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Title: Why do we need a public library? - Material for a library campaign
Author: Various
Language: English
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Revised Edition of Tract No. 1



Sec'y American Library Association


       *       *       *       *       *




_Postage on book publications extra_

Guide to reference books, by Alice B. Kroeger.
  New and enlarged edition. Cloth, $1.50.

Literature of American history; edited by J. N.
  Larned. Cloth, $6.00. Supplements for 1902,
  1903, paper, each $1; for 1904, 25c.

A. L. A. Index to general literature. Cloth, $10.

A. L. A. Index to portraits. $3.

A. L. A. Catalog. Paper, $1.

A. L. A. Catalog rules. Cloth, 60c.

A. L. A. Booklist (monthly, 10 numbers) $1 a year

List of subject headings for use in dictionary catalogs.
  Cloth, $2.

Books for girls and women and their clubs.
  Paper, 25c. Also issued in five parts, small
  size, 5c. each.

Reading for the young, with supplement. Sheets,

Books for boys and girls, by Caroline M. Hewins.
  Paper, 15c. $5 per 100.

Children's reading. Paper, 25c.

Small library buildings. Paper, $1.25.

Library buildings, by W. R. Eastman. Paper, 10c.

(_Continued on 3rd cover page_)

       *       *       *       *       *


Revised Edition of Tract No. 1



Sec'y American Library Association


Compiled from articles and addresses by

Sir Walter Besant                                            7

E. A. Birge, dean University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis.    18

William J. Bryan                                            38

John P. Buckley                                             32

Waller Irene Bullock, chief loan librarian Carnegie
  Library, Pittsburg, Pa.                                   43

James H. Canfield, late librarian Columbia University
  Library, New York                                         40

Andrew Carnegie                                         25, 41

Winston Churchill                                           16

Frederick M. Crunden, ex-librarian Public Library,
  St. Louis, Mo.                                     4, 28, 47

J. C. Dana, librarian Free Public Library,
  Newark, N. J.                                 10, 12, 37, 42

Melvil Dewey, ex-director N. Y. State Library, Albany       21

William R. Eastman, chief Division of Educational
  Extension, State Library, Albany, N. Y.               22, 45

Mrs. S. C. Fairchild, ex-vice director New York State
  Library School, Albany, N. Y.                             10

W. I. Fletcher, librarian Amherst College Library,
  Amherst, Mass.                                             6

W. E. Foster, librarian Public Library, Providence, R. I.   44

Chalmers Hadley, secretary American Library Association,
  Chicago, Ill.                                          3, 29

Joseph Le Roy Harrison, librarian Providence Athenæum,
  Providence, R. I.                                         27

Caroline M. Hewins, librarian Public Library, Hartford,
  Conn.                                                      5

F. A. Hutchins, University Extension Department,
  University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis.        13, 19, 26, 36

J. N. Larned, ex-librarian Public Library, Buffalo,
  N. Y.                                             20, 22, 34

Henry E. Legler, librarian Public Library, Chicago,
  Ill.                                                  17, 30

James Russell Lowell                                        18

William McKinley                                            30

Theodore Roosevelt                                          37

C. C. Thach, president Alabama Polytechnic Institute     9, 39

Alice S. Tyler, secretary Iowa Library Commission,
  Des Moines, Iowa                                          47

Irene Van Kleeck                                            36


One of the most effective means of conducting a library campaign,
especially in its early stage, is through the press. Not only will the
reading and thinking part of the people thereby be reached, but any
library editorial appearing in a newspaper, will, because of the public
notice given it, receive greater consideration than if printed
elsewhere. Library Commission workers and library supporters in general,
have felt the need of printed material which could be made immediately
available in a library campaign. Most library addresses and articles are
too long, too scholarly in treatment or have lacked that crisp style
necessary for use in the press.

Editors of newspapers are slow to accept for printing, signed editorials
which have seen service elsewhere. It is suggested that the material
here compiled be made as local as possible in its application to
individual communities, and that the editorials be sent to newspapers
unsigned by the original writers. The same editorials should not be sent
to neighboring communities, at least in their original form. Every
attempt should be made to have them appear as fresh and spontaneous as
possible. Different editorials should always be sent the several papers
in the same city.

The material here compiled is suggestive and sufficiently comprehensive
to meet ordinary conditions. Much valuable material has been taken from
circulars sent out by the Library Commissions of Oregon, Wisconsin and

No better advice could be given in opening a public library campaign
through the public press than the following, in the Wisconsin Free
Library Commission Circular of Information, No. 5:

1 Citizens of ---- believe in free public libraries. They need
organization and courage to attack local problems rather than long
homilies on the value of good literature.

2 Public sentiment needs time to ripen. Frequent short articles running
through the issues of a few weeks are better than a few long ones.

3 Make the articles breezy, optimistic, with local application. You can
get a library if you are in earnest.

4 Appeal to local pride. Civic patriotism is the basis of civic
improvement. Give the names of familiar towns of similar size which have
good libraries.

5 Do not rely solely on editorials. Get brief communications from
citizens, but have each letter make only one point, and that crisply.

6 Do not waste space rebutting trivial arguments. Refute them by
affirmative statements.

7 Get brief interviews with visitors from towns where they have good
libraries, and with your own townsmen who have visited neighboring

8 Keep this fact in mind--Your people want a library and only need pluck
and a leader.

9 Remember that the worst enemy of the movement is the talker who wants
a library very much, in the "sweet bye and bye," when all other public
improvements are completed.

10 When it is time to strike--strike hard. Apologies and faint hearts
never won any kind of a contest.

Secretary American Library Association.


1 It doubles the value of the education the child receives in school,
and, best of all, imparts a desire for knowledge which serves as an
incentive to continue his education after leaving school; and, having
furnished the incentive, it further supplies the means for a life-long
continuance of education.

2 It provides for the education of adults who have lacked, or failed to
make use of, early opportunities.

3 It furnishes information to teachers, ministers, journalists,
physicians, legislators, all persons upon whose work depend the
intellectual, moral, sanitary and political welfare and advancement of
the people.

4 It furnishes books and periodicals for the technical instruction and
information of mechanics, artisans, manufacturers, engineers and all
others whose work requires technical knowledge--of all persons upon whom
depends the industrial progress of the city.

5 It is of incalculable benefit to the city by affording to thousands
the highest and purest entertainment, and thus lessening crime and

6 It makes the city a more desirable place of residence, and thus
retains the best citizens and attracts others of the same character.

7 More than any other agency, it elevates the general standard of
intelligence throughout the great body of the community, upon which its
material prosperity, as well as its moral and political well-being, must

Finally, the public library includes potentially all other means of
social betterment. A library is a living organism, having within itself
the capacity of infinite growth and reproduction. It may found a dozen
museums and hospitals, kindle the train of thought that produces
beneficent inventions, and inspire to noble deeds of every kind, all the
while imparting intelligence and inculcating industry, thrift, morality,
public spirit and all those qualities that constitute the wealth and
well-being of a community.



1 It keeps boys at home in the evening by giving them well-written
stories of adventure.

2 It gives teachers and pupils interesting books to aid their school
work in history and geography, and makes better citizens of them by
enlarging their knowledge of their country and its growth.

3 It provides books on the care of children and animals, cookery and
housekeeping, building and gardening, and teaches young readers how to
make simple dynamos, telephones and other machines.

4 It helps clubs that are studying history, literature or life in other
countries, and throws light upon Sunday-school lessons.

5 It furnishes books of selections for reading aloud, suggestions for
entertainments and home amusements, and hints on correct speech and good

6 It teaches the names and habits of the plants, birds and insects of
the neighborhood, and the differences in soil and rock.

7 It tells the story of the town from its settlement, and keeps a record
of all important events in its history.

8 It offers pleasant and wholesome stories to readers of all ages.


Let the boys find in the free library wholesome books of adventure, and
tales such as a boy likes; let the girls find the stories which delight
them and give their fancy and imagination exercise; let the tired
housewife find the novels which will transport her to an ideal realm of
love and happiness; let the hardworked man, instead of being expected
always to read "improving" books of history or politics, choose that
which will give him relaxation of mind and nerve--perhaps the "Innocents
Abroad," or Josh Billings's "Allminax," or "Samanthy at Saratoga."



A public library in our community would be an influence for good every
day in the week.

It would make the town more attractive to the class of people we want as
residents and neighbors.

It would mould the characters of the children in our homes.

A good library would get gifts from wealthy citizens. No other public
institution offers so fitting an opportunity for a public-spirited
citizen to help his neighbors and win their approval and affection.

A library in ---- would be the center of our intellectual life and would
stimulate the growth of all kinds of clubs for study and debating.

It is a great part of our education to know how to find facts. No man
knows everything, but the man who knows how to find an indispensable
fact quickly has the best substitute for such knowledge. We need a
library to carry forward in a better manner the education of the
children who leave school; to give them a better chance for
self-education. We need it to give thoughts and inspiration to the
teachers of the people, those who in the schoolroom or pulpit, on the
rostrum, or with the pen attempt to instruct or lead their fellow
citizens. We need it to help our mechanics in their employments, to give
them the best thoughts of the best workers in their lines, whether these
thoughts come in books or papers or magazines.


The public library is an adult school; it is a perpetual and life-long
continuation class; it is the greatest educational factor that we have;
and the librarian is becoming our most important teacher and guide.



1 Completes its educational equipment, carrying on and giving permanent
value to the work of the schools.

2 Gives the children of all classes a chance to know and love the best
in literature. Without the public library such a chance is limited to
the very few.

3 Minimizes the sale and reading of vicious literature in the community,
thus promoting mental and moral health.

4 Effects a great saving in money to every reader in the community. The
library is the application of common sense to the problem of supply and
demand. Through it every reader in the town can secure at a given cost
from 100 to 1000 times the material for reading or study that he could
secure by acting individually.

5 Appealing to all classes, sects and degrees of intelligence, it is a
strong unifying factor in the life of a town.

6 The library is the one thing in which every town, however poor or
isolated, can have something as good and inspiring as the greatest city
can offer. Neither Boston nor New York can provide better books to its
readers than the humblest town library can easily own and supply.

7 Slowly but inevitably raises the intellectual tone of a place.

8 Adds to the material value of property. Real estate agents in the
suburbs of large cities never fail to advertise the presence of a
library, if there be one, as giving added value to the lots or houses
they have for sale.



1 Graded lists (sometimes annotated) of books suitable for children are
printed as part of the library's finding lists.

2 Bulletins of books for special days are printed.

3 Lists of books on special subjects are printed.

4 Topics being studied in the schools are illustrated by special
exhibits at the libraries.

5 Study rooms in the libraries are maintained for the pupils of the high
schools and the higher grammar grades.

6 Children's or young people's rooms are maintained at the libraries,
where the children may come into personal contact with a trained
children's librarian and with hundreds of books on open shelves.

7 Story hours or readings for children are conducted at the libraries.

8 Training in reference work, in the use of books and libraries, in the
use of finding lists, card catalogs, indexes, etc., is given by library
assistants: (a) to teachers at the library; (b) at the library to
individual pupils and classes that come there; (c) at the schools to the
pupils in their rooms.

9 Lectures on classification, bibliographies, and catalogs are given by
members of the library staff for teachers and normal school students.

10 Special study rooms for teachers are provided.

11 Special educational collections are shelved for use by the teachers.

12 Cases of about 50 books (traveling libraries as it were) are prepared
by libraries and sent to schoolrooms to remain for a year or less,
teachers to issue books for home use.

13 Branch reading--and delivery--rooms are opened in schools, in charge
of library assistants, with supply of books on hand for circulation and
facilities for drawing others from the main library.

14 Assistant librarians are placed in charge of work with schools.

15 In large cities complete branch libraries are established in schools
on the outskirts of the cities.

16 Special collections of books are furnished to vacation schools.

17 Special cards are issued to teachers on which they may draw more than
the usual number of volumes at a time.

18 Teachers and principals are allowed to draw a number of volumes for
(a) reading by children at school; (b) reading by children at home.



A library is not a luxury; it is not for the cultured few; it is not
merely for the scientific; it is not for any intellectual cult or
exclusive literary set. It is a great, broad, universal public
benefaction. It lifts the entire community; it is the right arm of the
intellectual development of the people, ministering to the wants of
those who are already educated and spreading a universal desire for
education. It is the upper story of the public school system, while it
is a broad field wherein ripe scholars may find a fuller training for
their already highly developed faculties. It is above all a splendid
instrument for the education and culture of those vast masses of boys
and girls that are denied the high privileges of the systematic training
of the schools.


The function of the library as an institution of society, is the
development and enrichment of human life in the entire community by
bringing to all the people the books that belong to them.



Cities and towns are now for the first time, and chiefly in this
country, erecting altars to the gods of good fellowship, joy and
learning. These altars are our public libraries. We had long ago our
buildings of city and state, our halls of legislation, our courts of
justice. But these all speak more or less of wrongdoing, of justice and
injustice, of repression. Most of them touch on partisanship and
bitterness of feeling. We have had, since many centuries, in all our
cities, the many meeting places of religious sects--our chapels,
churches and cathedrals. They stand for so much that is good, but they
have not brought together the communities in which they are placed. A
church is not always the center of the best life of all who live within
the shadow of its spire.

For several generations we have been building temples to the gods of
learning and good citizenship--our schools. And they have come nearer to
bringing together for the highest purpose the best impulses of all of us
than have any other institutions. But they are all not yet, as some day
they will be, for both old and young. Then they speak of discipline, of
master and pupil, instead only of pure and simple fellowship in studies.

And so we are for the first time in all history, building, in our
public libraries, temples of happiness and wisdom common to us all. No
other institution which society has brought forth is so wide in its
scope; so universal in its appeal; so near to every one of us; so
inviting to both young and old; so fit to teach, without arrogance, the
ignorant and, without faltering, the wisest.

The public library is to be the center of all the activities that make
for social efficiency. It is to do more to bind into one civic whole and
to develop the feeling that you are citizens of no mean city, than any
other institution you have yet established or than we can as yet



The world-wide library movement of the past few years is an important
factor in the educational world. The public library is now recognized as
one of the most effective of the preventive measures advocated by modern
social students. It is considered an essential part of any system of
public education, affording opportunity for self-education, and
supplementing the average five years of school life. Educators now
realize that the school offers but the beginning of education, and that
the library is its necessary complement and supplement. This increase of
library facilities has greatly influenced school work, in bringing home
to teachers the fact that it is as important to teach what to read as to
give children the ability to read. The library of to-day is not wholly
for recreation, but it is the people's university. It is entitled to the
same consideration which is given to the public schools, and to the same
sort of support. The whole conception of the library has changed as
practical men of affairs have come to the realization of the fact that
they must have accessible the records of past experience and



We all believe in public libraries. We frequently discuss the library we
are to get "bye and bye." We do not find that it is helping the boys and
girls who are growing up in our town now. Will the next generation need
it more than this? Will the children of the next generation be dearer to
us than the boys and girls that now cheer our firesides? Will they use a
library better because their parents have not had such privileges?

We all want a library, for ourselves, for our neighbors, for the good
name of our village. Why not get it now and be getting the good out of

It is only a question of method.

The library when built should benefit all the people, and therefore it
should be built by all the people. Give us all a chance to help, and
then the library will belong to all of us.



The great purpose of a public library is to promote and unite
intelligence. It brings together the products of the wise minds of the
world. It holds within its walls a collection of all the wise and witty
things ever said: these it marks and indexes and offers to its friends.

It is in its community a sort of intellectual minuteman, always ready to
supply to every comer something of interest and pleasure. It puts good
books, and no others, into the hands of children. It tells about
Cinderella and informs you on riots in Moscow. It offers you a novel of
modern Japan and a history of Venice of the past. It knows about the
milk in the cocoanut, the floods of the river Nile, the advantages of
education, the evils of legislation, how to plan a home, why bread won't
rise, and can tell more about the mental failings that give Jamaica and
Venezuela trouble than most of our congressmen ever dreamed of.

Reading is the short cut into the heart of life. If you are talking
with a group of friends about, for example, different parts of the
United States, and some one happens to mention a city or town in which
you have lived, note how your interest quickens, and how eager you are
to hear news of the place or to tell of your experience in it. This is a
simple every-day fact. The same thing you have observed a thousand times
about any subject or talk with which you may be familiar. We learn about
many things just by keeping alive and moving round! Those things we have
learned about we can't help being interested in. That is the way we are
made. If we knew about more things our interests would be greater in
number, keener, more satisfying; we would talk more, ask more questions,
be more alert, get more pleasure.

The lesson from this is plain enough: if you wish to have a good time,
learn something. You like to meet old friends. Your brain, also, likes
to come across things it knows already, to renew acquaintance with the
knowledge it has stored away and half forgotten. The pleasures of
recognition and association; the delights of renewing your friendships
with your own ideas are many, easy to get, never failing. But if you
wish to have interests and delights in good plenty you must know of many
things. If you wish to be happy, learn something.

This sounds like advice to a student. It is not, it is a suggestion to
the wayfarer. For this learning process may be as delightful as it is to
gather flowers by the roadside in a summer walk.



An inexhaustible mine of pleasure is open for the boy or girl who loves
good books and has access to them. Without effort on the part of the
parent they are kept off the street and from the company of the idle and
vicious and are storing their minds with useful knowledge, or are being
taught high ideals and noble purposes. Thus they develop into men and
women who are an honor to their parents and worthy citizens of our great

Such is the product of a Free Public Library. Is it not worth the small
pittance it will cost? Many a laboring man spends more money in a week
for tobacco than the maintenance of a library would cost him in a year.
Is not the education and the development of our bright boys and girls
worth a little self-denial?

We all desire that our children shall have better opportunities than we
have had, and not have to work as we have worked. Here is an opportunity
to help them help themselves, which is the very best help that can be
given any one. Let's be "boosters" and help ourselves, help our town,
and help our boys and girls by unitedly supporting the library



Public libraries have without delay become an essential part of a public
education system and are as clearly useful as the public schools. They
are not only classed with schools, but have generally become influential
adjuncts of the public schools. The number of readers is rapidly
increasing and the character of the books is constantly improving.

Not infrequently the objection is heard that the public libraries are
opening the doors to light and useless books; that reading can be, and
often is, carried to a vicious and enervating excess, and therefore that
the libraries' influence is doubtful and on the whole not good. This
argument does not need elaborate exposure.

The main purpose of the library is to counteract and check the
circulation and influence of the empty and not infrequently vicious
books that are so rife. A visit to any news-stand will disclose a world
of low and demoralizing "penny dreadfuls" and other trash. These are
bought by boys and girls because they want to read and can nowhere else
obtain reading material. This deluge of worthless periodicals and books
can be counteracted only by gratuitous supplies from the public library.

Whether these counteracting books be fiction or not, they may be pure
and harmless, and often of intellectual merit and moral excellence. The
question is not whether people shall read fiction--for read it they
will--but whether they are to have good fiction instead of worthless and
harmful trash.

The tendency to read inferior books can soon be checked by a good
library. If the attention of the children in school is directed to good
books, and the free library contains such books, there will be no
thought of the news-stand as the place for finding reading matter.

The economical reason for establishing free public libraries is the fact
that public officers and public taxation manage and support them
efficiently and make them available to the largest number of readers. By
means of a free library there is the best utilization of effort and of
resources at a small cost to individuals.

While a private library may greatly delight and improve the owner and
his immediate circle of friends, it is a luxury to which he and they
only can resort.

A library charging a fee may bring comfort to a respectable board of
directors by ministering to a small and financially independent circle
of book-takers, by its freedom from the rush of numerous and eager
readers, and by strict conformity to the notions and vagaries of the
managers. But such a library never realizes the highest utility. The
greater part of the books lie untouched upon the shelves, and compared
with the free library it is a lame and impotent affair.

The books of a public library actively pervade the community; they reach
and are influential with very large numbers and the utility of the
common possession--books--is multiplied without limit. Before several of
our towns lies the question of opening to all what is now limited to
those who pay a fee. This is not merely a limitation--it is practically
a prohibition.

Whether right or wrong, human beings as at present constituted will not
frequent in large numbers libraries that charge a fee. The spirit of the
age and the tendency of liberal communities are entirely in favor of
furnishing this means of education and amusement without charge.
Certainly towns which can maintain by taxation, paupers, parks, highways
and schools have no reasonable ground for denying free reading to their

These towns spend vast sums of money in providing education, and yet
omit the small extra expenditure which would enable young men and women
to continue their education.

The experience of Library Commissions of various states has amply
demonstrated that libraries and literature are sought for and
appreciated quite as much by rural communities as by the larger towns,
and not infrequently the appreciation is apparently keener, because of
the absence of interests and amusements other than those provided by the
library. There is now no real reason why every part of this state may
not enjoy the advantages and pleasures of book distribution, for
concentration of effort in the small towns elsewhere has provided
efficient, attractive and economical libraries, and could as well do so



It is our business in this country to get at the best methods to govern
ourselves. How many of our best people have paused to reflect on what
that means, and on all it means? It means that now we have about
80,000,000 of sovereigns. It was all very well when we were a little
confederation of homogeneous stock stretching along the Atlantic
sea-board. We had our dissensions then, but our population was permeated
with the principles of our government. In one hundred years we have
swelled from a handful to 80,000,000, and a large part of them made up
of additions from the nations of the earth, and not the self-governing
nations. And the problem is to educate the children of these, as well as
our own children, in the principles of that government of which they are
an essential and vital part.

This is the first problem, and if it is not attended to, our government
will crumble away and decay from neglect. We do not want denizens in
this state and this nation, we want citizens. We do not want ward
politics, but we do want government as our forefathers understood it.
And it is the duty of every right-minded citizen to work unfalteringly
for this end. The question is one of expediency.

We want citizens. And the public school and the public library are the
places where citizens are made. Therefore we must labor for and support
these institutions first and foremost. To a very great extent, the
librarian is the custodian of public morals and the moulder of public

The librarian must, and he usually does, feel his responsibility. The
word "responsibility" should be given equal weight with the word
"liberty" and emblazoned beside it, and it is these two things that the
public librarian through his knowledge of good literature must impress
upon our coming generations--"liberty and responsibility."



Our public schools are doing a great work, but, after all, "the older
generation remains untouched, and the assimilation of the younger can
hardly be complete or certain as long as the homes of the parents remain
comparatively unaffected." For those whose early education has been
neglected either by reason of family circumstances or because of wayward
disposition, and who realize their need before it is too late, there are
night schools, business courses and correspondence school courses, with
the minor advantages and stimulus offered by public lecture courses.
Volunteer study clubs and societies for research are being organized in
great numbers. And, more potent and more forceful, more universal in its
application than all these because better organized, better equipped and
readier to avail itself of all existing affiliating agencies, is that
national movement which has become known for want of a better term as
library extension.

Library extension aims to supply to every man, woman and child, either
through its own resources or by co-operation with other affiliated
agencies, what each community, or any group in any community, or any
individual in the community may require for mental stimulus,
intellectual recreation or practical knowledge and information useful in
one's daily occupation.


The opening of a free public library is a most important event in the
history of any town. A college training is an excellent thing; but,
after all, the better part of every man's education is that which he
gives himself, and it is for this that a good library should furnish the
opportunity and the means. All that is primarily needful in order to use
a library is the ability to read; primarily, for there must also be the
inclination, and after that, some guidance in reading well.



We cannot remind ourselves too frequently that a fundamental purpose of
good books, and so of the library which possesses them, is to give
pleasure, and that the library ought to be more closely and peculiarly
associated with pleasure than any other institution supported by the

Life for most of us is sufficiently dull and colorless. The workday
aspect of the world is always with us and oppresses us. For the average
man and woman, whose education has been limited, whose imagination has
lacked all wider opportunity for cultivation, the easiest escape from
the cares of daily life, from the depressing monotony of daily routine,
will be through the avenue opened by the story, the people's road out of
a care-filled life, ever since the days of "Arabian Nights." Such
readers as these desire fiction and ought to have it. If their
imagination can be cultivated to the point of reaching similar freedom
from care through poetry, through the drama, or through any of the
higher forms of literature, so much the better. The library's message is
to men and women cramped by toil and narrowed by routine, ever seeking
some way out of this troublesome world into that larger realm which is
more truly ours because it is our creation and that of our fellows. This
wider world, in its friendliness and homelikeness, the library must

The library is where the readers are introduced to the friendship of
authors and their books. There they are at home and there we too may be
at home. Old and young, rich and poor, wise and simple, men and women
and children, there we may meet new friends on kindly and familiar terms
and widen our thoughts as we learn of their wisdom and their wit. Still
better, there we may renew our acquaintance with old friends and feel
the contracted horizon of our lives again enlarge as we meet them once
more. New friends and old, they all greet us with an assured welcome and
yield to us the best which they can give, or we receive. We come to them
not to learn lessons but to be with them for a little while and to live
with them that larger and truer life which their presence creates for

Thus the library performs its high and noble duty of helping men to
live, "not by bread alone, but by every word of God," who, through good
books, has been speaking to the generations of men not only for their
instruction but even more for their delight.



The best proof of the value of public libraries lies in the cordial
support given them by all the people, when they are managed on broad,
sensible lines. Such institutions contribute to the fund of wholesome
recreation that sweetens life and to the wider knowledge that broadens
it. They give ambition, knowledge and inspiration to boys and girls
from sordid homes, and win them from various forms of dissipation. They
form a central home where citizens of all creeds and conditions find a
common ground of useful endeavor.

Libraries are needed to furnish the pupils of our schools the incentive
and the opportunity for wider study; to teach them "the art and science
of reading for a purpose," to give to boys and girls with a hidden
talent the chance to discover and develop it; to give to mechanics and
artisans a chance to know what their ambitious fellows are doing; to
give men and women, weary and worn from treading a narrow round,
excursions in fresh and delightful fields; to give to clubs for study
and recreation, material for better work, and, last but not least, to
give wholesome employment to all classes for those idle hours that wreck
more lives than any other cause.


"Even now many wise men are agreed that the love of books, as mere
things of sentiment, and the reading of good books, as mere habit, are
incomparably better results of schooling than any of the definite
knowledge which the best of teachers can store into pupils' minds.
Teaching how to read is of less importance in the intelligence of a
generation than the teaching what to read."


The bookless man does not understand his own loss. He does not know the
leanness in which his mind is kept by want of the food which he rejects.
He does not know what starving of imagination and of thought he has
inflicted upon himself. He has suffered his interest in the things which
make up God's knowable universe to shrink until it reaches no farther
than his eyes can see and his ears can hear. The books which he scorns
are the telescopes and reflectors and reverberators of our intellectual
life, holding in themselves a hundred magical powers for the overcoming
of space and time, and for giving the range of knowledge which belongs
to a really cultivated mind. There is no equal substitute for them.
There is nothing else which will so break for us the poor hobble of
everyday sights and sounds and habits and tasks, by which our thinking
and feeling are naturally tethered to a little worn round.



To the great mass of boys and girls the school can barely give the tools
with which to get an education before they are forced to begin their
life work as breadwinners. Few are optimistic enough to hope that we can
change this condition very rapidly. The great problem of the day is,
therefore, to carry on the education after the elementary steps have
been taken in the free public schools. There are numerous agencies at
work in this direction--reading rooms, reference and lending libraries,
museums, summer, vacation and night schools, correspondence and other
forms of extension teaching; but by far the greatest agent is good
reading. An educational system which contents itself with teaching to
read and then fails to see that the best reading is provided, when
undesirable reading is so cheap and plentiful as to be a constant menace
to the public good, is as inconsistent and absurd as to teach our
children the expert use of the knife, fork and spoon, and then provide
them with no food. The most important movement before the professional
educators to-day, is the broadening going on so rapidly in their duties
to their profession and to the public. Too many have thought of their
work as limited to schools for the young during a short period of
tuition. The true conception is that we should be responsible for higher
as well as elementary education, for adults as well as for children, for
educational work in the homes as well as in the schoolhouses, and during
life as well as for a limited course. In a nutshell, the motto of the
extended work should be "higher education for adults, at home, during



The free town library is wholly a product of the last half century. It
is the crowning creature of democracy for its own higher culture. There
is nothing conceivable to surpass it as an agency in popular education.
Schools, colleges, lectures, classes, clubs and societies, scientific
and literary, are tributaries to it--primaries, feeders. It takes up the
work of all of them to utilize it, to carry it on, and make more of it.
Future time will perfect it, and will perfect the institutions out of
which and over which it has grown; but it is not possible for the future
to bring any new gift of enlightenment to men that will be greater, in
kind, than the free diffusion of thought and knowledge as stored in the
better literature of the world.

The true literature that we garner in our libraries is the deathless
thought, the immortal truth, the imperishable quickenings and
revelations which genius--the rare gift to now and then one of the human
race--has been frugally, steadily planting in the fertile soil of
written speech, from the generations of the hymn writers of the
Euphrates and the Indus to the generations now alive. There is nothing
save the air we breathe that we have common rights in so sacred and so
clear, and there is no other public treasure which so reasonably demands
to be kept and cared for and distributed for common enjoyment at common

Free corn in old Rome bribed a mob and kept it passive. By free books
and what goes with them in modern America we mean to erase the mob from
existence. There lies the cardinal difference between a civilization
which perished and a civilization that will endure.



The library offers the advantages of good society to many who could not
otherwise enjoy them. This is one of the most important influences that
tells on individual character. A man is not only known by the company
he keeps, but to a great extent he is made or unmade by his associates.
A great part of what we learn and much of what we are is absorbed
unconsciously from our environment.

Now books are written--at least the good books--by men and women of the
better sort. They are people of marked intelligence and refinement. They
have just views of truth and duty and are able to reveal to us many
secrets respecting the life that is being lived around us. They are
interpreters and guides in all lines of human activity and service. To
be intimate with them is good society. If then we can bring all these
choice spirits by their books into our village and introduce them to our
children and our neighbors, even to the poorest, and let them talk to
all who will listen, we have done something, we have done much to raise
the tone of general intelligence and refinement.

Here is the great opportunity to reach the homes of the poor and the
careless and even of the baser sort with new light. The books will
interest and meet the craving for knowledge which everybody has, and
then will come into confidential relations with many a reader, starting
new trains of thought, suggesting new ideas, offering sympathy and
kindling faith. The friendless will gain friends and these friends will
do them good.

In such ways, this institution, the public library, is calculated to
enlarge and enrich the community's life.



The place now assigned the public library, by very general consent, is
that of an integral part of our system of public and free education. On
no other theory has it sure and lasting foundation; on no other theory
may it be supported by general taxation; on no other theory can it be
wisely and consistently administered. A public tax can be levied for the
maintenance of a public library only upon the principle which underlies
all righteous public taxation, not that the taxpayer wants something
and will receive it in proportion to the amount of his contribution, but
that the public wants something of such general interest and value that
all property-owners may be asked and required to contribute towards its

The demand for intelligent and effective citizenship is increasing
daily, for two reasons: First--The problems of public life and of public
service, of communal existence, are daily becoming more complex, more
difficult of satisfactory solution. Second--We are recognizing more
clearly than ever before that our present success and prestige are due
to the fact that more than any other people in the world's history have
we succeeded in securing that active participation and practical
co-operation of the whole people in all public affairs. In the whole
people are we finding and are we to find wholesomeness and strength.

But coincident with this discovery, this keen realization of the place
and value of all in advancing the common interests of all, has come the
feeling: First--That the common public schools must be made good enough
for all; and, Second--That even at their best they are insufficient. The
five school years (average) of the American child constitute a very
narrow portal through which to enter upon the privileges and duties of
life, as we desire life to be to every child born under the flag. There
is need of far more information, instruction, inspiration and uplift
than can possibly be secured in that limited time.

Casting about for a satisfactory supplement and complement for the
public schools, we find the public library ready to render exactly this
service; to make it possible for the adult to continue through life the
growth begun in childhood in the public school. Only in this way and by
this means can we hope to continue the common American people as the
most uncommon people which the world has yet known.

Henceforth, then, these two must go hand in hand, neither trenching upon
the field of the other, neither burdening or hampering the other, each
helping the other. The public school must take the initiative,
determining lines of thought and work, developing in each child the
power to act and the tendency to act, making full use of the public
library as an effective ally in all its current work, and making such
use of it as to create in each pupil the library habit, to last through
life. The public library must respond by every possible supplementary
effort, by most intelligent co-operation, by most sympathetic and
effective assistance, and by giving pupils a welcome which they will
feel holds good till waning physical powers make further use of the
library impossible.


The most imperative duty of the state is the universal education of the
masses. No money which can be usefully spent for this indispensable end
should be denied. Public sentiment should, on the contrary, approve the
doctrine that the more that can be judiciously spent, the better for the
country. There is no insurance of nations so cheap as the enlightenment
of the people.



A public library is the flower of the modern forms of co-operation,
which secures for the individual, luxuries which he could not afford

Instead of buying so many books and magazines which wear out on the
shelves after one reading, let us "pool our issues" and put the
multitude of small sums in one fund, buy the best at the lowest prices,
and then use the volumes so bought for the good of all. We need spend no
more money each year for literature, but we need to save the wastage due
to unused books, foolish purchases, book agents, commissions, and
needless profits--and we can have a public library without other cost.

A good public library in this town may help our neighboring farmers as
well as our townspeople. They cannot support public libraries in their
small communities. Their small school libraries give the children a
taste for reading, but give them nothing to gratify that taste when
they leave school. Let us join our forces for mutual advantage and get a
better library and a wider community of interests.



An ability to glean information quickly and accurately from books and
periodicals, to catch a fact when it is needed and useful, is an
indispensable factor in that self-education which all citizens should
add to the education obtained in the schools. The schools cannot give a
wide range of knowledge, but they can give the desire for knowledge, and
the library can give the opportunity to gain it.

Nearly every branch taught in the schools may be lightened and made more
interesting by supplementary information gained from a good library. The
pupil who is studying the life of Washington should find many
interesting facts concerning him and his time and associates, not given
in any of the formal biographies. He will find an article on Washington
in the "Young Folks' Cyclopedia of Persons and Places," but if he knows
how to use the index he can find fourteen other articles in the same
volume in which Washington is mentioned. A large encyclopedia will give
scores of facts wanted, under various articles treating of important
events in the latter colonial and earlier national history of our
country, in articles on places, customs, epochs, battles, and soldiers
and statesmen who were Washington's contemporaries.

A teacher cannot train a large number of young people to habits of
thorough investigation in a brief time, but she can easily train a few,
one or two at a time, and they will help to train others.



The modern library movement is a movement to increase by every possible
means the accessibility of books, to stimulate their reading and to
create a demand for the best. Its motive is helpfulness; its scope,
instruction and recreation; its purpose, the enlightenment of all; its
aspirations, still greater usefulness. It is a distinctive movement,
because it recognizes, as never before, the infinite possibilities of
the public library, and because it has done everything within its power
to develop those possibilities.

Among the peculiar relations that a library sustains to a community,
which the movement has made clear and greatly advanced, are its
relations to the school and university extension. The education of an
individual is coincident with the life of that individual. It is carried
on by the influences and appliances of the family, vocation, government,
the church, the press, the school and the library. The library is
unsectarian, and hence occupies a field independent of the church. It
furnishes a foundation for an intelligent reading of paper and magazine.
It is the complement and supplement of the school, co-operating with the
teacher in the work of educating the child, and furnishing the means for
continuing that education after the child has gone out from the school.
These are important relations. From the beginning the child is taught
the value of books. In the kindergarten period he learns that they
contain beautiful pictures; in the grammar grades they do much to make
history and geography attractive; in the high school they are
indispensable as works of reference.

Were it not for the library, the education of the masses would, in most
cases, cease when the doors of the school swung in after them for the
last time; but it keeps those doors wide open, and is, in the truest
sense of the word, the university of the people. The library is as much
a part of the educational system of a community as the public school,
and is coming more and more to be regarded with the same respect and
supported in the same generous manner.

The public library of to-day is an active, potential force, serving the
present, and silently helping to develop the civilization of the future.
The spirit of the modern library movement which surrounds it is
thoroughly progressive, and thoroughly in sympathy with the people. It
believes that the true function of the library is to serve the people,
and that the only test of success is usefulness.



There is no institution so intimately, so universally, so constantly
connected with the life of the whole people as the free public
library--no instrumentality that can do so much to civilize society. The
public schools alone cannot accomplish the task of elevating mankind to
even the most modest ideal of a well ordered society.

Our public schools have been the chief source of the greater general
intelligence and hence the industrial superiority of our citizens over
those of other countries. But the public schools cannot accomplish
impossibilities. They are not to blame for the fact that they can reach
the great majority during only six or eight years, or that only one and
one half per cent of the children in the United States go through the
high school. But wherever there is a public library, the teachers are to
blame if they do not graduate all their pupils, at whatever age they may
leave school, into the People's University.

General intelligence is the necessary foundation of prosperity and
social order.

The public library is one of the chief agencies, if not the most potent
and far-reaching agency, for promoting general intelligence.

Therefore, money devoted to the maintenance of a public library is money
well invested by a community.



Any consideration of a public library project is complimentary to a
community, showing, as it does, a sense of civic responsibility and a
desire for future progress which are commendable. No town can hope to
live up to its greatest possibilities without a public library, and none
with a sincere desire need be denied the blessings which result from
such an institution.

There are few communities which would not provide for a public library,
if its advantages were appreciated, for it is a remedy for many ills and
is all-embracing in its scope. It vitalizes school work, and receiving
the pupil from the school, the library continues his education
throughout life. It is a home missionary, sending its messengers, the
books, into every shop and home. With true missionary zeal, it not only
sends help, but opens its doors to every man, woman and child. In most
towns, there are scores of young men and boys whose evenings are spent
in loafing about the streets, and to these the library offers an
attractive meeting place, where the time may be spent with jolly, wise
friends in the books. The library substitutes better for poorer reading,
and provides story hours for the children who are eager to hear before
they are able to read. It also increases the earning capacity of people,
by supplying information and advice on the work they are doing.

Increased taxation is one of the greatest hindrances to the opening of a
public library, but any institution which enriches and uplifts the lives
of the people, is the greatest economy. Any attempt to conduct civic
affairs without a reasonable expenditure of money for such influences is
the grossest extravagance. No economy results from ignorance and vice,
and the public library has long since established its claim as one of
the most potent remedies for such conditions.

It is no exaggeration to state that every dollar expended for library
purposes is returned to the community tenfold, not necessarily in
dollars and cents, but in the more permanent, more valuable assets of
greater happiness, comfort and progress of the people. A city is the
expression of every life within its borders, and every increase in
progress and efficiency in the individual citizen, is progress for the

The most valuable things usually are obtained at some sacrifice, and the
many advantages from a public library are certainly worth paying for.
Hundreds of small cities and towns tax themselves for electric plants
and count themselves fortunate. No one seems to regret this taxation for
electric lights which illuminate the citizen's way at night. Should
there not be an equal or greater readiness on the part of a community to
establish a library and so illuminate the mental horizon of every

A public library is a necessity, not a luxury. Every community which
realizes this and establishes a library, proclaims itself an
intelligent, progressive town and one worth living in.


The opening of a free public library is a most important event in any
town. There is no way in which a community can more benefit itself than
in the establishment of a library which shall be free to all citizens.



Modern industrialism exacts from the artisan and the worker in every
branch, skill and knowledge not dreamed of years ago. He who would not
be trampled under foot needs to keep pace with the onward sweep in his
particular craft. The public library furnishes to the ambitious artisan
the opportunity to rise. Upon its shelves he may find the latest and the
best in invention and in method and in knowledge. Never in the history
of the country has there been such a desire manifested among the adult
population for continued education as may be noted to-day. Does it not
speak eloquently of ambition to rise above circumstances--that same
spirit that we have admired in our Franklins and our Lincolns and the
long roll of self-made men whose lives we are proud to recall? And so
library extension takes note of adult education, and combining its
forces with university extension, realizes that broader movement
variously termed home education, popular education and the people's

The library gives heed to the future, and thus does not neglect the
child. The intelligent work of the children's librarian, supplementing
the related work of the teacher, aims to develop the individual talent
or dormant resource which finds no chance for expression where children
are necessarily treated as masses. And we may never know what society
has lost by failure to quicken into life this dormant talent for
invention, for art, for literature, for philosophy. "The loss to society
of the unearned increment is trivial compared to the loss of the
undiscovered resource." Had retarding influences affected half a dozen
men whom we could readily name--Morse, Fulton, Stephenson, Edison, Bell,
Marconi--we might to-day be without the locomotive, the steamship, the
telegraph, the telephone--the myriad marvels of electricity that to-day
seem commonplaces. What we have actually lost during this great century
of scientific development we can never know. Nor must we forget that
invention is the result of cumulated knowledge which the fertile brain
of man utilizes in new directions, and that the preservation of the
knowledge and experience of the centuries is the province of the public
library, where all alike may have access to its riches. The ideal
democracy is the democracy of knowledge and of learning.

The library endeavors, by applying the traveling library principle to
collections of pictures, by means of the illustrated lecture and
otherwise, to cultivate among the people an appreciation of the
beautiful and artistic that shall ultimately find expression in the home
and its surroundings.

The library believes, too, that recreative reading is a legitimate
function. We hold, with William Morton Payne, that a sparkling and
sprightly story, which may be read in an hour and which will leave the
reader with a good conscience and a sense of cheerfulness, has its
merits. In this work-a-day world of ours we need a bit of cheer for the
hours which ought to be restful as well as resting hours. Library
extension is imbued with optimism; its broadening field is educational,
sociological, recreative. Unblinded to the evils of the day, its
promoters realize inability to amend them except by educational
processes affecting all the people. They do not preach the gospel of
discontent, but seek realization of conditions which shall bring about
contentment and happiness. That, after all, for the welfare of the
people, wants need be but few and easily supplied. He who has food,
raiment and shelter in reasonable degree, access to the intellectual
wealth of the world in public libraries, to the riches created by the
master painters and sculptors, found in public galleries and museums, to
the untrammeled use of public parks and drives, and the many other
universal advantages which are now so increasingly many, need not envy
the richest men on earth. Many a millionaire is poorer than the most
humble of his employees, for excessive wealth brings its own train of
evils to torment its possessor. Commercial success is a legitimate
endeavor among men, and thrift is to be commended, but when these
degenerate into greed, pity and not envy should be the meed of the man
seized with the money disease.



My opinion of the public library from a workingman's standpoint is, that
it is the greatest boon that could possibly be conferred upon him. It
places him at once upon the level with the millionaire, the student and
the philosopher. It opens for him (whose poverty would otherwise debar
him) the vast fields of literature. Here he may wander at will with the
master minds of humanity, hand in hand with the great thinkers of the
ages, open his mind and heart to the lessons taught by those great
leaders of men who have conquered nations and shaped the destinies of
the human race. Here he may associate with the greatest, the wisest and
the best. There is no limit to the possibilities of possessing knowledge
which is power, without money and without price. The public library
should be managed in the best interests of the workingman, and the books
should be purchased mainly with his welfare in view. The capitalist can
buy and own his own books. The workingman cannot do this. The children
of the workingman must get from the public library the general books of
reference which the business man has in his home. The children of the
workingman must have these books in order properly to do their school
work and thoroughly understand it. Their teachers require this. The
children of the workingman have their schools as well as the library.
Their work in the schools and the work in the library go hand in hand,
but the workingman himself has only the library for his school and must,
of necessity, go there. His schoolroom is the reference room, for the
knowledge he gains in that department he can at once put into practical
use in any capacity in which he may be employed.

The question arises, having presented those opportunities to the
workingman, will he take advantage of them? I answer, he surely will. It
is now more than twenty years since I joined a labor organization, the
"Stone-cutters' Union" of Minneapolis. Since that time I have always
been affiliated with organized workingmen. During all these years the
workingman has taken advantage of every opportunity to better the
condition of himself, his fellow workman and his employer. He has
learned to be more patient, more conservative and more trustworthy. His
hours of labor have been shortened, his wages are higher, and
labor-saving machinery has made his work lighter. He lives in a better
home, his family is better provided for and, best of all, his children
are better educated. What has wrought those great changes in the
conditions of the workingman? What has enabled him to keep up with the
swift march of progress during these many years? I will answer in one
word, Education. Just such institutions as the public library have made
this possible, and the public library has given the largest share.



What if there were no letters and no books? Think what your state would
be in a situation like that! Think what it would be to know nothing, for
example, of the way in which American independence had been won, and the
federal republic of the United States constructed; nothing of Bunker
Hill; nothing of George Washington; except the little, half true and
half mistaken, that your fathers could remember, of what their fathers
had repeated, of what their fathers had told to them. Think what it
would be to have nothing but shadowy traditions of the voyage of
Columbus, of the coming of the Mayflower pilgrims, and of all the
planting of life in the New World from Old World stocks, like Greek
legends of the Argonauts and of the Heraclidae! Think what it would be
to know no more of the origins of the English people, their rise and
their growth in greatness, than the Romans knew of their Latin
beginnings; and to know no more of Rome herself than we might guess from
the ruins she has left! Think what it would be to have the whole story
of Athens and Greece dropped out of our knowledge, and to be unaware
that Marathon was ever fought, or that one like Socrates had ever lived!
Think what it would be to have no line from Homer, no thought from
Plato, no message from Isaiah, no Sermon on the Mount, nor any parable
from the lips of Jesus!

Can you imagine a world intellectually famine-smitten like that--a
bookless world--and not shrink with horror from the thought of being
condemned to it?

Yet the men and women who take nothing from letters and books are
choosing to live as though mankind did actually wallow in the awful
darkness of that state from which writing and books have rescued us. For
them, it is as if no ship had ever come from the far shores of old Time
where their ancestry dwelt; and the interest of existence to them is
huddled in the petty space of their own few years, between walls of mist
which thicken as impenetrably behind them as before. How can life be
worth living on such terms as that? How can man or woman be content with
so little, when so much is offered?



The bookless homes of the well-to-do people are familiar to all. Inside
those walls no books are to be found but a few gift books, chosen for
their bindings rather than their contents, and perhaps others which some
agent has pressed upon them. What can be done to stimulate reading in
these homes? Ten-cent magazines and cheap stories are devoured by mother
and daughters to the destruction of sane thoughts and connected ideas.
The man of the house each day reads his newspaper, containing accounts
of crimes, accidents and the funny paper. Happily, it also contains
articles of travel, invention and discovery, otherwise his brain would
be weakened.

Young people come from these bookless homes to college each year,
showing great confusion of ideas, vacuity of mind and utter lack of
information. They need us, need libraries, need the force of the state
to help them. Ninety-four per cent of our young people never get into
college. Ninety per cent, it is said, never go to school after they have
passed the age of fourteen years.

The contribution of the library is to elevate the standard of the town.
Books depicting noble, earnest, well-meaning lives will cause the social
standard to progress, and other standards with it.



A library is an essential part of a broad system of education, and a
community should think it as discreditable to be without a
well-conducted free public library as to be without a good school. If it
is the duty of the state to give each future citizen an opportunity to
learn to read, it is equally its duty to give each citizen an
opportunity to use that power wisely for himself and the state.
Wholesome literature can be furnished to all the readers in a community
at a fraction of the cost necessary to teach them to read, and the power
to read may then become a means to a life-long education.

The books that a boy reads for pleasure do more to determine his ideals
and shape his character than the text-books he studies in the schools.
Bad and indifferent literature is now so common that the boys will have
some sort of reading. If they have a good public library they will read
wholesome books and learn to admire Washington, Lincoln and other great
men. Without a library many of them will gloat over the exploits of
depraved men and women, and their earliest ambitions will be tainted.

Each town needs a library to furnish more practice in reading for the
little folks in school; it needs it to give the boys and girls who have
learned to read a taste for wholesome literature that informs and
inspires; it needs it as a center for an intellectual and spiritual
activity that shall leaven the whole community and make healthful and
inspiring themes the burden of the common thought--substituting, by
natural methods, clean conversation and literature for petty gossip,
scandal and oral and printed teachings in vice.



"In Madison, N. J., a bird club of boys met twice a week, once for study
and once for an expedition, and found the library's resources on this
topic to be of interest and value. How to utilize profitably the
activities of a 'gang' of boys is worth much planning. One librarian is
reported to have started a chair-caning class to interest restless boys;
another had a museum of flowers and insects, another conducted a branch
of the flower mission. Not less interesting, and perhaps more
instructive, is a series of talks on Indian legends accompanied by
hunting expeditions for the half-buried implements and relics found in
almost every meadow in some parts of the country. Boys are eager to
learn about natural history and natural science, and they will be
encouraged at the public library."



Get good books; give them a home attractive to readers of good books;
name a friend of good books as mistress of this home--and you have a
library; all share in its support and all get pleasure and profit from
it if they will; without divisions religious, politic or social, it
unites all in the pursuit of high pleasure and sound learning, and gives
that common interest in a common concern which is the basis of all local

If you have rightly read a book, that book is yours.

You cannot always choose your companions; you can always choose your
books. You can, if you will, spend a few minutes every day with the best
and wisest men and women the world has ever known.

The people you have known, the things you have said and done, and the
books you have read, all these are now a part of you.

You like yourself better when you are with people who are well-bred and
clever; you respect yourself more when you are reading a bright and
wholesome book, for you are then in the company of the wise.


After the church and the school, the free public library is the most
effective influence for good in America. The moral, mental and material
benefits to be derived from a carefully selected collection of good
books, free for the use of all the people, cannot be overestimated. No
community can afford to be without a library.



The opportunity is at hand to answer this question. A generous gift is
offered, shall we accept it? We can have ---- dollars for a public use,
if we will promise to support the use to which this money is dedicated.
Shall ---- have a free public library? It is up to us, her citizens.

We have passed the stage of a country town and are ranked and cataloged
as a modern, progressive city, enjoying many of the advantages of the
larger cities. Why is this true? Because the progressive spirit and
sentiment have always triumphed in her onward march. Because, inspired
by a public spirit, her people have joined hands, and shoulder to
shoulder labored for all that pertains to religious, moral, social,
industrial, educational and material development. Let us keep marching

Many towns in the state, nearly all those in the counties surrounding
us, are accepting Carnegie gifts for libraries. Will it not humiliate
and degrade us in the eyes of the people of the state if we decree
against a public library? Let us not detract from our well deserved and
established reputation for progressiveness by such a mistake. We appeal
to public spirit; to pride of city; to pride of home, and urge you to
register your vote in favor of this enterprise.


The system of free public libraries now being established in this
country is the most important development of modern times. The library
is a center from which radiates an ever widening influence for the
enlightenment, the uplift, the advancement of the community.



The greatest boon that the system of public schools, or the college, or
the university, can confer upon any boy or girl is to teach him or her
to use a great collection of literature, to teach them how to read; and
to plant within their hearts an irresistible impulse and an
indestructible delight in so doing. What profits it a man to learn how
to read if he does not read? For what purpose is the mind trained and
developed by the process of systematic study in the schools if it is not
inspired to go farther into the realms of knowledge? Is it a rational
procedure for one, upon the completion of his course of training, to
discontinue all further investigation and to lay aside what little love
for learning and literature and philosophy and science that may have
been aroused in his bosom by school or college inspirations? And how is
this advancing and widening of one's horizon by means of the accumulated
stores of knowledge gathered by the previous generations of the world's
strong thinkers and beautiful writers to be secured, other than by a
collection of good books, by a library?



Have our missionary societies access to Bliss's "Encyclopedia of
Missions," or to Dennis's great "Missions and Christian Progress"? Do
our Bible students know Moulton's "Literary Study of the Bible"?--a book
so illuminating as to seem almost itself inspired. How many of the
members of the young people's societies of our churches have access to a
standard concordance, Bible dictionary, or a dictionary of sects and
doctrines? Has the W. C. T. U. the reports of the Committee of Fifty,
that great committee of master minds, who made exhaustive investigation
and authoritative reports on the various aspects of the liquor question?
Have the Masons a history of free-masonry? Has the Shakespeare Club
books on Shakespeare, and is the Political Equality Club acquainted
with standard works on political science and the franchise? Who has a
good "Cyclopedia of Quotations," or a "Reader's Handbook," where we can
satisfy our curiosity regarding allusions to "Fair Rosamond," "Apples of
Hesperia," "Atlantis" and "Captain Cuttle"?

If we were to see a farmer laboriously cutting his wheat with a scythe,
tying it into bundles by hand, and then carrying the bundles on his back
to the barn, we would think he was crazy. Is it not as foolish, however,
for us in our study work to do without the suitable tools and helps
which we might have in a public library?



The proposition that only an enlightened and an intelligent people can
make self-government a success is so self-evident as to make argument
but a vain repetition of empty words. And yet we know that the public
school side of our system of free public education is as yet only able
to secure five years' schooling for the average child in this
country--an all too narrow portal through which to enter upon successful
citizenship. There is an imperative demand, then, for the establishment
and the development and for the wise administration of that other branch
of our system of free public education which we know as the public

We must understand clearly that the beneficent result of this system of
education is just as possible to the son of the peasant as to the son of
the president, is just as helpful to the blacksmith as to the barrister,
to the farmer as to the philosopher; and in its possibilities and in its
helpfulness is a constant blessing to all and through all, and is needed
by all alike.

The most worthy mind, that which is of most value to the world, is the
well-informed mind which is public and large. Only through the
development of such, both as leaders and as followers, can all classes
be brought into an understanding of each other, can we preserve true
republican equality, can we avoid that insulation and seclusion which
are unwholesome and unworthy of true American manhood. The state has no
resources at all comparable with its citizens. A man is worth to himself
just what he is capable of enjoying, and he is worth to the state just
what he is capable of imparting. These form an exact and true measure of
every man. The greatest positive strength and value, therefore, must
always be associated with the greatest positive and practical
development of every faculty and power.

This, then, is the true basis of taxation for public libraries. Such a
tax is subject to all the canons of usual taxation, and may be defended
and must be defended upon precisely the same grounds as we defend the
tax for the public schools.



I choose free libraries as the best agencies for improving the masses of
the people, because they give nothing for nothing. They only help those
who help themselves. They never pauperize. They reach the aspiring, and
open to these the chief treasures of the world--those stored up in
books. A taste for reading drives out lower tastes.

Besides this, I believe good fiction one of the most beneficial reliefs
to the monotonous lives of the poor. For these and other reasons I
prefer the free public library to most if not any other agencies for the
happiness and improvement of a community.



Libraries are established that they may gather together the best of the
fruits of the tree of human speech, spread them before men in all
liberality and invite all to enjoy them. The schools are in part
established that they may tell the young how to enjoy this feast. They
do this. They teach the young to read. They put them in touch with
words and phrases; they point out to them the delectable mountains of
human thought and action, and then let them go. It is to be lamented
that they go so soon. At twelve, at thirteen, at fourteen at the most,
these young men and women, whose lives could be so broadened, sweetened,
mellowed, humanized by a few years' daily contact with the wisest,
noblest, wittiest of our kind as their own words portray them--at this
early age, when reading has hardly begun, they leave school, and they
leave almost all of the best reading at the same time. If, now, you can
bring these young citizens into sympathy with the books the libraries
would persuade them to read; if you can impress upon them the reading
habit; then the libraries can supplement your good work; will rejoice in
empty shelves; will feel that they are not in vain; and the coming
generations will delight, one and all, in that which good books can
give; will speak more plainly; will think more clearly; will be less
often led astray by false prophets of every kind; will see that all men
are of the one country of humanity; and will--to sum it all--be better
citizens of a good state.

I believe you will find there is something yet to do in reading in which
the library can be of help. Reading comes by practice. The practice
which a pupil gets during school hours does not make him a quick and
skilful reader. There is not enough of it. If you encourage the reading
habit, and lead that habit, as you easily can, along good lines, your
pupils will gain much, simply in knowledge of words, in ability to get
the meaning out of print, even though we say nothing of the help their
reading will give them in other ways.



When we consider how much the education that is continued after
schooltime depends upon the right use of books, we can hardly be too
emphatic in asserting that something of that use should be learned in
the school. Yet almost nothing of the sort really is learned. The
average student in high school does not know the difference between a
table of contents and an index, does not know what a concordance is,
does not know how to find what he wants in an encyclopedia, does not
even know that a dictionary has many other uses besides that of
supplying definitions. Still more pitiful is his naïve assumption that a
book is a book, and that what book it is does not particularly matter.
It is the commonest of all experiences to hear a student say that he has
got a given statement from a book, and to find him quite incapable of
naming the book. That the source of information, as long as that
information is printed somewhere, should be of any consequence, is quite
surprising to him, and still more the suggestion that it is also his
duty to have some sort of an opinion concerning the value and
credibility of the authority he thus blindly quotes. If the school
library, and the instruction given in connection with it, should do no
more than impress these two elementary principles upon the minds of the
whole student body, it would go far towards accounting for itself as an
educational means. That it may, and should, do much more than this is
the proposition that we have sought to maintain, and we do not see how
its essential reasonableness may be gainsaid.

DIAL, Feb. 1, 1906.


The library supplies information for mechanics and workingmen of every
class. Just as the system of apprenticeship declines and employers
require trained helpers, must the usefulness of the library increase.

Library work offers great opportunity for philanthropy, and philanthropy
of the higher form, because its work is preventive, rather than
positive. It anticipates evil by substituting the antidote beforehand.
It fosters the love of what is good and uplifting before low tastes have
become a chronic propensity. Pleasure in such books as the library would
furnish to young readers will interest the mind and occupy the thoughts
exclusive of those evil practices invited by the open door of idleness.
The children generally come of their own free will; they are influenced
silently, unconsciously to themselves; they feel themselves welcome,
loved, respected. Self-respect, the mighty power to lift and keep erect,
is fostered and developed.

The work of the library is for civic education and the making of good
citizens, a form of patriotism made imperative for the millions of
foreigners coming yearly to our shores.

The public library offers common ground to all. There are no social
lines to bar the entrance; the doors open at every touch, if only the
simple etiquette of quiet, earnest bearing is observed. No creeds are to
be subscribed to, the rich and poor meet together in absolute
independence. Even the aristocracy of intellect does not count in the
people's university. The ideal public library realizes the true spirit
of democracy.



In more than one locality the local public library has come to be
recognized as the natural local center of the community, around which
revolve the local studies, the local industries, and all the various
local interests of the town or village. Here, for instance, is the home
of the local historical society; here also is the home of the local
camera club; of the natural history society; of the study club and
debating societies. Why is this? It is because those in charge of the
library have so thoroughly realized the fact that in a community the
interests of all are the interests of each, and that while this is true
of other institutions as related to each other, yet there is no one of
them on which the lines of interest so invariably converge from all the
others--as "all roads lead to Rome."



The very presence of a public library has a meaning and exerts a power
for good. Especially is this the case when this presence is made evident
by a separate and worthy building. The building which stands for books,
for knowledge, for the records of human experience; a house not just
like other houses but with marks of permanence, dignity and grace, and
evidently so contrived as to call the people in and to distribute freely
to them these wise and entertaining books, must be a positive influence
in itself.

The children know it for what it is. Old and young, rich and poor,
recognize its meaning. It embodies the great idea of a man learning and
growing by his association with the wisdom and experience of other men.
It is the great clearing house of human intelligence where knowledge is
mutually exchanged and every one can learn what the rest know. It tells
the lowest and meanest and most ignorant that here is the opportunity
open to everybody to know, and therefore that books are a common concern
of the village, by which it sets great store.

If, on the other hand, the public library is neglected, or starved with
excessive thrift, or if it is crowded into a corner, opened at rare
intervals and approached with difficulty, all this influence is lost.

The increase of reading tends to a general broadening of life. Human
nature is selfish so long as the man is isolated, for he is controlled
by his impulses and passions, and guided by his own narrow ideas.

Our views of life are moulded by reading. The records are here,
describing lands and people we have never seen, centuries in which we
have not lived, men who passed off the stage in past ages. The
discoveries of science, the developments of workmanship, the growth of
civilization; thought, wit, fancy, feeling, which has appealed to the
world, and that study, the study of man, is illustrated in infinitely
diverse forms of story and song: all these are in books and they give us
the advantage of wide horizons and enlarged acquaintance with life. A
community leavened with such influences, where people generally
understand, where all grow up from their youth to know, to think, to
communicate and to have common acquaintance with the past and the
distance and with the secrets of nature, and all the many ways of doing
things, is a stronger, happier and more prosperous community because of
that very fact, and the books are plainly a means to so desirable an



As the children have grown up since our library was established, it is
wonderful how their demands for books have widened. A boy in his casual
reading finds some particular branch of study, in science, mechanics,
art or politics, which arouses a sleeping instinct. Straightway he
forsakes his stories and his plays and goes to the library to satisfy
his new desires. Year by year the demand upon the library has broadened
and books have been added treating of electricity, the X-ray, wireless
telegraphy, mending bicycles, telephones, bee-keeping, care of pet
animals, political, social and economic questions, and still the books
do not meet all demands. New subjects are called for and new books must
be bought.


Side by side in the wilderness, our forefathers planted the church and
the school; and on these two supports the nation has stood firm and
grown great. But a tripod is necessary for stable equilibrium. As the
country has grown, its industrial, economic and political problems have
grown more numerous and more complex, and the nation required a broader
base of intelligence and morality for its security and perpetuity. The
third support for a wider and higher national life has been found in the
public library, which co-operating with the school, doubles the value of
the education the child receives in school and further incites and
furnishes him with facilities for doing so. It also enables the adult
to make up for the opportunities he neglected or, more often, did not
have in early life. It does this, too, at an expense to the community of
not more than one tenth of the cost per capita of school education.



This is the fundamental matter after all--money. Whence shall the funds
come? The church plan, the club plan--all are dependent on the spasmodic
and irregular support that results from the labors of a soliciting
committee using persuasive arguments with business men and others. There
are certain expenses that are absolutely essential--books first and
most, a room for which, probably, rent must be paid (though some
generous citizen may give the use of it), periodicals to be subscribed
for, heat, light, table, chairs, etc., besides the most important
feature of the whole scheme--the librarian.

The wisest form of organization is the tax-supported free public
library. Is it desirable that the small town shall in its beginning in
library matters attempt at once to secure a municipal tax to found and
maintain a free public library under the state law? There are those who
believe this is the only way to make a beginning. Eventually, if not in
the beginning, the free public library on a rate or tax-supported basis
is the most desirable form of library organization.



1 Such a tax puts the library on the right basis as a public
institution. The purpose of the library is the same as that of the
school--public education, the enlargement and enrichment of the
intellectual life of the community--and it should, therefore, be
supported on the same grounds and by the same methods as the school.

2 The library supported by local taxation ceases to be a charity,
contributed by the few to the many, and becomes the right and property
of all. When I use a library supported by private gifts, I am accepting
a favor; when I use a library supported by public tax, I am using what
is mine by right. The tax thus promotes a feeling of independence and
self-respect in the library's patrons.

3 Taxation is the easiest and fairest way to raise the needed money.
Five hundred dollars raised by entertainments, subscriptions, sales,
etc., means a great burden of labor, care and expense to a few, and
usually to net that sum a very much larger sum must be expended, while
$500 spread on the tax rolls would hardly be felt even by the largest

4 It adds dignity to the library and increases the respect in which it
is held. To be made each year an object of charity for which private
subscriptions are solicited and rummage sales held tends to bring it
into contempt and greatly lowers its influence in the community.

5 A stated tax, yielding a known and fixed income, enables the trustees
to pursue a consistent and stable plan for library development, such as
is impossible where the income is dependent on fluctuating impulse or

6 There is no village tax levied from which the people can get so large
a return for so little money. A $500 tax in a village of 3,000 people is
equivalent to about 16 cents for each resident. For this insignificant
sum each person in the village is offered a pleasant reading room, as
good as that supplied by many a club, a dozen or more of the best
periodicals, a collection of books such as only a very few of the more
wealthy can possess as individuals, and about $200 worth of new books to
read every year.



First--A free public library under municipal control has a regular,
known income, which increases with the growth of the municipality.

Second--It is not dependent solely upon subscriptions, contributions
and the proceeds of entertainments arranged for its benefit.

Third--With an income that is certain, the trustees are able to make
plans for the future, and more economically administer the affairs of
the library.

Fourth--A municipally-controlled library is owned by the people, and
experience has demonstrated that they take a much greater interest in an
institution belonging to them.

Fifth--Public libraries supplement the work of the public schools.
"Reading maketh a full man," wrote Lord Bacon; and Thomas Carlyle thus
expressed the same idea: "The true university of these days is a
collection of books." Libraries, like the schools, should be supported
by the people.

Sixth--The library is not a charity; neither should it be regarded as a
luxury, but rather as a necessity, and be maintained in the same manner
that the schools, parks, fire departments and public roads are
maintained--through the tax levy.

Seventh--Where all contribute the burden is not felt; each aiding
according to his ability.

Eighth--Permanency is acquired for the library, and many valuable
governmental, state and other publications may be obtained without cost,
a privilege that is often denied to subscription libraries.

Ninth--The trustees and librarian are not hampered in their work by
inability to collect subscriptions or the failure of an entertainment to
return a profit.

Tenth--There is a more efficient and closer co-operation with the public
schools and other municipal institutions and interests.

Eleventh--Public ownership secures more democratic service and broadness
in administration.

Finally--All are interested in a Free Public Library, and in an
emergency there will be a more generous response to an appeal for
financial assistance.


       *       *       *       *       *

+Foreign Book Lists+

List of selected German books. 50c.
List of Hungarian books. 15c.
List of French books. 25c.
List of French fiction. 5c.
List of Norwegian and Danish books. 25c.

+Library Tracts+ (5c. each)

2  How to start a public library, by Dr. G. E. Wire.
3  Traveling libraries, by F. A. Hutchins.
4  Library rooms and buildings, by C. C. Soule.
5  Notes from the art section of a library, by C. A. Cutter.
8  A village library, by Mary Anna Tarbell.
9  Training for librarianship.
10 Why do we need a public library? Material for a library campaign,
     by Chalmers Hadley.

+Library Handbooks+ (15c each)

 1 Essentials in library administration, by L. E. Stearns.
 2 Cataloging for small libraries, by Theresa Hitchler.
 3 Management of traveling libraries, by Edna D. Bullock.
 4 Aids in book selection, by Alice B. Kroeger.
 5 Binding for small libraries.
 6 Mending and repair of books, by Margaret W. Browne.

+Card Publications+

 1 Catalog cards for current periodical publications.
 2 --for various sets of periodicals and for books of composite
 3 --for current books in English and American history, with
 4 --for current bibliographical publications.
 5 --for photo-reproductions of modern language texts before 1600
       in American college libraries.

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