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their own customers. The Trows, who keep a collection covering 500 cities probably the largest in America - purchase the books direct, and will not exchange; they themselves furnish advertisers with lists of names, and contract to address and mail circulars.
The regulations for the public use of these directory libraries vary greatly. I think the Trows make no charge for single consultations, but impose a fee for the use of the books when lists are copied from them; in St. Louis the Gould Directory Co. charges 25 cents for each single reference, and in Chicago Polk charges 10 cents. I have been told that Boyd, of Washington, employs in his library five or six young women to wait upon customers, and charges two dollars for a three hours' consultation; and I have it from what seems good authority, that a not uncommon rate in several other cities is a dollar for the detailed use of each directory. The Postmaster-General orders a copy of each of the leading directories for each of the first and second class post-offices, but these are not open to the public.
The principal directory libraries in the United States, accessible to the public, and covering
from 50 to 500 cities each, are in Albany, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Brooklyn, Buffalo, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Hartford, Jersey City, Kansas City, Louisville, Milwaukee, Nashville, New York, Omaha, Philadelphia, Richmond, San Francisco, St. Louis, Syracuse, Topeka, and Washington; there is also one at Toronto. For commercial purposes these collections of current directories doubtless serve their patrons sufficiently well; but, as above pointed out, none of them keep up their files for more than a few years back; thus they are of little avail to the student in history and sociology, whose investigations, as often, indeed, do those of the estate or criminal lawyer, cover a far wider period than this. Without injuring the business of those who maintain private libraries of current directories, any public librarian, in a large town, who has abundant resources of space and money, can at least gather and preserve the old directories, and make himself blessed to many searchers for facts; indeed, he will not need much money for this purpose if he is intrenched in the good graces of the local directory firm, and contents himself with the castaways of the latter's growing collection.
FICTION IN PUBLIC LIBRARIES.*
BY EDWIN H. WOODRUFF, Librarian of Leland Stanford, Jr., University.
THIS topic, as a matter for discussion by | and economists are waging over individualism librarians, is undoubtedly somewhat frayed; and socialism. and probably the final word will never be uttered upon the subject. But as it is said that charity is extremely beneficial to the giver, even though it may not add greatly to the welfare of the recipient, so perhaps we may be permitted to talk over this old question merely for the purpose of clarifying by expression our own more or less unsettled views, though the process may not add to our neighbors' information or change their opinions.
Moreover, the subject is large enough to offer ample room for consideration. Fiction deals largely with human emotions and their operations, and on this side we skirt the rugged domain of ethics. Its instrument is literary form, and here we are brought alongside the pleasant field of æsthetics. And to ask whether the city or state should supply fiction for the amusement of the people is to be launched into the irrepressible conflict that political scientists * Read before the Library Association of Central California, San Francisco, May 10, 1895.
At the 1894 meeting of the American Library Association the question of fiction in public libraries was again brought up, the addresses having been elicited by this question: "Is the free public library justified in supplying its readers ... books of entertainment only, such, for example, as the ruck of common novels?" It is not, 66 for example," the ruck of common histories, such as Froude's seemed in the eye of Freeman, or the ruck of popular scientific works-"Oh, my! science," as it is called by the impassive and relentless Simon Pure scientific investigator. But it is the "ruck of common novels." It turns out that "ruck," according to the dictionary, is a harmless word and means only the common run. But whatever the dictionary says one feels the contemptuous implication. So, too, in following back, through the volumes of the LIBRARY JOURNAL, the abstracts of the annual reports of public libraries, one remarks the tone of despair with which one public librarian refers to the in
crease of two per cent. in the circulation of fiction in his library, and the corresponding outburst of joy by another librarian at the reduction of three per cent. in the circulation of fiction in his library. At the Chicago conference of librarians in 1893 a summary was given of answers to requests for opinions by librarians upon the circulation of fiction. And it was to this effect: "The American Library Association, voiced by 60 of the 75 librarians to whom letters were sent, gives forth no uncertain sound as to the necessity and duty of restricting the provision for fiction (novels, strictly so speaking) to the smallest possible quantity of the best quality."
Does this not indicate that we are always placing fiction on the defensive? It is true that such prejudices may have arisen from the librarian's honest care for the soul of the reader and may be based upon actual observation of the evil effects of fiction-reading. But it may well be asked if much of the prejudice is not an inherited relic from our Puritanic great-grandparents, to whom story-books were silly and wicked and who found the imaginative side of their natures fully terrified and satisfied with a blazing description of "the other place" which, in a two-hour sermon, some local Jonathan Edwards could pave with the incandescent skulls of unbaptized infants.
If this is an evil to be suppressed, what is its extent ?— what is the strength of the enemy? The Chicago summary just referred to shows that in response to the question, “What is the per cent. of issue of fiction in your library?" over 50 replies were received and that the average yearly issue of fiction was 56 per cent. The lowest was eight per cent., the highest 80. The fact that one library shows only eight per cent. issue probably indicates that at least one library was included that did not pretend to supply fiction. It is not unlikely that 56 per cent. was somewhat of an underestimate; for in going through the abstracts of the annual reports for 1891-2, as given in the Library journal, and taking the public and subscription libraries as they come, it will be found that the average issue of fiction for 54 libraries was 68 per cent. This list included libraries of all sizes and in various parts of the country, from the great Boston Public Library, which issued 73 per cent., to the small library at Santa Rosa, California, which issued 63 per cent. The highest was the Carnegie Library, Allegheny City, with 90 per cent., and the lowest the Cleveland Library,
with 42 per cent. Among those issuing the larger per cent. were Chelsea, Mass., 85 per cent., Jersey City, 86; and the lower per cent., Lawrence, Mass., 43, and Cambridge, Mass., 45.
It is not an unreasonable approximation to say that the average annual per cent. issue of fiction in the public libraries in this country is 68 per cent. But this is not so appalling as it seems. It practically means that of every three volumes issued (not to the same person, of course) two are fiction and one is not fiction. It is to be noted that the library is not therefore filling 68 per cent. of the reading time of its constituents with fiction, for, say that at a liberal estimate it takes one-third as long to read a novel as to read a scientific or historical book in order to get the ascribed benefit of the instructive book, then 68 should be divided by 3 and the result compared with 32 in order to determine whether the public library is devoting itself chiefly to the improvement or entertainment of its readers.
But let us grant that the public library fills with imaginative literature, of a more or less high order, 68 per cent. of the time that its constituents give to books. Is this, on the whole, such an undue proportion as to be injurious? Here, to be fair, one must ask whether the total amount of time given to the reading of imaginative literature supplied by the public libraries is extravagant when one considers it with reference to the total amount of time given by the same persons, under the stress of modern life, to work always present or impending.
A tentative classification of those to whom the library supplies fiction, and an inquiry into the purpose for which they read it, may determine whether 68 per cent. issue of fiction is an evil of the magnitude it seems, and whether this demand is not in response to a legitimate need.
First, then, as to the professional man -lawyer, scholar, or doctor who works chiefly with his trained intellect. These readers may be dismissed briefly, as they probably do not rely upon public libraries for their fiction. But, nevertheless, instances of novel-hunger among such men shows how imperatively those who are under the pressure of brain-work demand to be taken out of themselves. You will recall those passages in "Darwin's life and letters" in which we find him resting every day in the forenoon between 9:30 and 10:30 with a novel being read to him, and again in the afternoon resting and listening to a novel or other
book not scientific, and again, after an hour's work, returning to the novel once more. His son says: "He was extremely fond of novels, and I remember the pleasure with which he would anticipate having a novel read to him. He took a vivid interest in both plot and charac- | ter, and would on no account know beforehand how the story finished." Darwin himself says: "Novels which are works of the imagination, although not of a very high order, have been for years a wonderful relief and pleasure to me, and I often bless all novelists. A surprising number have been read to me, and I like all, if moderately good and if they do not end unhappily — against which a law ought to be passed. A novel, according to my taste, does not come under the best class unless it contains some person whom one can truly love, and if a pretty woman, all the better." These instances are not amiss, for if such men, with the larger lives they live, find a happy relief in fiction, how much more do those who work with their hands need some of the life and movement of the novel. But the men of intellect who read novels do not ask the solicitude of the public librarian. Indeed, any attempt to correct their novel habit would be an impertinence.
fiction-readers for whom the librarian feels a wise concern the children. Here, no doubt, there is real responsibility; somebody, whether it be parent or librarian or teacher, or all three, should guide the reading of children. But above all do not let us feel that we should guide the child away from stories, but through them, and as we go through them let us not hurry, but saunter. How many librarians think that they are ordained to snare a live boy with Oliver Optic, put him into anesthetic dreams by a book of travel, kill him with a large dose of history, and then stuff the remains with popular science. This is to think that the boy has but one side to his nature his insulated intellect. A board having but one side is a pretty thin board. The true line of progression on this side of his nature is from Oliver Optic to Thackeray and George Eliot, not from Oliver Optic to Kant's "Critique of pure reason." He should be able to feel as well as to know. Matthew Arnold tells of an English youth who, when called upon to paraphrase this line in " Macbeth," "Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased?" turned it into "Can you not wait upon the lunatic?" and adds: "If I were driven to choose, I think I would rather have a young person ignorant about the moon's diameter but aware that Can you not wait upon the lunatic?' is bad, than a young person whose education has been such as to manage things the other way." It is proper for the librarian to direct the reading of the young so far as he can. But while he is doing so he ought not to be rigid with the con
To turn now to a second class of fictionreaders, namely those persons of too considerable leisure who read novels to kill time, and are not under the necessity of doing useful things for themselves, or even of knowing about the useful things that others are doing for them. Of this class Lydia Languish is the type. How many librarians join with Sir An-viction that the ultimate aim of the child's readthony Absolute in his exclamation, when they think of the Lydias who devour "Reward of constancy" or the "Mistakes of a heart": "A circulating library in a town is an evergreentree of diabolical knowledge which blossoms through the year; and depend upon it, Mrs. Malaprop, that they who are so fond of handling the leaves will long for the fruit at last." But let us not worry for the fate of these readers. The Lydia of to-day is not languishing; she is knowing, and takes her story with a grain of salt, and the class is getting smaller for causes which the librarian does not control. The many opportunities now open to women, in which they may find pleasant employment for their faculties, rids them of the necessity they formerly felt of living their lives through novels, because they could not live them in the working world.
ing should be Herbert Spencer, and that any tendency Thackerayward should be checked. It would seem that with the inordinate amount and variety of knowledge that is crammed into school-children at present it is not impossible that the time may come when the librarian will find it incumbent upon him to turn about and shunt off the child from Herbert Spencer and toward Thackeray. At any rate, it is a fair question to ask if the reading" of imaginative literature by children is really excessive when we consider the unresting efforts that are given to their instruction about the unvarnished prose facts of human existence.
There is one other class of fiction-readers left to consider. These are the wage-earners. Some 25 years ago a philanthropist in New York State founded a great university in which
There is a third and very important group of students were to acquire a university educa
tion and at the same time do profitable manual labor. The institution is a great university still, but the original idea was abandoned early. It was found that the student's energy has a limit, and that if all is given to manual work nothing is left for mental work. The librarian of the Carnegie Library, Allegheny City, says in his report for 1892, "It may safely be stated that the majority of readers are from the great middle or working class." And it is in that city we find the largest per cent. issue of fiction, Here is the testimony from another manufacturing town. The librarian of the Bronson Library, Waterbury, Ct. (LIBRARY JOURNAL, 17: 48), after long attention, says he is convinced that the large per cent. of fiction means that we are an overworked people. The kind of labor performed by three-quarters of the operators demands unremitting attention, and probably no other means so innocent can be found to take the place of fiction. Miss James, the librarian of the People's Palace, London, says: "Fiction is most popular; I do not deplore the fact. Most of it is standard literature, and we East Enders have so little imagination that no harm is done in stimulating this faculty."
The hard grind of daily toil tends to limit the emotions and make them automatic. The feelings, except those that are primitive, tend to stagnate. They need to be stirred, rectified, and how can this be done more innocently than by imaginative literature, even though crude and inartistic, if it is honest and clean. It seems to me that in a community of working people even 90 per cent. issue of fiction is none too great if 10 hours a day are given to the struggle for reasonable existence. There are some ambitious artisans who want to read something other than fiction, and to these the library should afford every opportunity. But the fact remains that the vast majority of wage-earners most likely need, and should therefore have, such clean fiction as they may ask for, even though it makes the per cent. issue of fiction run up to 90. As a result of this view of the needs of readers is, then, the 68 per cent. issue of fiction, shown by the statistics from public libraries of the United States, really excessive?
But if it is an evil, what are the remedies? Novels may be roughly classified as follows:
First, classics, among the older of which we may name Fielding, Smollett, and Richardson; and among the modern, George Eliot, Thackeray, and Dickens.
grees of commonness from Hardy, Black, and Howells to Roe, Holmes, and Southworth. Third, the vicious and immoral, such, for example, as those of the so-called decadents. Novels of the first class are not likely to be harmful. They belong to the history of literature and their style is not in accord with modern tastes. The second-named class is not harmful, unless, like every other thing harmless in itself, it is used to excess. Whether, considering the conditions of modern life, it is likely to be used to excess I have tried to show. And just here, in connection with this class, it may not be superfluous to say one word in favor of much of what is called sensational fiction. It may be thought that by squeezing out sensational fiction, the quality of a library is being absolutely improved; but it is just this sensational fiction that bridges the gap between the Police Gazette, which libraries, of course, cannot keep on hand, and something better. And there is no other way for the helplessly and not hopelessly depraved to get across the gap than by using sensational fiction. Such fiction may be violating good taste and to the intellectual reader may seem puerile. But if it is not immoral it would seem to have a legitimate place in the public library.
The third class of fiction ought to be excluded from the public library; if the professional man or person of leisure wants it he should buy it himself; it should be kept from the young, and the working people do not want it. These want, like Darwin, a novel that ends happily, and in which at least there is one character the reader may love.
In conclusion and for the benefit of those who think that 68 per cent. issue of fiction is excessive, let me enumerate some remedies that have been successful. First, the formation of literary reading clubs. These may change to a considerable extent the character of the reading of the leisure class. Second, the establishment of vital relations between public school and public library. This may effect a change in the character of books read by the young. Third, the placing of new books where the public may see them. This may entice the attention of readers of any class away from fiction. Fourth, the personal influence of the librarian and his assistants in turning the people from fiction to some other kind of literature. But the librarian should be quite sure that the reader whom he is enticing away from fiction ought to be enticed from
Second, the common run, varying in the de- fiction.
A BIBLIOGRAPHICAL CONFERENCE AT that the tables of the decimal classification be
THE Office International de Bibliographie, which was successfully launched under the patronage of the Belgian Government last year, held a conference at the Hôtel Ravenstein, Brussels, September 2-4. The conference was determined upon too late in the season to secure the international character to which its interest and its importance entitled it, although the number of communications received by the committee showed that the plan had aroused general interest among bibliographers.
At the opening session between 40 and 50 members were present when M. le Chevalier Lescamps-David, the president, welcomed the delegates. Among them were M. Fétis, the venerable chief librarian of the Bibliothèque Royale. Brussels; A. J. Wauters, Stainier, Limousin; J. Carl, and Paul Bergmans. The primary object of the congress was explained by one of its principal organizers, M. Henri Lafontaine, who described it as an attempt to arrive at a general system of cataloging at once simple and scientific. The system proposed is known as the classification décimale and is founded on the Dewey D. C., which has been modified in various details by MM. H. Lafontaine and P. Otlet, the directors of the Office International de Bibliographie. As a practical illustration of their system, MM. Lafontaine and Otlet exhibited a "Bibliographia Sociologica," in which over 4000 books are classified and cataloged. At the congress the system was the subject of much and severe criticism, but the first session concluded, after much discursive argument, with the resolution that the conference considered the decimal system highly satisfactory from a practical point of view, and in view of the general application of the Dewey system, recommended its integral adoption by bibliographers throughout the world.
The second day's session was largely controversial, and covered many questions which were discussed with animation. The leading subject was the advisability of instituting, or rather of creating international bibliographical unions, and a resolution was passed to press the project on the Belgian Government. The constitution of the Office International de Bibliographie was discussed at length and with divergence of opinion. In the end it was unanimously agreed that the Office should be, above all, an exclusively scientific association.
Its functions are to include the classification and description of the products of human thought -to determine the unités bibliographiques, so as to facilitate and perfect the uniform and scientific character of international classification. The Institut is to hold an annual session, at which the progress of the previous 12 months will be reviewed, and it will select its members from among persons, institutions, and associations practically engaged in bibliographical or immediately kindred work.
The third session was a short one. On the proposition of M. Otlet, it was decided
translated into German and Italian. Before the congress adjourned M. Deschamps briefly reviewed the chief points which had been ventilated during the session. Following this came an informal inspection of the working rooms of MM. Lafontaine and Otlet and of their 30 collaborators. When it is stated that within a very short period they have practically prepared for the press nearly half a million titles of books and pamphlets, some faint idea of the magnitude of their undertaking may be obtained. It is, as the London Athenæum correctly judges, "by far too large for private enterprise, or even for a society; and, indeed, it cannot hope for success without the practical adhesion of the various governments. Given this, its advantages would be manifold to every country in the world."
PUBLIC LIBRARIES IN MARYLAND.
AT the 29th convention of the Maryland State Teachers' Association, held at the Blue Mountain House, July 9-12, 1895, Dr. Bernard C. Steiner librarian of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, presented an interesting paper on
Public schools and public libraries," in which he urged the establishment of public libraries throughout the state and that such a general law be passed by the state as would lend official sanction to such libraries. He said, in part : "The state of Maryland is the original home of the American public library. Two centuries ago, in 1695, the Rev. Thomas Bray, D.D., was appointed commissary of the Anglican Church in Maryland. The Church of England had been recently established in the province, and needed some one, as it was thought, to superintend it. For that position Dr. Bray was selected, and he began at once to procure clergymen to cross the ocean and take charge of the 30 parishes into which the province had been divided. One of the arguments made against leaving England was that those who went to America would have no literature, and would not be able to inform themselves sufficiently in theology and other learning to make them fit to preach the gospel. To do away with this objection, he determined to found a library in each parish, and an especially large one in the capital town. These libraries varied in size from 10 to 314 books. Greater than all these was the finest library of the day in America, the one of 1095 volumes sent to Annapolis as the provincial library. This library was intended to be used not only by the clergy, but also by the gentry of the colony, and books from it circulated throughout the neighboring portions of the province. Occasionally we still come upon books belonging to these old libraries, and several hundred volumes of the old provincial library are still preserved in the library of St. John's College.
"Maryland thus began well. In 1704 she passed the first library law in America, establishing a library commission and a library system, but the matter practically ended there. Over a