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conditions of five years since, the work on the
the South, Southwest and West. Certainly the
ization and more esprit de corps among state librarians might profitably be emphasized at the Denver Conference, and we would suggest that the A. L. A. exert its influence at that conference to raise the standard of library efficiency among those states that have not yet felt the spirit of the times in this respect.
THE ASSISTANT-WHY ANONYMOUS!
sympathy though not entire agreement.
It seems to me very doubtful whether work of real originality and value is often hidden long under the veil of anonymity, unless, indeed, the modesty which is, in itself, a symptom of inworker is possessed of a kind and degree of
As a matter of fact the assistant has, to a certain extent, the stick in her own hands, to use the vernacular. If her trustees do not see that the value received is sufficient to warrant the expenditure involved in sending her to the A. L. A. meetings, let her go at her own expense, not only in money, but, if necessary, of the more precious vacation days. To do this may need self-denial; it will even, in some cases, involve real hardships; but it is, to my mind (and my experience too), a business investment for which hard-headed common-sense will see the necessity, and for which it will consequently find the way. When this has been done once or twice, if she has real capacity, brightness and originality, the brethren of the profession (if not the sisters) will not fail to recognize and covet these qualities for their own staffs. This will involve for the assistant opportunities which will call the attention of her chief and her trustees to her real and her market value; or else send her to "fresh fields and pastures new," where the growing thing may have sunshine and
NEWS comes from Oshkosh, Wis., of a library bequest that is in a way a good example of "how not to do it." The sum of $50,000 is left to the town in trust, for the purpose of “founding and maintaining perpetually a public library," provided, however, that within three years an equal sum be raised by the city, the citizens, or any person or persons, to be devoted to the same purpose. Under this condition it seems unlikely that the bequest will ever be put to any practical use. The legacy in itself is enough to establish an attractive and adequate library building and leave something over for books, while a provision requiring future support by ONE WHO HAS BEEN THERE. the town with perhaps a minimum_limit of inLIBRARY Advertising in street cars. come, would have fully met the problem of Is it not practicable to use the advertising maintenance. It is, of course, just and wise spaces in the street-cars as a means of bringing library matters before the public? Every one that the givers of important benefactions knows how wearisome it is to read again and should stimulate generosity in others by requir- again in spite of one's determination not to ing additional bequests or local support, but do so-the advertisements of patent medicines, such provisions when too onerous, will generally of the spaces to call attention to the location of soaps, ribbons, lamps, etc. Why not use some result in defeating the original purpose of the the library and the hours of opening and closing? giver. Indeed, it becomes more and more evi- Perhaps it would be possible, if the library is in a dent in all fields of public work that bequests, to town or small city where frequent changes would be thoroughly effective, should be left as free as books, or books on a special subject. Ten or fifnot be necessary, to bulletin some of the new proper safeguards admit, a principle that finds teen titles, with their call numbers, could be given apt illustration in England, where the work of | in the ordinary space allotted to a street-car adsome of the largest and best-intentioned chari-vertisement and in type easily readable to the ties is hampered and crippled by testamentary passengers sitting opposite. restrictions. In the Oshkosh case the condition will not improbably render the entire bequest void; though there remains the consoling possibility that the tentative legacy will awaken public interest in the subject and result indirectly in the establishing, through local effort, of a public library on a smaller but no less useful scale.
MARGARET D. McGUFFEY.
PUBLIC LIBRARY, 1 Boston.
IN the article on "The public use of college libraries," (L. J., July), there is a misprint in the paragraph on the University of Rochester. Instead of 1871, read 1877.
S: H. RANCK.
ENOCH PRATT FREE LIBRARY,
In short, I haven't much opinion of the candle which doesn't burn the bushel.
THE LIBRARY WORK OF THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK.*
By W: R. Eastman, Public libraries division, U. S. N. Y.
THE University of the State of New York is a supervisory and administrative, not a teaching institution. It is a state department, and at the same time a federation of over 600 institutions of higher and secondary education. It visits them officially, and they report to the university. Their academic and professional work is tested by university examinations.
The university law of 1892, besides being a compilation and revision of former laws, gave new and special prominence to the establishment of public libraries to be recognized as part of this educational system, and therefore to hold the charter and be under visitation of the university. An appropriation of $25,000 for the benefit of free libraries being voted the same year, the library work was, for the first time, definitely organized.
This work is carried on along six lines:
1. Ascertaining library facts by annual reports and official inspection.
2. Giving advice and instruction on request. 3. Organizing and chartering libraries. 4. Distributing public library money. 5. Lending small libraries for a limited time. 6. Preparing and revising lists of best books. 1. Reports. Acquaintance with the facts is the foundation of all scientific work. The law provides that every library exempt from taxation shall report to the university. Exemption means that the state recognizes the public library as a public benefit, and this implies an undoubted right on the part of the state to know whether each collection of books claiming the privilege is a true public library or not. If it is a private business carried on for gain, it has no more claim on the favor of the state than the business of a bookseller.
The report blank used by the university covers the following facts: the name, location, and date of foundation of each library; the present number of volumes and number of additions by gift and purchase during the past year; the number of volumes issued for home use and for reference; the number of days the library has been open during the year, and the number of hours of opening fixed by rule for each week; the receipts of money and from what sources; the
*Read at meetings of N. Y. L. A., New York, Jan, 11, 1895, and Buffalo, May 17, 1895,
The next step was to compile a mailing list. A number of partial lists of New York libraries have appeared in the last few years, but not one that was entirely reliable. From all sources accessible an experimental list was made and used, with the result of sending report blanks to many institutions that had no libraries to speak of, and would not have been asked to report if the facts had been known. On the other hand, a great many libraries have been omitted, for, after three years of collecting statistics, a week seldom passes without bringing to notice some library not previously known to the department. It is esteemed a kindness when correspondents send in the names of unrecorded libraries. Returns from 700 libraries having each 300 or more volumes will soon be published.
The failure to obtain more complete returns will be understood by any collector who has tried to gather statistics by mail. In some cases the circulars of inquiry reach the library when officers are absent on vacation, and afterwards are overlooked through stress of work. Some librarians find it difficult to make their own accounts conform to the end of the academic year and postpone answering till too late. Some find their accounts in so loose a condition that they do not care to report. Some reports are written by librarians, referred to treasurers, pigeon-holed by trustees, and forgotten. Some may be lost in the mail. Now and then objection is made from a constitutional dislike to give account, or an ill-defined dread of acknowledging responsibility to the state; and many misunderstandings of the purpose and scope of the report hinder the full response for which we look. The aim of the university is to secure, for the commo non good, an accurate account of library facts - no more — and in this attempt it bespeaks the good-will and co-operation of the librarians of the state.
The study of these returns will bring out some points of marked interest. A prominent fact is that the great number of public libraries in this state are to-day in the care of the school authorities. The legislation of 1835 and 1838, when New York began to push the public library idea by way of the school districts, is responsible for this. The libraries then founded were district libraries; as really public as the town libraries of New Hampshire or Massachusetts; and the most important of them, as they now exist, at Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, Binghamton, Rochester, Brooklyn, Oswego, Owego, etc., while managed by the school boards, are practically city libraries. But more have come to be regarded as school libraries only, in which the public have little or no share.
Out of 704 libraries reporting for 1894, 321 are public; that is, controlled by the voters or their representatives. Of these, 280 are in charge of school authorities, 128 more are connected with academies, 51 with colleges, and 86 with other institutions. This leaves 159 to include all those managed by the public independent of the schools, the endowed and mercantile libraries, and professional and technical collections of all sorts. The great libraries of the state belong to the class of endowed or mercantile.
Counting by libraries, not by volumes, our books are still in the hands of the teaching institutions, and, to a large extent, are gathered and administered with reference to the needs of the schools. There are great possibilities for good in just this situation, and, at the same time, there are public interests liable to be overlooked. An important feature of the legislation of 1892, repeated in the consolidated school law of 1894, was a provision for dividing district libraries in two parts; one to be kept by the school as a part of its equipment, and the other, the circulating part, to be put in charge of independent trustees as the beginning of a true public library. This law has contributed to the situation with which the university has had to deal.
In comparing the reports of the last year with those previously received, it has been interesting to note in many cases a serious falling off in the number of volumes, indicating, not a loss of books, but a tendency to count more carefully and to discriminate against worn and mutilated books and broken sets that were no longer fit for service. There appear also in the reports frequent apologies for imperfect and unsatisfac
tory work and promises for the coming year, stating plans of enlargement and money in hand to be expended. "A better showing for next year," is the word. These things, slight as they are, mark a coming revival of library consciousness, starting with the knowledge that some one outside is interested in the welfare of each library, and proving that annual reports have an important power and place.
Inspection. Besides the ascertainment of facts by reports, the university inspector has the greater advantage of visiting the libraries to see for himself. When they seek the privileges of state aid it becomes his official duty to examine their quality, work, and methods, and report thereon as a condition of the aid to be given; and, aside from such a necessary office, he has found the most cordial welcome everywhere as a visitor. A call to a particular locality to discharge an official duty will often open the way for an extended library acquaintance. One city library that must be inspected furnishes a reason for visiting five others in that vicinity, with the possible result of awakening a new library interest and promoting reorganization, consolidation, or library enlargement in many ways. Those in charge of the small libraries will admit that they are sometimes lonely for lack of sympathy and appreciation of their work. The inspector finds them running over with questions. They want to know how things are done in New York and Albany, and how they ought to be done. It is their opportunity for the hour to touch the library system of the state, and may be helpful in many ways. Often the inspector is invited to meet committees, consult with boards of education, talk over library possibilities, and so prepare the way for a popular public library movement. In the year ending Sept. 30, 1894, he visited 62 libraries in 27 different counties, and, in three months since that date, he has visited 51 others.
2. Advice and instruction. Under the law the state library is open to library questions from any librarian, trustee, or other citizen interested to ask. The questions that come are not few, and the answers are not always easy. Most of the letters make general inquiries as to methods of establishing libraries and arranging the books for public use, and particular requests are usually made for explanation of points in the library law. In two years, correspondence has been held with over 400 places regarding library interests, and the attempt was made to give advice that would best fit the varying local conditions.
Library school. Under this head comes also the work of the university in conducting the library school, with its corps of experienced teachers and its 30 students pursuing a two years' course, crowned for the honor students with well-earned degrees of library science.
Expert assistance. Many also are the requests for temporary help in rearranging and cataloging libraries, to which a response can usually being it with honorable approval.
made by sending an expert worker from the staff of the state library or from advanced students of the school for a longer or shorter time, as needed. At times this service is required for a month or more, and sometimes only for three or four days. Libraries pay for such services at current rates.
3. Organization and charter. The next step in the work of the university is to organize libraries and receive them by charter, admission, or registry. The law gives the regents power to grant charters. The details are settled in consultation. If a charter is already held, it need not be surrendered unless the new standard charter is preferred. The university can either admit with existing charter or reincorporate. | Either course constitutes the library an institution in the university, precisely as the great colleges are. Or, if for any cause, the libraries do not seek so close a relation, they may, on request and approval, be registered and have like privileges, though not so fully identified with the university.
Previous to 1892 there was one library chartered by the regents. In the years 1892-93, 26 were chartered and two admitted; the next year, 26 chartered and six admitted. Since Oct. 1, 1894, 20 have been chartered and six admitted. Adding eight that have been registered, the total number of libraries now under visitation (Mar. 1, 1895) is 95. Out of 73 chartered libraries, 44 include libraries transferred by the school authorities.
book accounts, shall merit approval, and that it conform to certain hours of opening, graded according to the size of the community, but sufficient in the judgment of the regents to entitle the library to be fairly counted free and public. Under these rules the essential condition is a connection of the library with the university either by charter, admission, or registry, mark
The formal application for money is then made, the amount being limited in most cases to $200 a year, and certificate being made that an equal amount from local sources is already in hand. Each month an apportionment is made. The number of applications the first year was 44, the second year there were 84, and since Oct. 1, 1894, to March 5, 1895, 55 have been received, or 183 in all. A few have not been granted. 97 different libraries have shared in the distribution. Some have improved the privilege for three successive years. The money is placed in their hands on their agreement to spend it in accordance with the rules. When it has been spent, an account is rendered, containing a full list of the books bought and the cost of each one, and this total must be sufficient to account, not only for the public money, but for the equal amount raised at home. This list is examined in the regents' office, and for any book disapproved an equal amount must be spent for an approved book to balance the account and open the way for another grant when asked.
When small libraries are to be started or reorganized, it is not required that all the money should be used for books the first year, but a part may be used for shelves, cataloging, printing, services, and other like expenses. This provision has been specially useful in the small beginnings through which many village libraries have been struggling into existence.
5. Travelling libraries. A part of the public 4. Public library money. A most practical and money has been used by the university in deinteresting part of the work is the distribution veloping its system of lending small libraries for of public library money. $25,000 a year have a limited time. Selections of 50 or 100 volumes been given for three years, being placed in the each are lent to libraries or communities for six hands of the regents for the benefit of free libra-months, the university paying all expenses and ries, with three plain conditions. A library re- receiving a fee of $3 or $5, according to the ceiving aid must be free; an equal amount must number of volumes sent. A full account of this be raised from local sources; and books bought system and its working may be read in the with the money must be such as the regents ap- Forum for January, 1895, and need not be reprove. The rest is left to regents' rules. These peated. rules require that the library shall be under state supervision; that the character of its books as a whole, its methods of work and keeping of
The number of 125 libraries reported Oct. I, 1894, increased to 178 by Jan. 1, 1895, and a marked feature of the work specially noticeable
in the last three months is the growing number of reading circles and clubs for home study which have registered in the university office and called for their privilege of travelling libraries. Any circle of readers in the state, when organized and ready to undertake serious study of a subject, having laid out a schedule of not less than ten weeks' work, may register at the regents' office, and thereupon borrow books selected by themselves bearing upon the subject of their study. For this privilege they make formal application and pay an advance fee of $5 for 50 books, or $3 for 25, unless they offer the books for free circulation to the public, in which case they need pay only the usual travelling library fee of $5 for 100 books, or $3 for 50. Along all these lines the library correspondence of the university is constantly increasing. During the past year the number of places in the state indexed as considering library interests was increased by 200. Some inquiries may be prompted by curiosity, some by the vain hope of getting something for nothing out of a generous state, but most have borne the mark of an earnest and unselfish devotion to the interests of children, scholars, and friends. In the pinching times of the past two years this library
interest has commanded an attention in small
6. Lists of best books. The travelling library
In all these things the university is the servant of the libraries, anxious to know in what way it can serve them best, seeking to promote popular interest, helping each one by the experience of the rest, advising in organization, certifying to good work done, publishing results from year to year, and seeking to maintain a standard of excellence to which all libraries will rejoice to conform.
THE SELECTION OF BOOKS FOR A PUBLIC LIBRARY.*
BY J. N. LARNED, of the Buffalo Library.
THE end of a public library is public educa- | among people specially competent to appraise
But it is not the books of knowledge which
From some remarks on the subject made to the
Library School, at the New York State Library, May 28, ful; but, much as it may excite us to astonish
ment, there are fruits of civilization, even in