Abstract: Läsarnas nöje. Kommersiella lånbibliotek i Stockholm 1783–1809.
(The Joy of Reading: Circulating Libraries in Stockholm 1783–1809).
Margareta Björkman, Skrifter utgivna av Avdelningen för litteratursociologi
vid Litteraturvetenskapliga institutionen i Uppsala, nr 29. 1992
590 pp. Uppsala. ISBN 91-85178-22-5
(Swedish text with a summary in English.)
This dissertation treats the commercial circulating libraries found in Stockholm 1783–1809, a period during which the circulating library became an institution. Seven circulating libraries were established with the permission of the authorities. The relations between the circulating libraries and the authorities have been studied with regard to the borrowing of Swedish-produced books. The concentration of the circulating libraries to Stockholm's book district shows that the proprietors sought an association with the rest of the book trade. From the regulations wich have been preserved, the forms of the business have been reconstructed.
The book stock has been analyzed with the assistance of the catalogues from three of the libraries. The linguistic, age, and topical distribution has been investigated with special emphasis on light literature. First having maintained an encyclopedic stock, the circulating libraries began to specialize in light literature.
The novel became the libraries' most common genre. After a survey of the public debate conceming novels in the newspapers and journals, a presentation of four popular authors follows: Mme. Riccoboni, N.-E. Restif de' la Bretonne, Mrs. Radcliffe, and A. Lafontaine. An early Swedish contribution to the novel genre intended for circulating libraries, J.M. Stjernstolpes Wilhelm, is analyzed from the perspective of its reception.
The borrowers in M. Swederus'circulating library 1785–1786 are known by name, as Swedereus published lists of his customers. These lists have been analyzed socially. The library attracted people from the country's most influential circles, but borrowers from the middle strata also sought out Swederus' establishment.
A line may be traced from the commercial circulating libraries to the public libraries of today. Light literature soon came to dominate the commercial circulating libraries. Today it is that literature which is still most in demand in the community libraries.
Keywords: Circulating libraries, Book history, Eighteenth century novel, Eighteenth century public reading, Eighteenth century reading habits, Sociology of literature.