The finding aid for the Bureau of Public Discussion records is up! The philosophy behind the services of this Indiana University department established in 1914 was that state universities should serve the people of the state. Services included aids to teachers at all levels as well as home reading courses for Indiana residents.
One of the Bureau’s largest activities was the Package Library service. Early on, this service consisted of maintaining collections of clippings or materials drawn from recent publications on current issues, and by 1944 they began publishing Package Library Briefs. These Briefs contained short explanations on present-day hot topic issues and included a bibliography for further reading. There are Briefs on all sorts of topics in the collection – from the American school system and foreign policy to those focusing upon minorities.
The Bureau was also involved with the Indiana Federation of Art Clubs which sought to bring art clubs from around the state together in an effort to coordinate exhibits and lectures. Their bulletins chronicle the goings-on of the art world in Indiana and those in this collection span from the first one in 1927 through 1954.
Additionally, the Bureau of Public Discussion administered a reading course program on behalf of the U.S. Office of Education for residents of Indiana. People could sign up for the course, then read the prescribed books on topics such as history, literature, or parenting, and then write and submit summaries. In exchange, they would receive a certificate of completion. One reading course targeted to boys reasoned that they only work ten hours a day, six days a week, leaving plenty of leisure time for reading! Perhaps parents and grandparents are right and kids do have it easy these days!
As always, for further information on this collection, contact the Archives!