Ralph W. Conant

Ralph W. Conant was president of Unity College in Maine from 1978 to 1980. He is President of the Asgard Foundation.

  • The Metropolitan Library

    Ralph W. Conant and Redmond Kathleen Molz

    Like so many other public institutions, libraries are struggling to adapt to the changes in materials, techniques, and clientele wrought by urbanization and advancing technology. As service institutions, they must meet the needs created by new social, political, and economic conditions. As public organizations, they face an increasingly diverse clientele—older people come to the library for self-improvement, adult education, or cultural stimulation; students rely on its reference works to supplement the collections of school libraries; educators attempt to use its resources to reach the culturally deprived; business require complicated reference and information storage and retrieval services; and the general reader seeks a place for browsing and light reading.

    Essays in this volume by librarians, educators, social scientists, urban planners, and communications experts attempt to describe the many and varied developmental problems facing public libraries in metropolitan areas of the United States. The essays contain information about the financial, political, demographic, cultural, and educational influences shaping the role of the public library in our society. Even though The Metropolitan Library cannot, by the very nature of the questions it raises, provide solutions to the problems it describes, it is nonetheless a thought-stimulating work that provides many reference points for further research.

    The book will be useful to the librarian, the administrator, and the library student. In addition, discussions of contemporary urban problems will be of value to the sociologist, political scientist, city planner, and anyone concerned with the future of cities and the role of the library in them.

    The volume opens with two introductory essays by the volume editors. The first, “The Urban Public Library: A Perspective,” by Kathleen Molz, traces the growth of public libraries from the founding of the Public Library of the City of Boston in 1852 to the present. The next article, by Ralph W. Conant, “The Metropolitan Library and the Educational Revolution: Some Implications for Research,” pinpoints critical areas where research is needed. Philip Ennis, Dan Lacy, John E. Bebout, Edward C. Banfield, and Jesse H. Shera discuss “The Functions of the Public Library.” John E. Bebout and David Popenoe, Robert H. Salisbury, William F. Hellmuth, Lowell Martin, Claire K. Lipsman, Lester L. Stoffel, and Norman Elkin focus on the specific problems of urban libraries in the section entitled “The Public Library in the Metropolis.” “Critical Issues”—including the education of librarians, the role of technology in library development, the potential of telecommunications, and the burgeoning of nonprint materials—are considered by D. J. Foskett, John Tebbel, John Bystrom, and Kathleen Molz. The volume concludes with an annotated bibliography of works on metropolitan area library problems compiled by Leonard Grundt.

    • Hardcover $25.00
  • The Public Library and the City

    The Public Library and the City

    Ralph W. Conant

    The public library as a "community facility dedicated to... service to everyone" is finding it impossible to meet the increasing demands made by a varied and shifting clientele—students require more space, more copies of books, more specialized services; educators wish to exploit the public library as a means of improving the educational and cultural opportunities of low-income groups; sophisticated industrial complexes demand high-level reference services and research resources; general readers want to retain the traditional image of the public library as a "refuge for the bookworm and the browser." Each of the distinguished contributors to this volume has dealt with an issue directly related to his or her own field of specilization, providing insights into the educational, cultural, demographic, political, and financial aspects of the urban public library.This book serves as an important beginning point in a necessary re-examination of the role of the public library in a changing urban scene and should prove to be basic reading for the librarian, the library administrator, and the sociologist. The book will also be of value to social and political scientists, city planners, and economists who are concerned with the character of cities and the future of libraries whose milieu is the city.

    • Hardcover $6.75
    • Paperback $30.00