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In 1907, the Utah State Legislature created the Library-Gymnasium Commission; by 1909, 8 cities had approved a tax, with 18 others in the preliminary stages. The movement was intended to counteract delinquency among young unemployed males on the theory that they would be attracted to the gymnasium and eventually the library, where they would be influenced by the moral and socially improving materials found there. However, none of the cities ever built a structure to house both a library and gymnasium. The commission was abolished in 1911. Factors that played a role in the movement’s trajectory are the social construction of the public library as an instrument of civic reform, the social philosophy of mens sana in corpore sano, the temperance movement, the Carnegie Corporation’s refusal to provide funds for the joint venture, the increase in high school gymnasiums, and the Panic of 1910–11.

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Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy

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