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Title: Library Ideals
Author: Legler, Henry Eduard
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: Henry E. Legler]




Compiled and Edited by His Son,






Preface                                     VII

The Problem of the Cities                     1

Certain Phases of Library Extension          10

Next Steps                                   21

The World of Print and the World's Work      36

Library Work With Children                   57

Traveling Libraries                          64

Administration of Library Funds              73


Wisconsin, a true cradle of freedom and successful government, has
fostered several librarians who were true humanists. Dr. Peckham was
one. Dr. Thwaites was another. Henry E. Legler was unlike either of
these, but greater than either in his continued and unabated activity
for the good of the people.

Once, on being complimented for his splendid work in natural history
and his persistence in the pursuit of scientific facts, Dr. Peckham
remarked: "Oh, yes, but the facts have no value in themselves. They
merely build up the groundwork of the ideas, and help you climb to the
point of view where the deeper aspects of the subject spread out before
you like a landscape beneath a mountain-top."

Mr. Legler's activity in behalf of libraries will support the same
explanation. He seemed always immersed in detail, always planning
some movement and carrying it into effect by his peculiar, dynamic
persistence. But he who observed the man kindly and closely cannot have
failed to have noticed that there was a distinct _Beyond_ illumining
and overshadowing it all. There was a dream to come true, a vision to
be unfolded. The dream and vision were in the man's speech and eye. He
lived under a prophecy.

It is not for us to estimate whether this prophecy became fulfilled
in his life as one of us. But it is our privilege to confess that it
brought to us the things which Europeans have designated as "culture"
and which really is enlightenment. Thus it is that many of Mr. Legler's
associates and friends will recollect with gratitude that some gave
them knowledge, and others gave them opportunities, but it was for Mr.
Legler to illumine their knowledge and opportunity with the live spark
of inspiration.

The dream was in his eye, inspiration was in his speech and manner.
Library work was the means in his power of making his fellow-men ever
more free and happy, ever more master of themselves, ever more capable
of being guided, not by fear and never by prejudice, but by a live
responsibility to the spirit within them. Personally, though a most
assiduous worker at his official desk in Milwaukee, Madison or Chicago,
he always thought of escaping and of seeking some quiet spot in the
wilderness--where, doubtless, he hoped to view his work from _above_.
How many librarians nowadays have such a hope?

Of his method with the men and women of his age many of us will retain
unforgettable memories. He was prompt, precise, perhaps even brief, but
invariably gracious. His Italian ancestry told in the inimitable grace
he unfolded to kindred spirits in confidence. We never were in doubt
of the things he admired and fostered. We never felt there were hidden
recesses of doubt and perplexity behind his sympathies. His grace of
manner never was marred by contact with less enlightened surroundings.
It is inimitable and unforgettable how he would pause in the midst of
some matter of the moment, to plunge into some subject which he knew
would interest and benefit the other person. And how grateful he was to
strike a vein of gold in a seemingly unpromising human ore!

Secretary of the Milwaukee Board of Education, and Secretary of the
Wisconsin Free Library Commission, Mr. Legler was already well versed
in official service when chosen Librarian of the Chicago Public
Library. He had declined several offers of important posts before that
time, because the work he would give called for perfect freedom to work
out the problems as he saw them. Wisconsin had given him this freedom.
Chicago promised it--and kept her promise. There was sufficient
prestige within the Chicago Public Library to warrant respect for, and
liberal support of, its work, but the public estimate of this prestige
was lacking. Other large cities possess this estimate in varying
degree. Chicago--not its library--had fallen behind.

The effect of Mr. Legler's presence in Chicago has been most fortunate
for all concerned. He took his place in public affairs naturally and
effectively. The library's prestige grew in public recognition as the
work of himself and his associates progressed. He gave all--and they
accepted all, naturally and easily. But the giving and taking required
all his bodily strength. He knew that an easier life was possible, but
his humanity could not accept the easier form, and so the strength gave

But the spirit remains. Mr. Legler gave valuable contributions to
historical investigation and to literary criticism, and he has
published notable contributions to the elucidation of American forms
of life. His contributions to library science and the art of books
have been in part collected in the volume herewith presented. The main
purpose in collecting them in the present form is to convey their
purposes to the friends who like to remember the mind out of which
they grew--and to perpetuate to others a memory of that burning zeal,
that aspiring enthusiasm, that radical idealism, which animated Mr.
Legler in choosing the library as the place where true humanism may be
fostered and American enlightenment may flourish.

"Whatever began in the course of time--if of the Spirit of Truth and
Love, it will be in time completed."



Uncle Sam's last tabulation of his people holds within its maze of
figures a basis for prophecy, as well as a summary of the present, and
a comparison with the past. For those who are concerned with the making
of an intelligent citizenship, perhaps the striking and significant
fact is not the marvelous industrial development of the country, but
rather the amazing growth of the cities. It needs no searching analysis
to give emphasis to the sinister elements which are embodied in this
bare statement. It means an approach to that critical period in the
history of popular government when wise leadership and extension of
education alone can serve to avert threatened disruption. Upon the
people who are near to the soil will devolve the task of holding in
balance the restless and turbulent elements which now make up so large
a proportion of the dwellers in cities.

The modern growth of the city, with all that this movement in
population implies, must be reckoned with everywhere. Greater New York
has a population exceeding that of any state in the Union except its
own. Chicago has within its city limits more people than any of forty
states. The ten leading cities comprise together one-eighth of the
total population of the United States. If New York City and Chicago
and their conditions are extreme manifestations, it must be taken into
account that in perhaps not to exceed a quarter and at most a half
century, this growth cityward will be duplicated in every section of
the United States. There are now 58 cities in the United States each
counting more than 100,000 population, eight of them in excess of half
a million each; there are 180 cities more each counting from 25,000 to
100,000 inhabitants.

It is hard to realize the rate of urban growth. In spite of the opening
of vast tracts of land to be had almost for the asking, the total
town population has multiplied in the last hundred years from 3 to
approximately 50 per cent.

For the third or fourth time, the city is becoming the dominant
factor in the world's history. The city-states of Greece rose and
fell. Some of them became spoils of conquerors, others wasted from
internal causes. Corinth once exercised sovereignty of the seas, but
half a million of her population were slaves. When destroyed by the
Carthaginians, Agrigentum was said to number two millions of people.

Genoa, Venice, the cities of the Hanseatic league, played their brief
part in the commercial supremacy of their day. Rome once possessed
a population of one million and a quarter, but though circled by
beautiful villas and gardens, the common people lived congested in
buildings whose floors and apartments were divided among numerous
families. Famous writers have told us of the splendor and size of
hundred-gated Thebes and Babylon and Antioch and Ephesus. But if there
was splendor, there was vice; there was magnificence, but there dwelt
squalor as well. Beauty and opulence fattening on human misery could
not withstand famine, pestilence, and vice. The glories of the cities
on the Nile, the Euphrates, and the Tiber are but a memory. And unless
in the civic life of the modern city there is introduced an element
that shall embrace the common good, perhaps Macaulay's oft-cited
description of the New Zealander standing on the wreck of London bridge
surveying the ruins of St. Paul's may yet become historic instead of
merely prophetic.

It is perhaps but one of many evidences of the restlessness of the day
that the lure of the city beckons with attraction inescapable to the
youth of the countryside. Young men and young women who yield to the
fascination find too late that they have sought Dead Sea Fruit,

    "Which charms the eye
    But turns to ashes on the lips."

The refuges and jails and lazarets and foul places of the great cities
are filled with the derelicts of humanity who in less hectic atmosphere
might have led lives of usefulness and contentment. Much has been done
to give the life in the rural regions attractiveness and comfort; much
more remains to be done, and particularly in supplying educational
advantages, if the young men and women are to be made to feel that
their opportunities are no less than those to be secured in larger
cities of pulsing life. How wretchedly as yet this want has been met
in most states, those charged with the supervision of educational
activities can testify.

There are those who in the face of present-day economic conditions
contend that any attempt to stop the great trek cityward must prove as
futile as the back-to-the-soil movement has on the whole proved to be.
Any such admission bodes but ill for the future of this land. It means
that the number of men who feel an ownership in the land, in houses,
in the government must decrease. And therein lies a danger not to be
lightly disregarded.

Something of the dream and _Sehnsucht_ that comes to the dreaming
country boy, Robert Louis Stevenson has pictured with his wonder touch
in his idyl of the miller's boy. Something, too, he has suggested in
his ending of the story:


 "The mill where Will lived with his adopted parents stood in a falling
 valley between pine woods and great mountains. Above, hill after hill
 soared upwards until they soared out of the depths of the hardiest
 timber, and stood naked against the sky. Below, the valley grew ever
 steeper and steeper, and at the same time widened out on either hand:
 and from an eminence beside the mill it was possible to see its whole
 length and away beyond it over a wide plain, where the river turned
 and shone, and moved on from city to city on its voyage towards the
 sea. All through the summer, traveling carriages came crawling up, or
 went plunging briskly downwards past the mill; and as it happened that
 the other side was very much easier of ascent, the path was not much
 frequented, except by people going in one direction; five-sixths were
 plunging briskly downwards and only one-sixth crawling up.

 "Whither went all the tourists and pedlars with strange wares? Whither
 all the brisk barouches with servants in the dicky? Whither the water
 of the stream, ever coursing downward and ever renewed from above?
 Even the wind blew oftener down the valley and carried the dead
 leaves along with it in the fall. It seemed like a great conspiracy
 of things animate and inanimate, they all went downward, fleetly and
 gaily downward, posting downward to the unknown world, and only he, it
 seemed, remained behind, like a stock upon the wayside.

 "From that day forward Will was full of new hopes and longings.
 Something kept tugging at his heartstrings; the running water carried
 his desires along with it as he dreamed over its fleeting surface;
 the wind, as it ran over innumerable tree-tops, hailed him with
 encouraging words; branches beckoned downward; the open road, as it
 shouldered round the angles and went turning and vanishing faster and
 faster down the valley, tortured him with its solicitations. He spent
 long whiles on the eminence, looking down the rivershed and abroad on
 the low flatlands and watched the clouds that traveled forth upon the
 sluggish wind and trailed their purple shadows on the plain; or, he
 would linger by the wayside, and follow the carriages with his eyes
 as they rattled downward by the river. It did not matter what it was;
 everything that went that way, were it cloud or carriage, bird, or
 brown water in the stream, he felt his heart flow out after it, in an
 ecstacy of longing.

 "One day, when Will was about sixteen, a young man arrived at sunset
 to pass the night. He was a contented-looking fellow, with a jolly
 eye, and carried a knapsack. While dinner was preparing, he sat in the
 arbour to read a book; but as soon as he had begun to observe Will,
 the book was laid aside; he was plainly one of those who prefer living
 people to people made of ink and paper. Will, on his part, although
 he had not been much interested in the stranger at first sight, soon
 began to take a great deal of pleasure in his talk, which was full of
 good nature and good sense, and at last conceived a great respect for
 his character and wisdom. They sat far into the night; and Will opened
 his heart to the young man, and told him how he longed to leave the
 valley and what bright hopes he had connected with the cities of the
 plain. The young man whistled, and then broke into a smile.

 "'My young friend,' he remarked, 'you are a very curious little
 fellow, to be sure, and wish a great many things which you will never
 get. Why, you would feel quite ashamed if you knew how the little
 fellows in these fairy cities of yours are all after the same sort of
 nonsense, and keep breaking their hearts to get up into the mountains.
 And let me tell you, those who go down into the plains are a very
 short while there before they wish themselves heartily back again. The
 air is not so light or so pure; nor is the sun any brighter. As for
 the beautiful men and women, you would see many of them in rags and
 many of them deformed; and a city is a hard place for people who are
 poor and sensitive.'

 "'You must think me very simple,' answered Will. 'Although I have
 never been out of this valley, believe me, I have used my eyes. I do
 not expect to find all things right in your cities. That is not what
 troubles me; it might have been that once upon a time; but although
 I live here always, I have asked many questions and learned a great
 deal in these last years, and certainly enough to cure me of my old
 fancies. But you would not have me die and not see all that is to be
 seen, and do all that a man can do, let it be good or evil? You would
 not have me spend all my days between this road here and the river,
 and not so much as make a motion to be up and live my life? I would
 rather die out of hand,' he cried, 'than linger on as I am doing.'

 "'Thousands of people,' said the young man, 'live and die like you,
 and are none the less happy.'

 "'Ah!' said Will, 'if there are thousands who would like, why should
 not one of them have my place?'

 "It was quite dark; there was a hanging lamp in the arbour which lit
 up the table and the faces of the speakers; and along the arch the
 leaves upon the trellis stood out illuminated against the bright sky,
 a pattern of transparent green upon a dusky purple. The young man
 rose, and, taking Will by the arm, led him out under the open heavens.

 "'Did you ever look at the stars?' he asked, pointing upwards.

 "'Often and often,' answered Will.

 "'And do you know what they are?'

 "'I have fancied many things.'

 "'They are worlds like ours,' said the young man. 'Some of them less;
 many of them a million times greater; and some of the least sparkles
 that you see are not only worlds, but whole clusters of worlds turning
 about each other in the midst of space.'

 "Will hung his head a little, and then raised it once more to heaven.
 The stars seemed to expand and emit a sharper brilliancy; and as he
 kept turning his eyes higher and higher, they seemed to increase in
 multitude under his gaze. * * *

 "Will went to and fro minding his wayside inn, until the snow began
 to thicken on his head. His heart was young and vigorous, and if
 his pulses kept a sober time, they still beat strong and steady in
 his wrists. He stooped a little, but his step was firm, and his
 sinewy hands were reached out to all men with a friendly pressure.
 His talk was full of wise sayings. He had a taste for other people
 and other people had a taste for him. His views seemed whimsical to
 his neighbors, but his rough philosophy was often enough admired by
 learned people out of town and colleges. Indeed, he had a very noble
 old age, and grew daily better known; so that his fame was heard of
 in the cities of the plains. Many and many an invitation to be sure,
 he had, but nothing could tempt him from his upland valley. He would
 shake his head and smile with a deal of meaning: 'Fifty years ago you
 would have brought my heart into my mouth; and now you do not even
 tempt me.'"

There is a legend of how a flying party of wanderers encountered a very
old man shod with iron. The old man asked them whither they were going;
and they answered with one voice: "To the Eternal City!" He looked
upon them gravely. "I have sought it," he said, "over the most part of
the world. Three such pairs as I now carry on my feet have I worn out
upon my pilgrimage, and now the fourth is growing slender underneath
my steps." And he turned and went his own way alone, leaving them

In the effort to make rural life of equal attractiveness with city
life, it must be admitted that educational opportunities have lagged
behind. Those who, by compulsion or otherwise, have left school
in early years, find in the cities today abundant opportunity for
self-help in the public libraries, in night schools, and in other
agencies; the same opportunities are not provided to any appreciable
extent in the country regions.

In the present stage of educational development, there are today
millions of young men and women who find in the public library the
only open door through which they catch glimpses of opportunity beyond
their own immediate domain. With all the limitations involved, this is
a hopeful circumstance, for instances are plentiful where "the chance
encounter with a book has marked the awakening of a life." One need
not go to works of fiction to seek such stories, but in them may be
found types which have been plucked from bits of real life. And in real
life they could be multiplied a thousand times. Perhaps you recall
the household of the Tullivers' when misfortune came upon it, and the
change which a few well-thumbed volumes made in one of its members:

 "The new life was terrible to Maggie--Maggie with her strange dreams,
 with her hunger for love. Her father no longer stroked her hair as he
 used to do when she sat down in her low stool beside him at night,
 though he was more dependent on her than ever. Tom, weary and full of
 his new business ambitions, did not respond to her caresses. The poor
 mother remained hopelessly bewildered under the blow that had fallen
 on her placid existence.

 "The girl fell back on the meagre remnant of books that had been left
 by the creditors. She studied Virgil and Euclid and spent her days in
 the fields with the Latin dictionary and Tom's thumbed schoolbooks.
 One day she chanced on a worn copy of Thomas á Kempis, and she pushed
 her heavy hair back from her sad brow as if to see a sudden vision
 more clearly. That chronicle of a solitary, hidden anguish, struggle,
 faith and triumph came to her in her need and filled her heart with
 the writer's fervor of renunciation.

 "Her new inward life shone out in her face with a tender, soft light
 that mingled itself as added loveliness with the enriched color and
 outline of her blossoming youth. Maggie was beginning to show a
 queenly head above her old frocks, and her mother felt the change with
 a puzzled, dim wonder that the once 'contrary' and ugly child should
 be 'growing up so good.'"

The higher life of the citizen has received too little attention, and
the lower and baser life seems to have absorbed all the sympathy and
care of the authorities. But we have touched the fringe of better days,
and soon no municipality or local governing body will be considered
complete unless it has under its administration a library and a
museum, as well as a workhouse, a prison, and the preserves of law
and order. It is for the provision for this higher national life that
this plea is made, and upon municipalities is earnestly urged the
need of giving the fullest and best attention to this question. The
fact should be emphasized that the municipality can do for the people
in the way of libraries and museums what cannot possibly be done by
private enterprise. It may be unhesitatingly asserted that in fullest
usefulness, economical management, and best value for money invested,
the existing rate-supported libraries are far in advance of the private
institutions of this nature.

It is some forty years since Carlyle asked the question, "Why is there
not a Majesty's library in every county town? There is a Majesty's gaol
and gallows in every one," and it is as long since the Public Libraries
Act was passed, and yet the lack of libraries is still one of the most
startling deficiencies in these islands. We have given the people ever
greater and greater political power, but they displayed no marked
inclination to benefit themselves by means of books or other means of

"We must now educate our masters," said Mr. Lowe when the Reform Bill
of 1867 was passed. He was quite right, for the said masters were by no
means quick to educate themselves, and the number of public libraries
which they consented to establish for three years after 1867 was about

Then came Mr. Forster's Education Act, and great things were expected
of it. Now that everybody was to be taught his letters, everybody would
surely want books to read also. What, indeed, would be the good of
teaching people to read at all unless they were also to have a supply
of good books? You might as well teach a man the use of his knife and
fork and then not give him any meat.

Public libraries are the natural and legitimate outcome of compulsory


Dreaming of Utopia, an English writer of romance evolved a plan for
a people's palace, centering under one roof the pleasures and the
interests and the hopes of democracy. Far away, if not improbable,
as seemed the fruition of his dream, he lived to see prophecy merge
in realization. Were this lover of mankind still living, he would
know that his concept, though he saw it carried into being, had not
permanence in the form he gave it. Ideals cannot be bounded by the
narrow confines of four walls. And yet he had the vision of the seer,
for that which he pictured in local form with definite limitations
has, in a direction little dreamed of then, assumed form and substance
in a great world movement. Not only in great hives of industry, where
thousands congregate in daily toil, but in the small industrial hamlets
and in the rural towns that dot the land lie the possibilities for
many such palaces of the people, and in many--very many--of such
communities today exist the beginnings that will combine and cement
their many-sided interests.

This great world movement which is gathering accelerated momentum with
its own marvelous growth, we call library extension. That term is
perhaps sufficiently descriptive, though it gives name rather to the
means used than to the results sought to be achieved. For certainly its
underlying principle is of the very essence of democracy. There is no
other governmental enterprise--not excepting the public schools--that
so epitomizes the spirit of democracy. For democracy in its highest
manifestation is not that equality that puts mediocrity and idleness
on the same level with talent and genius and thrift, but that equality
which gives _all_ members of society an equal opportunity in life--that
yields to no individual as a birthright chances denied to his fellow.
And surely if there is any institution that represents this fundamental
principle and carries out a policy in consonance, it is the public
library. Neither condition nor place of birth, nor age, nor sex, nor
social position, serves as bar of exclusion from this house of the open
door, of the cordial welcome, of the sympathetic aid freely rendered.
In myriad ways not dreamed of at its inception, library extension has
sought channels of usefulness to reach all the people. The traveling
library in rural regions, the branch stations in congested centers of
population, the children's room, the department of technology, are a
few of these--to mention the ones which occur most readily to mind.

But these allied agencies do but touch the edge of opportunity. The
immediate concern of those engaged in library extension must be with
the forces reaching the adult population, and especially the young men
and women engaged in industrial pursuits. For the mission of the public
library is two-fold--an aid to material progress of the individual and
a cultural influence in the community through the individual. Perhaps
it may be said more accurately that the one mission is essential to
give scope for the second. For, first of all, man must needs minister
to his physical wants. Before there can be intellectual expansion and
cultural development, there must be leisure, or at least conditions
that free the mind from anxious care for the morrow. So the social
structure after all must rest upon a bread-and-butter foundation. It
follows as a logical conclusion that society as a whole cannot reach
a high stage of development until all its individual members are
surrounded with conditions that permit the highest self-development.
Until a better agency shall be found, it is the public library which
must serve this need. And therein lies the most potent reason for the
extension of its work into every field, whether intimately or remotely
affiliated, which can bring about these purposes. Its work with
children is largely important to the extent that habits are formed and
facility acquired in methods that shall be utilized in years succeeding
school life. But its great problem is that of adult education. What an
enormous field still lies untilled, we learn with startling emphasis
from figures compiled by the government. Despite the fact that
provision is made by state and municipality to give to every individual
absolutely without cost an education embracing sixteen years of life,
there are retarding circumstances that prevent all but a mere fraction
of the population from enjoying these advantages in full measure.

To quote a summary printed last year, "in the United States 16,511,024
were receiving elementary education during the year 1902-03; only
776,635 attained to a secondary education, and only 251,819 to the
higher education of the colleges, technical schools, etc. Stated in
simpler terms, this means that in the United States for one person who
receives a higher education, or for three who receive the education
of the secondary schools, there are sixty-five who receive only an
elementary education, and that chiefly in the lowest grades of the
elementary schools."

What gives further meaning to this statistical recital is the force of
modern economic conditions. From an agricultural we are developing into
a manufacturing people, with enormous influx from the rural into the
urban communities. The tremendous expansion of our municipalities has
brought new and important problems. Within the lifetime of men today a
hundred cities have realized populations in excess of that which New
York City had when they were boys. Vast numbers of immigrants differing
radically in intelligence and in education from earlier comers are
pouring into the country annually. It has been pointed out that some of
the largest Irish, German and Bohemian cities in the world are located
in the United States, not in their own countries. In one ward in the
city of Chicago forty languages are spoken by persons who prattled at
their mother's knee one or the other of them.

 "The power of the public schools to assimilate different races to
 our own institutions, through the education given to the younger
 generation, is doubtless one of the most remarkable exhibitions of
 vitality that the world has ever seen," says Dr. John Dewey in an
 address on "The School as a Social Center." "But, after all, it
 leaves the older generation still untouched, and the assimilation of
 the younger can hardly be complete or certain as long as the homes
 of the parents remain comparatively unaffected. Social, economic and
 intellectual conditions are changing at a rate undreamed of in past
 history. Now, unless the agencies of instruction are kept running
 more or less parallel with these changes, a considerable body of men
 is bound to find itself without the training which will enable it to
 adapt itself to what is going on. It will be left stranded and become
 a burden for the community to carry. The youth at eighteen may be
 educated so as to be ready for the conditions which will meet him
 at nineteen; but he can hardly be prepared for those which are to
 confront him when he is forty-five. If he is ready for the latter when
 they come, it is because his own education has been keeping pace in
 the intermediate years."

 And again: "The daily occupations and ordinary surroundings of life
 are much more in need of interpretation than ever they have been
 before. Life is getting so specialized, the divisions of labor are
 carried so far that nothing explains or interprets itself. The
 worker in a modern factory who is concerned with a fractional piece
 of a complex activity, presented to him only in a limited series of
 acts carried on with a distinct position of a machine, is typical
 of much in our entire social life. Unless the lives of a large part
 of our wage earners are to be left to their own barren meagerness,
 the community must see to it by some organized agency that they are
 instructed in the scientific foundation and social bearings of the
 things they see about them, and of the activities in which they are
 themselves engaging."

Now if those who come in such limited numbers from the colleges and
universities, can keep step with the onward march of their fellows only
by constantly adding to their educational equipment, what shall be
said of that enormous army made up of conscripts from the ranks in the
elementary schools?--the tender hands that drop the spelling book and
seize the workman's dinner pail?

Thus we establish the duty of the state to its citizenship in providing
means for adult education. And herein lies a great opportunity for
library extension--not, indeed, in seeking to supplant agencies already
existent; not in creating new ones that will parallel others, but in
supplementing their work where such educational agencies do exist,
in supplying channels for their activities through its own greater
facilities for reaching the masses. Important as are the public museum,
the public art gallery, the popular lecture or lyceum feature, the
public debate associated with or incorporated in the library, of as
far-reaching importance is another and newer allied agency developed
in university extension. The response which has come in establishing
correspondence study as part of modern university extension is of
tremendous significance. The enrollment in correspondence schools of a
million grown-up men and women eager to continue their education, and
willing to expend more than fifty million dollars a year in furtherance
of that desire, is a factor that challenges attention. It is a new
expression of an old impulse. Eighty years ago the working people and
artisan classes of Great Britain took part in a similar movement. Its
beginning was prompted by a wish for technical instruction. Soon these
mechanics' institutes grew into social institutions, with collections
of books as a secondary interest. The institutes increased enormously
in number, until through their medium more than a million volumes a
year were circulated. Charles Knight issued his penny encyclopedia,
Robert and William Chambers led the way for inexpensive books, the
Society for the Diffusion of Knowledge came into existence. Industrial
England was for the time being the workshop of the world. And in the
later university extension movement which, along new lines, is to make
of universities having a state foundation really the instrument of the
state for the good of all the people in place of the few, the libraries
have a great opportunity to become an important factor. Millions of
the adult population will thus be given an opportunity to bring out
in its best form whatever of talent and of intellectual gift they may
possess. From a private letter written by Professor McConachie, of the
University of Wisconsin, who has charge of the correspondence study
in the department of science, are taken the following extracts: "Old
ways of teaching are breaking down. Library study and written exercises
are re-enforcing classroom recitations and lectures. Each pupil of a
term course studies one or two prescribed texts, reads and reports
in detail a minimum of eight or nine hundred pages in a choice shelf
collection of library books, takes and submits notes, writes brief
themes and prepares for weekly quizzes wherein the members of his class
section helpfully interchange ideas and information. The post-office
is the medium for extension from the university to a vaster body of
students everywhere throughout the state. The same materials--books,
periodicals, newspapers, and official documents,--that the student
of politics uses under the personal oversight of the university
instructor, are scattered in vast abundance everywhere. The state is
one great library. The largest single collection is paltry beside this
magnificent and ever-increasing supply of political literature that
permeates every hamlet. Civic intelligence has thriven upon the mere
haphazard and desultory reading of the people. Correspondence studies
will put their scattered material into shape for them and systematize
their use thereof." The library and the university may serve the
citizen by giving unity and direction to his reading, helping him to
hitherto hidden worth and meaning in the humblest literary material at
his hand, by quickening his interest alike in the offices, institutions
and activities that lie nearest to his daily life and in his world-wide
relationship with his fellowmen. For the citizen on the farm, at the
desk, or in the factory, they point the way out of vague realizations
into distinct and definite command of his political self, offer
refreshing change from the narrowing viewpoint of individual interest,
to the broadening viewpoint of his town or state or country, and lead
on to far international vistas of world-wide life and destiny.

Society has an interest in this beyond the rights of the individual.
The greatest waste to society is not that which comes from
improvidence, but from undeveloped or unused opportunity. So it
becomes the duty of every community to make its contribution to the
world, whether it be in the realm of invention, scientific discovery,
or literature. And how is this to be done if genius and talent are
allowed to die unborn for lack of opportunity to grow? Wonderful as
has been the progress of the world's knowledge during the last century
of scientific research, who will venture to say that it constitutes
more than a fraction of what might have been if all the genius that
remained dormant and unproductive could have been utilized? From what
we know of isolated instances where mere chance has saved to the
world great forces that make for the progress of humanity, we can
infer what might have been realized, under happier conditions. Every
librarian of experience, every administrator of traveling libraries,
will recall such instances. One boy comes upon the right book, and the
current of his life is changed; another reads a volume, and in his
brain germinates the seed that blossoms into a great invention; in a
chance hour of reading, a third finds in a page, a phrase, a word, the
inspiration whose expression sets aflame the world. A master pen has
vividly described the process:[2]

 "Most of us who turn to any subject with love remember some morning
 or evening hour when we got on a high stool to reach down an untried
 volume. * * * When hot from play he would toss himself in a corner,
 and in five minutes be deep in any sort of book that he could lay his
 hands on; if it were Rasselas or Gulliver, so much the better, but
 Bailey's Dictionary would do, or the Bible with the Apocrypha in it.
 Something he must read when he was not riding the pony, or running and
 hunting, or listening to the talk of men. * * * But, one vacation,
 a wet day sent him to the small home library to hunt once more for
 a book which might have some freshness for him. In vain! unless,
 indeed, he first took down a dusty row of volumes with gray-paper
 backs and dingy labels--the volumes of an old encyclopedia which he
 had never disturbed. It would at least be a novelty to disturb them.
 They were on the highest shelf, and he stood on a chair to get them
 down; but he opened the volume which he took first from the shelf;
 somehow one is apt to read in a makeshift attitude just where it
 might seem inconvenient to do so. The page he opened on was under the
 head of Anatomy, and the first passage that drew his eyes was on the
 valves of the heart. He was not much acquainted with valves of any
 sort, but he knew that valvæ were folding doors, and through this
 crevice came a sudden light startling him with his first vivid notion
 of finely-adjusted mechanism in the human frame. A liberal education
 had, of course, left him free to read the indecent passages in the
 school classics, but beyond a general sense of secrecy and obscenity
 in connection with his internal structure, had left his imagination
 quite unbiased, so that for anything he knew his brains lay in small
 bags at his temples, and he had no more thought of representing to
 himself how his blood circulated than how paper served instead of
 gold. But the moment of vocation had come, and before he got down from
 his chair the world was made new to him by a presentiment of endless
 processes filling the vast spaces planked out of his sight by that
 wordy ignorance which he had supposed to be knowledge. From that hour
 he felt the growth of an intellectual passion."

And in this wise the world gained a great physician.

All this may be said without disparagement to that phase of library
usefulness which may be termed the recreative. There has been undue
and unreasoning criticism of the library tendency to minister to the
novel-reading habit. Many good people are inclined to decry the public
library because not all its patrons confine their loans to books
dealing with science, or with useful arts. In their judgment it is not
the legitimate function of the public library to meet the public demand
for fiction. These same good people would hardly urge that the freedom
of the public parks should be limited to those who wish to make
botanical studies. The pure joy in growing things and fresh air and
the song of uncaged birds, needs no knowledge of scientific terms in
botany and ornithology. These privileges are promotive of the physical
well-being of the people; correspondingly, healthy mental stimulus is
to be found in "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." Our own good friend, Mr. John Cotton Dana, has
admirably epitomized the underlying philosophy:

 "A good story has created many an oasis in many an otherwise arid
 life. Many-sidedness of interest makes for good morals, and millions
 of our fellows step through the pages of a story book into a broader
 world than their nature and their circumstances ever permit them to
 visit. If anything is to stay the narrowing and hardening process
 which specialization of learning, specialization of inquiry and of
 industry and swift accumulation of wealth are setting up among us, it
 is a return to romance, poetry, imagination, fancy, and the general
 culture we are now taught to despise. Of all these the novel is a
 part; rather, in the novel are all of these. But a race may surely
 find springing up in itself a fresh love of romance, in the high sense
 of that word, which can keep it active, hopeful, ardent, progressive.
 Perhaps the novel is to be, in the next few decades, part of the
 outward manifestation of a new birth of this love of breadth and

There is, then, no limitation to the scope of library extension save
that enforced by meagerness of resource and physical ability to do. In
the proper affiliation and correlation of all these forces which have
been enumerated and of others suggested by them, will develop that
process whereby the social betterment that today seems but a dream will
be brought into reality. The form this combination will assume need
give us no concern--whether its local physical expression shall be as
in Boston a group of buildings maintained as separate institutions;
or as in Pittsburgh, a complete, related scheme of activities covered
by one roof; as planned in Cleveland, a civic center with the public
library giving it character and substance; or as in New York, where
many institutions, remotely located but intimately associated, work
toward a common end. Many roads may lead to a common center. Which
one the wayfarer chooses is a matter of mere personal preference and
of no importance, so that he wends his way steadily onwards towards
the object of his attainment. In the evolution of these uplifting
processes, the book shall stand as symbol, as the printed page shall
serve as instrument.


Of all human interests that pertain to intellectual improvement--social
evolution, scientific achievement, educational progress, governmental
advance, or humanitarian endeavor, none has seemed too unimportant for
consideration by library workers. Librarians have sought to identify
their work with them all, to achieve contact with every individual,
with groups of individuals and with communities as a whole. If
intelligent method has sometimes seemed lacking, the enthusiasm and the
self-denial of the missionary have been given in unstinted measure. To
the home and to the mart, to the school and to the playground, to the
workshop and to the laboratory, they have brought--whether asked or
unsought--the best at their command.

Not out of abundance has the library attempted so much in such diverse
places. Its meager resources have been spread over such vast fields
that in spots the substance has seemed tenuous and transparent. Most
insufficient, and perhaps least successful thus far, but suggesting
the most important function of library activity and presaging its most
significant development, is that branch of service associated with
grammar and secondary schools. Here lies the most fertile field for
strong, vigorous, fruitful energizing of such forces as the library

Curiously enough, a perception of values which inhere in the associated
and co-ordinated efforts of school and library has not, as yet, dawned
upon school men to any appreciable degree. Here and there, indeed, a
vibrant voice has demanded the joining of effort for practical ends,
but the teaching folk as a whole remain impervious to possibilities
even when sensible of the need. Nearly four centuries ago, Martin
Luther noted the possibilities of the library as an educational adjunct
and necessity, and urged the founding of public libraries for the
preservation and encouragement of learning.[4]

"No cost nor pains," he urged in the concluding pages of his letter to
the mayors of Germany, "should be spared to procure good libraries in
suitable buildings, especially in the large cities which are able to
afford it."

From his day to ours there appears in printed works on
education--whether general or dealing with specialized phases--no
recurrent note amplifying this suggestion, except a few casual fugitive
references in less than a dozen recent publications, and two treatises
that recognize the importance of the subject with some fulness of
treatment. Perhaps this sweeping characterization of stolid school-room
self-sufficiency should be modified by crediting to Horace Mann a
vision that scarcely survived his passing. A historian of educational
influences informs us that in Mr. Mann's work for teachers two aspects
are apparent--one dealing with preparation, the other with method.
Through his labors normal schools became a component part of our
school system, and institutes were started for the special training
of teachers. Furthermore, he made apparent the value of libraries as
school adjuncts, and brought about their establishment. And similarly
in backwoods Wisconsin, three-quarters of a century ago, Lyman Draper
sought to interest the teaching forces there. His report printed in the
50's--now rare and difficult to procure--is a grouping of opinions,
prophetic but yet unrealized, expressed by eminent men of the day as
foreshadowing a relationship of school and library.

A careful examination of fifty average books on education issued since
1870 yields but scant encouragement to those who seek association of
school and library. Six of the fifty writers give at least passing
consideration to the subject. Two cyclopedias of education recognize
the importance of the subject.[5]

Forty-two books issued between the years mentioned, and about equally
divided between the decades represented are wholly barren of such
mention. On the other hand, two are notable for vital grasp and broad
treatment--G. Stanley Hall's chapters in the second volume of his
"_Educational Problems_," and Hugo Müsterberg's chapter in "_The

Significant of present-day conditions is the testimony of a teacher,
who, addressing a library gathering, said:[6]

"In days gone by we carried on the school without libraries--we could
do this as well as not because education meant _learning by rote_;
text-book learning alone.

"This is, to my mind, the most important thing I have to say to
you--we do not yet know you and our need for you.

"In our school lives as children, in our normal training and later in
our actual teaching we have not had you, and we do not yet realize your

"To get this matter before you definitely, pardon my using my own case
as illustration.

"From beginning to end of my common school education--from the first
grade through eighth--I never saw a school or a public library. We had
none, though I lived in a good-sized city in the Middle West. I learned
what the text-book told me; no supplementary reading (or rarely), no
pictures, no objects. My training in reading and literature consisted
in learning to keep my toes on a crack and my voice from falling on a
question mark!

"In high school I had very little but the regular text. Again memory
work was the test. I remember well a boy who was my ideal. He learned
his geography word for word and so recited it. If he sneezed or a door
slammed and his flow of words (I use words advisedly) was interrupted,
he had to begin again. He was the show pupil in our class.

"In college our instructors in science performed all the experiments
for us while we looked on. When we went to the library we spoke to the
librarian through a wire netting, and in our company manners asked for
a book.

"In the normal school which I attended there was a so-called children's
library, but the books were all text-books, and we were not taught how
to help the children to use them. We had literature, but it was all
about Hamlet's being or not being mad; none of it was taught in a way
to make it a tool for the elementary teacher.

"After all this I began teaching, with no knowledge of the resources of
a library as an aid to either teacher or child, and I felt no need for
such aid. What is true of me is true of thousands of other teachers.

"You must make us feel our need for you. You must, if you please,
intrude yourselves upon our notice. Generations of teachers who have
worshipped at the shrine of the text-book can in no other way be

"The ideals of education today are broader, our needs are greater, and
you have the material to help us to realize our needs."

In the relatively few instances where co-operation between school
and library administration has led to installation of modern library
equipment in elementary schools, the difficulties have been experienced
which are usual when afterthought supplies what forethought neglects to
include. Quarters are ordinarily unsuitable and insufficient. Adequate
provision should be made when school buildings are planned, for library
quarters that are ample as to size and strategic as to location,
instead of depending for space upon a room or enlarged closet not
otherwise utilized, for library placement. Perhaps it is too optimistic
to hope for a change soon in the inconceivably stupid architecture and
design of school buildings, despite a few recent striking examples to
the contrary.

As now financed, no public library system can undertake to administer a
branch library in every grade school building within its jurisdiction.
For school service on such a liberal scale there would be required in
the city of New York at least $4,300,000 for equipment and at least
$537,000 annually for current maintenance; in Chicago, $2,350,000
for initial equipment and $294,000 annually for maintenance; in
other cities, correspondingly large expenditures. However, in most
of the major cities of the United States, it is entirely feasible to
make a reasonable beginning by introducing some features of the work
not now attempted, or tried in such meagre fashion as to be useless
and disheartening. As there are in many places traveling school
libraries, so there may well be added traveling school librarians. It
is imperative that for this service there must be sought a type of
teacher-librarian capable by reason of natural ability and education to
command the confidence of the teaching corps as a counselor, and of the
student body as a friendly element in the school, disassociated from
the thought of book use based on compulsion. A teacher-librarian so
qualified could exert an important influence in shaping the future of
the children.

In his inimitable, whimsical fashion, Bernard Shaw brings out with
sympathy and humor something of this spirit of compulsion which schools

 "There is, on the whole, nothing on earth intended for innocent people
 so horrible as a school. To begin with, it is a prison. But it is in
 some respects more cruel than a prison. In a prison, for instance, you
 are not forced to read books written by the warders and the governor
 (who, of course, would not be warders and governors if they could
 write readable books), and are therefore beaten or otherwise tormented
 if you cannot remember their utterly unmemorable contents. In the
 prison you are not forced to sit listening to turnkeys discoursing
 without charm or interest on subjects that they don't understand and
 don't care about, and are therefore incapable of making you understand
 or care about. In a prison they may torture your body; but they do
 not torture your brains; and they protect you against violence and
 outrage from your fellow prisoners. In a school you have none of these
 advantages. With the world's book-shelves loaded with fascinating and
 inspired books--the very manna sent down from heaven to feed your
 souls--you are forced to read a hideous imposture called a school
 book, written by a man who cannot write; a book from which no human
 being can learn anything; a book which, though you may decipher it,
 you cannot in any fruitful sense read, though the enforced attempt
 will make you loathe the sight of a book all the rest of your life. It
 is a ghastly business, quite beyond words, this schooling."

The late Professor Norton is credited[7] with the statement that a
taste for literature is a result of cultivation more often than a
gift of nature, and that the years of the elementary school seem
to be the time in which the taste takes deepest root. Dr. Scott
Nearing[8] points out that the old education presupposed an average
child and then prepared a course of study which would fit his needs.
The new education, he contends, recognizes the absurdity of averaging
unlike quantities, and accepts the ultimate truth that each child is
an individual, differing in needs, capacity, outlook, energy, and
enthusiasm from every other child. An arithmetic average can be struck,
but when it is applied to children it is a hypothetical and not a real
quantity. There is not, and never will be, an average child; hence, a
school system planned to meet the needs of the average child fits the
needs of no child at all.

Rightly directed, library influences in elementary schools would modify
the machine-like formula giving to all children alike at the same time
the same mental food to eat and the same moral garb to wear. As Dr.
Bird T. Baldwin notes in his ingenious statement of the five ages of
childhood, school children are inevitably different; even when children
are born on the same day, the chances that they will grow physically,
mentally and morally at exactly the same rate, and will make exactly
the same progress in school, are remote indeed.

A teacher-librarian having special aptitude for the post could render
service of inestimable value to teachers as well as to their pupils, in
becoming the active medium between public school and public library.
By securing the right books from the library for home reading, by
providing picture material and reference sources for class room use,
by conducting story hours and reading clubs, by giving instruction in
the use of the library and the keys that open books, by giving stimulus
to the ambitions and capacities of individual pupils, by intimate
co-operation with the work of vocational guidance, the librarian would
prove her worth. Nor would the least useful function of the school
libraries be that of an evening study place for those tens of thousands
of children whose home conditions absolutely preclude thought of, or
opportunity for, study out of school hours.

It may be contended that these services are provided by branch
libraries and their juvenile departments. What are the facts? Early
in the present month twenty million boys and girls went more or less
willingly to school. Our consolidated library statistics show that
considerably less than one million of them use our public libraries.
Despite our imposing figures of circulation, we reach but 5 per cent of
the juvenile population.

If there are urgent reasons for increased library effort in connection
with grade schools, these apply with multiplied force as to high
schools. Here, indeed, the deterrent factor of enormous and prohibitive
cost would not obtain, because they are fewer in number; and in
proportion to total cost of maintenance, the added percentage of cost
would be comparatively small. There are in the United States 8,300
high schools with a four-year course, and 3,250 carrying a three-year
course. In every one of the 11,500 high schools there should be a
well-equipped and well-administered library. Preferably, those that
are located in cities where there are strong public libraries should
be conducted as branches of the local public library. Such management
would assure better administration. School management would imperil in
many instances the selection of librarians fitted for the task. Too
often, as experience has demonstrated, the governing body would assign
to the post derelict teachers unfitted by reason of age or physical
handicap, and unfortunate deficiencies in other respects. On the other
hand, public library authorities must recognize more tangibly than
they do now that high school librarians must possess not only library
training in the machinery of routine performance, but also university
education, teaching experience, and qualifications of personality and
temperament that will place them on a level with other members of the

In the high schools we find the sifted grain of the elementary schools.
It is there that the potential qualities of originality and genius
which will later make their impress upon the course of industry and
government must be quickened and given direction. More and more it is
coming to be realized that to grasp without failure the complexities of
modern life native intelligence no longer suffices.

Intelligence must be sharpened by education and given power by
experience. The self-made man who achieved success untaught,
unlettered, and unaided save by his own efforts of hand and brain,
has become a legendary hero. Appreciation of changed conditions may
be found in the records of increased attendance in the high schools.
That increase has been at a greater rate than that of the population.
In 1890 there were but 59 pupils for every ten thousand inhabitants;
in 1895 there were 79; in 1900 there were 95; in 1910 there were 100;
and now the number is considerably in excess, statistics for 1914
showing 117. Thus, in twenty-five years, the percentage of high school
attendance has nearly doubled.

Again we find the school people without perception of the great value
which a properly conducted library would bring to a high school. In
his recently published book, "_The New Education_," Dr. Scott Nearing
describes an up-to-date high school:

"The modern high school," he says, "is housed in a building which
contains, in addition to the regular classrooms, gymnasiums, a swimming
tank, physics and chemical laboratories; cooking, sewing, and millinery
rooms; woodworking, forge, and machine shops; drawing rooms; a music
room; a room devoted to arts and crafts; and an assembly room. This
arrangement of rooms presupposes Mr. Gilbert's plan of making the high
school, like the community, an aggregation of every sort of people,
doing every sort of work."

When some of the foremost leaders in education leave out of a list
of desiderata for the high school what the universities have come to
regard as the very heart of the institution--the library--is there
marvel that the love of literature is being strangled in the schools?
Required reading of classics, and the use of literary masterpieces for
classroom dissection has taken away the pure joy of reading and made
the study of literature a mere literary autopsy. Here is the testimony
of a teacher who places herself on the witness stand:[9]

"Sometimes the high school course works as a sort of vaccination to
prevent their taking literature seriously.

"Most teachers of English have had at times the experience holding open
a volume of Shakespeare with one hand, while with the other they waved
some sort of scholastic rod over the head of a rebellious young modern.
Though 'classics' are probably swallowed with less forcible feeding
than grammar, spelling, and rhetoric, yet even those dilutable bits
of literature that have been considered food for the gods of culture
are gulped down wry-facedly by some barbarians. By judicious skimming
and cramming they may perforce capture the irreducible minimum of
scanty and fugitive facts about the masterpieces prescribed for their
edification; but at the first safe moment they joyously forget them,
and betake themselves to the cheaper theaters, the thrilling dailies,
and the popular novelists.

"The truth is that literature teachers are devoted champions of a lost
cause. Some of the dead authors appear to be so irrevocably dead that
no amount of artificial respiration can put any breath of life into
their works so far as the ordinary high school student is concerned.

"It would be enticingly easy to win over students to a course in
journalism, modern magazines, and contemporary novels and dramas.

"We cannot expect to overcome all the narrowing and even vulgarizing
influences that surround many of our young people; but at least we
should improve their judgment enough to make them reject the cheapest,
shallowest, and most distorted contemporary writings."

One chapter of Ernest Poole's story of "_The Harbor_" tells of his
school experience. A passage from it is worth quoting:

 "What a desert of knowledge it was back there. Our placid tolerance
 of the profs included the books they gave us. The history prof gave
 us ten books of collateral reading. Each book, if we could pledge
 our honor as gentlemen that we had read it, counted us five in
 examination. On the night before the examination I happened to enter
 the room of one of our football giants, and found him surrounded by
 five freshmen, all of whom were reading aloud. One was reading a
 book on Russia, another the life of Frederick the Great, a third was
 patiently droning forth Napoleon's war on Europe, while over on the
 window-seat the other two were racing through volumes one and two of
 Carlyle's French Revolution. The room was a perfect babel of sound.
 But the big man sat and smoked his pipe, his honor safe and the morrow
 secure. In later years, whatever might happen across the sea would
 find this fellow fully prepared, a wise, intelligent judge of the
 world, with a college education."

Into the atmosphere of the school must be introduced some element
that will bring to the growing boys and girls a love of reading and
a genuine desire for absorbing those vital forces of life which
literature images. If we believe that the ultimate aim of education is
that of the ultimate aim of life, there must be that attention to the
individual need which in the end makes for the uplifting of all. To
that end the means must be wrought. If the school must deal perforce
with groups rather than with units, the methods of the library adapt
themselves to the converse plan of individual treatment. If the school
narrows the pathway by compulsion, the library gives the joy of freedom
unrestricted. Therein lies its potency, and therein does it make appeal
not to the few elect, but to the many. And herein lies its greater

                        "Progress is
    The law of life, man is not man as yet,
    Nor shall I deem his object served, his end
    Attained, his genuine strength put fairly forth,
    While only here and there a star dispels
    The darkness, here and there a towering mind
    O'erlooks its prostrate fellows: when the host
    Is out at once to the despair of night,
    When all mankind alike is perfected,
    Equal in full-blown powers--then, not till then,
    I say, begins man's general infancy."

Wherefore this emphasis upon the school side of library work? Not,
of course, at the expense of the service which is furnished to young
and old in relief from the drab dullness of life, but parallel with
it, must the library labor. For here lies its mission of permanent
influences, and at no time has there been greater need.

Suddenly, the seemingly well-fortified pillars of civilization have
crumbled. Confused, dismayed, disheartened, society witnesses rapid
disintegration of foundations which centuries of patient endeavor have
constructed. Science, thought to be the instrument of man's weal, has
become the subtle and baleful agent of destruction. The racial hyphen,
long looked upon as the symbol of cohesion, has become the sign of
separation. The Christian nations of the earth are at each other's
throats with a ferocity and malignity unparalleled. Under a flag which
shelters ninety millions of individuals whose forebears peopled every
land upon the habitable globe, and who seek to merge the best of their
racial qualities in a common life that shall typify a new standard
of civilization, must be wrought that miracle of human evolution
which shall establish concord and good will between members of alien
races dwelling together. To effect this it must be demonstrated
that "assimilation is a matter of understanding and ideas, and not
merely of manners and customs." And so, despite the gloomy murk that
now envelops the world, we must realize the need of beginning the
reconstruction of our demolished ideals.

This is the day of readjustments. We must begin again, but we must
begin at the point of beginning, with the plastic mind of youth.
Happily, if not now, generations hence, the world may realize the
poet's prophecy, and the hope it holds:

    "For no new sense puts forth in us but we
    Enter our fellow's lives thereby the more.

    And three great spirits with the spirit of man
    Go forth to do his bidding. One is free,
    And one is shackled, and the third, unbound,
    Halts yet a little with a broken chain
    Of antique workmanship, not wholly loosed,
    That dangles and impedes his forthright way.
    Unfettered, swift, hawk-eyed, implacable,
    The wonder-worker, Science, with his wand,
    Subdues an alien world to man's desires.
    And Art with wide imaginative wings
    Stands by, alert for flight, to bear his lord,
    Into the strange heart of that alien world
    Till he shall live in it as in himself
    And know its longing as he knows his own.
    Behind a little, where the shadows fall,
    Lingers Religion with deep-brooding eyes,
    Serene, impenetrable, transpicuous
    As the all-clear and all-mysterious sky,
    Biding her time to fuse into one act
    Those other twain, man's right hand and his left.

    For all the bonds shall be broken and rent in sunder,
    And the soul of man go free
    Forth with those three
    Into the lands of wonder;
    Like some undaunted youth,
    Afield in quest of truth,
    Rejoicing in the road he journeys on
    As much as in the hope of journey done.
    And the road runs east, and the road runs west,
    That his vagrant feet explore;
    And he knows no haste and he knows no rest,
    And every mile has a stranger zest
    Then the miles he trod before;
    And his heart leaps high in the nascent year
    When he sees the purple buds appear:
    For he knows, though the great black frost may blight
    The hope of May in a single night,
    That the spring, though it shrink back under the bark,
    But bides its time somewhere in the dark--
    Though it come not now to its blossoming,
    By the thrill in his heart he knows the spring;
    _And the greater to-morrow is on its way_".
    It shall keep with its roses yet in June;
    And the promise it makes perchance too soon,
    _For the ages fret not over a day_.



Turning for a text to Victor Hugo's stirring epic of Paris, these words
may be found in the section for May, and in the third chapter thereof:

    "A Library implies an act of faith
    Which generations still in darkness hid
    Sign in their night, in witness of the dawn."

When Johann Gutenberg in his secret workshop poured the molten metal
into the rough matrices he had cut for separate types, the instrument
for the spread of democracy was created. When early Cavaliers and
Puritans planted the crude beginnings of free public schools, the
forces of democracy were multiplied. When half a century ago the
first meager beginnings of the public library movement were evolved,
democracy was for all time assured. Thus have three great stages,
separated each by a span of two hundred years from that preceding,
marked that world development whose ultimate meaning is not equality of
station or possession, but equality of opportunity.

Not without stress and strife have these yet fragmentary results
been achieved. Not without travail and difficulties will universal
acceptance be accorded in the days to come. But no one may doubt the
final outcome which shall crown the struggle of the centuries. The
world was old when typography was invented. Less than five centuries
have passed since then, and in this interval--but a brief period in
the long history of human endeavor--there has been more enlargement of
opportunity for the average man and woman than in all the time that
went before. Without the instrumentality of the printed page, without
the reproductive processes that give to all the world in myriad tongues
the thought of all the centuries, slavery, serfdom and feudalism would
still shackle the millions not so fortunate as to be born to purple and
ermine, and fine linen.


The evolution of the book is therefore the history of the unfoldment
of human rights. The chained tome in its medieval prison cell has
been supplanted by the handy volume freely sent from the hospitable
public library to the homes of the common people. The humblest citizen,
today, has at his command books in number and in kind which royal
treasuries could not have purchased five hundred years ago. In the
sixteenth century, it took a flock of sheep to furnish the vellum for
one edition of a book, and the product was for the very few; in the
twentieth, a forest is felled to supply the paper for an edition,
and the output goes to many hundred thousand readers. As books have
multiplied, learning has been more widely disseminated. As more people
have become educated, the demand for books has increased enormously.
The multiplication of books has stimulated the writing of them, and the
inevitable result has been a deterioration of quality proportioned to
the increase in quantity. In the English language alone, since 1880,
206,905 titles of books printed in the United States have been listed,
and 226,365 in Great Britain since 1882. Of these 433,270 titles,
84,722 represent novels--36,607 issued in the United States and 48,115
in Great Britain. Despite the inclusion of the trivial and the unsound
in this vast mass of printed stuff, no one can doubt the magnitude
of the service performed in the advancement of human kind. The
universities have felt the touch of popular demand, and in this country
at least some of them have attempted to respond. Through correspondence
courses, short courses, university week conferences, summer schools,
local forums, traveling instructors, and other media of extension, many
institutions of higher learning have given recognition to the appeal of
the masses. Logically with this enlargement of educational opportunity,
the amplification of library facilities has kept pace. The libraries
have become in a real sense the laboratory of learning. Intended
primarily as great storehouses for the accumulation and preservation
rather than the use of manuscripts and books, their doors have been
opened wide to all farers in search of truth or mental stimulus.

In a report to the English King, Sir William Berkeley wrote as governor
of Virginia in 1671: "I thank God there are no free schools nor
printing, and I hope we shall not have them these hundred years; for
learning has brought disobedience into the world, and printing has
divulged them, and libels against the best government. God keep us from

Governor Berkeley's sentiments, expressed by him in turgid rhetoric,
were held in his day by most men in authority, but that did not prevent
the planting of little schoolhouses here and there, and men of much
vision and little property bequeathed their possessions for maintaining
them. Many a school had its origin in a bequest comprising a few
milch kine, a horse or two, or a crop of tobacco; in some instances,
slaves. From such beginnings, with such endowments, was evolved three
hundred years ago the public system of education which today prodigally
promises, though it but niggardly realizes, sixteen years of schooling
for every boy and girl in the land.

If the span of years needed for the development of the free library
system has been much shorter, the hostile attitude of influential men
and the privations that attended pioneer efforts were no less marked.
As recently as 1889 the writer of an article in the _North American
Review_ labeled his attack: "Are public libraries public blessings?"
and answered his own question in no uncertain negative. "Not only have
the public libraries, as a whole, failed to reach their proper aim of
giving the means of education to the people," he protested, "but they
have gone aside from their true path to furnish amusement, and that in
part of a pernicious character, chiefly to the young." And he added: "I
might have mentioned other possible dangers, such as the power of the
directors of any library to make it a propaganda of any delusive _ism_
or doctrine subversive of morality, society or government; but I prefer
to rest my case here."

And it was somewhat later than this that the pages of the _Century_
gave space to correspondence in opposition to the establishment of a
public library system for the city of New York.

These were but echoes of earlier antagonisms.


For the documentary material dealing with the beginnings of the public
library movement, the searcher must delve within the thousand pages
of a portly folio volume issued by the British government sixty years
ago. If one possesses patience sufficient to read the immense mass of
dry evidence compiled by a parliamentary commission and "presented to
both houses of parliament by command of Her Majesty," some interesting
facts in library history will be found. A young man of twenty-three,
then an underling in the service of the British Museum, afterwards an
eminent librarian, was one of the principal witnesses. Edward Edwards
had the gift of vision. Half a century before public libraries became
the people's universities, as they are today, his prophetic tongue
gave utterance to what has since become the keynote of library aims
and policies. Badgered by hostile inquisitors, ridiculed by press and
politicians, he undeviatingly clung to his views, and he lived to see
his prophecy realized.

Great libraries there had been before his day; remarkable as a
storehouse of knowledge in printed form was, and is in our own day, the
institution with which he was associated. But in these rich reference
collections intended for the student of research, the element of
popular use was lacking. To have suggested the loan of a single book
for use outside the four walls of the library would have startled and
benumbed everyone in authority--and without authority--from the members
of the governing board to librarian, sublibrarians, and messenger boys.
This stripling faced the members of parliament, and without hesitation
proclaimed his thesis.

"It is not merely to open the library to persons who, from the
engrossing nature of their engagements of business, are at present
utterly excluded from it, but it is also that the library may be made a
direct agent in some degree in the work of national education. Let not
anyone be alarmed lest something very theoretical or very revolutionary
should be proposed. I merely suggest that the library should be opened
to a class of men quite shut out from it by its present regulations."

Then he added: "In such a country as this, there should be one great
national storehouse. But in addition to this, there should be libraries
in different quarters on a humbler scale, very freely accessible."

One of the ablest members of parliament, William Ewart, of Liverpool,
became intensely interested in the views expressed by young Edwards,
and from that day was counted the consistent champion of library
privileges for the common people. Largely through his instrumentality,
aided by such men as Richard Cobden, John Bright and Joseph Brotherton,
parliament passed an act "for the encouragement of museums." Out of
this measure grew the later Public Libraries Act. This notable step was
not accomplished without bitter opposition.

"The next thing we will be asked to do," said one indignant member on
the floor of the House, "is to furnish people with quoits and peg-tops
and footballs at the expense of taxpayers. Soon we will be thinking of
introducing the performances of Punch for the amusement of the people."

Events in England influenced similar movements in the United States. In
a letter to Edward Everett, in 1851, Mr. George Ticknor gave the first
impetus to the establishment of a free public library in Boston--the
first in the new world to be maintained permanently by the people for
the people.

"I would establish a library which differs from all free libraries yet
attempted," he wrote. "I mean one in which any popular books, tending
to moral and intellectual improvement, shall be furnished in such
numbers of copies that many persons can be reading the same book at the
same time; in short, that not only the best books of all sorts, but the
pleasant literature of the day, shall be made accessible to the whole
people when they most care for it; that is, when it is new and fresh."

Sixty years after the date of Mr. Ticknor's letter, and chiefly within
the last two decades of the period, the public library movement has
assumed a place in public education which, relatively, the public
school movement attained only after three hundred years of effort.
When Thomas Bodley died, in 1613, in all Europe there were but three
libraries accessible to the public--the Bodleian, the Angelo Rocca at
Rome and the Ambrosian at Milan. In 1841 the Penny Cyclopedia devoted
about four inches of a narrow column to the subject of libraries,
ancient and modern, and limited its reference to American libraries to
one sentence, obtained at second hand from an older contemporary.

"In the United States of America, according to the Encyclopedia
Americana, the principal libraries are, or were in 1831, that of
Harvard College, containing 36,000 volumes; the Philadelphia Library,
containing 27,000; that of the Boston Athenaeum, containing 26,000;
that of Congress, containing 16,000, and that of Charleston, containing

It is only since 1867 that the federal government has deemed it worth
while to compile library statistics, and the first comprehensive
figures were gathered in 1875. It is worth noting that then they
embraced all libraries comprising 300 volumes, and that in 1893 no
mention is made of collections containing less than a thousand volumes,
while the most recent official enumeration makes 5,000 volumes the unit
of consideration. From these official figures may be gleaned something
of the extraordinary growth of libraries, both numerically and in size.
In 1875, including school libraries, there were 2,039 containing a
thousand volumes, ten years later there were 4,026, ten years after
that 8,000, and at this date there are in this class not less than
12,000, while the recorded number comprising three hundred volumes
or more reaches the substantial total of 15,634, and 2,298 of these
catalog in excess of 5,000 volumes each.


These figures show phenomenal growth, but even more impressive are
the facts that give their full meaning in detail. From a striking
compilation issued in Germany by Die Brücke a few weeks ago, together
with figures extracted by means of a questionnaire, supplemented by
statistical material gathered by the Bureau of Education, the facts
which follow have been deduced: Counting the great libraries of the
world, the six continents abutting the seven seas possess 324 libraries
whose book collections number in excess of 100,000 volumes each, and
of these 79--or approximately one-fourth--are located in the Americas.
Of the 79 American libraries 72 are in the United States, including
university, public, governmental and miscellaneous institutions, with
a combined collection of 19,295,000 volumes. If this statistical
inquiry is pursued further, a reason becomes apparent why millions
are starved for want of books while other millions seemingly have a
surfeit of them. The rural regions, save in a handful of commonwealths
whose library commissions or state libraries actively administer
traveling libraries, the book supply is practically negligible. Even
the hundreds of itinerating libraries but meagerly meet the want. All
the traveling libraries in all the United States have a total issue
annually less than that of any one twenty municipal systems that can
be named. The public library facilities in at least six thousand of
the smaller towns are pitifully insufficient and in hundreds of them
wholly absent. The movement to supply books to the people was first
launched in the rural regions seventy years ago. Indeed, the movement
for popular education known as the American Lyceum, which forecast
the activities of the modern public library just as the mechanics'
institutes of Great Britain prepared the soil for them in that country,
flourished chiefly in the less thickly settled centers of population.
The early district school libraries melted away in New York state and
Wisconsin and other states, and the devastated shelves have never been
amply renewed. The library commissions are valiantly and energetically
endeavoring to supply the want, but their efforts are all too feebly
supported by their respective states. In this particular, the policy
is that which unfortunately obtains as to all educational effort. More
than 55 per cent of the young people from 6 to 20 years old--about
17,000,000 of them--live in the country or in towns of less than two
thousand inhabitants. According to an official report from which this
statement is extracted, there are 5,000 country schools still taught
in primitive log houses, uncomfortable, unsuitable, unventilated,
unsanitary, illy equipped, poorly lighted, imperfectly heated--boys
and girls in all stages of advancement receiving instruction from one
teacher of very low grade. It is plain why, in the summing up of this
report, "illiteracy in rural territory is twice as great as in urban
territory, notwithstanding that thousands of illiterate immigrants
are crowded in the great manufacturing and industrial centers. The
illiteracy among native-born children of native parentage is more than
three times as great as among native children of foreign parentage,
largely on account of the lack of opportunities for education in rural
America." In Indian legend Nokomis, the earth, symbolizes the strength
of motherhood; it may yet chance that the classic myth of the hero who
gained his strength because he kissed the earth may be fully understood
in America only when the people learn that they will remain strong, as
Mr. Münsterberg has put it, "only by returning with every generation to
the soil."

If the states have proved recreant to duty in this particular, the
municipalities have shown an increasing conception of educational
values. The figures make an imposing statistical array. In the
United States there are 1,222 incorporated places of 5,000 or more
inhabitants, and their libraries house 90,000,000 volumes, with a total
yearly use aggregating 110,000,000 issues. Four million volumes a year
are added to their shelves, and collectively they derive an income of
$20,000,000. Their permanent endowments, which it must be regretfully
said but 600 of them share, now aggregate $40,000,000. Nearly all of
these libraries occupy buildings of their own, Mr. Andrew Carnegie
having supplied approximately $42,226,338 for the purpose in the United
States, and the balance of the $100,000,000 represented in buildings
having been donated by local benefactors or raised by taxation.

The population of these 1,222 places is 38,758,584, considerably less
than half that of the entire United States. Their book possessions,
on the other hand, are nine times as great as those in the rest of
the country; the circulation of the books nearly twelve times in
volume. Closer analysis of these figures enforces still more strongly
the actual concentration of the available book supply. The hundred
largest cities of the United States, varying in size from a minimum of
53,684 to a maximum of 4,766,883, possess in the aggregate more books
than all the rest of the country together, and represent the bulk of
the trained professional service rendered. The great majority of the
3,000 graduates whom the library schools have sent into service since
the first class was organized in 1887, are in these libraries and in
the university libraries. Forty per cent of the books circulated are
issued to the dwellers in these one hundred cities, and in fifteen of
them the stupendous total of 30,000,834 issues for home reading was
recorded last year. Without such analysis as this, the statistical
totals would be misleading. The concentration of resources and of
trained service in large centers of population, comparatively few in
number, makes evident the underlying cause for the modern trend of
library development. A further study of conditions in these human hives
justifies the specialized forms of service which have become a marked
factor in library extension within a decade. With increased resources,
with vastly improved internal machinery, with enlarged conception of
opportunity for useful service, have come greater liberality of rules
and ever widening circles of activity, until today no individual and no
group of individuals, remains outside the radius of library influence.
If this awakened zeal has spurred to efforts that seem outside the
legitimate sphere of library work, no undue concern need be felt.
Neither the genius and enthusiasm of the individual nor the enterprise
of a group of individuals will ever be permitted to go too rapidly or
too far: the world's natural conservatism and inherited unbelief stand
ever ready to retard or prevent.


Specialization has been incorporated into library administration
chiefly to give expeditious and thorough aid to seekers of information
touching a wide variety of interests--business men, legislators,
craftsmen, special investigators and students of every sort. This
added duty has not diminished its initial function to make available
the literature of all time, nor to satisfy those who go to books
for the pure joy of reading. The recreative service of the library
is as important as the educative, or the informative. For the great
mass of people, the problem has been the problem of toil long and
uninterrupted. The successful struggle of the unions to restrict the
hours of labor has developed another problem almost as serious--the
problem of leisure. Interwoven with this acute problem is another
which subdivision of labor has introduced into modern industrial
occupations--the terrible fatigue which results from a monotonous
repetition of the same process hour after hour, day after day, week
after week. Such blind concentration in the making of but one piece
of a machine, or a garment, or a watch, or any other article of
merchandise, without knowledge of its relationship to the rest, soon
wears the human worker out. There must be an outlet of play, of fun,
or recreation. The librarian need not feel apologetic to the public
because perchance his circulation statistics show that 70 per cent of
it is classed as fiction. If he wishes to reduce this percentage to 69
or 68 or 61, let him do it not by discouraging the reading of novels,
but by stimulating the use of books in other classes of literature. But
well does he merit his own sense of humiliation and the condemnation of
the critics if he needs must feel ashamed of the kind of novels that
he puts upon his shelves. To quote a fellow librarian who expresses
admirably the value of such literature, "A good story has created many
an oasis in many an otherwise arid life. Many-sidedness of interest
makes for good morals, and millions of our fellows step through the
pages of a story book into a broader world than their nature and their
circumstances ever permit them to visit. If anything is to stay the
narrowing and hardening process which specialization of learning,
specialization of inquiry and of industry, and swift accumulation of
wealth are setting up among us, it is a return to romance, poetry,
imagination, fancy, and the general culture we are now taught to
despise. Of all these the novel is a part; rather, in the novel are all
of these. But a race may surely find springing up in itself a fresh
love of romance, in the high sense of that word, which can keep it
active, hopeful, ardent, progressive. Perhaps the novel is to be, in
the next decades, part of the outward manifestation of a new birth of
this love of breadth and happiness."


Many of the factory workers are young men and young women, whose
starved imaginations seek an outlet that will not be denied. In lieu
of wholesome recreation and material, they will find "clues to life's
perplexities" in salacious plays, in cheap vaudeville performances, in
the suggestive pages of railway literature, in other ways that make for
a lowering of moral tone. The reaction that craves amusement of any
sort is manifest in the nightly crowded stalls of the cheap theaters.
Eight million spectators view every moving picture film that is
manufactured. It is estimated that one-sixth of the entire population
of New York City and of Chicago attends the theaters on any Sunday of
the year. One Sunday evening, at the instance of Miss Jane Addams, an
investigation was made of 466 theaters in the latter city, and it was
discovered that in the majority of them the leading theme was revenge;
the lover following his rival; the outraged husband seeking his wife's
betrayer; or the wiping out by death of a blot on a hitherto unstained
honor. And of course these influences extend to the children who are
always the most ardent and responsive of audiences. There is grave
danger that the race will develop a ragtime disposition, a moving
picture habit and a comic supplement mind.


It is perhaps too early to point to the specialized attention which
libraries have given to the needs of young people as a distinct
contribution to society. Another generation must come before material
evidence for good or ill becomes apparent. That the work is well worth
the thought bestowed, whether present methods survive or are modified,
may not be gainsaid. The derelicts of humanity are the wrecks who knew
no guiding light. The reformatories and the workhouses, the penal
institutions generally and the charitable ones principally, are not
merely a burden upon society, but a reproach for duty unperformed.
Society is at last beginning to realize that it is better to perfect
machinery of production than to mend the imperfect product; that to
dispense charity may ameliorate individual suffering, but does not
prevent recurrence. And so more attention is being given prevention
than cure.

    "I gave a beggar from my little store
    Of well-earned gold. He spent the shining ore
    And came again, and yet again, still cold
          And hungry as before.

    I gave a thought, and through that thought of mine,
    He found himself a man, supreme, divine,
    Bold, clothed, and crowned with blessings manifold,
          And now he begs no more."


If numbers and social and industrial importance warrant special library
facilities for children, certainly the same reasons underlie the
special library work with foreigners which has within recent years
been carried on extensively in the larger cities. Last month the
census bureau issued an abstract of startling import to those who view
in the coming of vast numbers from across the waters a menace to the
institutions of this democracy. According to this official enumeration,
in but fourteen of fifty cities having over 100,000 inhabitants in 1910
did native whites of native parentage contribute as much as one-half
the total population. The proportion exceeded three-fifths in only
four cities. On the other hand, in twenty-two cities of this class, of
which fifteen are in New England and the Middle Atlantic divisions,
less than one-third of the population were native whites of native
parentage, over two-thirds in all but one of these cities consisting of
foreign-born whites and their children.

In his Ode delivered at Harvard, Lowell eloquently referred to

    "The pith and marrow of a Nation
    Drawing force from all her men,
    Highest, humblest, weakest, all,
    For her time of need, and then
    Pulsing it again through them,
    She that lifts up the manhood of the poor,
    She of the open soul and open door,
    With room about her hearth for all mankind!"

This was written in 1865. Since then the rim of the Mediterranean has
sent its enormous contribution of unskilled and unlettered human beings
to the New World. There have been three great tides of migration from
overseas. The first came to secure liberty of conscience; the second
sought liberty of political thought and action; the third came in
quest of bread. And of the three, incomparably the greater problem
of assimilation is that presented by the last comers. Inextricably
interwoven are all the complexities which face the great and growing
municipalities, politically and industrially and socially. These are
the awful problems of congestion and festering slums, of corruption in
public life, of the exploitation of womanhood, of terrible struggle
with wretchedness and poverty. Rightly directed, the native qualities
and strength of these peoples will bring a splendid contribution in
the making of a virile citizenship. Wrongly shaped, their course in
the life of the city may readily become of sinister import. Frequently
they are misunderstood, and they easily misunderstand. The problem is
one of education, but it is that most difficult problem, of education
for grown-ups. Here perhaps the library may render the most distinct
service, in that it can bring to them in their own tongues the ideals
and the underlying principles of life and custom in their adopted
country; and through their children, as they swarm into the children's
rooms, is established a point of contact which no other agency could
so effectually provide.

Under the repressive measures of old-world governments, the racial
culture and national spirit of Poles, Lithuanians, Finns, Balkan Slavs,
and Russian Jews have been stunted. Here both are warmed into life and
renewed vigor, and in generous measure are given back to the land of
their adoption. Such racial contribution must prove of enormous value,
whether, as many sociologists believe, this country is to prove a great
melting pot for the fusing of many races, or whether as Dr. Zhitlowsky
contends, there is to be one country, one set of laws, one speech, but
a vast variety of national cultures, contributing each its due share to
the enrichment of the common stock.


Great changes have come about in the methods that obtain for the
exercise of popular government. In a democracy whose chief strength
is derived from an intelligent public opinion, the sharpening of such
intelligence and enlargement of general knowledge concerning affairs
of common concern are of paramount importance. Statute books are
heavily cumbered with laws that are unenforced because public opinion
goes counter to them. Nonenforcement breeds disrespect for law, and
unscientific making of laws leads to their disregard. So the earliest
attempts to find a remedy contemplated merely the legislator and
the official, bringing together for their use through the combined
services of trained economists and of expert reference librarians
the principles and foundation for contemplated legislation and the
data as to similar attempts elsewhere. Fruitful as this service has
proved within the limitation of state and municipal officialdom,
a broadened conception of possibilities now enlarges the scope of
the work to include citizen organizations interested in the study
of public questions, students of sociology, economics and political
science, business men keenly alive to the intimate association--in a
legitimate sense--of business and politics, and that new and powerful
element in public affairs which has added three million voters to the
poll lists in ten states, and will soon add eleven million voters
more in the remaining thirty-eight. The new library service centering
in state and municipal legislative reference libraries, and in civic
departments of large public libraries, forecasts the era, now rapidly
approaching, when aldermen and state representatives will still enact
laws and state and city officials will enforce them, but their making
will be determined strictly by public opinion. The local government
of the future will be by quasi-public citizen organizations directing
aldermen and state legislators accurately to register their will. When
representative government becomes misrepresentative, in the words of
a modern humorist, democracy will ask the Powers that Be whether they
are the Powers that Ought to Be. To intelligently determine the answer,
public opinion must not ignorantly ask.


This has been called the age of utilitarianism. Such it unquestionably
is, but its practicality is not disassociated from idealism. The
resources of numberless commercial enterprises are each in this day
reckoned in millions, and their products are figured in terms of many
millions more, as once thousands represented the spread of even the
greatest of industries. But more and more business men are coming to
realize that business organization as it affects for weal or woe
thousands who contribute to their success, must be conducted as a trust
for the common good, and not merely for selfish exploitation, or for
oppression. As the trade guilds of old wielded their vast power for
common ends, so all the workers gave the best at their command to make
their articles of merchandise the most perfect that human skill and
care could produce. Men of business whose executive skill determines
the destinies of thousands in their employ, are growing more and more
to an appreciation of the trusteeship that is theirs. A humane spirit
is entering the relationship between employer and employed. Great
commercial organizations are conducting elaborate investigations into
conditions of housing, sanitation, prolongation of school life, social
insurance and similar subjects of betterment for the toilers; but a
brief span ago they were concerned chiefly with trade extension and
lowering of wages, all unconcerned about the living conditions of
their dependents. They too are now exemplifying the possession of that
constructive imagination which builds large and beyond the present.
For results that grow out of experience and of experiment they also
are in part dependent upon the sifted facts that are found in print.
The business house library is a recent development, and in ministering
in different ways to both employer and employed, gives promise of
widespread usefulness.


With the tremendous recent growth of industrialism and the rapid
multiplication of invention, the manifest need for making available the
vast sum of gathered knowledge concerning the discoveries of modern
science has evolved the great special libraries devoted to the varied
subdivisions of the subject. Munificently endowed as many of them
are, highly organized for ready access to material, administered to
encourage use and to give expert aid as well, their great importance
cannot be overestimated. What they accomplish is not wholly reducible
to statistics, nor can their influence be readily traced, perhaps, to
the great undertakings of today which overshadow the seven wonders of
antiquity. But there can be no question that without the opportunities
that here lie for study and research, and--no less important--without
the skilled assistance freely rendered by librarian and bibliographer,
special talent would often remain dormant and its possessor
unsatisfied. Greater here would be the loss to society than to the


Thus the libraries are endeavoring to make themselves useful in every
field of human enterprise or interest; with books of facts for the
information they possess; with books of inspiration for the stimulus
they give and the power they generate. Conjointly these yield the
equipment which develops the constructive imagination, without which
the world would seem but a sorry and a shriveled spot to dwell upon.
The poet and the dreamer conceive the great things which are wrought;
the scientist and the craftsman achieve them; the scholar and the
artist interpret them. Thus associated, they make their finest
contribution to the common life. The builders construct the great
monuments of iron and of concrete which are the expression of this
age, as the great cathedrals and abbeys were of generations that have
passed. Adapted as they are to the needs of this day, our artists and
our writers have shown us the beauty and the art which the modern
handiwork of man possesses. With etcher's tool one man of keen insight
has shown us the art that inheres in the lofty structures which line
the great thoroughfares of our chief cities, the beauty of the skylines
they trace with roof and pediment. With burning words another has given
voice to machinery and to the vehicles of modern industry, and we
thrill to the eloquence and glow of his poetic fervor.

"Great works of art are useful works greatly done," declares Dr. T. J.
Cobden-Sanderson, and, rightly viewed, the most prosaic achievements of
this age, whether they be great canals or clusters of workmen's homes
worthily built, or maybe more humble projects, have a greatness of
meaning that carries with it the sense of beauty and of art.

In medieval days, the heralds of civilization were the warrior,
the missionary, the explorer and the troubadour; in modern times,
civilization is carried forward by the chemist, the engineer, the
captain of industry, and the interpreter of life--whether the medium
utilized be pen or brush or voice. Without vision, civilization
would wither and perish, and so it may well be that the printed page
shall serve as symbol of its supreme vision. Within the compass
of the book sincerely written, rightly chosen, and well used are
contained the three chief elements which justify the library of the
people--information, education, recreation.

The urge of the world makes these demands; ours is the high privilege
to respond.


It is amid conditions that call for heroic effort that the public
library of today must do its work with children. There are not wanting
critics who decry some present-day tendencies. They saw that when
librarians seek the children in their homes to form groups of readers,
they encroach upon the domain of the settlement worker. They complain
that the story hour, now so widely developed, is an invasion of the
kindergarten; they view with alarm the use of the stereo-scope and
stereopticon as being outside the legitimate domain of the institution.
Perhaps they are right, and perhaps they are wrong; maybe they are both
right and wrong. If the purposes sought by these means were adequately
ministered to from other sources, it may well be questioned whether the
library would be justified in adopting these methods. In the admitted
lack of agencies to meet these conditions, the children's librarian may
find satisfaction in the results obtained, even if some folks' notions
of legitimate library work are sadly jolted, as in the time to come
they will certainly have to be modified. At best, the library and all
allied agencies are struggling against tremendous odds in counteracting
subtle influences for evil and open influences that breed coarseness
and vulgarity. To operate a moving-picture show within the sacred
precincts of a library may be counter to the accepted view of the
fitness of things, but those who have visited the children's department
of the Cincinnati Public Library will recall with a glow of pleasure
the sight of the interested group of children awaiting each his turn
at the machine to go on a tarry-at-home journey to Switzerland and
France and other countries over-sea. Would the critics prefer to have
the children glue their faces to the glass in the vulgar and suggestive
shows of the penny arcade? The craving for novelty and amusement will
not be denied. The instinct for dramatic action is inherent. It is said
that there are 5,000 penny arcades and nickelodeons in New York City
alone, with an average daily attendance of 300,000 children, and scarce
a hamlet in all this wide country that does not foster one or two of
them, a large proportion of them supplied with pictures of doubtful

The average penny arcade is closely linked with the Sunday comic
supplement and the yellow-backed pamphlet in the vulgarization and
decadence that threatens to overwhelm the youth of the country. Parents
who would be horrified to note in the hands of their children any
specimen of dime novel literature, complacently turn over to them on
Sunday morning the sheet splashed with daubs of red and yellow and
green that serve to render attractive the accompanying pictures and
their slangy explanations. The Sunday comic supplement has done more
to debase and to brutalize what is fine in boys and girls, to debauch
their sense of fairness, to blunt their ideas as to what is manly
and fair, to deaden their respect for age and authority, to prevent
such aesthetic sense as they may have had, than can be counteracted
by all the attempts being made by school, church, museum and library
to stimulate a taste for better things. There is no escape from these
colored atrocities. Millions enter the households weekly, they are
scattered broadcast in parks and on the streets, they are left upon the
seats of railway trains and street cars--they are everywhere. Parental
effort is powerless. In a few households they are ruthlessly barred,
but the neighbors' children are willing to share without demur. In an
address before the American Playgrounds Congress, recently held in New
York City, Miss Maud Summers uttered a warning against this pernicious
fostering of deceit, cunning, and disrespect for age.

"The child of sensible parents will not see or know about them,"
Mr. Lindsay Swift wrote in a contribution to _The Printing Art_ two
years ago, "but the child of the street, the child of the indifferent
household, will warm to them like a cat to the back of the stove. There
are certain negative results that parents have a right to expect from
every educative force which is brought to bear on their children; that
these children shall not be deliberately taught disrespect for old
age or for physical infirmities and deformities; that they shall not
learn to cherish contempt for other races or religions than their own;
that they shall not take satisfaction in the tormenting of animals
or weaklings--in short, that they shall not acquire an habitually
cynical and unsportsmanlike attitude of mind. A morbid gloating over
the deficiencies and humiliations of our neighbors is pretty sure to
develop vulgarity and a lax moral fibre in ourselves; for vulgarity of
mind and manners seems to me to be primarily a lack of restraint in
thought, feeling, and expression regarding those tendencies which every
civilized man and race is striving to modify or to conquer."

Doubtless, when first this medium for purveying humor was devised, the
tendencies now so apparent were minimized. There were, in some of the
earlier attempts, real humor and some skill of pencil, but the pictures
have degenerated until they cry aloud for suppression.

There need be no apology for the story hour. A good story well told
makes for pleasure, makes for morals, makes for intellectual growth.
Most librarians defend it on the ground that the telling of the story
leads to the reading of books on related topics. To my mind, no such
defense or even explanation is needed. The story, if well chosen
and fittingly told, justifies the teller and the tale. It is a moot
question in educational circles whether the ear is a better medium for
receiving impressions than is the eye. Some school-masters aver that
there are ear-minded children and there are eye-minded children. A
good story, well told, is worthy of being counted in the circulation
statistics as many times as there are children to hear it, and far
worthier to so figure than many a book that is taken out on a card
and leaves as faint and as durable an impression on the reader's mind
as footsteps on the shifting sand. And the more the storyteller can
lead back the mind of childhood to the heart of childhood, the tales
of wonder and of myth that grew to fulness when the race was young,
the greater the service and the more fruitful in giving the listener
something that will endure.

Neither is there need for apology in the exploitation of home library
groups. At best, these can but partially counteract the flood of cheap
and decadent literature of the most depraved character that circulates
secretly among boys and girls. In Buffalo, recently, the public library
has found among the people of foreign birth a mass of material in
circulation whose bad quality has surprised even the librarians. The
home groups that are being formed in some of the larger cities find
an opening wedge among people of foreign birth whose reading has been
practically confined to stuff of this sort. The reports from Germany
would hardly seem credible were they not vouched for by the Durer
Union, whose campaign against the growing tendency to read trashy
literature has unearthed these facts. In a statement issued by its
secretary, the astounding declaration is made that 8,000 established
booksellers and 30,000 peddlers were engaged in selling sensational
serials and books containing complete tales of a very low order.

No fewer than 750,000 of these wretched stories have been sold in the
course of a single year. They are hawked from house to house, from
factory to factory, outside schools, and among the peasants on every
farm throughout the empire. The peddlers nearly always enter by the
back door or the kitchen stairs. Servant girls and ignorant peasantry
are the most fruitful customers, but it is asserted by municipal
officials that even people who are in receipt of poor relief often
deprive themselves of necessities in order to save two cents for a vile
rehash of the sensationally embellished details of a notorious crime.

The extent of the literature of the streets obtainable in this country
is little appreciated. An investigation, instituted several years
ago by the Library Commission of one of the Middle West states,
demonstrated the existence of tons of it on the upper and back-row
shelves of news stands in all the larger cities, and in many of the
villages and hamlets as well.

The desire to show a large circulation has made many librarians
yield to the tyranny of statistics, and some errors of library
administration are attributable to this cause. While it is undoubtedly
true that the chief function of the library is to distribute as
many wholesome books as possible, among the people, the totals of
circulation are of vastly inferior importance to some facts that are
not susceptible of being arranged in statistical uniform. And this is
more particularly true of children's reading. It is less a question
of how many books are read than what books are read and by whom they
are read. It may well be urged that there is greater importance in the
quality of the circulation than in the size of it--not how many, but
how good, should be the earnest inquiry. It may well be doubted whether
some children do not read more books than they can well assimilate.
They are mentally profited about as much as their physical condition
is nourished when they quaff quantities of soda water. They become
troubled with mental dyspepsia.

Another criticism that is pertinent applies to book selection. There
are too many books written especially for children. There are more
titles in the average collection of children's books than the librarian
ought to purchase. There are too many books that are negative in
quality--pleasantly enough flavored, not harmful in tone, authentic
as to facts, but colorless. There are usually too few of the world's
enduring books--classics--and too many editions edited especially for
children. Some of the children's catalogues are of appalling size. Here
there is abundant need of excision. Five hundred titles, judiciously
chosen and plentifully duplicated, would meet the need of most
libraries, and would immeasurably raise the standard of reading. Much
might be ascertained by an analysis of the individual cards of juvenile
patrons--a sort of laboratory experiment.

There is need for greater co-operation between teachers and librarians.
There are tendencies in teaching that are strangling rather than
imparting the love of fine literature. It is no longer sufficient
to give to the reader the music of lyric, the stir of epic--poetry
must serve as an exercise in grammar. It is not sufficient that from
virile prose the reader may obtain the glow of the writer's fancy
or thought--it must do duty as a bit of sentence construction, or a
companion piece to a lesson in geography or, perhaps, of history. We
are told that poetry is dead. Who killed it? and how long would it take
to do the like for prose?

Whatever of criticism as to plan and method may be rightfully made
against public library work with children, the earnestness that
underlies it all will, in the end, serve to eliminate the real causes
for such criticism. Its meaning will unfold as time goes on--the first
children's room opened in a public library dates back not much more
than a dozen years. In the almonry of Westminster, three and one-half
centuries ago, William Caxton chose carefully for his printing press,
with deep reverence in his heart for the white souls upon which his
characters would be printed as surely as upon the white paper before
him. And with that same thought and care will be sifted, in the work
that is being carried on now, the printed page that helps to mould and
build the character of the newer generations.


Following in the wake of the great public library movement, which in
less than two decades has dotted the cities of the United States with
buildings that house millions of books for the people, came systems
of traveling libraries. The institutions which Jenkin Lloyd Jones
satirically terms Carnegeries, provide city dwellers with an amplitude
of reading material, but there was until a few years ago no provision
for similarly meeting the greater needs of the isolated persons living
remote from centers of population--in thousands of little hamlets, in
mining and lumber camps, in uncounted farmhouses.

Just fifteen years ago, Mr. Melvil Dewey, then state librarian of New
York, ever foremost in progressive library work and originator of most
of the far-reaching methods for making public libraries useful and
efficient, solved the problem which had bothered many thinkers on the
subject: How to give country people access to collections of books
selected by experienced and educated buyers, and how to renew these
collections so as to keep a fresh and plentiful supply on hand at all
times. Mr. Dewey's solution of the problem was absurdly simple. Anybody
could have thought it out without effort--but nobody else did. It was
this: From a centrally administered library, groups of books carefully
selected so as to comprise fifty or sixty volumes each, were packed
into suitable boxes or cases, and sent to small villages, country
schoolhouses, and centrally located farmhouses, to be distributed to
the neighborhoods on the same plan as books are given out from branch
stations in cities. At the end of six months, the books would be
gathered by the custodian, shipped back to the central distributing
agency, and a fresh lot would take their place. By this simple and
economical method the people of these little neighborhoods would secure
an opportunity to read the best and most interesting books without
financial burden.

"In the work of popular education," said Melvil Dewey pertinently, "it
is, after all, not the few great libraries, but the thousand small that
may do most for the people."

In fifteen years, the first little chest of books that went upon its
travels has multiplied to more than 5,000. Probably a third of a
million books are now constantly "on the go" in this fashion. Figures
are available for only twenty-two of the states, and according to
these the circulation for the states enumerated was 600,443 books last
year. It must be remembered that for a few years after the plan was
transplanted from New York to other states, private contributions were
the only reliance for maintaining the systems of traveling libraries.
It is only within the last half dozen years that the demonstration of
their usefulness prompted state legislatures to make appropriations
for this purpose, to enable state library commissions to extend this
great work on a liberal scale. The ease with which the traveling
libraries may be adapted to meet various needs may be shown in a rapid
summary compiled by Mr. F. A. Hutchins, who has been one of the leading
promoters of them in this state.

Some women in New Jersey have used them to lighten the long winter
days and evenings of the brave men who belong to the life-saving
service, and that state has now taken up the traveling library as a
definite part of the work of its state library; other women, in Salt
Lake City, send them regularly to remote valleys in Utah; a number of
state federations of women's clubs use them to furnish books for study
to isolated clubs; Mrs. Eugene B. Heard of Middleton, Ga., is devoting
herself to the supervision of an admirable system which reaches a large
number of small villages on the Seaboard Air Line in five southern
states; an association in Washington, D. C., puts libraries on the
canal-boats which ply on the Washington and Potomac Canal in the
summer and "tie-up" in small hamlets in the Blue Ridge Mountains in
the winter; the colored graduates of Hampton Institute carry libraries
to the schools for their own people at the base of the Cumberland
Mountains, while to the "mountain whites" libraries are sent by women's
clubs in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama. In Idaho, California,
Nebraska, Kansas, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, and many other
states, women's clubs are doing the same work for miners, lumbermen,
farmers, and sailors. The people of British Columbia and New Zealand
are successfully imitating their American cousins in this work. In
Massachusetts, where nearly every community has its public library, the
Woman's Educational Association is doing a most helpful work by using
traveling libraries to strengthen the weak public libraries in the hill

Of all the states of the Union which reported on traveling libraries
last year, Wisconsin stood first with a circulation of 122,093.
Wisconsin was the third state to adopt this method for bringing
wholesome books to people in the country. This was in 1895. The Free
Library Commission has charge of 563 of these little libraries,
which are sent to stations scattered all over the state and are
exchanged every six months. Each group contains books of history,
travel, fiction, biography, useful arts, and miscellaneous literature
so proportioned as to meet the needs of the average community as
determined by experience. The Wisconsin Commission also sends to
communities where there are many persons of foreign birth, the best
literature in their own tongues. In some sections of the state, people
go ten to twenty miles at regular intervals to secure these books.
The Commission also makes up study libraries for the use of clubs
engaged in serious study. The topics deal with English literature, art,
history, village and town improvement, questions of the day, etc.


Fifteen years ago there existed within the fifty-six thousand square
miles of Wisconsin a mere handful of starveling public libraries, and
only in three or four of the larger cities were these institutions
properly housed. Most of them existed from force of habit rather than
from action. But one library in the state employed trained service.
There were no traveling libraries. The school district libraries had
scarcely made a beginning, so that even that source failed to supply
wholesome books for the use of the people. Here and there a volunteer
fire department gathered a bundle of books, or a literary society would
secure a similar collection from the attics of its members. Naturally,
such efforts resulted in dismal failures. Ninety per cent of the
population was absolutely without public library facilities.

But fifteen years ago, and now! Scattered all over the state, in
cities and villages and hamlets, are to be found modern, up-to-date
public libraries in charge of alert, trained, interested librarians,
eager and active in extending the radius of their influence or helpful
in every way to promote the interests of the community and of every
individual in it. There are now 152 public libraries in Wisconsin.
Sixty-one of them occupy buildings erected especially for them, and
28 others have quarters in city halls or other public buildings. Many
of them have a children's department, with trained library workers in
charge of the specialized activities there conducted. In the larger
buildings, lecture halls are an adjunct, where it is possible to
provide university extension and similar lectures, and where women's
study clubs, young men's debating societies and similar groups of
persons find hospitable meeting places for carrying on their work. Work
with schools is carried on to an extent, and to a profitable degree,
little imagined as possible in the early days of the library extension
movement. Free access to shelves is now permitted in every library of
the state except one.

There are now some forty librarians in Wisconsin who come from library
training schools, and of the other librarians and assistants employed,
approximately 100 have attended the summer school conducted by the
Wisconsin Free Library Commission. The growing importance of the
relation between library and school is evidenced by the fact that
library instruction is now part of the course in every one of the seven
normal schools, and a professional school for training librarians, with
a staff of picked instructors, is maintained at Madison by the state.
The candidates for admission are selected by competitive examination,
and with special regard to suitability for the work by reason of
temperament, education, address and experience.


Naturally, the activity of the public library movement in recent
years, with consequent multiplication of institutions, has attracted
the attention of thoughtful men and enlisted the cordial aid of
public-spirited individuals. Philanthropists have found therein an
avenue for their benefactions yielding undoubted results. Many wealthy
men, instead of rearing to their own honor shafts of stone or images in
bronze, have taken the wiser and happier method of securing an enduring
monument in the form of a public library. There are now living a number
of wealthy men who have provided in their wills for suitable bequests
whereby buildings of this character may be erected in the places which
they make their home, and similarly others have provided endowments for
their home libraries to come out of their estates. Thus does one good
deed suggest another.


The work of the Free Library Commission may be briefly summarized as

 _Supervision._ Works for the establishment of public libraries in
 localities able to support them.

 Visits libraries for the purpose of giving advice and instruction.

 Collects and publishes statistics of libraries for the guidance and
 information of trustees.

 Prints a bi-monthly bulletin, news notes and suggestions to keep
 librarians and trustees informed in regard to library progress
 throughout the state.

 Gives advice and assistance in planning library buildings and collects
 material on this subject for the use of library boards.

 _Instruction._ Aids in organizing new libraries.

 Assists in reorganizing old libraries according to modern methods
 which insure the best results and greatest efficiency of the library.

 Conducts a school for library training for the purpose of improving
 the service in small libraries.

 Holds institutes for librarians to instruct those who cannot attend
 summer school.

 _Traveling Libraries._ Maintains a system of traveling libraries which
 furnishes books to rural communities and villages too small to support
 local libraries, and to larger villages and towns as an inducement to
 establish free public libraries.

 Aids in organization and administration of county traveling library

 _Clearing House._ Operates a clearing house for magazines to build up
 reference collections of bound periodicals in the public libraries of
 the state.

 _Document Department._ Maintains a document department for the use of
 state officers, members of the legislature and others interested in
 the growth and development of affairs in the state, and catalogues and
 exchanges state documents for the benefit of public libraries.

 _Book Lists._ Distributes a suggestive list of books for small
 libraries to insure purchase of the books in the best editions.

 Issues frequent buying lists of current books to aid committees in
 securing the best investment of book funds.

 Compiles buying lists on special subjects or for special libraries
 upon request.


It must not be supposed, because the great library growth has been
manifested in the last decade, that there were wanting prior to that
period interested men and women hopeful and active to give impulse
for like conditions. Away back in 1840, when Wisconsin was a frontier
territory ambitious to advance to statehood, the council and assembly
enacted a law to encourage subscription libraries. A public library
supported by taxation was not then dreamed of, for there was then
none in the entire United States, nor for ten years thereafter. It is
interesting to note that in these territorial days, the little hamlet
of log houses known as Madison enjoyed the advantages of a library open
to all who cared to use it. It was the private library of the governor,
James Duane Doty, which he threw open to the public. Col. Geo. W.
Bird, in his account of it, says that it contained about five hundred
volumes of a general historical, educational and literary character
and a number of the best maps known at that time. It was housed in the
governor's private office, which was a small one-story frame building
of one room situated among the trees in the little backwoods town. The
books were arranged in low shelving around the sides of the room, and
the scanty furniture, consisting of a small desk, a deal-board table,
three or four chairs, a pine bench, and a register in which to enter
the taking and returning of books, completed the equipment.

Over the shelving on the westerly side of the room, was this direction,
painted in black on a white field: "Take, Read and Return." There
were only two regulations as to the use of the library and they were
displayed conspicuously in red ink about the room, and they were as

1. Any white resident between the lakes, the Catfish and the westerly
hills, his wife and children, may have the privileges of this library
so long as they do not soil or injure the books, and properly return

2. Any such resident, his wife or children, may take from the library
one book at a time and retain it not to exceed two weeks, and then
return it, and on failure to return promptly, he or she shall be
considered, and published, as an outcast in the community.

"I do not remember of there ever having been occasion for inflicting
this penalty. I do remember my father sending me one day when the
time-limit of a book was about to expire, with a note to a family,
requiring the return of a book that day, and calling attention
pointedly to the above penalty of failure; and I remember how concerned
the mother was, and how quickly she got the book and dragging me along
after her, speedily returned it to the library, and thus escaped the
sentence of outlawry," concludes Col. Bird.


What is known far and wide as the Maxon bookmark originated in
Wisconsin, and was the conception of the Rev. Mr. Maxon, then resident
in Dunn County. It has been reprinted on little slips in hundreds of
forms, has circulated in every state and territory in the country, and
doubtless a full million copies of it have been slipped between the
leaves of children's books. It may fittingly be reproduced here:

 "Once on a time" A Library Book was overheard talking to a little boy
 who had just borrowed it. The words seemed worth recording and here
 they are:

 "Please don't handle me with dirty hands. I should feel ashamed to be
 seen when the next little boy borrowed me.

 Or leave me out in the rain. Books can catch cold as well as children.

 Or make marks on me with your pen or pencil. It would spoil my looks.

 Or lean on me with your elbows when you are reading me. It hurts.

 Or open me and lay me face down on the table. You would not like to be
 treated so.

 Or put in between my leaves a pencil or anything thicker than a single
 sheet of thin paper. It would strain my back.

 Whenever you are through reading me, if you are afraid of losing your
 place, don't turn down the corner of one of my leaves, but have a neat
 little Book Mark to put in where you stopped, and then close me and
 lay me down on my side so that I can have a good comfortable rest."


Just a few words on a matter of business addressed to business
men--for that, I conceive, is what mayors and aldermen primarily are,
whether engaged in trade or in professions. I am aware that it is more
popular to term them politicians in the worst meaning of that abused
word, and to ascribe improper motives to their official actions, but
personal relations with many of them through a long series of years
convinces me that a very large majority of them are men of probity
and good intentions, seeking to perform a public duty to the extent
of their abilities. They are sure of clamorous condemnation for any
errors of commission or omission, and very uncertain of commendation
for conscientious attention to official duties. Lest these remarks
may be construed as undue flattery prompted by the presence here of
so many municipal officers, it may be added that the average alderman
is inclined to be at times a bit self-opinionated in his views of
public business, or impatient with that phase of it which he does not
directly control. At least this is so until his term is nearing its
end. Unfortunately, the broader and wider outlook which experience
always brings to men usually develops too late, except in cases of
re-election, for service during his own period of administration, and
cannot be transmitted to his successor. And that is why, rather than
because of downright dishonesty, our city public works are frequently
defectively constructed, money is needlessly expended for certain
purposes, and not expended at all, or insufficiently expended for
others, where it would bring best results.

A municipality ought to be a business corporation purely, managed
on business principles by its board of trustees (aldermen) and for
the benefit of the stockholders (taxpayers and citizens). Like any
other business institution, its management should carefully consider
its resources and apportion expenditures to secure largest returns
on investment. And in the case of a municipality, the returns from
investments embrace both the material comforts and necessities of
community life which are represented in sanitation, facilities for
transportation, for lighting and for adequate water supply, and the
intellectual requirements of modern life which find their expression in
good public schools and well-administered libraries.

And this brings us to a consideration of the question immediately
before us--the administration of public library funds. Some years
ago a discussion of this question might have required a preliminary
apologetic justification for the existence of such an institution as
a public library. The necessity for that sort of thing has happily
passed, just as the need for explanation in the reasonable expenditure
of public funds for public schools is no longer existent. Nevertheless,
the general conception of the possibilities of usefulness in public
library work remains imperfectly developed. It will require time and
patient effort to secure full recognition of the potent possibilities
for the good of all the people that may be realized through the public
library adequately maintained and properly administered. And herein
lies the crux of the question.

That anecdote which Souther told of himself will bear repetition.
Meeting an old woman one stormy day, he resorted to the usual topic of

"Dreadful weather, isn't it?" he remarked.

This was quite obvious, of course, but the old woman's rejoinder was
rather philosophical.

"_Any_ weather is better than none," quoth she.

This philosophic way of viewing a discouraging condition is, I fear,
but too true with reference to the average public library. But _any_
library is not necessarily better than none. The average municipality
is quite likely to rest satisfied with prevailing conditions. If
municipalities were, like other business corporations, subjected to
the test of competition, many of them would be in the hands of the
sheriff. No business man can survive today who does not utilize modern
progressive methods. The successful business man today is he who adopts
the principle that no results can be secured without certain outlays.
No farmer would conceive it prudent to economize in the planting of his
seed. If he did, scanty crops would convince him of the error of his
methods. And yet it is this error which many cities and towns commit.
They may possess libraries, but they grudgingly allow them revenues
just sufficient to keep them from starvation. In Wisconsin we have a
goodly percentage of public libraries that are in every way creditable,
but it is too true that there are also many which fail to realize their
full possibilities.

In order that the maximum dividend on the investment may be realized,
it is essential that a library's resources should permit:

1. The employment of competent trained service.

2. The purchase of books and magazines at frequent intervals to keep
the library from going to seed.

3. Such regulations that the doors of the institution shall be open at
least as often and as long every week as they are allowed to remain

To effect these desiderata, the library boards should be given
sufficient funds, with due regard to economy of administration. It
is coming to be recognized that a librarian is expected to do more
than hand out books over a counter and take them in again--that the
up-to-date librarian must study the social, commercial and intellectual
interests of the community so as to make the library a vital force
by providing the facilities for expansion of these interests. The
public schools educate the average person during an average period
representing five years of his life; the public library should afford
facilities to persons of every age and in every condition of life for
continuing one's education indefinitely. The public officer desirous
of ascertaining the best methods for paving streets, the housewife
in search of receipts for the most wholesome dishes for her table,
the mechanic seeking to better his condition by studying the latest
improvements in his craft, the foreign-born reader anxious for
literature bearing on the duties of citizenship, the young man engaged
in serious study of current questions--these and every other man,
woman or child in quest of information, should have the facilities
offered in the public libraries to secure it fully, not only by
personal search along the shelves, but through the ready, helpful and
suggestive assistance of a librarian trained to find in a multitude
of print the essential facts which are wanted. Individual cases could
be cited by the score to demonstrate what a public library can do for
the people of its community. One that came to my attention recently
may be mentioned. A boy who gave promise of no virtues and many
vices engendered by idleness, was the despair of his parents and the
annoyance of the neighbors. By chance he wandered into the reference
room of the library in his town, carelessly picked up a book dealing
with inventions, became interested, came again, asked for and received
more books on the same topic and studied them with increasing interest.
From that day he became a changed boy. He had found a purpose in
life. Today, through his own efforts, he is taking the engineering
course in a college, he has secured a patent from the government for
a valuable invention, and he gives promise of becoming a leader in
his chosen profession. In a certain city of this state which need not
be designated by name, there are large manufacturing interests. There
is a public library magnificently housed, but until lately without an
appropriation for keeping the book purchases up-to-date. Workmen were
eager to get books on electricity, on general mechanics and useful arts
effecting their daily labor, but there were no funds with which to
purchase them; naturally, they soon ceased their visits to the library.
When the Free Library Commission called the attention of the heads of
these great industrial enterprises to the condition of affairs, they
immediately saw the advantage of adequately supporting the library. It
did not take them long to figure out that no cheaper method could be
devised for improving the product of their establishments and to create
an interest among their workmen that would make for greater industry,
better workmanship and consequently increased profits. On their part
the workmen were quick to see their own advantage in increased wages in
proportion to increase in skill and output. As an economic proposition
the net result is greater stability in the industrial life of the
community--decreased labor troubles and increased confidence between
employer and employed. A sociologist who made a systematic study of
a group of villages largely populated by workingmen, reported that
the one which showed greatest evidence of prosperity, cleanliness and
attractiveness of homes generally, was one conspicuous by reason of its
well-managed public library.

There is no channel of human usefulness which appeals so forcefully
to the modern spirit of philanthropy as the public library. This
generosity would, I doubt not, be greatly multiplied were there any
assurance that the communities to be benefited would properly maintain
the institution given to it. Purely as a matter of business, it pays
to support a library decently. But deeper than this lies the motive
that should actuate any city or town to erect within its midst an
institution that must stand as the exponent of its intellectual and to
some extent its social life.

"The problem before us," said Lowell many years ago, "is to make a
whole of many discordant parts, our many foreign elements; and I know
of no way in which this can better be done than by providing a common
system of education, and a common door of access to the best books by
which that education may be continued, broadened and made fruitful."

These words are as true today as when they were uttered.


[1] Address delivered on behalf League of Library Commissions,
Asheville Conference A. L. A., May 27, 1907.

[2] George Eliot, "Middlemarch."

[3] Read before the New York Library Association at Haines Falls, Sept.
28, 1915.

[4] Painter. History of Education.

[5] One devotes thereto a column and a half of 1736 columns in the
volume, and the other devotes 37 columns to the subject of the 1480
columns contained in one of the five volumes of the work.

[6] _Library Journal._

[7] Lowe. Literature for Children.

[8] Nearing, Scott. The New Education.

[9] Hodgson, Elizabeth. The Adolescent's Prejudice Against the
Classics. _English Journal_, Sept., 1915.

[10] President's address at Kaaterskill Conference, American Library
Association, June, 1913.

[11] Extracts from a paper in the _Educational Bi-monthly_, April,
1910, entitled, "The Chicago Public Library and Co-operation with the

[12] Extracts from booklet, "_Books for the People_," 1908.

[13] _The Municipality_, Dec., 1905.

Transcriber's Notes:

  Some spelling has been normalized.

  Variations in hyphenation and accentuation were maintained.

  Italicized words and phrases are presented by surrounding the text
  with underscores.

  The signature of J. Christian Bay who wrote the Preface is in all
  capitals. In original book and in html version it is in small

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