Friday, April 17, 2009

April 17: Benjamin Franklin — Book Salesman (Vol. 1, pp. 66-77)

The list of Franklin's accomplishments during his lifetime is long. One of his greatest was his invention of the lending library. On the anniversary of his death this day in 1790, we have this selection from Franklin's "Autobiography" telling how he did it.

In 1730, he convinced his Philadelphia neighbors to pool their books together into a subscription library. There were no bookshops then and books had to be imported from England. He found enough people willing to pay 40 shillings to join and 10 shillings a year thereafter to fund the library and buy more books.

It was a huge success which greatly contributed to the enlightenment of Philadelphia and, eventually, the nation, as other cities copied his idea.

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