A Library Primer
John Cotton Dana
Library Bureau, Chicago 1903
Copyright, 1899, by Library Bureau
To Samuel S. Green, William I. Fletcher, and Charles A. Cutter
A library primer was published in the first six numbers of Public Libraries in 1896. It was quite largely made up of extracts from an article by Dr W.F. Poole on The organization and management of public libraries, which formed part of the report on Public libraries in the U.S., published by the U.S. Bureau of education in 1876; from W.I. Fletcher's Public libraries in America; from Mary W. Plummer's Hints to small libraries; and from papers in the Library journal and A.L.A. proceedings.
At the request of a number of people interested I have revised, rewritten, and extended the original draft for publication in book form. Additional material has been taken from many sources. I have tried to give credit in good measure. The prevailing tendency among librarians is to share ideas, to give to one another the benefit of all their suggestions and experiences. The result is a large fund of library knowledge which is common property. From this fund most of this book is taken.
The Library Primer is what its name implies. It does not try to be exhaustive in any part of the field. It tries to open up the subject of library management for the small library, and to show how large it is and how much librarians have yet to learn and to do.
The City library, J.C.D. Springfield, Mass.
I, The beginnings—Library law 9
II, Preliminary work 10
III, What does a public library do for a community? 12
IV, General policy of the library 15
V, Trustees 17
VI, The librarian 20
VII, The trained librarian 23
VIII, Rooms, building, fixtures, furniture 25
IX, Things needed in beginning work 30
X, The Library Bureau 35
XI, Selecting books 39
XII, Reference books for a small library 46
XIII, Reference work 53
XIV, Reading room 57
XV, List of periodicals 61
XVI, Buying books 63
XVII, Ink and handwriting 69
XVIII, Care of books 73
XIX, Accessioning 76
XX, Classifying 78
XXI, Decimal classification 81
XXII, Expansive classification 84
XXIII, Author numbers or book marks 91
XXIV, Shelf list 92
XXV, Cataloging 94
XXVI, Preparing books for the shelf 99
XXVII, Binding and mending 103
XXVIII, Pamphlets 108
XXIX, Public documents 110
XXX, Checking the library 113
XXXI, Lists, bulletins, and printed catalogs 114
XXXII, Charging systems 116
XXXIII, Meeting the public 122
XXXIV, The public library for the public 123
XXXV, Advice to a librarian 126
XXXVI, The librarian as a host 128
XXXVII, Making friends for the library 131
XXXVIII, Public libraries and recreation 133
XXXIX, Books as useful tools 134
XL, Village library successfully managed 135
XLI, Rules for the public 137
XLII, Rules for trustees and employes 140
XLIII, Reports 146
XLIV, Library legislation 147
XLV, A.L.A. and other library associations 152
XLVI, Library schools and classes 154
XLVII, Library department of N.E.A. 156
XLVIII, Young people and the schools 157
XLIX, How can the library assist the school? 160
L, Children's room 163
LI, Schoolroom libraries 164
LII, Children's home libraries 166
LIII, Literary clubs and libraries 168
LIV, Museums, lectures, etc. 170
LV, Rules for the care of photographs 171
The beginnings—Library law
If the establishment of a free public library in your town is under consideration, the first question is probably this: Is there a statute which authorizes a tax for the support of a public library? Your state library commission, if you have one, will tell you if your state gives aid to local public libraries. It will also tell you about your library law. If you have no library commission, consult a lawyer and get from him a careful statement of what can be done under present statutory regulations. If your state has no library law, or none which seems appropriate in your community, it may be necessary to suspend all work, save the fostering of a sentiment favorable to a library, until a good law is secured.
In chapters 44 and 45 will be found a list of state library commissions, important provisions in library laws, and the names of the states having the best library laws at present.
Before taking any definite steps, learn about the beginnings of other libraries by writing to people who have had experience, and especially to libraries in communities similar in size and character to your own. Write to some of the new libraries in other towns and villages of your state, and learn how they began. Visit several such libraries, if possible, the smaller the better if you are starting on a small scale.
Often it is not well to lay great plans and invoke state aid at the very outset. Make a beginning, even though it be small, is a good general rule. This beginning, however petty it seems, will give a center for further effort, and will furnish practical illustrations for the arguments one may wish to use in trying to interest people in the movement.
Each community has different needs, and begins its library under different conditions. Consider then, whether you need most a library devoted chiefly to the work of helping the schools, or one to be used mainly for reference, or one that shall run largely to periodicals and be not much more than a reading room, or one particularly attractive to girls and women, or one that shall not be much more than a cheerful resting-place, attractive enough to draw man and boy from street corner and saloon. Decide this question early, that all effort may be concentrated to one end, and that your young institution may suit the community in which it is to grow, and from which it is to gain its strength.
Having decided to have a library, keep the movement well before the public. The necessity of the library, its great value to the community, should be urged by the local press, from the platform, and in personal talk. Include in your canvass all citizens, irrespective of creed, business, or politics; whether educated or illiterate. Enlist the support of teachers, and through them interest children and parents. Literary, art, social, and scientific societies, Chautauqua circles, local clubs of all kinds should be champions of the movement.
In getting notices of the library's work in the newspapers, or in securing mention of it from the lecture platform, or in clubs, and literary, artistic, and musical societies, it is better to refrain from figures and to deal chiefly in general statements about what the library aims to do and what it has done.
What does a public library do for a community?
And what good does a public library do? What is it for?
1) It supplies the public with recreative reading. To the masses of the people—hard-worked and living humdrum lives—the novel comes as an open door to an ideal life, in the enjoyment of which one may forget, for a time, the hardships or the tedium of the real. One of the best functions of the public library is to raise this recreative reading of the community to higher and higher levels; to replace trash with literature of a better order.
2) A proper and worthy aim of the public library is the supplying of books on every profession, art, or handicraft, that workers in every department who care to study may perfect themselves in their work.
3) The public library helps in social and political education—in the training of citizens. It is, of course, well supplied with books and periodicals which give the thought of the best writers on the economic and social questions now under earnest discussion.
4) The highest and best influence of the library may be summed up in the single word, culture. No other word so well describes the influence of the diffusion of good reading among the people in giving tone and character to their intellectual life.
5) The free reading room connected with most of our public libraries, and the library proper as well, if it be rightly conducted, is a powerful agent for counteracting the attractions of saloons and low resorts. Especially useful is it to those boys and young men who have a dormant fondness for reading and culture, but lack home and school opportunities.
6) The library is the ever-ready helper of the school-teacher. It aids the work of reading circles and other home-culture organizations, by furnishing books required and giving hints as to their value and use; it adds to the usefulness of courses of lectures by furnishing lists of books on the subjects to be treated; it allies itself with university extension work; in fact, the extension lecture given in connection with the free use of a good library seems to be the ideal university of the people.
The public library, then, is a means for elevating and refining the taste, for giving greater efficiency to every worker, for diffusing sound principles of social and political action, and for furnishing intellectual culture to all.
The library of the immediate future for the American people is unquestionably the free public library, brought under municipal ownership, and, to some extent, municipal control, and treated as part of the educational system of the state. The sense of ownership in it makes the average man accept and use the opportunities of the free public library while he will turn aside from book privileges in any other guise.
That the public library is a part of the educational system should never be lost sight of in the work of establishing it, or in its management. To the great mass of the people it comes as their first and only educational opportunity. The largest part of every man's education is that which he gives himself. It is for this individual, self-administered education that the public library furnishes the opportunity and the means. The schools start education in childhood; libraries carry it on.
Suggestions as to general policy of the library
In general, remember always 1) that the public owns its public library, and 2) that no useless lumber is more useless than unused books. People will use a library, not because, in others' opinions, they ought to, but because they like to. See to it, then, that the new library is such as its owner, the public, likes; and the only test of this liking is use. Open wide the doors. Let regulations be few and never obtrusive. Trust American genius for self-control. Remember the deference for the rights of others with which you and your fellows conduct yourselves in your own homes, at public tables, at general gatherings. Give the people at least such liberty with their own collection of books as the bookseller gives them with his. Let the shelves be open, and the public admitted to them, and let the open shelves strike the keynote of the whole administration. The whole library should be permeated with a cheerful and accommodating atmosphere. Lay this down as the first rule of library management; and for the second, let it be said that librarian and assistants are to treat boy and girl, man and woman, ignorant and learned, courteous and rude, with uniform good-temper without condescension; never pertly.
Finally, bear in mind these two doctrines, tempering the one with the other: 1) that the public library is a great educational and moral power, to be wielded with a full sense of its great responsibilities, and of the corresponding danger of their neglect or perversion; 2) that the public library is not a business office, though it should be most business-like in every detail of its management; but is a center of public happiness first, of public education next.
[Condensed from paper by C.C. Soule]
1) Size of the board.—The library board should be small, in small towns not over three members. In cities a larger board has two advantages: it can include men exceptionally learned in library science, and it can represent more thoroughly different sections of the town and different elements in the population.
2) Term of office.—The board should be divided into several groups, one group going out of office each year. It would be wise if no library trustee could hold office for more than three successive terms of three years each. A library can, under this plan, keep in close touch with popular needs and new ideas.
3) Qualifications.—The ideal qualifications for a trustee of a public library—a fair education and love of books being taken for granted—are: sound character, good judgment, common sense, public spirit, capacity for work, literary taste, representative fitness. Don't assume that because a man has been prominent in political business or social circles he will make a good trustee. Capacity and willingness to work are more useful than a taste for literature without practical qualities. General culture and wide reading are generally more serviceable to the public library than the knowledge of the specialist or scholar. See that different sections of the town's interests are represented. Let neither politics nor religion enter into the choice of trustees.
4) Duties.—The trustee of the public library is elected to preserve and extend the benefits of the library as the people's university. He can learn library science only by intelligent observation and study. He should not hold his position unless he takes a lively interest in the library, attends trustees' meetings, reads the library journals, visits other libraries than his own, and keeps close watch of the tastes and requirements of his constituency. His duties include the care of funds, supervision of expenditures, determination of the library's policy, general direction of choice and purchase of books, selection of librarian and assistants, close watch of work done, and comparison of the same with results reached in other libraries.
A large board ordinarily transacts business through its chairman, secretary, treasurer, and one or more committees. It is doubtful if the librarian should act as secretary of the board. The treasurer, if he holds the funds in his hands, should always be put under bonds. It is well to have as many committees as can be actively employed in order to enlist the cooeperation of all the trustees.
The executive committee should take charge of the daily work of the library, of purchases, and of the care of the building; they should carry their duties as far as possible without assuming too much of the responsibility which properly belongs to the full board. It will be best to entrust the choice of books to a book committee appointed for that purpose purely. The finance committee should make and watch investments and see that purchases are made on most favorable terms.
5) Relations with the librarian.—The trustees are the responsible managers of the library; the librarian is their agent, appointed to carry out their wishes. If they have, however, a first-class librarian, the trustees ought to leave the management of the library practically to him, simply supplementing his ability without impeding it. They should leave to a librarian of good executive ability the selection, management, and dismissal of all assistants, the methods and details of library work, and the initiative in the choice of books. A wise librarian the trustees may very properly take into their confidence, and invite his presence at all meetings, where his advice would be of service.
6) Other employes.—Efficiency of employes can best be obtained through application of the cardinal principles of an enlightened civil service, viz., absolute exclusion of all political and personal influence, appointment for definitely ascertained fitness, promotion for merit, and retention during good behavior.
If circumstances permit, the librarian should be engaged even before the general character of the library and plan of administration have been determined upon. If properly selected, he or she will be a person of experience in these matters, and will be able to give valuable advice. Politics, social considerations, church sympathies, religious prejudices, family relationship—none of these should be allowed to enter into his selection. Secure an efficient officer, even at what may seem at first a disproportionate expense. Save money in other ways, but never by employing a forceless man or woman in the position of chief librarian.
Recent developments of schools of library economy, and recent rapid growth of public libraries throughout the country, have made it possible for any new library to secure good material for a librarian. If lack of funds or other conditions make it necessary to employ some local applicant, it will be wise to insist that that person, if not already conversant with library economy, shall immediately become informed on the subject. It will not be easy, it may not be possible, for trustees to inform themselves as to library organization and administration. They can, however, with very little difficulty, so far inform themselves as to be able to judge whether the person they select for their chief officer is taking pains to acquaint himself with the literature of the subject, or trying to get in touch with the knowledge and experience of others. They should not submit for a moment to ignorance or indifference on the part of their chosen administrator. Success or failure of a library, as of a business, depends on the ability of the man or woman at its head, and only trained men and women should be in charge. The business of the librarian is a profession, and a practical knowledge of the subject is never so much needed as in starting a new enterprise.
The librarian should have culture, scholarship, and executive ability. He should keep always in advance of his community, and constantly educate it to make greater demands upon him. He should be a leader and a teacher, earnest, enthusiastic, and intelligent. He should be able to win the confidence of children, and wise to lead them by easy steps from good books to the best. He has the greatest opportunity of any teacher in the community. He should be the teacher of teachers. He should make the library a school for the young, a college for adults, and the constant center of such educational activity as will make wholesome and inspiring themes the burden of the common thought. He should be enough of a bookworm to have a decided taste and fondness for books, and at the same time not enough to be such a recluse as loses sight of the point of view of those who know little of books.
As the responsible head of the institution, he should be consulted in all matters relating to its management. The most satisfactory results are obtained in those libraries where the chief librarian is permitted to appoint assistants, select books, buy supplies, make regulations, and decide methods of cataloging, classifying, and lending; all subject to the approval of the trustees. Trustees should impose responsibility, grant freedom, and exact results.
To the librarian himself one may say: Be punctual; be attentive; help develop enthusiasm in your assistants; be neat and consistent in your dress; be dignified but courteous in your manner. Be careful in your contracts; be square with your board; be concise and technical; be accurate; be courageous and self-reliant; be careful about acknowledgments; be not worshipful of your work; be careful of your health. Last of all, be yourself.
The trained librarian in a small library
Julia A. Hopkins, of the Rochester (N.Y.) Public library, in Public Libraries, December, 1897
The value of training for the man or woman who shall take charge of a large city library is now so firmly established that no one thinks of discussing the question. If it is true that technical training is essential for the headship of a large library, why is it not equally necessary for that of a small library? Trained service is always of greater value than untrained service, be the sphere great or small. If a woman argued from the standpoint that, because the house she was to take charge of had only seven rooms instead of twenty she needed to know nothing of cooking, sweeping, and the other details of household work, I am afraid that her house and her family would suffer for her ignorance. So in many departments of library work the accident of size makes little or no difference; the work is precisely the same. The difference lies in the fact that the head of a large library oversees and directs the work done by others, where the village librarian must, in many cases, do all of the work himself. In the distinctly professional duties, such as the ordering, classifying, and cataloging of books, there is a difference only in amount between the greater and the less. And it is precisely these professional duties of which the person untrained in library work is in most cases wofully ignorant.
It is inevitable that in starting a library there should be some mistakes made; but with a trained librarian in charge, these mistakes will be fewer in number. For example, what does the novice know of classification? He realizes that the books, for convenience in use, must be grouped in classes. If he has had the use of a good library (as a college student would) he has some idea as to how the class divisions are made, and knows also that there must be some sort of notation for the classes. Necessity being the mother of invention, he contrives some plan for bringing together books on the same subject. But with the addition of books to the library and the demand which growth makes, he finds that constant changes have to be made in order to get books into their right places; and then some day he awakens to the fact that there is some perfectly well-known and adopted system of classification which will answer all his purposes, and be a great deal more satisfactory in its adaptability to the needs of his library than the one he has been struggling to evolve. Then he exclaims in despair: If I had only known of that at the beginning! He feels that the hours which he has spent in rearranging his books, taking them out of one class and putting them into another, although hours of such hard work, are in reality so many hours of wasted time. And he is right; for every minute spent in unnecessary work is so much lost time. Not only that, but it is unnecessary expense, and one of the most important things which a small library has to consider is economy.
Is it not of value to the library that its librarian should know how best to expend the money given him to use? that he should not have to regret hours of time lost over useless experiments? Surely if training teaches a librarian a wise expenditure of money and an economy of time, then training must be valuable.
Rooms, building, fixtures, furniture
The trustees will be wise if they appoint their librarian before they erect a building, or even select rooms, and leave these matters largely to him. They should not be in haste to build. As a rule it is better to start in temporary quarters, and let the building fund accumulate while trustees and librarian gain experience, and the needs of the library become more definite. Plans should be made with the future enlargement of the building in view; libraries increase more rapidly than is generally supposed.
Rooms of peculiar architecture are not required for the original occupation and organization of a library. The essential requirements are a central location, easy access, ample space, and sufficient light. The library and the reading room should be, if possible, on the same floor. Make the exterior attractive, and the entrance inviting. In arranging the rooms, or building, plan from the first, as already suggested, to permit visitors to go to the books themselves.
A collection of the printed matter on library architecture should be carefully studied by both trustees and librarian before any plans are made. While no specific plan can be recommended that would suit all cases, there are a few general rules that meet with the approval of the library profession as a whole. They maybe thus summed up, following in the main a paper on the subject by C.C. Soule:
"A library building should be planned for library work.
Every library building should be planned especially for the kind of work to be done, and the community to be served.
The interior arrangement ought to be planned before the exterior is considered.
No convenience of arrangement should be sacrificed for mere architectural effect.
The plan should be adapted to probabilities and possibilities of growth and development.
Simplicity of decoration is essential in the working rooms and reading rooms.
The building should be planned with a view to economical administration.
The rooms for public use should be so arranged as to allow complete supervision with the fewest possible attendants.
There should be throughout as much natural light as possible.
Windows should extend up to the ceiling, to light thoroughly the upper part of every room.
Windows in a book room should be placed opposite the intervals between bookcases.
In a circulating library the books most in use should be shelved in floor cases close to the delivery desk.
A space of at least five feet should be left between floor cases. (If the public is excluded, three feet is ample.)
No shelf, in any form of bookcase, should be higher than a person of moderate height can reach without a stepladder.
Shelving for folios and quartos should be provided in every book room.
Straight flights are preferable to circular stairs.
The form of shelving which is growing in favor is the arrangement of floor cases in large rooms with space between the tops of the bookcases and the ceiling for circulation of air and the diffusion of light.
Modern library plans provide accommodations for readers near the books they want to use whatever system of shelving is adopted.
Single shelves should not be more than three feet long, on account of the tendency to sag. Ten inches between shelves, and a depth of eight inches, are good dimensions for ordinary cases. Shelves should be made movable and easily adjustable. Many devices are now in the market for this purpose, several of which are good."
Don't cut up your library with partitions unless you are sure they are absolutely necessary. Leave everything as open as possible. A light rail will keep intruders out of a private corner, and yet will not shut out light, or prevent circulation of air, or take away from the feeling of openness and breadth the library room ought to have.
For interior finish use few horizontal moldings; they make traps for dust. Use such shades at the windows as will permit adjustment for letting in light at top or bottom, or both. The less ornamentation in the furniture the better. A simple pine or white-wood table is more dignified and easier kept clean than a cheaply carved one of oak. But get solid, honestly-made, simple furniture of oak or similar wood, if funds permit. Arm-chairs are not often desirable. They take up much room, are heavy to move, and are not easy to get in and out of at a table. In many cases simple stools on a single iron standard, without a revolving top, fastened to the floor, are more desirable than chairs. The loafer doesn't like them; very few serious students object to them.
A stack room for small libraries is not advisable. Don't crowd your cases close together unless it is absolutely necessary.
An excellent form of wooden case is one seven feet high, with shelves three feet long and seven and a half inches wide, supported on iron pegs. The pegs fit into a series of holes bored one inch apart in the sides of the case, thus making the shelves adjustable. These pegs can be bought in the market in several shapes. The shelves have slots cut in the under side at the ends to hold the projecting ends of the pegs, thus giving no obstructions to the free movement of the books. With some forms of pegs the slots are not needed. The uprights are made of inch and a half stuff, or even inch and an eighth. The shelves are inch stuff, finished to seven-eighths of an inch. The backs are half inch stuff, tongued and grooved and put in horizontally. This case-unit (3' x 7' x 8") may be doubled or trebled, making cases six and nine feet long; or it may be made double-faced. If double-faced, and nine feet long, it will hold about a thousand books of ordinary size when full. It is often well to build several of your cases short and with a single front—wall cases—as they are when in this form more easily adjusted to the growing needs of the library.
A library can never do its best work until its management recognizes the duty and true economy of providing skilled assistants, comfortable quarters, and the best library equipment of fittings and supplies.
For cases, furniture, catalog cases, cards, trays, and labor-saving devices of all kinds, consult the catalog of the Library Bureau.
Very many libraries, even the smallest, find it advantageous to use for book cases what are known as "steel stacks." The demand for these cases has been so great from libraries, large and small, that shelving made from a combination of wood and steel has been very successfully adapted to this use, and at a price within the reach of all libraries. One of the principal advantages in buying such "steel stack" shelving, with parts all interchangeable, is that in the rearrangement of a room, or in moving into a new room or a new building, it can be utilized to advantage, whereas the common wooden book cases very generally cannot.
Things needed in beginning work—Books, periodicals, and tools
The books and other things included in the following list—except those starred or excepted in a special note, the purchase of which can perhaps be deferred until the library contains a few thousand volumes—are essential to good work, and should be purchased, some of them as soon as a library is definitely decided upon, the others as soon as books are purchased and work is actually begun.
*American catalog of books in print from 1876-1896, 5v. with annual supplement. The Publishers' weekly, N.Y. Several of the volumes are out of print. All are expensive. They are not needed by the very small library. The recent years of the annual volumes are essential.
Card catalog rules; accessions-book rules; shelf-list rules; Library Bureau, 1899, $1.25. These are called the Library school rules.
Catalog of A.L.A. library; 5000v. for a popular library, selected by the American Library Association, and shown at the World's Columbian exhibition, Washington, 1893. Sent free from the United States Bureau of education.
*English catalog, 1835-1896, 5v., with annual supplement. The annual supplements for recent years are needed by the small library; the others are not.
Five thousand books, an easy guide to books in every department. Compiled for the Ladies' home journal, 1895. Curtis Publishing Company, Philadelphia, Pa. Paper, 10 cents. Out of print, but can probably be found second-hand.
Fletcher, W.I. Public Libraries in America, 1894. Roberts Bros., Boston, $1.
Library Bureau catalog, containing list of library tools, fittings, and appliances of all kinds, 1898. To be obtained of the Library Bureau, Chicago, 215 Madison St.; Boston, 530 Atlantic Ave.; New York, 250 Broadway; Philadelphia, 112 N. Broad St.; Washington, 1416 F St., N.W.
Plummer, M.W. Hints to small libraries, 1898. Truslove & Comba, N.Y., 50 cents.
Public library handbook, by the Public library, Denver, 1894. Out of print.
Publishers' trade list annual, 1900, v. 28. Office of the Publishers' weekly, N.Y., $2. Catalogs of all important American publishers bound together in one volume.
Reference catalog of current literature, 1898. Catalogs of English publishers, bound in one volume and indexed. J. Whitaker & Sons, London, $5.
Rules for an author and title catalog, condensed. See Cutter, Rules for a dictionary catalog, 1891, p. 99-103. Sent from the United States Bureau of education, Washington, free. These are the rules adopted by the American Library Association.
*Sonnenschein, W.S. Best books, readers' guide, 1891. Sonnenschein, London, $8. Gives author, title, publisher and price of about 50,000 carefully selected and carefully classified books.
Sonnenschein, W.S. Reader's guide to contemporary literature (50,000v.), supplement to Best books, 1895. Sonnenschein, London, $6.50.
*Subject headings for use in dictionary catalogs, Library Bureau, 1898, $2. In a small library this is not needed, but it will save trouble to get it.
Lawrence, I. Classified reading. A list with publishers and prices of books for the school, the library, and the home, 1898. Normal school, St Cloud, Minn., $1.25.
Iles, George. List of books for girls and women and their clubs, 1895. Library Bureau, $1.
World's library congress, papers prepared for, held at World's Columbian exposition, Chicago, 1893. United States Bureau of education, Washington, D.C., free. Covers very fully the entire field of library economy.
Book news, monthly. Wanamaker, Philadelphia, 50 cents. (Book reviews.)
Dial, semi-monthly, 24 Adams St., Chicago, $2. (Book reviews, notes and essays.)
Literature, weekly. Harper & Bros., N.Y., $4. (Current English and American literature.)
Nation, weekly. New York, $3. (Book reviews, art, politics.)
Publishers' weekly, the American book trade journal, 59 Duane St., N.Y., $5. (Lists nearly all American and best English books as published.)
Library journal, monthly, $5 a year, 58 Duane St., New York. This is the official organ of the American Library Association.
Public libraries, monthly, $1 a year, 215 Madison St., Chicago. Presents library methods in a manner especially helpful to small libraries.
New York Times Saturday review of books and art. The Times, N.Y., $1.
Monthly cumulative book index. An author, title, and subject index to the books published during the current year, brought up to date in one alphabet each month. Morris & Wilson, Minneapolis, Minn., $1.50
III. OTHER THINGS
Accession book. See catalog of the Library Bureau. For a very small library a common blank-book will do.
Agreement blanks, which the borrower signs before getting his borrower's card giving him the right to use the library. See chapter on charging systems.
Book cards. See chapter on charging systems, and Library Bureau catalog.
Book pockets. See Library Bureau catalog, and also chapter on charging systems.
Borrowers' cards. Given to borrowers as evidence of their right to draw books. See chapter on charging systems.
Borrowers' register, best kept on cards. See chapter on charging systems.
Catalog cards. These are of two sizes and many thicknesses. Select what suits you. See Library Bureau catalog.
Catalog case. See Library Bureau catalog. For a very small library a few japanned tin trays will serve. But your catalog will grow faster than you suppose.
Cole size card; a sheet marked in such a way as to give one at a glance the proper letter to use in indicating the size of any book placed on it. See Library Bureau catalog. In a very small library not needed.
Classification scheme. See chapters on classification.
Cutter author table for book numbers. See chapter on book numbers. For a very small library one can use numbers only.
Daters and ink pads for dating borrowers' cards, etc. The pencil daters are best. See chapter on charging systems.
Ink. For all outside labels use Higgins' American drawing ink, waterproof. For book cards, borrowers' cards, etc., use any good black, non-copying ink. Carter's fluid is very good.
Labels. Round ones are best and those ready gummed do well if carefully put on. Dennison's "88A" are good.
Paste. Binder's paste is good; for library use it needs thinning. Higgins' photo mounter and other like bottled pastes are better.
Rubber stamps and ink pad for marking books with name of library. See chapter on preparing books for the shelves.
Shelf list cards. See Library Bureau catalog.
Shelf list sheets (or cards). See Library Bureau catalog. In a very small library sheets of ordinary ruled writing paper will serve. It is better, however, to get the right thing at the start.
The relation of the Library Bureau to libraries
Geo. B. Meleney, Ch. Mgr., in Public Libraries, May, 1896
The consideration of the relations of the Library Bureau to libraries brings us back to the organization of the American Library Association in 1876. At this gathering of the prominent librarians of the country, the discussion of methods brought out the lack of unanimity in, and the need of cooeperation for, a uniform system in the various branches of library work. To carry out uniform methods requires uniform material, and this was hard to obtain. The American Library Association as such, of course, could not take up a business venture of this kind, but it was decided to advise an organization for keeping on sale such supplies and library aids as the association might decide were needed.
The Library Bureau was then organized for this purpose, and has continued to keep the same relation toward the library association as was originally intended. Referring to the numbers of the Library Bureau catalogs, one may trace the history of the development not only of the appliances furnished by the Library Bureau, but also of ideas of library economy as they are gathered there from every source. It confined its attention at first to libraries only, the business being divided into four departments: employment, to bring together libraries and librarians; consultation, to give expert advice on any phase of any library question; publication, to publish the various needed helps (from point of usefulness to libraries rather than profit to publishers); supply, to furnish at lower prices all articles recommended by the A.L.A., and to equip any library with best known devices in everything needful. Among the things noticed in these departments are catalog cards, cases, trays, and outfits, book supports, blanks, book pockets, boxes, desks, inks, etc. Some specialties are noted in library devices, and helpful advice as to their economical use is given. The successive catalogs follow the same line, attention being directed toward all improvements in old material, and to all advanced work in library administration wherever found. Not all the material recommended was manufactured by the Library Bureau, but a generous spirit is shown in recommending any device, plan, or publication known to be helpful to the library profession. It has brought to notice many notable contributions to library literature, such as the Author table, by C.A. Cutter, of the Boston athenaeum; Decimal classification and relative index and Library notes, by Melvil Dewey; Library journal; Library school rules; Perkins' manual; Linderfelt's rules; Sargent's Reading for the young; Lists of books for different clubs; Subject headings of A.L.A., etc. The Library Bureau catalog itself is one of the best library aids ever published. These catalogs have always been sent free to library workers.
Libraries grew in numbers and size largely because of the enthusiasm of earnest workers, but very frequently with hardly enough financial assistance to warrant more than the purchase of a few books, and frequently with limited knowledge of how to make the small store of use to the waiting public. The management of the Library Bureau at this time was certainly doing a missionary work; but its chief problem was the financial one, or how to make both ends meet, and it was not until library methods were introduced into business houses that this question was solved. The constant and untiring efforts of the management of the Library Bureau toward the assistance and upbuilding of the smaller and younger libraries have had much to do with the growth of library sentiment, which is now so apparent on every hand, and indirectly this knowledge of library work and library methods has done much to enlarge the facilities of the Library Bureau.
From a very unpretentious concern, publishing a few library aids, manufacturing such library devices as could not be obtained elsewhere, and keeping for sale a few articles of library furnishing, the Library Bureau has grown to be a corporation of no small proportions, having numerous branches both in this country and Europe, maintaining a card factory, cabinet works in Boston and Chicago, and facilities for the manufacture of steel stacks unexcelled in this country.
The Library Bureau, however, has never forgotten the cause of its birth or the teachings of its youth, as is clearly evidenced from year to year by the various undertakings and publications which a careful observer can clearly see are not put forward with any presage of success when viewed entirely from a business standpoint. This lesson is constantly taught to the employes of the Library Bureau, and they are positively instructed that, regardless of the promise of success in other directions, the attention to library requirements is the first demand.
The Library Bureau maintains at its various offices persons thoroughly versed in library economy, for the express purpose of furnishing detailed information and aid to those younger members of the profession whom they have the pleasure and opportunity of assisting over the stumbling-blocks in their daily work. With this same idea in view it publishes from the Chicago office a monthly magazine called PUBLIC LIBRARIES, of an elementary character, which is entertaining, instructive, and inspiring, and helps to encourage a sentiment favorable to public libraries and to make librarianship a profession of high standing.
Selecting books—Fitting the library to its owners
The selection of books should be left to the librarian, under the general direction of trustees or book committee.
There should be made at the start a collection of encyclopedias, dictionaries, gazetteers, and scientific compendiums, which should not be lent. The extent of this collection will depend on the scope and purposes of the library. No library, however small, can dispense with some books of reference. But for a small library don't buy expensive works. The Encyclopaedia Britannica is an example of what not to get.
There must be taken into consideration, in determining the character of the books to be purchased, these factors among others:
a) Presence or absence of other libraries in the vicinity, and their character, if present.
b) The avowed purposes of the free, tax-supported public library, to-wit: 1) To help people to be happy; 2) to help them to become wise; 3) to encourage them to be good.
c) The amount of money to be expended and the sum that will probably be available for each succeeding year.
d) The manner in which the books are to be used; whether they are to be lent, or are to be used only for reference, or are to form both a reference and a lending library.
e) The class of people by whom they are to be used, and if children, whether for school work only, or for general reading, or for both.
f) The occupations and leading local interests of the community.
g) The character and average degree of intelligence of the community.
h) The habits, as to reading and study, of those who will use the library.
The village library, in its early days, can well afford to begin at the level of the community's average reading. At the same time it must always try to go a little ahead of the demands of the people, and develop a taste and desire for the very best books it can get. The masses of the people have very little of literary culture. It is the purpose of the public library to develop this by creating in them the habit of reading. As a rule people read books which are above their own intellectual and moral standard, and hence are benefited by reading. The reading of books generally leads to the reading of better books.
Then do not aim too high. Avoid trash, but do not buy literature which will not be read simply because it is standard or classic. Remember that the public library is a popular institution in every sense of the word; that it has become possible only by the approval of the majority of the population, and that the majority of the population is confined in its turn to a majority of people of the most commonplace kind.
Do not pander to any sect, creed, or partisan taste. Buy largely books costing from 50 cents to $2, found in so many of the series now published. These are fresh, up-to-date, written for the most part by competent men, and are reliable. They are not dull, because no one can afford to be dull in a 12mo volume. As a general thing they are well made, supplied with maps and illustrations when needed, and have indexes. Put much of your money into the history, travel, and literature of your own country first, and then see what you have left for Greece and Rome. The common people nowadays should be encouraged in their interest in their own country, its description, history, politics, biography, mineral resources, literature. The people will inquire for these books, and they should be provided for them. Wait until the library is larger before investing much money in the history of worn out empires, simply because such and such a person wants them, or because some library anywhere from two to twenty times as large has them. Use common sense and much of it.
Put into the people's hands books worthy of their respect, then insist that they be handled carefully and treated always with consideration. Expensive books; that is, books which are first-class in paper, ink, and binding, are generally better worth their cost than cheap ones.
In the first purchases buy largely for children. They are the library's best pupils. They are more easily trained to enjoy good books than their elders. Through them the homes are best reached. They will, by their free use of the library, and by their approval of it, do much to add to its popularity. The best books for children will be enjoyed by all.
In selecting fiction, get from the older librarians a statement of what are the most popular of the wholesome novels found on their shelves. A better guide than this it will be difficult to find. Fiction is of the greatest value in developing a taste for reading. Everyone should be familiar with the great works of imagination. Nearly all the greatest literature of the world is fiction. The educational value of the novel is not often questioned.
But don't buy a novel simply because it is popular. If you follow that line you will end with the cheapest kind of stuff. Some librarians pretend that they must buy to please the public taste; that they can't use their own judgment in selecting books for a library which the public purse supports. Why these librarians don't supply the Police gazette it is difficult to understand. "The public" would like it—some of them. We select school committees and superintendents and teachers to run our schools. We ask them to inform themselves on the subject and give us the best education they can. They don't try to suit everybody. They try to furnish the best. Library trustees and librarian are in a like case. The silly, the weak, the sloppy, the wishy-washy novel, the sickly love story, the belated tract, the crude hodge-podge of stilted conversation, impossible incident, and moral platitude or moral bosh for children—these are not needed. It is as bad to buy them and circulate them, knowingly, as it would be for our school authorities to install in our schoolrooms as teachers romantic, giggling girls and smarty boys. Buy good novels, those the wise approve of, in good type, paper, and binding; keep plenty of copies of each on hand; put them where your readers can handle them; add a few each year of the best only of the latest novels, and those chiefly on trial (not to be bought again if found not to have real merit) and your public will be satisfied, and your library will be all the time raising the taste of the community.
Some books should not be put, at least not without comment, into the hands of young people. Other books, some people think, should not be read by young people. Other books, some people think, should not be in a public library at all. A good course to follow in regard to such books is to consider the temper of your community and put into the library as many of them as are noteworthy in a literary way as your public and your resources permit.
In other departments follow at first the guidance of some one of the good book lists now available.
Other things being equal, American scientific books are preferable to those by foreign authors. In all departments select the latest editions, and, at first, the recent book rather than the older book.
The proportion of books in the different departments of knowledge must vary greatly in different libraries. The following is a good general guide:
Per cent. General works .04 Philosophy .01 Religion .02 Sociology .09 Philology .01 Science .08 Useful arts .06 Fine arts .04 Literature .12 Biography .10 History .13 Travels .10 Fiction .20 _ Total 100
Local interest should be fostered by buying freely books on local history and science and books by local authors.
The librarian should keep informed of coming events, and see that the library is provided with the books for which there is sure to be a future demand. He should avoid personal hobbies and be impartial on all controversial questions. He should not be overconfident in his knowledge of what will elevate and refine the community.
It is better to buy 10 extra copies of a wholesome book wanted by the public than one copy each of 10 other books which will not be read.
Do not waste time, energy, and money—certainly not in the early days of the library—in securing or arranging public documents, save a few of purely local value. Take them if offered and store them.
Do not be too much impressed by the local history plea, and spend precious money on rare volumes or old journals in this line.
Certain work can judiciously be done toward collecting and preserving materials for local history that will involve neither expense nor much labor, and this the librarian should do. Do not turn the public library, which is chiefly to be considered as a branch of a live, everyday system of popular education, into a local antiquarian society; but simply let it serve incidentally as a picker-up of unconsidered trifles. A wide-awake, scholarly librarian will like his town, and delight in at least some study of its antecedents. And such a librarian need not be a crank, but must needs be an enterprising, wide-awake, appreciative student, who can scent the tastes and needs of posterity.
Put no money into rare books. A book which was out of print 10 years or 200 years ago, and has not insisted upon republication since, has, ordinarily, no place in the active, free public library. If you get it, sell it and buy a live book.
The free public library should encourage its readers to suggest books not in the library, by providing blanks for that purpose, and paying courteous attention to all requests.
Ask by letter, by circulars, and by notes in the local papers, for gifts of books, money, and periodicals. Acknowledge every gift. Remember that one who has helped the library, be it ever so little, has thereby become interested in it, and is its friend.
Reference books for a small library, compiled by C.A. Baker, of the Public library, Denver
This list includes about 75 books, costing about $550. It is arranged alphabetically. It is subdivided into four lists, arranged according to relative importance. This subdivision is shown by the numbers prefixed to each entry.
2. Adams, C.K. Manual of historical literature. 1889. O. Harper, cl. $2.50.
1. Adams, O.F. Dictionary of American authors. 1897. O. Houghton, Mifflin, cl. $3.
1. Adler, G.J. Dictionary of the German and English languages. 1893. Q. Appleton, mor. $5.
4. Allibone, S.A. Critical dictionary of English literature. 1891, 3 v. Q. Lippincott, sh. $22.50.
4. Allibone, S.A. Supplement to the critical dictionary of English literature, by J.F. Kirk. 1892, 2 v. Q. Lippincott, sh. $15.
1. Appleton's annual cyclopaedia and register of important events. Q. Appleton, cl. $5.
3. Appleton's cyclopaedia of American biography. 1888-92, 6 v.Q. Appleton, cl. $30, half mor. $42.
1. Appleton's cyclopaedia of applied mechanics, ed. by P. Benjamin. 1893, 2 v. Q. Appleton, sh. $15, half mor. $17.
2. Appleton's modern mechanism, supplement to Cyclopaedia of applied mechanics. 1892, 1 v. Q. Appleton, sh. $7.50, half mor. $8.50.
2. Bartlett, J., ed. Familiar quotations. 1892. O. Little, cl. $3.
3. Bliss, E.M., ed. Cyclopaedia of missions, 2 v. 1891. Q. Funk & Wagnalls, cl. $12.
1. Bliss, W.D.P. Cyclopaedia of social reform, including political economy, science, sociology, statistics, anarchism, charities, civil service, currency, land, etc. 1897. Q. Funk & Wagnalls, cl. $7.50, sh. $9.50.
3. Brannt, W.T. and Wahl, W.H. Technico-chemical receipt book. 1895. D. Baird, cl. $2.
1. Brewer, E.C. Reference library, 1885-98. 4 v. O. Lippincott. $13. Dictionary of miracles, Historic notebook, Dictionary of phrase and fable, Reader's handbook.
2. Brown, E. and Strauss, A. Dictionary of American politics. 1895. D. Burt, cl., $1.
1. Bryant, W.C, ed. Library of poetry and song. 1876. Q. Fords, Howard, cl., $5.
3. Century dictionary and cyclopaedia. (Century dictionary and the Century cyclopaedia of names combined with the atlas of the world.) 10 v. Prices from $60 to $150. Often can be picked up second-hand.
1. Century atlas of the world. 1897. F. Century Co., cl. $12.50, half mor. $15.
1. Century cyclopaedia of names, n.d. F. Century Co., cl. $10.50, buf. $12.50.
(Note.—The two last are included in the Century dictionary and cyclopaedia, but can be bought separately.)
2. Chambers, R., ed. Book of days, 2 v. O. Lippincott. 1893. $7.
2. Champlin, J.D. jr. Young folks' cyclopaedia of common things. 1893. O. Holt, cl. $2.50.
2. Champlin, J.D. jr. Young folks' cyclopaedia of persons and places. 1892. O. Holt, cl. $2.50.
2. Champlin, J.D. jr. and Bostwick, A.E. Young folks' cyclopaedia of games and sports. 1890. O. Holt, cl. $2.50.
2. Channing, E. and Hart, A.B. Guide to the study of American history. O. Ginn. 1896. $2.
1. Clement, C.E. Painters, architects, engravers, and their work. 1881. D. Houghton, Mifflin, cl. $3. (Artists not living.)
1. Clement, C.E. and Hutton, L. Artists of the 19th century and their work. 1885 D. Houghton & Mifflin, cl. $3.
4. Cram's Bankers and brokers' railroad atlas; complete alphabetical index. 1898. F. Cram. $17.50.
1. Cumulative index of periodicals, monthly and annual. 1898. Helman-Taylor Co., Cleveland, pa. $5.
4. Cyclopaedia of American biographies. J.H. Brown, ed. 1897. v. 1, A-C. Q. Cyclo. Pub. Co., Boston, half mor. $7.
2. Fields, J.T. and Whipple, E.P., ed. Family library of British poetry. 1882. Q. Houghton, cl. $5, mor. $10.
3. Fletcher, W.I., ed. A.L.A. index to general literature. 1893. Q. Houghton, cl. $5.
1. Fletcher, W.I., ed., and Bowker, R.R. Annual literary index, including periodicals and essays. 1899. O. Publishers' weekly, cl. $3.50.
3. Frey, A.R. Sobriquets and nicknames. 1888. O. Houghton, cl. $2.
1. Goodholme, T.S. Domestic encyclopaedia of practical information. 1889. O. Scribners, cl. $5.
1. Harper's book of facts. C.T. Lewis, ed. 1895. Q. Harper. Sub. only, $8.
3. Harper's cyclopaedia of British and American poetry. E. Sargent, ed. 1881. Q. Harper, hf. leather, $5.
2. Harper's dictionary of classical literature and antiquities. H.T. Peck, ed. 1897. Q. Harper, cl. $6.
4. Hastings, J. Dictionary of the Bible, 4 v. O. 1898. Clark, cl. 28s per vol., half mor. 34s. per vol.
3. Haydn's dictionary of dates. B. Vincent, ed. 1895. O. Putnam, cl. $6, half mor. $9.
2. Hazell's annual; record of men and topics of the day. 1899. D. Hazell, 3s. 6d.
2. Hopkins, A.A. Scientific American cyclopaedia of receipts, notes, and queries. 1892. O. cl. $5, sh. $6.
1. Hoyt, J.K. Cyclopaedia of practical quotations, English, Latin, and modern foreign. 1896. Q. Funk & Wagnalls, cl. $5, sh. $8.
1. Jameson, J.F. Dictionary of United States history, 1492-1894. 1894. Q. Puritan Pub., cl. $2.75, half mor. $3.50.
1. Johnson's universal cyclopaedia. 1893, 8v. Q. Johnson, half mor. $56, cl. $48.
2. King, M., ed. Handbook of the United States. 1891. O. King (Matthews, Northrop Co.), cl. $2.50.
3. Larned, J.N., ed. History for ready reference, from the best historians, biographers, and specialists. 1894. 5 v. Maps. Nichols Co., Springfield, Mass. cl. $5 each, half mor. $6 each.
2. Lalor, J.J., ed. Cyclopaedia of political science, political economy, and political history of the United States. 1890-93. 3 v. Q.C.E. Merrill, $15.
1. Leypoldt, A.H. and Iles, G. List of books for girls and women. Dewey classification numbers with each entry. 1895. Library Bureau, cl. $1.
1. Lippincott's gazetteer of the world. 1896. Q. Lippincott, sh. $8.
4. Lippincott's universal pronouncing dictionary of biography and mythology, by J. Thomas. 1892. Q. Lippincott, in 1 v., sh. $8, half turkey $11; in 2 v., sh. $10.
2. Lossing, B.J. Popular cyclopaedia of United States history. 1893. 2 v. Q. Harper, mor. $15.
3. Luebke, W. Outlines of the history of art. 1891. 2 v. O. Dodd, Mead, half roan, $7.50.
1. Matson, H. References for literary workers. 1893. O. McClurg, $2.50.
1. Men and women of the time. 14th ed. 1895. O. Routledge. $5.
3. Mineral industry, its statistics, technology, and trade, ed. by R.R. Rothwell, annual. O. Scientific Pub. Co, cl. $5.
2. Mulhall, M.G. Dictionary of statistics. 1898. Ed. 4. Q. Routledge, cl. $8.
3. Mulhall, M.G. Industries and wealth of nations. 1896. O. Longman, cl. $3.
1. Patrick, D. and Gramme, F.H., eds. Chambers biographical dictionary. 1898. O. Lippincott, half mor. $3.50.
4. Poole, W.F. and Fletcher, W. Poole's index to periodical literature. O. Houghton, Mifflin. V. 1. in two parts, cl. $16, sh. $24. V. 2. Jan. l882-Jan. 1887. cl. $8, sh. $10. V. 3. Jan. l887-Jan. 1892. cl. $8, sh. $12. V. 4. Jan. l892-Jan. 1897. cl. $10, sh. $12. In a small library having bound periodicals of recent date only, volume 4 alone is sufficient.
1. Rand-McNally indexed atlas of the world. 1897. 2 v. 58 x 41 cm. Rand-McNally. cl. $18.50, half leather, $23.50.
3. Riemann, H. Dictionary of music. O. Augenev, $3.75.
2. Smith, H.P. and Johnson, H.K. Dictionary of terms, phrases, and quotations. 1895. O. Appleton, half leather, $3.
3. Smith, W. Classical dictionary. New edition by Marindin. 1894. O. Appleton, $6.
1. Smith, W. Dictionary of the Bible. 1884. O. Coates, cl. $2, half mor. $3.
3. Smith, W. and Cheetham, S. Dictionary of Christian antiquities. 1891. 2 v. O. Burr, Hartford, Conn., cl. $7, leather $8.
1. Soule, R. Dictionary of English synonyms. 1895. O. Lippincott, cl. $2.25, mor. $2.75.
1. Spiers, A. and Surenne, O. French and English pronouncing dictionary. 1891. Q. Appleton, half mor. $5.
1. Standard dictionary of the English language, 2 v. Q. 1895. Funk & Wagnalls, half rus. $15; with Denison's reference index, $17.
3. Statesmen's year book, 1899, v. 36. D. Macmillan, $3.
2. Walsh, W.S. Handy book of literary curiosities. 1893. O. Lippincott, half leather, $3.50.
2. Walsh, W.S. Curiosities of popular customs, and of rites, ceremonies, observances and miscellaneous antiquities. 1898. O. Lippincott, half leather, $3.50.
1. Webster, N. International dictionary. Springfield, Mass. Merriam. 1891. $10.
2. Wheeler, W.A. Familiar allusions. 1891. D. Houghton, cl. $2.
2. Wheeler, W.A. Explanatory and pronouncing dictionary of noted names of fiction. 1892. D. Houghton, cl. $2.
3. Wheeler, W.A. and C.G. Who wrote it? D. Lee & Shepard, cl. $2.
2. Whitaker's almanac. 1899. D. Whitaker, paper, 2s. 6d.
Whitaker's directory of titled persons for the year 1898; a companion to his Almanac. D. Whitaker, paper, 2s. 6d.
3. Who's who? annual; autobiographies of the leading men and women of the day; complete peerage, etc. 1899. D. Black, cl. 3s. 6d.
1. World almanac and encyclopaedia. 1898. D. New York World, pa. 25 cents.
2. Young, R. Analytical concordance to the Bible, n.d. Ed. 6. Q. Religious tract society, cl. 24s., mor. 30s.
Reference work—-Helping the inexperienced inquirer—Periodicals
Reference work in libraries large and small has for its first rule: Meet the inquirer more than half way. To the stranger a library is often an oppressive place, an awesome place—in his imagination. He comes in shyly; everyone appears busy, his question suddenly seems to him trivial; he won't trouble these wise and busy people with it—and goes out.
A good second rule is: Learn at once just exactly what the inquirer wishes to know. This is not always easy. Tact and a little patience will generally effect it.
A good third rule is: Whenever possible show the inquirer how the answer is found, so that he may next time in some measure help himself. It is surprising how many, especially of the younger people in a community, can be taught within one year, on their occasional visits, to make the proper use of at least a few reference books.
Another rule of very general application is: Go first to a dictionary. In many cases a question answers itself, or betrays where its answer may best be found, if it is once plainly stated. And nothing is better than reference to a few words in a dictionary for the clear statement of a question. The larger dictionaries, moreover, and notably the Century, will answer many more inquiries than even great readers often suppose.
Many questions come up again and again. Of these, and of the references which answered them, notes should be kept on cards for future use. In fact it is well to keep an index in this way of the references looked up for all the more important inquiries.
The following excellent advice is from an article on The use of periodicals in reference work, by Frederick Winthrop Faxon, in Public Libraries for June, 1898:
"In all reference work periodicals play a large part. They may be roughly divided into two great classes, the technical and the popular. The former are indispensable to the scholar, or the expert, and in the rapid advancement of science are the only real sources of information. Text-books or treatises are out of date before published; therefore for a correct present view, or a complete history of the development of any science, the technical reviews and society transactions must be consulted. These will be the principal part of a scientific library, and should be in the large public and college libraries in order to cover advanced study.
They have, on the other hand, little place in small libraries—they would seldom be of use, and are very expensive.
"But the popular periodicals every library needs. In the better class of these reviews it is possible, if we know where to look, to find several articles on both sides of almost any subject. Furthermore, these are often written by the foremost authors or scientists, and are in a language intelligible to all. The amateur cannot give the time or patience to wade two-volume deep in the subject his club wishes him to treat in half an hour's speech. The magazine gives just what he wants in several pages. There are periodicals exclusively devoted to every branch of every science, and magazines which, in their files, include articles on all subjects. This mine of information has been opened up by Poole's index. Since 1881, when the third and enlarged edition of Poole's index was published, all this is common property for the asking. Grouped around Poole and keeping pace with the times are the Poole supplements, which ought, perhaps, to be named the Fletchers, covering the five-year periods since 1881, ending respectively 1886, 1891, 1896. Then the Annual literary index gives a yearly index of subjects and authors, and serves as a supplement to the Poole supplement. For such as cannot be even a year without a periodical index we now have the admirable Cumulative index, bi-monthly, edited by the Cleveland public library. Thus all the principal periodicals since the beginning of the century may be consulted by reference to one or more of five single books or alphabets.
"The Review of reviews must be mentioned as a useful monthly index to current periodical literature, but of little value for study reference as compared with the indexes just mentioned. An annual index issued by the Review of reviews, since 1890, is good in its way, though rather superficial. Sargent's Reading for the young, and its supplement, index the juvenile sets of St Nicholas, Harper's young people, and Wide Awake. Poole and the Cumulative are of little use without a fair assortment of the sets therein indexed.
"Thus far 442 titles (practically all of them serials published since 1800) have been indexed. It is a mistake, however, to suppose that most of these are necessary in a small library before Poole's index should be purchased or can be of use. Given Poole and a complete set of Littell's living age, and Harper's monthly, more reference work can be done than with twice the number of reference books not periodicals. A small collection of sets has enabled more than one struggling library to hold its own with the students and club members, and to accomplish work which could not have been done as well with many works of reference, the purchase of which would have exhausted the whole book fund."
A free reading room is generally opened in connection with the library, and often proves its most attractive feature. It should be comfortably furnished and scrupulously clean. As the room is for the use of all clean and orderly people, quiet should be maintained to give all a chance to read and study without interruption. There should be no signs commanding things, and the fewest possible—and they unobtrusive—requesting things. Signs giving information helpful to readers are always permissible; but see that they harmonize with the furnishings of the room and are clean. Gray, or some modest tint, is preferable to white cardboard for all signs. The general atmosphere of the place should be such as one would wish to have in his own home—orderly, inviting, cheerful.
The village library ought to preserve for reference a file of local papers; and it seems proper for it to provide for public use a few dailies or weeklies from the nearest cities. Further than this in this direction it would not seem expedient to go, because better work can be done, with the money newspapers would cost, in other directions. In fact, where the room is limited, as well as funds, it will often be better to provide no newspapers at all. Few are unable to get papers to read elsewhere. The library can well devote itself to the encouraging the reading of other things. Most people read the newspapers enough, library or no library. Many, save for the library, would not read the standard American and English periodicals.
The young people are the library's most hopeful material. To them the librarian hopes to give, through books and journals, an added pleasure; and in them he hopes to awaken a taste for reading something—in time something good. To attract the children it will be wise to have on file a few juvenile journals and picture papers and illustrated magazines. As to the standard and popular monthlies and quarterlies there seems to be no question; they should be taken freely. The magazines furnish us with the best fiction, the best poetry, the best essays, the best discussions of all subjects, old and new, and the latest science. It is a question if many a village library would not do more, vastly more, to stimulate the mental life of its community, and to broaden its views and sympathies, and to encourage study, if it diverted a far larger part of its income than it now does from inferior books, and especially inferior novels, to weekly journals and popular and standard magazines. It is not yet fully impressed upon us that the thing the community needs is not a "library"—it may have a street lined with "libraries" and still dwell in the outer darkness—but contact with the printed page. Get this contact first, then, by means of attractive rooms, and clean, wholesome, interesting periodicals and books, and let the well rounded students' collection of books come on as it will.
From 5 to 20 per cent can very often be saved on the cost of periodicals by ordering them through a reliable subscription agency.
The custom is extending of taking extra numbers of the popular magazines and lending them as if they were books though generally for a shorter period and without the privilege of renewal. When this is done, put each magazine in a binder made for the purpose, and marked with the library's name, to keep it clean and smooth, and to identify it as library property. Similar binders are often put on the magazines which are placed in the reading rooms. (See Library Bureau catalog.)
Complete volumes of the magazines are in great demand with the borrowing public. The magazine indexes now available will make useful to the student the smallest library's supply of periodical literature.
In small reading rooms the periodicals that are supplied should be placed on tables where readers can consult them without application to the attendants. Files and racks for newspapers, special devices for holding illustrated journals, and other things of like nature, are to be found in great variety.
Post up in the reading room a list of the periodicals regularly received; also a list of those in the bound files.
A careful record should be kept of each magazine ordered, of the date when ordered, the date when the subscription begins and expires, the price paid, the agency from which it is ordered, and the date of that agency's receipted bill. If the list of journals taken is small this record can be kept very conveniently in a blank book. If it is large and constantly growing or changing, it is best kept on cards, a card to each journal, and all alphabetically arranged. It saves much trouble when dealing with an agency to have subscriptions coincide with the calendar year, disregarding the volume arrangements of the publishers.
List of periodicals for a small library
[See also chapter List of things needed in beginning work.]
Century magazine (monthly), illus. N.Y. Century Co. Ed. by R.W. Gilder, $4.
Harper's new monthly magazine, illus. N.Y. Harper. Ed. by H.M. Alden, $4.
Harper's round table (monthly), illus. N.Y. Harper, $1.
St Nicholas (monthly), illus. N.Y. Century Co. Ed. by Mary Mapes Dodge, $3.
Forum (monthly), N.Y. Forum Co., $3.
Harper's weekly, illus. N.Y. Harper, $4.
Youth's companion (weekly). Boston. Perry Mason Co., $1.75.
McClure's magazine (monthly), illus. N.Y. Doubleday & McClure, $1.
Ladies' home journal (monthly), illus. Phila. Curtis Pub. Co., $1.
Independent (weekly). N.Y. $2.
Outlook (weekly), illus. N.Y. $3.
Engineering magazine (monthly). N.Y. $3.
Life (weekly), illus. N.Y. $5.
Nineteenth century (monthly). N.Y. Leonard Scott Co., $4.50.
Review of reviews (monthly), illus. N.Y. Ed. by Albert Shaw, $2.50.
Contemporary review (monthly). N.Y. Leonard Scott Co., $4.50.
Critic (monthly), illus. N.Y. Critic Co., $2.
Nation (weekly). N.Y. Evening Post Co., $3.
Educational review (monthly), N.Y. Holt, $3.
Kindergarten magazine (monthly), illus. Chicago Kindergarten Literature Co., $2.
Appleton's popular science monthly, illus. N.Y. Appleton, $5.
Scientific American (weekly), illus. N.Y. Munn, $3. With supplement, $7.
Scientific American supplement (weekly), illus. N.Y. Munn, $5.
Art amateur (monthly), illus. N.Y. Montague Marks. $4.
Outing (monthly), illus. N.Y. Outing Co., $3.
A good book for a library, speaking of the book as to its wearing qualities and as to the comfort of its users, is printed on paper which is thin and pliable, but tough and opaque. Its type is not necessarily large, but is clear-cut and uniform, and set forth with ink that is black, not muddy. It is well bound, the book opening easily at any point. The threads in the back are strong and generously put in. The strings or tapes onto which it is sewn are stout, and are laced into the inside edges of the covers, or are strong enough to admit of a secure fastening with paste and paper. In ordering books of which several editions are on the market, specify the edition you wish. When you have found a good edition of a popular author like Scott or Dickens, make a note of it on the shelf-list.
In giving your orders, always try your local dealer first. If he cannot give you good terms, or, as is very likely to be the case, has not the information or the facilities which enable him to serve you well, submit a copy of the list to several large book dealers, choosing those nearest your town, and ask for their discounts. It is economical, generally, to purchase all your books through one dealer, thus saving letter writing, misunderstandings, freight, express, and general discomfort.
Keep a record of all books ordered. The best form of record is on slips, using a separate slip for each book. These order slips should have on them the author's surname, brief title, number of volumes, abbreviated note of place, publisher, year, publisher's price if known, name of dealer of whom ordered, date when ordered, and if its purchase has been requested by anyone that person's name and address.
For transmitting the order to the book dealer, a list on sheets should be made from the order slips, arranged either by publishers or alphabetically by authors. This list may be written on one side of the paper only, with copying ink, and a letter-press copy taken; or, make a carbon copy of the sheet sent to the dealer. The carbon copy has the advantage of being easier to handle and better to write on. The books as received should be checked by this copy, or by the order cards. The cards for books received should be put by themselves, alphabetically, and kept until the books they represent have been cataloged and the cards for them have been properly entered in the card catalog. You thus will have lists 1) of books ordered and not received; 2) of books received and not cataloged; 3) of books cataloged. If few books are bought this work is unnecessary.
Books will often be ordered at the request of interested persons. In such cases the name and address of the person asking for the book should be entered on the bottom of the order slip for that book. When the book comes, and has been made ready for use, send a note to this person, notifying him of the fact of its arrival.
Not in library [Checkmark]
WRITE LEGIBLY Author's surname, followed by given names or initials: Howard, George Title: Second Marriages Edition: 2 Place: N.Y. Publisher: Stone Year: 1889 No. of Vols. Size: D Total Price: $2 NOT in great haste NOT [stricken out] in haste I recommend the above for the library. Notice of receipt is NOT asked Signature: John Carr Address: Anderson Fill above as fully as possible. Cross out NOT, if notice is wanted, if in great need or special haste Put a ? before items of which you are not sure. Give reasons for recommending ON THE BACK.]
Do not be tempted by a large discount to give orders to irresponsible persons. A library should secure from 25 to 35 per cent discount. Do not buy ordinary subscription books or books on the installment plan. Do not anticipate revenues, and do not spend all your money at once; if you do you will miss many a bargain, and have to go without books that are needed more than those you have bought. Buy good but not expensive editions. Do not spend on a single costly work, of interest to few and seldom used by that few, a sum that would buy 20 or perhaps 100 volumes that would be in constant and profitable use by many. Buy no book unless by personal acquaintance, or upon competent and trustworthy testimony, it is worth adding to your library. Do not feel that you must buy complete sets of an author, or all of any "series"; all the works of very few authors are worth having. Do not buy cheap editions of fiction; the paper, presswork, and binding is poor, and is simply a waste of money. The best is none too good in buying fiction, for it wears out fast, and has to be rebound, and then replaced. Do not buy a lot of second-hand fiction to put into the hands of the people. You cannot expect them to keep their books clean if you start them out with dirty pages, soiled plates, and a general hand-me-down air.
Books for young people must be interesting. No amount of excellence in other directions will compensate for dull books.
Do not trust too much to the second-hand dealer. Avoid subscription books. Do not buy of a book peddler; in nine cases out of ten you can find better and cheaper books at the stores. A well selected and judiciously purchased library, with such works of reference as are needed, will cost, on an average, $1.25 a volume.
The following notes were prepared by a bookseller of experience, and should be carefully considered before beginning to buy books:
Any bookseller worthy your patronage will be able to assist you by pointing out the most desirable edition for general library use.
There is every reason for placing your orders with your local dealer so long as he can care for them intelligently. A large discount should not be the sole factor in deciding where to buy, but keep in mind this, a conscientious bookseller can save you money by carefully watching your interests in the very many details that pertain to bookbuying. Having decided on your bookseller agent, place all your orders with him. It will save you time, which is equivalent to money. Keep an exact duplicate copy of every order you place, and for this purpose a manifold book is preferable. In writing your orders never write on both sides of a sheet; arrange your items alphabetically by author, and make all your entries as complete and full as possible. This is particularly important in the case of books in the field of science, history, and biography. The more clear and definite your orders are made out, the more promptly and completely can your bookseller supply them.
An ideal bookseller, qualified to act as your agent, is one who has familiarized himself with the various editions of books, and will always make selections with greater stress on quality than quantity; who will not send you the second edition of a scientific work when a third is out; who will avoid sending you expensive publications (even though you may have ordered them) until he is satisfied that you want them; who will exert himself to get desirable books that may be out of print or issued by an out-of-the-way publisher; who will always be prepared to advise you as to the latest work on any particular subject, as well as the best work.
These points are of greater importance to the live librarian than is the percentage of discount. Say nothing about per cents; to do so is misleading and unsatisfactory always. No one understands you.
It is safe to estimate that your purchases of fiction and juvenile literature will average inside of $1 per volume.
A general list, including reference books, of say 4000v., would average about $1.25 per volume, or $5000.
Make your purchases with the needs of your community clearly in mind, securing such books as will be constantly in use, and thereby get returns for your expenditure. The expensive publications and books that are called for only at rare intervals should be left to libraries with very large incomes, and to those making special collections.
Where possible to do so avoid buying large bills of books at long intervals. It is better to spend an income of $600 per year in monthly installments of $50, than it is to buy twice a year $300 lots.
The frequent purchase will bring you the new and talked of books while they are fresh in the minds of people, and there is greater economy of time in cataloging and shelving them.
Second-hand books are rarely cheap at any price.
Have confidence in your agent, for your interests are always his.
Ink and handwriting
For catalog cards and all other records use a non-copying black, permanent ink. Carter's record ink is good. It has been adopted, after careful investigation, by the state of Massachusetts for all official records. The New York state library school, at Albany, has issued a little handbook on "library handwriting," which recommends Carter's record, and says they use Stafford's blue writing ink for blue and his carmine combined for red.
For all labels on the outside of books, and for all writing on surfaces which may be much handled, use Higgins' American drawing ink, waterproof.
The vertical hand should be used in all library work. The following rules, with the illustrations, are taken from the Albany school handbook above referred to:
1 Ink. Use only standard library ink and let it dry without blotting.
2 Position. Sit squarely at the desk and as nearly erect as possible.
3 Alphabets. Follow the library hand forms of all letters, avoiding any ornament, flourish, or lines not essential to the letter.
4 Size. Small letters, taking m as the unit, are one space or two millimeters high; i.e. one-third the distance between the rulings of the standard catalog card.
Capitals and extended letters are two spaces high above the base line or run one space below, except t, the character &, and figures, which are one and one-half spaces high.
5 Slant. Make letters upright with as little slant as possible, and uniformly the same, preferring a trifle backward rather than forward slant.
6 Spacing. Separate words by space of one m and sentences by two m's. Leave uniform space between letters of a word.
7 Shading. Make a uniform black line with no shading. Avoid hair line strokes.
8 Uniformity. Take great pains to have all writing uniform in size, slant, spacing, blackness of lines and forms of letters.
9 Special letters and figures. In both joined and disjoined hands dot i and cross t accurately to avoid confusion; e.g. Giulio carelessly dotted has been arranged under Guilio in the catalog. Cross t one space from line. Dot i and j one and one-half spaces from line. In foreign languages special care is essential.
Joined hand. Connect all the letters of a word into a single word picture. Complete each letter; e.g. do not leave gap between body and stem of b and d, bring loop of f back to stem, etc.
Avoid slanting r and s differently from other letters. They should be a trifle over one space in height. The small p is made as in print, and is not extended above the line as in ordinary script.
Disjoined hand. Avoid all unnecessary curves. The principal down strokes in b, d, f, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, t, u, and the first line in e, should be straight.
SPECIMEN ALPHABETS AND FIGURES
Make all the small letters, except f, i, j, k, t, x and y, without lifting pen from paper.
Make g and Q in one stroke, moving from left to right like the hands of a watch. Begin on the line.
Take special pains with the letter r, as carelessly made it is easily mistaken for v or y.
Make the upper part of B, R, and S a trifle smaller than the lower part.
Figures. Make all figures without lifting the pen. Begin 4 with the horizontal line. Make the upper part of 3 and 8 smaller than the lower part; 8 is best made by beginning in the center.
The care of books
Books of moderate size should stand up on the shelves. Large books keep better if they are laid on their sides; when they stand, the weight of the leaves is a pull on the binding which tends to draw the books out of shape, and sometimes breaks them. Books which stand up should never be permitted to lean over, but should be kept always perfectly erect; the leaning wrenches them out of shape, and soon breaks the binding. A row of books which does not comfortably fill a shelf should be kept up at one end by a book support. There are several good supports on the market. The Crocker is excellent; so is the one described in the Library Bureau catalog.
Books as they come from the dealer are not always perfect. To make sure that their purchases are in good condition some libraries collate all their books as soon as received, that is, look them through with care for missing pages, and injuries of any kind. Imperfect volumes are returned. But save with very expensive books this labor is unnecessary, and doesn't pay. The time spent on it easily amounts to more than the cost of replacing the very few books which may by chance be later found imperfect. In fact, any responsible dealer will usually replace an imperfect copy with a good one even if the former bears a library mark, and has been handled a little.
Use care in cutting pages. Don't cut them with anything but a smooth, dull edge. Cut them at the top close to the fold in the back.
The worst enemies of books are careless people.
Another enemy is damp. It is bad for the binding; it is very bad for the paper.
Gas, with heat, is very destructive to books, especially to the bindings.
Books should occasionally be taken from their shelves and wiped with a soft cloth. The shelves should at the same time be taken down and cleaned thoroughly.
Don't hold a book by one of its covers.
Don't pile up books very high.
Don't rub dust into them instead of rubbing it off.
Don't wedge books tightly into the shelves.
Those who use a public library are all desirous that its books be clean and neat, and with a little encouragement will take pretty good care of them. There are exceptions, of course, and especially among the children. These must be looked after and reasoned with.
Don't cover your books. The brown paper cover is an insult to a good book, a reproach to every reader of it, an incentive to careless handling, and an expense without good return.
A few simple rules like the following can be brought in an unobtrusive way to the attention of those who use the library. Always be sure that the library sets a good example in its handling of books.
Keep books dry.
Do not handle them when the hands are moist; of course never when the hands are soiled.
Use them to read, and for nothing else.
Never mark in them.
Do not turn down their pages.
Do not lay them face downwards.
Do not strap them up tightly.
Never let them fall.
Open them gently.
The book you are reading will go to others. Pass it on to them neat and clean, hoping that they will do the same by you.
A careful record should be made of all books received. Use for this purpose what is called an accession book. This is a blank book, ruled and lettered and numbered especially for library invoices. (See the Library Bureau catalog.) It is the library's chief record, and should contain a complete history of every volume on its shelves. The items entered in the accession book concerning every volume in the library are commonly the following: date of entry; accession number; class number (religion, sociology, etc.); author; title; place of publication and name of publisher; date of publication; binding (cloth, leather, etc.); size (octavo, quarto, etc.); number of pages; name of dealer from whom purchased; cost; remarks (maps, plates, etc.; books rebound; magazines, etc.; lost, worn out, replaced by another book, etc.).