Слике страница
PDF
ePub

allotted his certain proportion of the lands owned in common. There are at this day a sporadic few who advocate government ownership of railroads, and some would even include all the great instrumentalities of commerce and production. But the rational majority hold that the state of society is best which makes the individual a free and independent member of the community. His ambitions and energies are best stimulated by his opportunities to prosper for himself. Civilization and enlightenment are advanced by the efforts of the master spirits of the race. The only demand which the individual can justly make of the community, with its government as the common agent of all, is that it shall not merely protect him in his rights as a free and independent citizen, but that it shall assure him the opportunities for the fullest exercise of his talents, and shall also, as a measure of common interest, provide the facilities for his very highest mental equipment. In this latter service of the state there is nothing whatever of the communistic idea.

The public library is not a public charity. There may be some who regard it as in the nature of a free soup-house which caters to the appetite for mental pabulum more or less wholesome. Most communities make some provision for those who are mentally or physically unfitted to care for themselves and who have no estate nor natural relations upon whom they can rely for support. So the state builds and maintains hospitals and almshouses. This it does simply as a duty of humanity. The instincts of the race and the teachings of an enlightened civilization assure us that a universal brotherhood makes all human creatures kin. As individuals we owe a certain duty to all other individuals, and as organized society we must see to it that the welfare of all is conserved. But there is no duty of kindness or good-will which requires the furnishing of reading matter for the use of the whole community.

The public library is not provided for the mere intellectual enjoyment of the citizens. The municipal corporation uses public funds to buy and beautify parks and boulevards. The purpose of these is to promote the public health and comfort, and incidentally to cultivate the æsthetic sense. The state has a direct interest in the health of its citizens. It must rely on their

physical strength for defense in time of peril or invasion. Therefore it must have a care that their physical welfare is promoted. Wholesome food, gentle exercise, a cheerful and contented mind, have much to do with soundess of body, and so food-inspection and open-air recreation are justified at the common expense.

Art-museums and public concerts are sometimes maintained out of the general treasury. The only basis on which this expense can be justified is that their purpose is educational. The welfare of the state depends not alone on the ability of its citizens to merely read and write and solve problems in simple arithmetic. Our nature is many-sided and its full and perfect development must be sought in many directions. The aesthetic is not less real than the practical. The finer qualities of the mind have weighty influence upon national progress and destiny. The state has a right to do for its citizens the things which will best serve its ultimate interests.

Universities and higher institutions of learning maintained at public cost now train those who have the means and opportunities to take advantage of their curricula for the most advanced degrees, and through their postgraduate courses offer facilities for spending the good part of a lifetime in the immediate pursuit of knowledge. But in the nature of things the number of those who can give time to these higher courses is limited. The argument has sometimes been employed against high schools and universities that they are maintained at great cost for the use of a comparatively trifling portion of the community. Statistics are quoted to show that of the whole number of children in the primary grades less than 25 per cent. go through the grammar grades, and that of the small number who enter the high school grades hardly one in ten finishes them, while of these but an infinitesimal number go on to and through the university.

It is not due to lack of capacity wholly, or lack of interest, that so many students fall by the wayside, but mainly to the fact that their services are necessary in the productive channels of business. Yet, in spite of the comparatively few who are able to take advantage of them, the state considers it a duty to foster, and the community cheerfully bears the burden

of maintaining, the higher institutions of learning, because the benefits which they confer are easily recognized. To compensate in some degree those who are not able to pursue in organized institutions studies untimely stopped by the necessities of active life, the community provides the free library. This is the people's university, close to the door of every citizen, in which all who have the inclination and energy to do so may pursue through their whole lives the studies which most interest them.

The function of the public library is purely and wholly educational. In this case the term is to be construed in its most comprehensive sense. It does not merely include development of the intellect; it involves all the varied human relations. We owe duties to our maker, to ourselves, to those who are dependent upon us, to our neighbors, to society, and to the state. In all these delicate and intricate relations we must be taught, and as the world advances, our civilization becomes more complex and our relations more involved, the character and quality of our education becomes the more important. The school and the college have merely laid the foundation. If they have done their full duty they have done little more than set the student on the high road. The sequel rests with himself. The public library puts into his hands books, which contain the combined wisdom and experience of all who have gone before, and wherein are preserved the best thoughts of the best men and women of all time. They who pass judgment upon what shall and what shall not be admitted to the shelves of a public library must bear in mind that, strictly construing the function of the library to be educational, there is yet very wide latitude in respect to the things which people may safely and wisely learn.

In this aspect of the case, those who are charged with the management and control of libraries have imposed upon them a very grave responsibility. They are not merely the custodians of the books which the public purse has bought; they are commissioned to guide in the path of highest progress. In this light, the function of the librarian assumes the halo of a holy office. He who discharges it earnestly and faithfully may do much to help forward the enlightenment of his generation.

The sum of the whole statement, briefly, is this: There is no limit to the concern of the free state in the education of its citizens. It is as much bound to provide libraries in which the adult may continue his studies as it is to maintain schools in which as a child he may begin them. The day is not distant when this duty will be universally recognized in this country. In most of the states compulsory education laws prevail. In at least one, every town is required by law to establish and maintain a free public library. In this respect, New Hampshire is only leading the way in which others will shortly follow.

Then organized society can truthfully say to the individual, in the language of Professor Hoffman in his “Sphere of the State :" "We have done what we could to develop and strengthen all your powers. We have taught you to the best of our ability to know yourself and to understand your relations to your fellows. Now, so long as you conduct yourself as a child of the day and not of the night, all the rights and privileges of the brotherhood are yours. But if you choose to walk in the darkness rather than in the light, if you trample under feet our laws, if you raise your hand against every man, let the curse of your wrong doing fall upon your own head, not on ours."

LIBRARIES IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS.

BY KATHARine L. sharP, LIBRARIAN AND DIRECTOR OF LIBRARY SCIENCE, ARMOUR INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, CHICAGO.

T is not the purpose of this paper to treat of reading for the young, nor of the relation of public libraries to the public schools, nor will it consider that class of school libraries which are really public city libraries, controlled by the board of education, as illustrated by the Public Library of Denver. These will only be touched as they bear upon the subject in hand.

In August, 1890, the Library Journal contained an urgent appeal for the consideration of "School Libraries, particularly of the higher, the secondary schools." It has remained for the present program to accept the suggestion, and the sources of information are few. The term "secondary schools" is here used to include high schools, academies, and such other institutions as give instruction between the graded schools and the colleges.

In 1876, the United States Bureau of Education devoted twenty pages to "School libraries," but dismissed the separate subject of "Libraries of schools for secondary instruction" with less than one page. The Library Journal has no one article devoted to school libraries, although it contains several accounts of district libraries in articles on library legislation and library history, and it does not specifically treat of libraries in secondary schools.

To clearly understand the question and to realize how little the secondary schools have been considered, it is necessary to briefly review existing conditions in relation to school libraries as a whole, as shown by facts kindly contributed by the Superintendent of Public Instruction in each state.

No information has been [received from Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Oregon, and Tennessee. The state superintendents report no legislation for school libraries in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South

Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming; in some cases because of financial depression and in others because of a strong movement for public libraries. Twenty-two of the states report more or less favorably with variations as to authority, money, and books, as shown in the following summary:

AUTHORITY.

CALIFORNIA. -The state Board of Education shall recommend a list of books for district school libraries. The power of the state board is simply recommendatory, and only such books as have been adopted by the county or city boards of education can be bought.

The board of trustees and city board of education must expend the library fund for school apparatus and books.

COLORADO.-The qualified electors of any district of the third class may order a sufficient levy on all the taxable property of the district to procure libraries for the schools.

CONNECTICUT.-The treasurer of the state, upon the order of the secretary of the state Board of Education shall pay money to every school district, and to every town maintaining a high school which shall raise an equal amount for the same purpose, to establish and maintain a school library within such district. The joint board of selectmen and school visitors in each town shall have power to appropriate money for the purchase of books to be used in the public schools of the town.

FLORIDA.-The trustees of a district may spend money for libraries if they see fit.

ILLINOIS.-Every school district board is authorized to purchase a library or to increase its library.

INDIANA.-Township libraries are provided for by law, but they are gradually dying out. Their place is being taken by the Young People's Reading Circle, and three fourths of the districts in the state now have 5 to 250 books suitable for young people. The board of the Circle selects the books, and in many places the township trustees buy the books, and the county commissioners allow their bills, so that practically the state enjoys the advantages of the district library law.

IOWA.-Electors may vote a tax for procuring district libraries.

KANSAS. The school districts of the state may at the annual meeting in each year vote a tax upon all the taxable property of the district, and the money so collected shall be used under the direction of the board of directors for buying a school district library and for no other purpose.

KENTUCKY.—Each school district may have a library. The trustees must select, buy, and care for district libraries.

MARYLAND.-The law states that district school libraries ought to be established in each school house district under the care of the teacher as librarian. Books must be selected by the board of district school trustees.

MICHIGAN.-Township and district libraries are authorized. Books shall be selected by district officers.

MINNESOTA. The superintendent of public instruction and the presidents of the normal schools of the state are directed to prepare a list of books suitable for school libraries. Any school district which shall have bought books selected from this list, and shall have properly cared for them, shall receive financial aid from the state.

MISSOURI. The school board has a right to appropriate money for school libraries.

MONTANA.-A library fund is created and the board of school trustees must expend the library fund for books for a school library. The superintendent of public instruction shall prepare and furnish to school officers, through the county superintendents, lists of publications approved by him as suitable for school libraries.

NEBRASKA. It is within the authority of a school district meeting, or a board of education, to appropriate a certain fund for library purposes.

NEW JERSEY.-The treasurer of the school fund, upon the order of the state superintendent of education, is authorized to pay to each public school money to establish and to maintain a school library provided the school shall have raised an equal amount for the same purpose.

The selection of books shall be approved by the school trustees of each district.

NEW YORK.—Each city and school district in the state is authorized to raise moneys by tax for starting or extending or caring for the school library. The state superintendent apportions and makes rules for using school library money. Books must be approved by the state superintendent of public instruction.

NORTH DAKOTA.-The state superintendent shall prepare and furnish to school officers, through the county superintendents, lists of publications approved by him as suitable for district libraries.

OHIO. In any district the board of education may appropriate money from the contingent fund for the purchase of such books, other than

school books, as it may deem suitable for the use and improvement of the scholars and teachers of the district.

PENNSYLVANIA.-The board of school directors in each common school district is authorized to establish and maintain a library. The board may levy a tax for the support of the library. (This law passed both Houses in May 1895. When reported in June the governor had not signed it, but there was no opposition expected.)

RHODE ISLAND.-The state law has always authorized the establishment of school libraries, but no state aid was given until about twelve years ago, when a small appropriation was made for school apparatus and books of refer

ence.

VIRGINIA. The constitution of the state authorizes the state board of education to provide for furnishing school houses with such libraries as may be necessary. No action has been taken in regard to the matter, however, as the board has had no money for the purpose. Under the constitution the state board of education is to select a list of books for use in the public schools of the state, from which list county and city boards select books for their schools.

WISCONSIN.-The treasurer of each town shall annually withhold money received from the school fund income, to be used in the purchase of school libraries. The state superintendent of public instruction shall annually or biennially prepare a list of approved books for school libraries. Each year the town clerk, with the county superintendent of schools, shall spend all money withheld by the town treasurer in the purchase of books selected from the lists prepared by the state superintendent, and shall distribute the books among the several school districts in proportion to the money withheld from each.

MONEY.

CALIFORNIA. Except in cities not divided into school districts the library fund is ten per cent. of the state school fund annually apportioned to the district, unless ten per cent. exceed fifty dollars, in which case it is fifty dollars. In cities not divided into school districts the library fund is fifty dollars annually for every one thousand children from five to seventeen years of age.

COLORADO.-The library fund is a sufficient levy on all taxable property in the district.

CONNECTICUT.-The appropriation is ten dollars to establish a library and five dollars annually to maintain it. If the number of pupils in any school exceeds one hundred, the treasurer shall pay five dollars annually for every one hundred or fraction of one hundred pupils over the first one hundred.

FLORIDA.-The library fund may be any part

of a three-mills special tax, prescribed by the trustees of the district.

ILLINOIS.-Books are paid for out of the unexpended balance belonging to the district when ordinary expenses have been paid.

IOWA. The library fund is a portion of the school tax decided by vote. The school tax does not exceed ten mills on the dollar in any one year on the taxable property of the district township.

KANSAS. The library fund is derived from a tax not to exceed two mills on the dollar, provided that in districts where the taxable property is more than $20,000 and not more than $30,000, there shall not be levied more than one and one-half mills on the dollar, and when the taxable property is ore than $30,000 and not more than $50,000, there shall not be levied more than one mill on the dollar, and in all cases where the taxable property of the district shall exceed $50,000 there shall not be levied more than one-half mill on the dollar.

KENTUCKY.-No tax is provided for the district libraries, though a small tax is levied to maintain the teachers' libraries.

MARYLAND.-Ten dollars annually is ordered to be paid by the board of county school commissioners out of the state school fund to any school house district as long as the people of the district raise the same amount annually.

MICHIGAN.-Fines for any breach of penal laws of the state and for penalities in criminal proceedings, and all equivalents for exemptions from military duty shall be apportioned by the county treasurer among the several townships in the county according to the number of children between five and twenty years of age in the townships. This money shall be used for the support of township and district libraries and for no other purpose.

MINNESOTA. The superintendent of public instruction shall order the state auditor to pay to any school district one-half the amount which it has spent for its school library under the provisions of the law: provided that no district shall receive more than twenty dollars upon the first statement nor more than ten dollars upon any subsequent statement. The sum of $10,000 is annually appropriated.

MISSOURI.-It is recommended that on Library Day, the Friday succeeding Thanksgiving, an earnest effort be made in each school district to raise at least a small library fund by entertainment, subscription, or otherwise. The day has not been appointed by law; so many schools observe it at more convenient times and some do not observe it at all, but it is reported as being, on the whole, satisfactory.

MONTANA.-Except in cities having a population of two thousand or more, the library fund shall be not less than five per cent. nor more than ten per cent. of the county school fund annually apportioned in the district;

[blocks in formation]
« ПретходнаНастави »