Слике страница

last is, of course, the most satisfactory method of selection, except for the delay; and this is not so great as might be expected, as we have frequently received books for inspection within a week from the appearance of their titles in the trade lists.

So far as I can judge, this method, which is the most natural for an institution such as ours, works very well, and it would seem possible to so modify it as to make it applicable to the public library. It ought not to be difficult to find men, in a city of any size, who would be glad to have called to their attention, and especially to have the opportunity to inspect, all the new literature of their special subject, and who in return would give their advice on the purchase of each. If such advisers were kept informed as to the amount of money available for each class of books, the resulting selection could hardly fail to be of more value than that made by the librarian alone or by a small committee.

tries as to the workings of the German patent
law, which made it more desirable to publish
the results of investigations than to keep them
as trade secrets.

As to the details of such a method, the following journals are the ones from which the great majority of our purchases are made, and most of which are regularly read by the librarian: Publishers' Weekly, Van Nostrand's Monthly Record of scientific literature (very good for a small library), Publishers' Circular, Westermann's Monthly Gazette of English literature, Catalogue mensuel de la librairie française, Allgemeine Bibliographie, Bibliographischer Monatsbericht über Schul- und Universitätsschriften, Chemiker - Zeitung, Polytechnische Bibliothek, Quarterly list of official publications (of Great Britain), Hickcox's U. S. Government publications.

Naturally the needs of each library must determine the division of its funds, yet it may interest you to know that adopted at the Institute, and the figures are of some little value because they give a roughly fair apportionment, with the exception of the Architectural and Geological departments. Round numbers only are given, which include binding and subscriptions to periodicals.

Engineering, except part of sanitary


Mining and metallurgy............

Chemistry, including part of sani-
tary engineering....
Physics (electricity)..


[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]


This total is about of the whole sum spent for books, the balance being for English literature, history, economics, modern languages, and books of reference.

Of this total amount spent, over one-third is for subscriptions to periodicals, and their binding, and we do not think that this proportion could be decreased without injury to the library.

So far as the actual purchase is concerned, the books are for the larger part foreign, and in buying them I prefer to deal with an American importing house, having tried foreign agents. The postage and express charges, and the unavoidable losses of periodicals are much greater

These are supplemented by the bulletins of than is generally supposed or allowed for, unless accession of several of the larger libraries. economy and safety are secured at the expense As to the question of the proper division of of speed, by means of fewer importations. the available funds, it will be readily understood The treatment of such a collection after arthat the literary product of an industry is in no rival at the library naturally would not differ definite nor constant ratio to the material prod- greatly from that of other special collections. uct; indeed, sometimes it is an inverse ratio. Yet there are two or three points which may For instance, although since the gold discover- well be emphasized. If any books are to be exies in Australia and South Africa and Canada, posed on the shelf and open to easy use, these, the greater part of the annual product of the world next after the books of general reference, in gold has come from English colonies, no good should be the ones, and if any books are to be book on gold-milling has been produced in Eng-open for evening use, these should be among land or its colonies until the present year, them. I well remember my difficulties when I And again, the sudden flood of works in was working in a factory laboratory in obtaining every branch of technical chemistry, which and using such books, and yet the laboratory set in in Germany a few years ago, was not hours were considerably shorter than those of due so much to increased activity in the indus- the average factory. If the Boston Public

Library carries out its reported intention of providing a separate room for its technical collections (more especially of its periodicals) as it has already for its patents, it should greatly increase their use by the public.

Finally, if access to the shelves is allowed, the librarian will find himself forced by the great specialization already reached, of which the end is not yet, to some system of arrangement which will admit of indefinite subdivision in the classification, and to the adoption of very close classification. Probably, also, he will find either a strictly chronological or the roughly

chronological accession order preferable for the
second number to the arrangement by authors.
I regret to have been obliged to quote the
Institute so much in what I have said, and hope
that you will understand that this has not been
done from any opinion that its experience is
unique or especially valuable. On the contrary,
it was my intention and wish to compare this
experience with that of the other institutions
making similar collections, and I should have
done so, had the reports of their librarians given
me the information needed on these matters of


BY JAMES D. BROWN, Librarian Clerkenwell P. L., London.

AN invitation from the LIBRARY JOURNAL to to uphold, and those who have interests, comoutline my views and those of my brother li-mercial or otherwise, in mechanical methods of brarians in Britain, on the questions of open issue. I have a very lively recollection of the access to book-shelves and extension of the bor- debate which took place at Chicago on the open rowing right, finds me with plenty to say and library question, in which Mr. Cowell, of Liverlittle time at my disposal. But, as the subjects pool, speaking with regard to an experiment in are of great interest and more than likely to be- his library, which failed because badly concome very prominent in the near future, I take ducted, stood forth as the one advocate of repleasure in writing a few random notes of my striction, in a meeting composed mostly of ligeneral impressions and experience. To save brarians who had all tried open access to a certime and much explanation, I shall simply refer tain extent with success. The attitude of Mr. to the descriptive paper on the "Clerkenwell Cowell towards open access is based upon the open lending library,” which was read at Bel- failure of an experiment attempted under unfast in September last, and is printed in the favorable conditions, coupled with imperfect Library for November, 1894. This contains an ideas of the arrangements which are in operaaccount of the Clerkenwell arrangements and tion in libraries where access of readers to the results, and will relieve me from the necessity shelves has been granted with perfect success. of again traversing the same ground. The gen- Other librarians share his views for similar eral question of public access to shelves has reasons. Some of them have experience of been very greatly misunderstood and in some open proprietary libraries which are not properquarters deliberately misrepresented in Britain. ly arranged or safeguarded; others are burThe professional feeling on the whole may be dened with an absence of knowledge of the subdescribed as antagonistic to open shelves either in ject which, in my humble opinion, should have reference or lending libraries, but there is a large made reticence not only politic, but imperative. and constantly growing minority favorable to At Belfast, the librarian of the Nottingham open access, either absolute or restricted to cer- Mechanics' Institution told of an annual loss tain classes of literature. This minority in- by theft of nearly 300 volumes as a reason for cludes 20 or more of the younger men, as refusing open shelves. He omitted to menwell as several of the oldest and most experi- tion that the charging-desk at Nottingham is enced librarians in the country, who are prepared, not in any way a check upon readers, as it faces when opportunity arises, to put their opinions a passage leading to a reading-room, a public to the test of experiment. The opinion of the hall, and a restaurant. When the nature of this readers, library boards, and the press may be Nottingham arrangement is known the wonder claimed as being generally favorable to the is not so much that books are lost, but that any system. The opposition is, therefore, chiefly library committee should permit open access directed by librarians who have traditional ideas under conditions which are little short of a plain


invitation and temptation to theft. The partial citation of this instance of mismanagement has been so frequently quoted as a warning against trusting the public with their own property, that I think it worthy of this explanation. The cases of various college and other libraries which have reported large losses are exactly similar to that of Nottingham, the defects in every instance being failure to make suitable arrangements to meet peculiar conditions, and a lack of oversight. I am reminded of one university library in this country, open only to well-known professors and students, among whom are our future clergymen and law-makers, to whom the privileges of open shelves and free selection are granted. I have been informed that there are some thousands of books completely missing, and that dozens have at times been recovered from defaulting borrowers, including ministers of religion. But why should this be? Simply because of the feeble arrangement which prevails of delegating the task of registration to the borrowers, and the use of a very antiquated and imperfect system of record, together with insufficient oversight. The plain truth is, that the whole question of success or non-success in open libraries hinges upon proper organization and arrangement. It is not enough to sweep away existing barriers and admit readers without hindrance. There are other considerations and other requirements to be satisfied. Nevertheless, it is mainly this idea of want of security which moves the opposition of librarians who are not properly informed as to successful methods, and I think it is pretty conclusively shown by the British Museum, | Cleveland, Minneapolis, Pawtucket, Cambridge, Melbourne, Clerkenwell, and Truro experience to be a mere bogy.

Speaking broadly on the whole question of the public library service, there can hardly be a doubt that the interests and convenience of the reader are largely subordinated to the librarian's solicitude for the pretty numerical order of his books and the chaste integrity of his system. To these may be added the fears of committees, who are apt to regard the general reading public through the spectacles of the police magistrate. Since librarianship became organized and recognized there has been a good deal of eloquence wasted in thanking God that the present-day librarian is not like his dry-as-dust predecessor -a mere gaoler of books. Yet, in spite of all this gratulation, what is to be seen on almost every side? A traditional distrust of

the people manifested in every possible way, but shown particularly in the jealous guarding of books from contact, by means of restrictive rules and the erection of elaborate barriers. If the people were only permitted to look at public parks through iron railings, and to study art galleries through the sole medium of a printed catalog - if it were a necessity of state and municipal polity to blindfold and muzzle citizens on the ground that one of them might possibly do some damage, then the mere need for uniformity would force me to the conclusion that public libraries were book prisons, and ought, therefore, to be kept locked. But, as none of this preventive legislation is in force, it seems absurd, if a certain microscopic proportion of readers in public libraries are dishonest, to penalize the whole community, and exclude it from rights which surely belong to it as owner of the institution it has called into being.

I come now to the great array of objections which have been raised by all kinds of librarians to the practical working of the plan. Some of these are fair, others partly fanciful, and many are mere inventions. The leading point arising out of the controversy which has been raging all over this country since May last, is whether or not the indicator as a practical library appliance is doomed to extinction or extension. As the sole intermediary between reader and library, I am bound to confess that I think it will ultimately, and deservedly, be abandoned. As an additional aid to service and registration in connection with open libraries there is considerable hope for its continued use in a greatly modified form.

The fair arguments against open shelves include possibility of misplacements, overcrowding, loss of storage space, extra wear and tear, and the difficulty of adequately meeting the case of the reader who cannot come in person. Thefts I have already dealt with, but I may add that, under proper regulations and arrangements they are never likely to be extensive, or the act of many persons. Misplacements are not very serious things when due care is taken to recognize their occurrence as possible and to make provision accordingly. The ordinary numerical finding arrangement so common in English libraries which use indicators is about as bad as could be, and its danger has been demonstrated at Penge, a district of London, where open access was allowed under a temporary arrangement in a library originally intended for an indicator.

Close classification with differential class- and shelf-marking are the safeguards against serious misplacement, and the Clerkenwell experience has taught me that with them no danger need be anticipated. Overcrowding is a condition depending altogether on space. With fiction and other popular classes arranged all around the walls, or in the order best calculated to distribute the readers, it need never occur to any great extent. My experience is that readers do not congregate into knots before the shelves sacred to popular authors, because their books are mostly all in circulation, and there is a marvellous celerity about the manner in which crowds melt away. Careful observation at Clerkenwell has brought out the fact that each reader spends on an average six minutes in the library. This includes our long and comparatively quiet afternoons, when the person of leisure or business comes to spend from 15 to 30 minutes choosing books, and, in many cases, making good use of them for ready reference purposes. During our busy hours, from 1 to 2 and 6 to 9, the average drops to about four minutes, including the time spent at both discharging and charging barriers. One ordinary expert assistant can discharge books at the rate of four a minute, and they can be charged nearly as quick. I have personally issued and completely charged 200 books in less than one hour, including little lulls between spurts of business. All this goes against the chance of overcrowding as a general thing, and there is always a rule which can be put in operation limiting the number of admissions at any one time. Large libraries can also make other arrangements against the probability of overcrowding by excluding juvenile borrowers from the general library, raising the age limit, entirely excluding messengers, however competent, and in many other obvious ways. But unless any library is under the necessity of issuing 1000 volumes per hour, and I know of none such, there will be no need for any special restrictions, if space is anything like adequate.

The loss of storage space concerns particularly libraries already established on the barrier system. Libraries erected and arranged with a special view to open access will hardly meet with the difficulty. The point is one which raises the very important question of the ultimate size and object of lending libraries, Is it desirable that any one lending library or branch should have more than 20,000 books of actual use and interest to present-day readers,

or in other words, must this department be regarded as a museum or a workshop? In older libraries, where bookcases will have to be cut down and liberally respaced, a large amount of storage will be lost, and in America, where the stack system has become general, great difficulties will be met in adapting many existing libraries to the change. In Britain the pruning process will suffice for a large number of libraries, but there are many which are worked with ledgers, cards, and indicators, in which open access would be physically impossible. Low presses, shallow shelves, and wide gangways are all essential in open libraries, and all three requirements point to much reduction of storage space. As regards reference libraries, the British Museum plan of providing workshop and museum sections would have to be followed. There would be no great advantage, save to a very few, in throwing open the whole of a great reference library, containing thousands of practically dead books. Additional wear and tear caused by extra handling will affect the less popular lending books more than those which are in constant demand. Only long experience can finally prove to what extent it will affect the binding and replacement bills. I am disposed to think that the additional handling will not shorten the life of any book by more than week or two. Readers who sent messengers to Clerkenwell were much more numerous with the indicator than now, when most of them come personally for the pleasure of making a suitable selection. The sort of messenger most met with is the father, mother, brother, or sister, who comes to select three or four books for a family. Very youthful messengers are usually provided with lists, and the assistants serve them. Nothing short of a door-to-door delivery will suit the reader who cannot come, and I can see no reason why even this should not be attempted by means of travelling (van) libraries. I proposed this arrangement for rural districts in the Library for April, 1894, and cannot see why it should not in many cases supersede both branches and delivery stations in towns.

Of partly fanciful objections to the open lending library, the principal one seems to be that readers will have difficulty in finding a particular book. This objection does not apply to the majority of public library readers, as fiction is arranged in a very obvious alphabetical order. The other readers, being generally persons of intelligence, very soon become acquainted with the


classification and the numerous plain guides adopted for their assistance. The chief function of the librarian and his staff being to help and direct the public in every possible way, any remaining difficulty is very efficiently met. We have found at Clerkenwell that no reader requires to be directed twice to the location of any particular subject. There are a few other points, At Clerkenwell we have been issuing extra but they are of very minor importance. A few cards, available for non-fictional works only, specimens of the invented or bogy objection since December, 1893, with a fair result. About will suffice to show the sort of nonsense inter- 320 borrowers have availed themselves of the ested and ignorant persons will use as arguments. privilege, and I think the general effect has been I shall only mention them, as absurdity is writ good. Our object in introducing the extra card large on all. Ladies standing on high ladders was to meet the requirements of students, and it will make an indecent show of their legs! Cata- is that class which has made most use of the logs will be abandoned, and an inferior class privilege. The difference on the percentage of of librarian, probably a uniformed janitor, will fiction issued has been very slight, but a small be substituted; the reading of fiction will be part of our large increase of issues is due to these greatly increased; the service will be very slow, tickets. Other libraries now grant extra tickets, and double the staff will be required; value of but some of them, such as Chelsea, limit them to the library will be reduced 50 per cent.; the music. I believe the adoption of the plan in this system has been tried in America and failed — country is due to Mr. MacAlister, secretary of in connection with this, Mr. Yates, of Leeds, the L.A.U.K., who advocated it at the Aberdeclared he had been present at a conference of deen conference in September, 1893. At any the A.L.A., where open access was unanimously rate it was his paper which first drew my attencondemned; there will be great additional ex- tion seriously to the subject, and I am not aware pense in working. One man calls the system if the privilege had been granted in libraries prenew, weak," and shortly afterwards "anti-viously. The common American plan of allowing quated," while others call it a new fad," and a school teachers to withdraw a number of cards for return to the "dark ages of librarianship."


the use of themselves and scholars has not been adopted anywhere in Britain as far as I know. To sum up. The whole question of open access to libraries, both reference and lending, is influenced in Britain by two factors — opposition on the part of conservative librarians and inter

I will allow myself a few lines for the con- | sideration of the advantages of the system. Personal contact with books in a properly classified library gives the reader that power of examina- | tion not possible by any other system of issue. It encourages the reading of all classes of liter-ested tradesmen, and a widespread distrust of ature, save fiction. At Clerkenwell there are hundreds of volumes in travel, history, biography, science, etc., which in the indicator days rarely stirred from the shelves. Now most of them have been issued oftener in the last six months than they were during the previous five years. The reader is saved time, trouble, and dissatisfaction by the open system. In every case borrowers suit themselves and take pleasure and interest in coming to the library. The librarian and staff get into close contact with readers of every kind, learn their requirements, and help them much more effectively than was possible before. An informal plebescite among the Clerkenwell borrowers resulted in not one vote out of hundreds being given in favor of a return to the indicator system. Most of the dif

the general public. If the latter could be overcome, the former would soon be swept away, but until the opinions of the younger generation of librarians have had time to make more headway, progress will be slow. Nevertheless, it is worthy of note that even in six months one town has decided to begin with an open-lending library on January 1, 1895, another awaits confirmation of the proposal, while two districts in London and two in the provinces have practically decided upon adopting the method upon the completion of new buildings or alteration of structural arrangements. Those who are anxious to see public libraries taking a higher place in the minds and affection of the public will be pleased with the progress of the open lending idea in Britain.


ficulties associated with barrier libraries -service, charging, cataloging, etc. have been simplified, and both readers and staff find the work easier and pleasanter. But it is needless to dwell further on advantages which must be per-* fectly clear to any one who gives the matter half an hour's consideration.

« ПретходнаНастави »