Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)




S. George Ellsworth


The public library in Utah and its acceptance as a public institution is the subject of this thesis. For present purposes, public libraries will be defined as those open to all, those having general collections of books, and those which circulate their books among the public. This thesis does not treat church, school, college, industrial, medical, law, and special libraries, except as they functioned as public libraries. Most of Utah’s earliest public libraries were operated and supported by private individuals and organizations. As private support proved insufficient, however, cities and towns began to take up this responsibility. In the year of Utah’s statehood, tax support from cities became available for public libraries. Eventually counties, the state, and finally the federal government became involved in support for libraries. With financial support for libraries also came technical support and moral leadership, provided by various agencies. Private groups, including the Utah Library Association and other professional and service groups, as well as state agencies such as the state school board and, recently, the State Library Commission, have been instrumental in the development of Utah libraries. The role of philanthropists in Utah’s library history, and their impact, is also discussed.




This work made publicly available electronically on November 15, 2010.