ABSTRACT

The history of the West Las Vegas Library and its inception by the welfare rights group Operation Life, and the organization’s founder Ruby Duncan, has largely been unstudied and overlooked in the historical record. The library was considered a branch of the Clark County Library System but was initially run by Operation Life in the 1970s and 1980s. However, in the mid-1980s the Clark County Library System built a new library, dismantling all the work done by Operation Life and Duncan. An examination of the West Las Vegas Library places Duncan and Operation Life as social actors within a community that had been forgotten by the dominant White culture. By analyzing this history, this work adds to a vibrant conversation on the history of race, poverty, and libraries.

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