Doug Ohman Presentation at Annandale Library
The Annandale Public Library recently hosted Doug Ohman and his presentation, “Libraries: Free For All.” Ohman is a photographer, public speaker, and author of the series "Byways of Minnesota.” He has toured the state extensively while compiling photos for his books. The themes of his “Byways of Minnesota” books include libraries, barns, churches, cabins, courthouses, and schoolhouses. His next project will add cemeteries to the list. Ohman’s presentation was amusing and informative. He showed slides of libraries from around Minnesota and shared the history of Minnesota libraries and interesting anecdotes about them.
Ohman spoke about how Andrew Carnegie got the ball rolling on public libraries in the state. When Carnegie was growing up in a poor family he was unable to use the subscription libraries of the time. A membership fee was required to borrow books from the library, so only those with money could participate in the library system. After he made his fortune he decided to try to make libraries accessible to all. Carnegie began providing funds to communities to build libraries which would be free for all.
One of Ohman”s anecdotes involved the process of applying for funds from Carnegie to build a library. Usually a group of women would form a book club and then make the application. The application asked why a library was needed in the community. On one application the women's answer to this question was that they needed the library so their men would have someplace to go other than the 22 saloons in town! The GRRL catalog includes many of Doug Ohman’s books.