as nonprofit research oriented library services.

When a town wanted to name itself "Franklin" he donated a number of books to found their public library.  Their library still exists today, and is considered to be the first public libraries in America by many, though other places also contend for that honor.

So it is obvious that if Ben Franklin were here with us in modern day America he would still be doing libraries in new and wonderful manners such as what we see around us here at The World Public Library, Project Gutenberg, The Internet Archive, Wattpad, Petrucci Music Library & hopefully more and more such libraries in the future.

Be sure to visit them all through The World eBook Fair, from July 4 through August 4, every year.

And they all follow in Benjamin Franklin's footsteps!!!

Right now at this very moment, there are over 6 million eBooks at these electronic libraries that follow in his footsteps to create a more literate educated world free of most of the expenses associated with book collection processes that would have otherwise kept persons behind the bars of ignorance and illiteracy, which was as huge a problem in Franklin's day as it is today.

Help us celebrate the 40th Anniversary of eBooks with a sharing of these eBooks with your family and friends!!!




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