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Saturday, November 08, 2003
"On this day in 1731, a group of young men in Philadelphia
pooled their money to set up the first library in America.
The idea for a library came about when Benjamin Franklin
started a club with about 50 friends so they could debate
about politics, morality and the natural sciences. The
group was called the Club of Mutual Improvement. When they
disagreed about a topic, they liked to consult books. But
books were expensive in those days, so they combined their
resources to found a subscription library. They called it
the Philadelphia Library Company. The rule was that any
"civil gentleman" could browse through the volumes, but
only subscribers were allowed to borrow them. The library
expanded over the years. Later it moved to Carpenter's
Hall, the building where the First Continental Congress met
in 1774. Franklin said that after the library opened,
"reading became fashionable, and our people, having no
public amusements to divert their attention from study,
became better acquainted with books.""

Garrison Keillor
Writer's Almanac

Submitted by Dwight Hines

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