How Public Diplomacy Worked in Practice by Hans Tuch

imageHans "Tom" Tuch reflects on US public diplomacy in Germany over three decades, from 1950 to 1982, at American Diplomacy. In How Public Diplomacy Worked in Practice, Tom describes the value of America's overseas libraries, resources that today have been cut back or hidden to the point of being, in some cases, nearly useless.

[T]he America House library was "open-shelf" where people could select and check out books of their choice.  We did not immediately realize the democratizing impact of our open-shelf library until a frequent visitor, the city librarian who was also the director of the University library, told us that in rebuilding both libraries, he would convert them to open-shelf institutions, the first in the Federal Republic. A German researcher later wrote that one could not underestimate the success of the America Houses in introducing Germans to a new open-shelf library system, which made libraries attractive institutions. The principal impact of the America Houses, she wrote, was in influencing and changing the view of America among the German people. Through the medium of the library it was possible, she concluded, to persuade many Germans to regard America positively and often admiringly.

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