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LIBRARIANS are again reminded that an annex conference, so to speak, is to be held this year in the South by grace of the enterprising ladies who are connected with the Woman's Department of the Atlanta Exposition. The date fixed is November 29-a date somewhat unfortunate at the North, because it does not admit of the safe digestion of the Thanksgiving dinner at home, but it should be matter of thanksgiving that the library spirit is to have promising development at the South, the section of the country, as has already been pointed out, where there is most opportunity for progress. We trust that every librarian who can will certainly go to Atlanta. It is ladies' day, to be sure, but the gentlemen will be welcomed, and will probably be permitted to speak as well as to hear. We appeal, therefore, to both the loyalty and the gallantry of the profession for a representative delegation from the North for this occasion.
It is sometimes true that distance lends enchantment to the view, and we are not fully informed whether the international bibliographical conference which met recently at Brussels is entitled to so large a name, or is, perhaps, the development of a private scheme. have before us, however, the two pamphlets on the decimal classification issued by the projectors of this plan, one giving a general summary of the proposed modification, for international purposes, of Mr. Dewey's system, and the other giving details in the department of sociology. The first is in French exclusively; the second is in French, with an index in English, French, and German. The value of an international scheme is, of course, in its uniformity, and the system as perfected by Mr. Dewey is so widely in use in this country that it would be difficult to conform it to a new version at this late day. On the other hand, as this was devised before Mr. Dewey had library experience, it is doubtless true that decided improvements can be made on the original scheme under expert advice and
with the large experience of to-day. Messrs. La Fontaine and Otlet, of the International Bibliographical Office, have certainly brought forward an interesting subject, and we trust it may be taken up internationally, and thoroughly worked out.
PHILADELPHIA is commonly reputed by its critics to be a slow city, and the New York comic editor is apt to consider the tortoise characteristics of the City of Brotherly Love as a never-failing resource when the larder of fresher jokes is exhausted. Nevertheless, Philadelphia has more than once come to the front in library matters, and it is most interesting to note what remarkable progress has been made in its free library system in the few years since its origin. Starting with the small libraries conducted by the Board of Education, it was later extended by the transfer to the city of the Free Library of Philadelphia, established independently by the bequest of Mr. George S. Pepper, which, although under the direction of the city, and receiving from it a yearly appropriation, has been heretofore conducted independently of the various city libraries. An ordinance now pending, however, provides for the consolidation of the two systems under the control and direction of the Free Library, which is to receive and administer all municipal appropriations for library support. It is to be hoped that this consolidation may be carried out, as it would be not only beneficial as a means of securing economy and unity in administration, but would be a great stride toward the attainment of a free library system worthy of the city in size and equipment. A further indication that the plan of consolidation is gradually gaining ground is found in the recent offer of the president of the Mercantile Library, noted elsewhere. The trustees of that library express their desire to make the library free to the public on condition that it receive an appropriation from the city. This sounds very promising,
but it is more than doubtful if the offer, as it now stands, will be or should be accepted. No change in the real ownership or management of the library is contemplated by its trustees, and although three ex-officio trustees from the city government would be added to the board, the library would maintain an independent existence, simply throwing its doors open to the public. Under these circumstances it would by no means serve as a central city library, consolidating and administering the entire free library system of the city. There can be little doubt that a central library will eventually be obtained, be its nucleus the Free Library of Philadelphia or the Mercantile Llbrary, and in the meantime Philadelphia is certainly setting an example to many cities in its present library progress. New York must, perhaps, wait the more full development of the new library scheme under the consolidation of the great libraries, and Brooklyn has yet to make a start.
THE TWO-BOOK METHOD AT PRATT INSTI-
I REGRET that the Pratt Institute Free Li
rary was not able to send an account of its twobook system for your recent symposium on that subject, as it did not adopt the system until September I. We have for a long time given two books on a teacher's card, provided one was not fiction, and we have now extended the privilege to all borrowers, even children. Our system of charging in these cases is as follows:
Only one book of fiction is allowed the borrower at one time. Fiction may be kept one
card is used by the borrower and different colored stamping-ink is used to distinguish fic
tion from non-fiction. The borrower's card is divided into parallel columns marked "taken" and "returned."
When a work of fiction is drawn the following method is employed:
1. The dating-slip in the book is stamped with date of issue and date when due.
2. The borrower's registration number is entered on the book-card and also the date.
THE death of Miss Jessie Allan is doubly sad because of the excellent reputation which her work won for her and the pleasant affection which all librarians who knew her had come to feel for her, and because her death has given rise to a fresh discussion as to the possibility of infection from contagious diseases through li-week and all other works two weeks. Only one brary books. Miss Allan had been suffering from consumption for some years, and it has been suggested that its origin was of this charThose who knew Miss Allan and the delicate organization which did so much good work in a good cause, would scarcely need this explanation of her illness and death, which is perhaps scarcely in evidence as to the difficult question of the spread of disease through libraries. Possibly there is some danger from this source; since the bacillus was discovered danger is found to lurk in places hitherto unsuspected. But the greater danger, perhaps, comes in over-estimating this source of danger and frightening people into a nervous condition which in itself almost invites disease. Doubtless, when contagious diseases are rampant in one locality, the public library, like the schools, like all places where people come together, becomes a centre for the possible spread of an epidemic; but the danger in most cases is so small a percentage of the possible risk that, under the influence of a discussion like the present, librarians are apt to overdo precaution and create unnecessary alarm. The mere fact that life in the city is apt to be as long, if not longer, than
3. The borrower's card is stamped in blue in the column marked "taken."
When the book drawn is not fiction the same method is employed, except that the date on the borrower's card is stamped in green.
When a book is returned the date of return is stamped in red in the column marked "returned," directly opposite the date taken. Thus if the book returned is fiction, the check is made opposite the blue date; if not fiction, opposite the green date.
By the use of these two colors to distinguish
MARY W. PLUMMER.
PRINCIPLES OF SELECTION OF BOOKS.*
By MARY S. CUTLER, Vice-Director N. Y. State Library School.
THE subject assigned to me is the principles | which should guide in the selection of books for a small library, which term, for purposes of discussion, shall mean from 500 to 5000 volumes. The work of the American Library Association for the last 17 years, the willingness on the part of all librarians to go out of their way to help the new libraries, and in New York state the library law of 1889 and the Public libraries department have made the organization of small libraries specially easy.
New York travelling library lists and the catalogs of other small libraries.
2. The selection of new books for the library. I will consider here the principles which underlie selection, though they would also apply to a considerable extent to the selection of the original library.
a. Who shall select? b. What shall he select? c. How shall he select?
(a.) Who. Who will be competent and willing to study the field, i.e., the books and the readers, so that the small yearly appropriation shall in his hands produce the best possible results? In many cases the librarian will not be fitted for it. If not, it will be done by some member or members of the library committee.
There are three requisites-abundance of time, knowledge of books, and sympathy with the popular taste. I believe that, if possible, the
The problem of the selection of books is the most difficult one the small library has to face. There are three things necessary to a successful library-good books, good methods, and a good librarian. To my mind, good books and a good librarian are infinitely more important than good methods. But in these days it is about as easy to have good methods as antiquated ones, and certainly trustees have no ex-library committee would do well to put the cuse for starting out with anything less than the best. These should in all cases be simple, economical, and practical, having due regard to probable growth. By methods I would include not simply cataloging and classification, but everything that has to do with the attractiveness of the library rooms and the comfort of the reader. Nor do I think it difficult to secure in any town a local librarian who can be trained to carry on the simple methods which have been adopted, and who shall be active, alert, wise, and hospitable in making the library available to every reader.
The real problem now remains the selection of books. 1. For the original library. 2. For the expenditure of the small appropriation for new books.
I. It is seldom that a new library is built from the foundation. There is usually a collection of old books to start with, often the combination of several old collections. It is a case requiring heroic treatment. They should be gone over carefully and all those not well suited to the library should be thrown out. To do this requires courage, but it pays.
For the selection of the original library the "A. L. A. library catalog" will probably be used as the basis, supplementing this with the
responsibility in the hands of one of their number, reserving the veto power for exceptional cases. This plan would be effectual only on condition that the person selecting secured the co-operation of a large number of persons. This can easily be managed in a town or village by a person with a wide acquaintance.
It is important to get a great variety of points of view. Above all avoid the literary bias. It is so easy for things to fall into the hands of a small clique of dilettanti, with a fine appreciation of the best literature, but entirely lacking in sympathy with the sturdy life and thought of every-day people. Books should be ordered on approval, then they should be wisely distributed and read before purchased. Children's books should be read by children to see if the book is interesting, then by some one who makes a special study of juvenile literature to see if it is up to the required standard.
Novels should be read by persons of widely differing tastes. Specialists should be used with care. They are of unusual service in a college library, but it is hard to find one who has any respect for a book on his own subject written from a popular standpoint. I would rather say, get help from those who take a special interest in a subject, and inform themselves on it without being specialists; e.g., a book on amateur
Paper read before the N. Y. Library Association, New photography might be submitted to an amateur
York, Jan. 11, 1895; Buffalo, May 17, 1895.
(b) What? The idea of completeness, unless in It is well to bear this in mind when planning the line of local history, should be banished. It the charging system. In the book-card sysis, perhaps, an instinct of a scholarly mind. It tem which is generally used, the addition of the is also the refuge of the lazy and ignorant author and title to the call number of each book buyer. To buy all the books of an author, or on its book card will expedite this study of the all the books in a series, for the sake of com- circulation. Of course, puchases should not be pleteness is the worst possible policy. A very in direct proportion to circulation. 80% of the few authors may merit such distinction, but circulation might be fiction; it should not for it should be because each book has proved its that reason form 80% of the library. claim on the needs of the library, not on the (c) How? The Publishers' weekly is indisground of completeness. It is even more dan-pensable. The Nation, Critic, Dial, and Litergerous to get all the books of a series, for even ary world are the most useful critical journals. reputable publishers yield to the temptation | of working cheap books into a really valuable series.
The strength of a small library is in a perfect adaptation of means to end; i.e., books to readers. It makes itself ridiculous by following the aims of an encyclopædic library, which it can never attain.
In a small library a dull book, an inappropriate book, is not only of no service to the library, it is a positive injury. Two or three such books will often lose for you permanently a reader whom you have been beguiling to use the library. For the same reason a strong policy regarding gifts is imperative.
As a rule omit law and medical books, papercovered books and all books purely technical, unless the latter are likely to be used by a considerable number of people. However, if managed with care, it is desirable to buy technical | books for a few people where they cannot afford to buy them for themselves.
Regard should be had to balance of subjects, though it is unwise to follow a hard-and-fast rule. It is well to bear this in mind whenever additions are made, which should be at least once a quarter, or, better, once a month. At the end of the year neglected subjects should be filled up.
In making additions current books will naturally use up a large share of the funds, possibly two-thirds, but the remaining one-third should be carefully reserved for the regular addition of standard works and of old books needed to meet demands of the readers.
The following plan is approved by the usage of some of the best medium-sized libraries:
Check in the Publishers' weekly all books likely to be wanted, cut out and mount on slips. Annotate titles with abbreviated references to critical articles. When ready to order, select the most timely and useful books in the list, leaving the others as a reserve fund. Order on approval. Add to slips opinions of those who have read or examined the books.
When reading reviews one not infrequently finds an admirable concise criticism or evaluation of an author. Copy these on slips and arrange alphabetically by authors. It will be of service to the person selecting and to his successor. It will not be worth while for standard authors; but it will be specially useful for authors who are authorities on special subjects. I will give two or three illustrations of this idea:
"Mr. Joseph Jacobs has made an honorable name among folklorists, and is the editor of the official organ of the English Folk-lore soc." Christian Union bk. annual. 5 D. 91. p. 1141.
'As the London correspondent of the N. Y. Times he has distinguished himself as almost the only competent letter-writer fr. the Old World to the New. ... He sometimes bas a curious squint which prevents his seeing straight; but for good, all-round work, great industry, and capacity for saying what he has to say in clear, interesting English, Mr. Harold Frederic
is the best of English correspondents."
Close observers of the reading in popular libraries tell us that children and untutored adults do not enjoy reading short stories; also that many children are exceedingly fond of "Mr. Hearn is a student of style. After that poetry. The contrary would seem likely to he is a dreamer of dreams, and somewhat later be true. The fact is, therefore, worth men- still a collector of facts. ... There is masterly tioning from its relation to selection. It sug-variation. But whatever the form and whatgests the desirability of studying the circula- ever the matter, the strife is always for effect. tion. It is almost always artistic, but it is rarely free
This principle is used to advantage in Mr. Lemcke's extremely useful "Catalogue of German literature."
from the impression of self-consciousness." ashamed of the libraries of to-day, because they (See N. Y. Daily Tribune, 28 O'94, p. 14, column are collections, not selections. I am glad that 41.) the program of this meeting does not stop at principles of selection, but goes on to discuss individual books. This has already been done in the meeting of the Massachusetts library club and will be an important feature of the A. L. A. meetings. Why should we compare notes on charging systems, book supports, and entry of pseudonyms and be afraid to talk about the books themselves? "This ought ye to have done and not to have left the other undone."
The whole subject of the selection of books is a fascinating one. I have only touched it on the surface. It is a subject which is to appear oftener on library programs and occupy more and more the attention of the best librarians. I believe that 10 years from now we shall be
DIRECTORIES IN PUBLIC REFERENCE LIBRARIES.
BY REUBEN G. THWAITES, Secretary State Historical Society of Wisconsin.
I WONDER how many of our large public reference libraries are in the habit of accumulating miscellaneous city and state directories, old and current? Not many, I fancy; yet, if members of our craft generally understood the practical value of these, in numerous lines of research, there would be a wider demand for this now largely neglected class of books.
I have visited many an ambitious city library, whose otherwise enterprising chief has looked me to scorn when I inquired whether he had a full file of his own city directories—“We have no room for such rot!" Yet, if you will bear with me, these contemporary lists of the city's inhabitants, together with full files of the local newspapers the daily mirror of the city's life — would be quite as important on his shelves as anything else he has there; more so than many of his volumes.
tories and plenty of them; and not altogether to be despised is the man who wishes to select addresses to which more or less appropriate circulars may be mailed. A wide range of queries, many of them of supreme importance, are answered by the directories; any keeper of a collection of them can tell you curious tales of his experiences which would make good material for the fiction-writers - I do not now recall that any one has yet given us a directory story. I make no charge for thus suggesting a new and fertile field to A. L. A. members who are ambitious to load the magazines with out-of-hours' copy. In a variety of ways-commercial, professional, and literary collections of directories are of real value, and they are eagerly sought. Public librarians are seldom appealed to for this sort of thing, for it is generally recognized as a field which not many of them enter; a few historical societies and state libraries do something in this line, more or less spasmodically, but there is room for some large reference library, centrally located, with ample means, to make a record here; its collection will not lack patrons.
The duty of each city librarian to collect local directories and newspapers is to me so self-evident that it seems superfluous to argue the matter. What I would like to do is to call the attention of reference librarians to the value of general collections of directories. The office of the reference library is to supply information to the Meanwhile, the leading directory men thempublic, be it practical or æsthetic, and several selves are, in some measure, meeting the pubclasses of persons in every large community find lic demand for this sort of literature. By exmiscellaneous directories of great importance to change or purchase, sometimes by both, many them: the genealogist, the biographer, the student of them have in their central offices considerable of names, eagerly pore over these dusty old books libraries of current dictionaries of other Ameriand find in them many a missing link; detectives can and foreign cities, those of say four years of tracing the whereabouts of criminals, and law- age being removed from the cases as fast as the yers hunting heirs to estates could ill dispense latest crop comes in. All publishers in cities of with directories; postal officials seeking clues for the first class — with the exception of the Trow forwarding "blind" mail matter, where perhaps Directory Co., of New York - and many of a New Orleans street is inadvertently written on those of the second class, make a practice of an envelope intended for Winnipeg, need direc-exchanging directories in order to accommodate