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THE Boston Public Library and all who have | do during his service are the best evidence of to do with it are to be congratulated on the selec- the real usefulness of what is ordinarily known tion for the post of librarian of Mr. Herbert Put-as civil service reform. It is gratifying to note nam, who is one of the best examples among the that Mr. Ames has in hand a new and enlarged younger men of the library calling as a profes- edition of his "Check-list of Congressional and sion. Mr. Putnam has hereditary fitness for the other documents," and of his "Finding-list," and calling of a librarian, since his father, George also a new index giving a list of the principal Palmer Putnam, was not only one of the most speeches on important subjects of Congressmen literary among the American publishers of a from the 43d to the 52d Congress, as found in the generation ago who helped to found an Am- Congressional Record, with a reference to votes, erican literature, but was also imbued most It is to be hoped that Mr. Ames, as superintendent thoroughly with the altruistic spirit which is to- of documents in the Government Printing Office day a leading motive in the true librarian. In the under the new public documents law, may have Minneapolis Public Library Mr. Putnam made opportunity to carry forward the work he has so his mark as a working librarian, and since his successfully prosecuted for these many years. retirement from that library he has had experience in another profession as a graduate of the Columbia Law School, which will be undoubtedly of benefit to him in broadening his views as he returns to the library field. The opportunity before him is magnificent, and there is every reason to believe that he will be worthy of the opportunity. We trust to see the Boston Public Library under his directorate and inspiration returning to its old prominence among American libraries. The new building is now open to the public and will, for the time, be the Mecca of American librarians. As the Library Conference of 1895 is to be held in the West, it may not be amiss to suggest that Boston, with a mountain or seaside annex, may, under the new circumstances, be a proper place of meeting for 1896.
IN his last report, dated December 6, 1894, but evidently postscripted later, Mr. John G. Ames makes his valedictory as superintendent | of documents in the Interior department. The summary which he gives of his work in this field for the past 20 years is of interest, and every librarian has reason to confirm his statement that from the beginning he has regarded a public office as a public trust -long before that phrase became a popular catchword and has sought to make his office in the largest measure helpful to officers of the Government, to Congress, to libraries, and to every interest with which the office had any established relations. In fact, the results of Mr. Ames' permanence in office and the good work he has been enabled to
WITH the change in the administration of public documents one subject again thrusts itself upon attention - the storage of the enormous mass of papers now rotting in the vaults of the capitol building. The subject has literally thrust itself upon the attention of members of Congress through their noses and through effect on their health, for it has been reported within the past month that the rotting of these documents and of the floors beneath them is becoming a serious menace to the healthfulness of the building in its inhabited parts. The Government Printing Office is a shambling and dangerous building, already strained too close to its factor of safety, and provision for a better building has been prevented from year to year by unseemly realestate wrangles which have had their effect in Congress. There is one suggestion of remedy which we think should be heard -the possibility of utilizing, and at once, a part of the new Congressional Library for this purpose of sorting out, reorganizing, disposing of rubbish and storing the remainder of public documents for use. There will be ample room in the new edifice for this purpose, and within a few years the existing mass of documents and records will have been sorted and sifted out and a great proportion of it disposed of as useless. We commend this suggestion to the authorities for their consideration, although it may be distasteful to Librarian Spofford and Engineer Green to consider so base a use as they might think it for even the basement of their fine new building.
THE giving of libraries has become an ordinary thing nowadays, and hardly a week passes in which some city or town does not become the happy possessor of a pretty and suitable library building, the gift of some wealthy friend or fellow-townsman. It is rare when such gifts are not appreciated; rarer still is it for the giver to withdraw the gift "for cause." Yet this has been the unfortunate result of the gift of a memorial library to Ansonia, Ct. The library was erected, equipped, and presented to the town by Miss Caroline Phelps Stokes in 1892, as a memorial to her grandfather, Anson G. Phelps, the founder of Ansonia. It is a handsome building, well equipped, and stocked with several thousand books, representing a total cost of some $60,000 - certainly a most welcome addition to any town. Yet after two years of bickering and wrangling on the part of the local authorities, the incensed and disappointed giver has withdrawn the gift, and the library is closed, it is said permanently. There seems little question that the onus of responsibility for this regrettable event rests with the town officials. They appear to have regarded the library as a new factor in local politics, to be "worked for all it was worth." It was taxed to the limit, and the taxes were energetically and promptly collected; but the proverbial last straw came when the authorities appointed one of their political protégés as librarian, fixed his salary to suit themselves and applied to Miss Stokes for its payment. The lack of public spirit and appreciation displayed throughout seems to have been deplorable. The authorities, on their side, plead burdensome restrictions, irritating regulations, and an undue expense for maintenance. Ansonia might be a good place for some of the energetic missionaries of the A. L. A. to start a library revival, in the hope of awakening recognition and appreciation of the use, benefit, and educational influence of a good library. When such a revival is effected, the next step would be the reopening of the library | and the consignment of past mistakes to a kindly oblivion.
one of the "soft snaps" appertaining to the faithful henchmen of "the party." The library itself is rather a sorry affair. It contained the nucleus of a good collection, but many of the books have been carried off from time to time, and the room has generally served as a loungingplace for city hall politicians. In 1893 an incumbent who, it is said, could neither read nor write, was succeeded by a journalist who was energetic, intelligent, and appreciative of what the library should be. Mr. Curtis set himself the task of reorganizing, arranging, and improving, and he put the library in better shape, with promise of future improvement. It was thought that he would be continued in office and that the library might in time become a credit to the city. But the new Board of Aldermen thought otherwise. The $1000 "berth" was bestowed upon a tailor who possessed a potent "pull," and the library, it may be assumed, is relegated to its former condition of dust and desuetude. It is really unnecessary to comment upon this episode; but as an object-lesson in the workings of "practical politics" it is not to be despised. We can only give thanks that public sentiment is really awakening in such matters, and trust that in time the clutches of the boss will be loosed from all state and municipal libraries, as well as from the other public offices that have so long been his prey.
THE reform wave that recently swept over the city of New York has not, it seems, included the city library within its cleansing flood. Few New Yorkers know that the city possesses a library, save when an incoming administration brings the usual rush of would-be office-holders; but for years the library has had a torpid existence in one of the rooms of the city hall. For years, too, the post of librarian has been
DO LIBRARies aid in ART EDUCATION? ARE there any libraries that have made a systematic attempt to educate the public in an appreciation of art, as shown in the illustrated press generally? I understand that a few libraries have cut artistic illustrations from magazines, etc., afterwards mounting and classifying
them. I would like to know of libraries that do
this, and if there are any that go further by calling attention to the artistic features of each print. CHAS. M. CARTER, President Art Department, N. E. A.
Starting from these premises, it must be conceded that libraries, in order to prosper, indeed in order to justify their existence, must fulfil the purpose for which they are maintained, and can only do so by adapting themselves to local needs.
ADAPTATION OF LIBRARIES TO LOCAL NEEDS.*
BY A. L. PECK, Librarian Gloversville (N. Y.) Public Library.
ADAPTATION to environment is undoubtedly | the librarian ever so faithful, but if the town is one of nature's great laws which is found veri- swamped by police news, penny dreadfuls, and fied in all conditions of life, in all spheres of all the so-called "black literature," the good human activity and enterprise. The fittest only work of the library will not only be hindered, survives by strict obedience to this law of adap- but constantly counteracted. For this reason I tation and the great struggle for existence be- would suggest to every librarian: make yourcomes comparatively easy by quick and careful self acquainted with your local dealer or dealers, adaptation to circumstances, to individual, to and by befriending them, make them understand local needs. that it will be to their interest to co-operate with the library in its effort to supply nothing but the best and purest literature.
If, actuated by what may be called "inborn depravity," your local dealer should not be willing to co-operate with the library, then insist that he complies with the statutory enactment, Chapter 380, of the laws of New York of 1884, for this will tend to restrict the evil.
Educational agencies: There is no part of library work more productive of usefulness and general appreciation than that done by the library as an educational institution.
I am even inclined to go a step further and maintain that wherever there is a struggling, languishing library it has become so by not complying with this principle of adaptation to local needs, neither have I any doubt but that by careful and painstaking efforts many of these institutions might be resuscitated and become not only useful but actually necessary, yea, indispensable, to their respective localities.
I am fully aware that there is no "royal road" to this "adaptation to local needs," and that each institution must work out its own salvation with fear and trembling." I do also believe, however, that there are a few general principles upon which all efforts to make a library useful and adapted to its own community can be based. These I shall attempt to indicate, and also submit for your kind consideration a concise report of the work in this direction as done by a few of the libraries of the state of New York.
The co-operation of library and school has been so ably discussed, and so much valuable material is available in the volumes of the LIBRARY JOURNAL, that I simply mention this valuable means of adaptation to local needs.
However, I would like to call attention to the fact, that in order to co-operate with the schools, the library must directly aid and supplement the teachers' work. To do this it will be necessary for the librarian to make himself thoroughly acquainted with the curriculum of the school, from the kindergarten to the high school.
The superintendent or principal will always be ready to supply the library with a copy of the course of study. As soon as the teachers understand that the librarian is willing and able to aid them in their work, they will not hesitate to make their wants known, and gladly furnish full information regarding their school programs.
In small localities, it is very important that The librarian must know the requirements the librarian and the directors of libraries should and needs of each grade. In places where the make an effort to interest themselves in the schools are subject to the visitation of the Republications offered for sale by the local dealers.gents of the University, it will be found of great The library may be ever so carefully selected, advantage for the librarian to make himself fully conversant with the syllabus and circular of special topics published by the authorities. Bring together all the material the library con
Moral agencies: All of us agree that the library must be founded on strictly moral principles, not only excluding from its shelves every book of dubious character, but also by a painstaking and scrupulous selection of books that are pure and elevating.
* Read at joint meeting of N. Y. Library Association and N. Y. Library Club, Jan. 10-12, 1895.
As often as programs for these classes are made up it is of great importance that the librarian examine his collection and make up deficiencies as fast as possible, so as to enable the library to furnish the books needed.
Whenever the local collection of books is not sufficient the librarian should not hesitate to ob
tains for this work, and send word to the school that the books for this special work are ready for the use of teachers and students. The next step is comparatively easy: at every purchase of books the library adds some-a few-helpful for this work, and as the library grows, its efficiency in this direction will grow and improve.
Occasional visits to the schools, attendance attain aid from the state library. teachers' meetings, talks before teachers' associations and teachers' institutes will make the librarian familiar with the needs of teachers and pupils and enable him to make the library better adapted to the local needs.
Whether it is the function of the public library to furnish a sufficient number of copies for supplementary reading in class rooms must be decided by the local authorities. In my opinion it would be better for the school-board to provide all such books as are strictly supplementary readers, and to conform with the Common school library act, Chapter 573, laws of New York, 1892, Chapter 556, Section 13, 1894.
I find it advisable, not only to co-operate with the secular schools, but also with the Sundayschools. In fact, my own experience has taught me that in small places it is advantageous that there should be but one library. The secular reading generally supplied by the Sundayschools should be furnished by the public library, where a greater collection of carefully selected books is available. There also should be in every library a biblical and ethical department. The books in this department must by no means denominational or sectarian in character. A good Bible commentary, a Bible dictionary, a concordance, a history of every creed, denomination or sect represented in the respective locality, books of travel and exploration in Bible lands, should be owned by every well-established library.
Secure the co-operation of every teacher and clergyman in your locality and enlist their influence in behalf of your library. The teacher will aid in guiding the children to proper and helpful reading matter, and through the children you will plant a library rootlet in every home. The clergy can aid you in moulding public opinion in favor of your library.
Make your library the central point of attraction to every literary society, study class, debating club and University Extension class. Should there be a place without these valuable agencies for self-improvement, then organize classes of this kind in the library.
The citizens of the Empire state have reason to take a just pride in their state library, which has really become the great public library of the state. It is able and ready to aid every one and to meet all just demands.
If more than one copy of any one book or a number of works on any stated subject are wanted, the respective library, literary club, or circle should register with the Regents of the University and secure one or more travelling libraries.
This will serve a double purpose: the library will be able to supply a temporary need and also make its patrons acquainted with the fact that the state has recognized libraries as educational institutions and is ready to aid those libraries that will make an effort for themselves and be useful to their communities.
Local industries and enterprises. It is proper that every library should collect books and pamphlets that bear relation to local industries and pursuits. In farming regions, publications relating to agriculture should be provided; in manufacturing towns, especial attention will behave to be given to literature relating to each particular branch of industry.
Prompt notice in the local newspapers should be given as soon as new publications of this kind are received. I find that public documents, like the reports of the United States consuls, contain considerable valuable information of interest to manufacturers.
The reports of the Bureau of Statistics and Labor, the Board of Mediation and Arbitration of the State of New York, as well as the reports of the United States Commissioner of Labor, will be found of great value in making the library useful to employer as well as to employe.
The librarian should be wide-awake to the needs of the workshop in exactly the same way as he endeavors to aid the school. Every library should contain books on the relation of capital and labor, employer and employe, profit-sharing, strikes, shop-councils and arbitration.
It is of vital importance to every community that its working population should be interested
in the proper use of its library. Attention should also be given, to interest the workingmen in the classes for mutual improvement, especially in classes in United States history, civics and political economy. Many a boy or girl, man or woman, will be found anxious to avail him or herself of every occasion for making up deficiencies of early school training, and grasp eagerly every opportunity for intellectual development and improvement.
Not only the established local industries should find the books that bear, relation to them, but every new enterprise also, should be carefully watched and information regarding it promptly supplied. If electric railroads are proposed to be constructed, or electric lighting introduced, the people will be interested in books on these topics. If road improvements or new pavements are contemplated, procure promptly books on these subjects. The library should always be ready to anticipate the wants of the day, and promptly meet the demands of the
Material for local history: Another means of adapting the library to local needs, consists in the collection and preservation of material that will prove of great value to the future historian of the locality. Every library, no matter how small, should therefore preserve files of its local newspapers. Annual reports of local institutions, educational or charitable, the reports of the city or village officials, as well as directories and occasional sermons, lectures or addresses, should be procured and kept intact.
Books and pamphlets relating to the respective locality, as well as photographs and views, deserve the attention of the library, and a collection of all publications written by citizens of the place, whether present inhabitants or not, should be secured by and incorporated in the library.
work done by the library in collecting and preserving it, will be duly appreciated by the patrons of the library and the citizens in general. Readers' wants: Each library must naturally adapt itself to the wants of its readers. While it is impossible to meet all demands, and “he who tries to please everybody will please nobody," an honest effort must be made to meet all just demands as far as the means of the library will permit and the general interest will require. The library ought to lead the taste of its patrons and not follow it, and the wishes of the public should be considered from this principle.
New and popular books should be furnished promptly and in sufficient number.
Books in foreign languages should be supplied wherever required; they will bring those to the library who do not understand English, and give to students of these languages additional facilities for self-improvement.
The publication of special lists of available books on timely topics, or reading lists for literary clubs, lists that will aid the work of teachers and pupils, will make a library not only popular but also adapted to local needs; and a liberal use of printer's ink will make the citizens acquainted with the fact that the library is wide-awake to the interests of the locality and meets the requirement of the day. The library that proves to be the people's bureau of information will quickly be recognized as an educational force in the community and will frequently befriend those who otherwise might stay away from the library or oppose it.
Children's reading: It is of vital importance to every community that its library should give most careful attention to the reading of the young. I refrain, however, from discussing this subject, and simply refer to Miss Stearns' excellent paper on "Reading for the young," read before the Lake Placid conference of the American Library Association and also to the series of annual reports on children's reading contained in the volumes of the LIBRARY JOURNAL. Every librarian should consider himself moralresponsible for every book delivered to any patron, much more so if the patron be a child, and for this reason he will take the utmost pains to aid and guide the children in the selection of their reading-matter.
In collecting ephemeral prints like handbills, programs and the like, good judgment will have to be exercised, or a great quantity of chaff will soon accumulate, the proper care of which will soon prove burdensome and expensive.
An occasional appeal to the citizens throughly a circular or the local press will often be rewarded by the acquisition of valuable material consisting of books or documents bearing upon the early history of the place.
There can be no doubt that the day will come when all the accumulated historical material will be found of great value and very useful, and the | library in this adaptation to local needs and cir
Personal influence: In small places the librarian's direct personal influence may aid the