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Title: Why do we need a public library?
       Material for a library campaign

Author: Various

Editor: Chalmers Hadley

Release Date: March 24, 2010 [EBook #31760]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Martin Pettit and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This file was
produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)


Revised Edition of
Tract No. 1





Compiled by


Sec'y American Library Association







Postage on book publications extra

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reading for the young, with supplement. Sheets,

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

Children's reading. Paper, 25c.

Small library buildings. Paper, $1.25.

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

(Continued on 3rd cover page)

[Pg 1]


Revised Edition of
Tract No. 1





Compiled by


Sec'y American Library Association




[Pg 2]

Compiled from articles and addresses by

Sir Walter Besant 7
E. A. Birge, dean University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis. 18
William J. Bryan 38
John P. Buckley 32
Waller Irene Bullock, chief loan librarian Carnegie Library, Pittsburg, Pa. 43
James H. Canfield, late librarian Columbia University Library, New York 40
Andrew Carnegie 2541
Winston Churchill 16
Frederick M. Crunden, ex-librarian Public Library, St. Louis, Mo. 42847
J. C. Dana, librarian Free Public Library, Newark, N. J. 10123742
Melvil Dewey, ex-director N. Y. State Library, Albany 21
William R. Eastman, chief Division of Educational Extension, State Library, Albany, N. Y. 2245
Mrs. S. C. Fairchild, ex-vice director New York State Library School, Albany, N. Y. 10
W. I. Fletcher, librarian Amherst College Library, Amherst, Mass. 6
W. E. Foster, librarian Public Library, Providence, R. I. 44
Chalmers Hadley, secretary American Library Association, Chicago, Ill. 329
Joseph Le Roy Harrison, librarian Providence Athenæum, Providence, R. I. 27
Caroline M. Hewins, librarian Public Library, Hartford, Conn. 5
F. A. Hutchins, University Extension Department, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis.    13192636
J. N. Larned, ex-librarian Public Library, Buffalo, N. Y. 202234
Henry E. Legler, librarian Public Library, Chicago, Ill. 1730
James Russell Lowell 18
William McKinley 30
Theodore Roosevelt 37
C. C. Thach, president Alabama Polytechnic Institute 939
Alice S. Tyler, secretary Iowa Library Commission, Des Moines, Iowa 47
Irene Van Kleeck 36

[Pg 3]


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

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

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

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

1 Citizens of —— believe in free public libraries. They need organization and courage to attack[Pg 4] local problems rather than long homilies on the value of good literature.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Secretary American Library Association.


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

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

[Pg 5]

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

[Pg 6]

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



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

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

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

A good library would get gifts from wealthy citizens.[Pg 7] No other public institution offers so fitting an opportunity for a public-spirited citizen to help his neighbors and win their approval and affection.

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

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


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



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

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

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

4 Effects a great saving in money to every reader in the community. The library is the application of common[Pg 8] sense to the problem of supply and demand. Through it every reader in the town can secure at a given cost from 100 to 1000 times the material for reading or study that he could secure by acting individually.

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

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

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

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



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

2 Bulletins of books for special days are printed.

3 Lists of books on special subjects are printed.

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

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

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

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

8 Training in reference work, in the use of books and libraries, in the use of finding lists, card catalogs,[Pg 9] indexes, etc., is given by library assistants: (a) to teachers at the library; (b) at the library to individual pupils and classes that come there; (c) at the schools to the pupils in their rooms.

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

10 Special study rooms for teachers are provided.

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

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

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

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

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

16 Special collections of books are furnished to vacation schools.

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

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



A library is not a luxury; it is not for the cultured few; it is not merely for the scientific; it is not for any intellectual cult or exclusive literary set. It is a great, broad, universal public benefaction. It lifts the entire community; it is the right arm of the intellectual development of the people, ministering to the wants of those who are[Pg 10] already educated and spreading a universal desire for education. It is the upper story of the public school system, while it is a broad field wherein ripe scholars may find a fuller training for their already highly developed faculties. It is above all a splendid instrument for the education and culture of those vast masses of boys and girls that are denied the high privileges of the systematic training of the schools.

C. C. THACH.   

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



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

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

[Pg 11]

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

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

J. C. DANA.   


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


[Pg 12]


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

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

It is only a question of method.

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



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

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

[Pg 13]

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

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

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

J. C. DANA.   


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

[Pg 14]

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

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



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

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

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

[Pg 15]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whether right or wrong, human beings as at present constituted will not frequent in large numbers libraries that charge a fee. The spirit of the age and the tendency[Pg 16] of liberal communities are entirely in favor of furnishing this means of education and amusement without charge. Certainly towns which can maintain by taxation, paupers, parks, highways and schools have no reasonable ground for denying free reading to their inhabitants.

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

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



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

[Pg 17]

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

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

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



Our public schools are doing a great work, but, after all, "the older generation remains untouched, and the assimilation of the younger can hardly be complete or certain as long as the homes of the parents remain comparatively unaffected." For those whose early education has been neglected either by reason of family circumstances or because of wayward disposition, and who realize their need before it is too late, there are night schools, business courses and correspondence school courses, with the minor advantages and stimulus offered by public lecture courses. Volunteer study clubs and societies for research are being organized in great numbers. And, more potent and more forceful, more universal in its application than all these because better organized, better equipped and readier to avail itself of all existing affiliating agencies, is[Pg 18] that national movement which has become known for want of a better term as library extension.

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


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



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

Life for most of us is sufficiently dull and colorless. The workday aspect of the world is always with us and oppresses us. For the average man and woman, whose education has been limited, whose imagination has lacked all wider opportunity for cultivation, the easiest escape from the cares of daily life, from the depressing monotony of daily routine, will be through the avenue opened by the story, the people's road out of a care-filled life, ever since the days of "Arabian Nights." Such readers[Pg 19] as these desire fiction and ought to have it. If their imagination can be cultivated to the point of reaching similar freedom from care through poetry, through the drama, or through any of the higher forms of literature, so much the better. The library's message is to men and women cramped by toil and narrowed by routine, ever seeking some way out of this troublesome world into that larger realm which is more truly ours because it is our creation and that of our fellows. This wider world, in its friendliness and homelikeness, the library must represent.

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

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

E. A. BIRGE.   


The best proof of the value of public libraries lies in the cordial support given them by all the people, when they are managed on broad, sensible lines. Such institutions contribute to the fund of wholesome recreation that sweetens life and to the wider knowledge that broadens it.[Pg 20] They give ambition, knowledge and inspiration to boys and girls from sordid homes, and win them from various forms of dissipation. They form a central home where citizens of all creeds and conditions find a common ground of useful endeavor.

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


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


The bookless man does not understand his own loss. He does not know the leanness in which his mind is kept by want of the food which he rejects. He does not know what starving of imagination and of thought he has inflicted upon himself. He has suffered his interest in the things which make up God's knowable universe to shrink until it reaches no farther than his eyes can see and his ears can hear. The books which he scorns are the telescopes and reflectors and reverberators of our intellectual life, holding in themselves a hundred magical powers for the overcoming of space and time, and for[Pg 21] giving the range of knowledge which belongs to a really cultivated mind. There is no equal substitute for them. There is nothing else which will so break for us the poor hobble of everyday sights and sounds and habits and tasks, by which our thinking and feeling are naturally tethered to a little worn round.

J. N. LARNED.   


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


[Pg 22]


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

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

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

J. N. LARNED.   


The library offers the advantages of good society to many who could not otherwise enjoy them. This is one of the most important influences that tells on individual character. A man is not only known by the company he[Pg 23] keeps, but to a great extent he is made or unmade by his associates. A great part of what we learn and much of what we are is absorbed unconsciously from our environment.

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

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

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



The place now assigned the public library, by very general consent, is that of an integral part of our system of public and free education. On no other theory has it sure and lasting foundation; on no other theory may it be supported by general taxation; on no other theory can it be wisely and consistently administered. A public tax can be levied for the maintenance of a public library only upon the principle which underlies all righteous public[Pg 24] taxation, not that the taxpayer wants something and will receive it in proportion to the amount of his contribution, but that the public wants something of such general interest and value that all property-owners may be asked and required to contribute towards its cost.

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

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

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

Henceforth, then, these two must go hand in hand, neither trenching upon the field of the other, neither burdening or hampering the other, each helping the other. The public school must take the initiative, determining[Pg 25] lines of thought and work, developing in each child the power to act and the tendency to act, making full use of the public library as an effective ally in all its current work, and making such use of it as to create in each pupil the library habit, to last through life. The public library must respond by every possible supplementary effort, by most intelligent co-operation, by most sympathetic and effective assistance, and by giving pupils a welcome which they will feel holds good till waning physical powers make further use of the library impossible.


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



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

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

A good public library in this town may help our neighboring farmers as well as our townspeople. They cannot support public libraries in their small communities. Their small school libraries give the children a taste for [Pg 26]reading, but give them nothing to gratify that taste when they leave school. Let us join our forces for mutual advantage and get a better library and a wider community of interests.



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

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

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


[Pg 27]


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

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

Were it not for the library, the education of the masses would, in most cases, cease when the doors of the school swung in after them for the last time; but it keeps those doors wide open, and is, in the truest sense of the word, the university of the people. The library is as much a part of the educational system of a community as the public school, and is coming more and more to be [Pg 28]regarded with the same respect and supported in the same generous manner.

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



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

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

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

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

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


[Pg 29]


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

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

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

It is no exaggeration to state that every dollar expended for library purposes is returned to the community tenfold, not necessarily in dollars and cents, but in the more[Pg 30] permanent, more valuable assets of greater happiness, comfort and progress of the people. A city is the expression of every life within its borders, and every increase in progress and efficiency in the individual citizen, is progress for the whole.

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

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


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



Modern industrialism exacts from the artisan and the worker in every branch, skill and knowledge not dreamed of years ago. He who would not be trampled under foot needs to keep pace with the onward sweep in his particular craft. The public library furnishes to the ambitious artisan the opportunity to rise. Upon its shelves he may find the latest and the best in invention and in method and in knowledge. Never in the history of the country has there been such a desire manifested among the adult population for continued education as may be noted to-day. Does it not speak eloquently of ambition to rise above circumstances—that same spirit that we have [Pg 31]admired in our Franklins and our Lincolns and the long roll of self-made men whose lives we are proud to recall? And so library extension takes note of adult education, and combining its forces with university extension, realizes that broader movement variously termed home education, popular education and the people's college.

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

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

The library believes, too, that recreative reading is a legitimate function. We hold, with William Morton Payne, that a sparkling and sprightly story, which may[Pg 32] be read in an hour and which will leave the reader with a good conscience and a sense of cheerfulness, has its merits. In this work-a-day world of ours we need a bit of cheer for the hours which ought to be restful as well as resting hours. Library extension is imbued with optimism; its broadening field is educational, sociological, recreative. Unblinded to the evils of the day, its promoters realize inability to amend them except by educational processes affecting all the people. They do not preach the gospel of discontent, but seek realization of conditions which shall bring about contentment and happiness. That, after all, for the welfare of the people, wants need be but few and easily supplied. He who has food, raiment and shelter in reasonable degree, access to the intellectual wealth of the world in public libraries, to the riches created by the master painters and sculptors, found in public galleries and museums, to the untrammeled use of public parks and drives, and the many other universal advantages which are now so increasingly many, need not envy the richest men on earth. Many a millionaire is poorer than the most humble of his employees, for excessive wealth brings its own train of evils to torment its possessor. Commercial success is a legitimate endeavor among men, and thrift is to be commended, but when these degenerate into greed, pity and not envy should be the meed of the man seized with the money disease.



My opinion of the public library from a workingman's standpoint is, that it is the greatest boon that could possibly be conferred upon him. It places him at once upon the level with the millionaire, the student and the philosopher. It opens for him (whose poverty would otherwise debar him) the vast fields of literature. Here he may wander at will with the master minds of humanity, hand in hand with the great thinkers of the ages, open his mind and heart to the lessons taught by those great leaders of[Pg 33] men who have conquered nations and shaped the destinies of the human race. Here he may associate with the greatest, the wisest and the best. There is no limit to the possibilities of possessing knowledge which is power, without money and without price. The public library should be managed in the best interests of the workingman, and the books should be purchased mainly with his welfare in view. The capitalist can buy and own his own books. The workingman cannot do this. The children of the workingman must get from the public library the general books of reference which the business man has in his home. The children of the workingman must have these books in order properly to do their school work and thoroughly understand it. Their teachers require this. The children of the workingman have their schools as well as the library. Their work in the schools and the work in the library go hand in hand, but the workingman himself has only the library for his school and must, of necessity, go there. His schoolroom is the reference room, for the knowledge he gains in that department he can at once put into practical use in any capacity in which he may be employed.

The question arises, having presented those opportunities to the workingman, will he take advantage of them? I answer, he surely will. It is now more than twenty years since I joined a labor organization, the "Stone-cutters' Union" of Minneapolis. Since that time I have always been affiliated with organized workingmen. During all these years the workingman has taken advantage of every opportunity to better the condition of himself, his fellow workman and his employer. He has learned to be more patient, more conservative and more trustworthy. His hours of labor have been shortened, his wages are higher, and labor-saving machinery has made his work lighter. He lives in a better home, his family is better provided for and, best of all, his children are better educated. What has wrought those great changes in the conditions of the workingman? What has enabled him to keep up with the swift march of progress during these[Pg 34] many years? I will answer in one word, Education. Just such institutions as the public library have made this possible, and the public library has given the largest share.



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

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

Yet the men and women who take nothing from letters and books are choosing to live as though mankind did actually wallow in the awful darkness of that state from which writing and books have rescued us. For them, it[Pg 35] is as if no ship had ever come from the far shores of old Time where their ancestry dwelt; and the interest of existence to them is huddled in the petty space of their own few years, between walls of mist which thicken as impenetrably behind them as before. How can life be worth living on such terms as that? How can man or woman be content with so little, when so much is offered?

J. N. LARNED.   


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

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

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


[Pg 36]


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

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

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



"In Madison, N. J., a bird club of boys met twice a week, once for study and once for an expedition, and found the library's resources on this topic to be of [Pg 37]interest and value. How to utilize profitably the activities of a 'gang' of boys is worth much planning. One librarian is reported to have started a chair-caning class to interest restless boys; another had a museum of flowers and insects, another conducted a branch of the flower mission. Not less interesting, and perhaps more instructive, is a series of talks on Indian legends accompanied by hunting expeditions for the half-buried implements and relics found in almost every meadow in some parts of the country. Boys are eager to learn about natural history and natural science, and they will be encouraged at the public library."



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

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

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

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

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

J. C. DANA.   

After the church and the school, the free public library is the most effective influence for good in America. The moral, mental and material benefits to be derived from a[Pg 38] carefully selected collection of good books, free for the use of all the people, cannot be overestimated. No community can afford to be without a library.



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

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

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


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


[Pg 39]


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

C. C. THACH.   


Have our missionary societies access to Bliss's "Encyclopedia of Missions," or to Dennis's great "Missions and Christian Progress"? Do our Bible students know Moulton's "Literary Study of the Bible"?—a book so illuminating as to seem almost itself inspired. How many of the members of the young people's societies of our churches have access to a standard concordance, Bible dictionary, or a dictionary of sects and doctrines? Has the W. C. T. U. the reports of the Committee of Fifty, that great committee of master minds, who made exhaustive investigation and authoritative reports on the various aspects of the liquor question? Have the Masons a history of free-masonry? Has the Shakespeare Club books on Shakespeare, and is the Political Equality Club acquainted[Pg 40] with standard works on political science and the franchise? Who has a good "Cyclopedia of Quotations," or a "Reader's Handbook," where we can satisfy our curiosity regarding allusions to "Fair Rosamond," "Apples of Hesperia," "Atlantis" and "Captain Cuttle"?

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



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

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

The most worthy mind, that which is of most value to the world, is the well-informed mind which is public and large. Only through the development of such, both as leaders and as followers, can all classes be brought into an understanding of each other, can we preserve true [Pg 41]republican equality, can we avoid that insulation and seclusion which are unwholesome and unworthy of true American manhood. The state has no resources at all comparable with its citizens. A man is worth to himself just what he is capable of enjoying, and he is worth to the state just what he is capable of imparting. These form an exact and true measure of every man. The greatest positive strength and value, therefore, must always be associated with the greatest positive and practical development of every faculty and power.

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



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

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



Libraries are established that they may gather together the best of the fruits of the tree of human speech, spread them before men in all liberality and invite all to enjoy them. The schools are in part established that they may tell the young how to enjoy this feast. They do this. They teach the young to read. They put them in touch[Pg 42] with words and phrases; they point out to them the delectable mountains of human thought and action, and then let them go. It is to be lamented that they go so soon. At twelve, at thirteen, at fourteen at the most, these young men and women, whose lives could be so broadened, sweetened, mellowed, humanized by a few years' daily contact with the wisest, noblest, wittiest of our kind as their own words portray them—at this early age, when reading has hardly begun, they leave school, and they leave almost all of the best reading at the same time. If, now, you can bring these young citizens into sympathy with the books the libraries would persuade them to read; if you can impress upon them the reading habit; then the libraries can supplement your good work; will rejoice in empty shelves; will feel that they are not in vain; and the coming generations will delight, one and all, in that which good books can give; will speak more plainly; will think more clearly; will be less often led astray by false prophets of every kind; will see that all men are of the one country of humanity; and will—to sum it all—be better citizens of a good state.

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

J. C. DANA.   


When we consider how much the education that is continued after schooltime depends upon the right use of books, we can hardly be too emphatic in asserting that something of that use should be learned in the school. Yet almost nothing of the sort really is learned. The[Pg 43] average student in high school does not know the difference between a table of contents and an index, does not know what a concordance is, does not know how to find what he wants in an encyclopedia, does not even know that a dictionary has many other uses besides that of supplying definitions. Still more pitiful is his naïve assumption that a book is a book, and that what book it is does not particularly matter. It is the commonest of all experiences to hear a student say that he has got a given statement from a book, and to find him quite incapable of naming the book. That the source of information, as long as that information is printed somewhere, should be of any consequence, is quite surprising to him, and still more the suggestion that it is also his duty to have some sort of an opinion concerning the value and credibility of the authority he thus blindly quotes. If the school library, and the instruction given in connection with it, should do no more than impress these two elementary principles upon the minds of the whole student body, it would go far towards accounting for itself as an educational means. That it may, and should, do much more than this is the proposition that we have sought to maintain, and we do not see how its essential reasonableness may be gainsaid.

DIAL, Feb. 1, 1906.   


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

Library work offers great opportunity for philanthropy, and philanthropy of the higher form, because its work is preventive, rather than positive. It anticipates evil by substituting the antidote beforehand. It fosters the love of what is good and uplifting before low tastes have become a chronic propensity. Pleasure in such books as the library would furnish to young readers will interest the mind and occupy the thoughts exclusive of those evil[Pg 44] practices invited by the open door of idleness. The children generally come of their own free will; they are influenced silently, unconsciously to themselves; they feel themselves welcome, loved, respected. Self-respect, the mighty power to lift and keep erect, is fostered and developed.

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

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



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

W. E. FOSTER.   

[Pg 45]


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

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

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

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

Our views of life are moulded by reading. The records are here, describing lands and people we have never seen, centuries in which we have not lived, men who passed off the stage in past ages. The discoveries of science, the developments of workmanship, the growth of civilization; thought, wit, fancy, feeling, which has appealed to the world, and that study, the study of man, is illustrated in infinitely diverse forms of story and song: all these are in books and they give us the advantage of wide [Pg 46]horizons and enlarged acquaintance with life. A community leavened with such influences, where people generally understand, where all grow up from their youth to know, to think, to communicate and to have common acquaintance with the past and the distance and with the secrets of nature, and all the many ways of doing things, is a stronger, happier and more prosperous community because of that very fact, and the books are plainly a means to so desirable an end.



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


Side by side in the wilderness, our forefathers planted the church and the school; and on these two supports the nation has stood firm and grown great. But a tripod is necessary for stable equilibrium. As the country has grown, its industrial, economic and political problems have grown more numerous and more complex, and the nation required a broader base of intelligence and morality for its security and perpetuity. The third support for a wider and higher national life has been found in the public library, which co-operating with the school, doubles the value of the education the child receives in school and further incites and furnishes him with facilities for doing[Pg 47] so. It also enables the adult to make up for the opportunities he neglected or, more often, did not have in early life. It does this, too, at an expense to the community of not more than one tenth of the cost per capita of school education.



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

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



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

2 The library supported by local taxation ceases to[Pg 48] be a charity, contributed by the few to the many, and becomes the right and property of all. When I use a library supported by private gifts, I am accepting a favor; when I use a library supported by public tax, I am using what is mine by right. The tax thus promotes a feeling of independence and self-respect in the library's patrons.

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

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

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

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



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

Second—It is not dependent solely upon subscriptions,[Pg 49] contributions and the proceeds of entertainments arranged for its benefit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Foreign Book Lists

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Library Tracts (5c. each)

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

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