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Library Work with Children by Alice I. Hazeltine

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were fortunate enough to hear her again in the room above, on
Abraham Lincoln's hundredth birthday, when she held the attention
of a large number of boys and girls for more than an hour.

The next summer "What you can get out of a Henty book" was used
as an excuse for showing books and pictures about the Crusades,
Venice, the knights of Malta, the Rebellion of the Forty-five,
the East India Company, the siege of Gibraltar, the Peninsula
war, and modern Italy.

That summer we had a puzzle-club to show younger children how to
work the puzzles in St. Nicholas and other magazines and
newspapers. We held our first Christmas exhibition that year,
1906, in the room itself, for one day only, before the hour of

After an exhibition of lace in the Athenaeum the next spring, the
specialist who arranged it held the attention of her audience of
girls between ten and fourteen, giving a practical illustration
of the making of pillow-lace, showing specimens of different
kinds, pointing out the use of lace in old-fashioned costumes for
children, and exhibiting a piece of Valenciennes which had been
stolen by a catbird and recovered before it was woven into a
nest. This talk was given at my request, because we could find
almost nothing on lace in books for children, and the exhibit was
then attracting much notice.

That year our first children's librarian, who had given only a
part of her working hours to the room, the rest to the loan-
desk, left us to be married. The school work had grown so fast
that it had become necessary for us to find a successor who was
equal to it, and whose sole time could be given to that and the
care of the room, which is open only from 3.30 to 6 on school-
days, except on Wednesdays, Saturdays and in vacations, when we
have all-day hours. The children in vacation-time may change
story-books every day if they like--practically none of them do
it--but in school time they are allowed only one a week. This is
not a hardship, for they may use their non-fiction cards, which
give them anything else, including bound magazines.

Our children's librarian makes up for lack of library technique
by her acquaintance with teachers, and experience in day, evening
and vacation schools, that have brought her into contact with
children of all sorts and conditions.

The summer before her coming I had charge of the room for a part
of every day, and observing that children under fourteen were
beginning to think that they had read everything in the room and
were asking to be transferred, I made a collection of books,
principally novels, from the main library, marked them and the
bookcards with a red star, and placed them on side shelves, where
the younger children soon learned that they would find nothing to
interest them. This keeps the older boys and girls in the room
until they are ready for the main library, and when they are
transferred they are sent to me in my office, where they are told
that some one is always ready to give them help if they ask for
it. The list of books for the first year after coming into the
library is handed to them, and they are also referred to the high
school shelves, to be mentioned later.

We insist on a father or mother coming with a child and leaving a
signature or mark on the back of the application-card. This is
placing responsibility where it belongs, and as we always have at
least one of the staff who can speak Yiddish, and others who
speak Italian, the parents are usually willing to come.

We are very strict in exacting fines as a means of teaching
children to be responsible and careful of public property.

One summer the children acted simple impromptu plays, Cinderella,
Blue Beard, Beauty and the beast, on the lawn outside the long
windows. The lawn has been in bad condition for nearly two years,
on account of the building of the Morgan memorial, but has now
been planted again. One May-day we had an old English festival
around a Maypole on the green, with Robin Hood, Maid Marian,
Friar Tuck, Will Scarlett, the hobby- horse, the dragon and all
the rest, including Jack in the Green and an elephant. This was
such a success that we were asked to repeat it across the river
on the East Hartford Library green, where it was highly
complimented on account of being so full of the spirit of play.

Our Christmas exhibits have been held every year, at first, as I
have said, for one day only, then for two or three in the rooms
above, and for the last two years in a large room used by the
Hartford Art Society as a studio until it moved to a whole house
across the street. This room has space for our school libraries,
and the room which they had outgrown was fitted up at no expense
except for chairs and a change in the lighting, as a study-room
for the older boys and girls, who also have the privilege of
reading any stories they find on the shelves, which are on one
side only. The other shelves, placed across the room, were moved
to the studio, which is so large that it has space for
story-telling, or oftener story-reading. The winter of the
Dickens centennial, through the month of February, the beginnings
of "David Copperfield," "Nicholas Nickleby," "Dombey and son" and
"Great expectations" were read.

In 1911, a gift of twenty-five dollars from a friend was spent
for the boys' and girls' room, and has bought specimens of
illustration, Grimm's "Fairy tales," illustrated by Arthur
Rackham; Kate Greenaway's "Under the window," "Marigold garden,"
"Little Ann" and "Pied piper", Laura Starr's "Doll book," and a
fine copy of Knight's "Old England," full of engravings,
including a morris dance such as has been performed here, and
Hare's "Portrait book of our kings and queens." The rest of the
money bought a globe for the older boys' and girls'
reading-table, and sent from Venice a reproduction of a complete
"armatura," or suit of Italian armor, eighteen inches high.

In 1912 the boys and girls of grades 7 to 9 in the district and
parochial schools were invited to listen to stories from English
history in the Librarian's office of the Hartford Public Library
on Tuesday afternoons in July and August. Some of the subjects
were The Roman wall, The Danish invasion, King Alfred and the
white horses said to have been cut to commemorate his victories,
The Crusades, and The captivity of James I. of Scotland. The
Longman series of colored wall-prints was used as a starting
point for the stories. Children in grades 4 to 6 listened at a
later hour to stories from Hawthorne's "Wonderbook" and
"Tanglewood tales."

The Hartford Public Library had an exhibit at the state fair,
September 2-7, 1912, in the Child-welfare building. In a space 11
by 6 were chairs, tables covered with picture-books, a bookcase
with libraries for school grades, probation office, and a
settlement, and another with inexpensive books worth buying for
children. Pictures of countries and national costumes were hung
on the green burlap screens which enclosed the sides of the
miniature room. At about the same time we printed a list of
pleasant books for boys and girls to read after they have been
transferred to the main library. They are not all classics, but
are interesting. The head of the high school department of
English and some of the other teachers asked the library's help
in making a list of books for suggested reading during the four
years' course. This list has been printed and distributed. Copies
are hung near two cases with the school pennant above them, and
one of the staff sees that these cases are always filled with
books mentioned in it. The high school has a trained librarian,
who borrows books from the Public Library and tries in every way
to encourage its use.

From Dec. 3 to 24, 1912 and 1913, the exhibit of Christmas books
for children and young people was kept open by the library in the
large room in the annex. The exhibit included three or four
hundred volumes, picture books by the best American, English,
French, German, Italian, Danish, and Russian illustrators,
inexpensive copies and also new and beautiful editions of old
favorites, finely illustrated books attractive to growing-up
young people, and the best of the season's output. It had many
visitors, some of them coming several times. We sent a special
invitation to the students in the Hartford Art Society, some of
whom are hoping to be illustrators, and appreciate the picture-
books highly.

The boys' and girls' room received last winter a fine photo-
graphic copy of Leighton's "Return of Persephone," in time for
Hawthorne's version of the story, which is usually read when
pomegranates are in the market and again six months later, when
Persephone comes up to earth and the grass and flowers begin to

One day John Burroughs made an unexpected visit to the room, and
it happened that when the children reading at the tables were
told who he was, and asked who of them had read "Squirrels and
furbearers," the boy nearest him held up his hand with the book
in it. That boy will probably never forget his first sight of a
real live author!

Last winter we received a gift of a handsome bookcase with glass
doors, which we keep in the main library, filled with finely
illustrated books for children to be taken out on grown-up cards
only. This is to insure good care.

For several years we have been collecting a family of foreign
dolls, who are now forty-five in number, of all sorts and sizes,
counting seventeen marionettes such as the poor children in
Venice play with, half a dozen Chinese actors, and nine brightly
colored Russian peasants in wood. The others are Tairo, a very
old Japanese doll in the costume of the feudal warriors, Thora
from Iceland, Marit the Norwegian bride, Erik and Brita from
Sweden, Giuseppe and Marietta from Rome, Heidi and Peter from the
Alps, Gisela from Thuringia, Cecilia from Hungary, Annetje from
Holland, Lewie Gordon from Edinburgh, Christie Johnstone the
Newhaven fishwife, Sambo and Dinah the cotton- pickers. Mammy
Chloe from Florida, an Indian brave and squaw from British
America, Laila from Jerusalem, Lady Geraldine of 1830 and
Victoria of 1840. Every New Year's Day, in answer to a picture
bulletin which announces a doll-story and says "Bring your doll,"
the little girls come with fresh, clean, Christmas dolls, and
every one who has a name is formally presented to the foreign
guests, who sit in chairs on a table. Lack of imagination is
shown in being willing to own a doll without a name, and this
year the subject of names was mentioned in time for the little
girls to have them ready. Mrs. Mary Hazelton Wade, author of many
of the "Little cousins," lives in Hartford, and lately gave us a
copy of her "Dolls of many countries." I told her about the party
and invited her, and she told the fifty children who were
listening about the Feasts of Dolls in Japan. The doll-story was
E. V. Lucas's "Doll doctor," and it was followed by William
Brightly Rands's "Doll poems."

In 1893, the year after the library became free, the Connecticut
Public Library Committee was organized. For about ten years it
had no paid visitor and inspector, and I, as secretary of the
committee, had to go about the state in the little time I could
spare from regular duties, trying to arouse library interest in
country towns. Now most of the field work is done by the visitor,
but I have spoken many times at teachers' meetings and library
meetings. We began by sending out pamphlets--"What a free library
can do for a country town"--emphasizing what its possibilities
are of interesting children, and "What a library and school can
do for each other." Every year the libraries receive a grant of
books from the state, and send in lists subject to approval. We
often found the novels and children's books asked for unworthy of
being bought with state money by a committee appointed by the
Board of Education, and began to print yearly lists of
recommended titles of new books, from which all requested must be
chosen. The standard is gradually growing higher. The Colonial
Dames have for years paid for traveling libraries, largely on
subjects connected with colonial history, to be sent to country
schools from the office of the committee, and have also given
traveling portfolios of pictures illustrating history, chosen and
mounted by one of their number. The Audubon Society sends books,
largely on out-of-door subjects, and bird-charts, to schools and
libraries all over the state. Traveling libraries, miscellaneous
or on special subjects, are sent out on request.

A Library Institute has been held every summer for five years
under the direction of the visitor and inspector. It lasts for
two weeks, and several lectures are always given by specialists
in work with children.

The choice of books, sources of stories for children, and what to
recommend to them are frequently discussed in meetings for
teachers and librarians.

A book-wagon has for the last two or three years gone through a
few towns where there is no public library, circulating several
thousand books a year for adults and children, and exciting an
interest which may later develop into the establishment of public
libraries. The committee has now 105 which receive the state
grant. Wherever a new library is opened, a special effort is made
through the schools to make it attractive to children.

At this time of year the mothers' clubs in the city and adjoining
towns often ask for talks on what to buy, and boxes of books are
taken to them, not only expensive and finely illustrated copies,
but the best editions that can be bought for a very little money.
These exhibitions have been also given at country meetings held
by the Connecticut Public Library Committee.

A library column in a Hartford Sunday paper is useful in showing
the public what libraries in other states and cities are doing,
and in attracting attention to work with children. Letters to the
children themselves at the beginning of vacation, printed in a
daily paper and sent to the schools, invite them to book-talks.
Other printed letters about visits to places connected with books
and authors, sent home from England and Scotland with postcards,
have excited an interest in books not always read by children.
This year the Hartford children's librarian has read the letters
and shown the books referred to, post-cards and pictures, to a
club of girls from the older grammar grades, who were invited
through the letters just spoken of to leave their names with her.

A club of children's librarians from towns within fifteen miles
around Hartford meets weekly from October to May. Meetings all
over the state under the Public Library Committee have stimulated
interest in work with children, and Library Day is celebrated
every year in the schools.

The visitor and inspector reports visits to eight towns in
December, and says: "Somewhat more than a year ago, at the
request of the supervisor, I made out a list of books for the
X---- school libraries. These were purchased, and this year the
chairman of the school board requested my assistance in arranging
the collection in groups to be sent in traveling library cases
until each school shall have had each library. I spent two days
at the town hall working with the chairman of the school board,
the supervisor, a typist and two school teachers.

"A new children's room has been opened in the Y---- library since
my visit there. It is double the size of the room formerly in
use, and much lighter and more cheerful. The first grant from the
state was expended entirely for children's books, the selection
being made in this office.

"In Z---- I gave an Audubon stereopticon lecture, prefacing it
with an account of the work on the Audubon Society, and an
enumeration of the loans to schools. The audience in a country
schoolhouse, half a mile from Z---- village, numbered 102."


The following account of the beginning of children's work in
Arlington, Mass., in 1835, marks the earliest date yet claimed
for the establishment of library work with children, and was
written for the January, 1913, number of The Library Journal.
Alice M. Jordan was born in Thomaston, Maine, and was educated in
the schools of Newton, Massachusetts. After teaching for a few
years she entered the service of the Boston Public Library in
1900, Since 1902 she has been Chief of the Children's Department
in that library, and since 1911 a member of the staff of Simmons
College Library School.

"In consequence of a grateful remembrance of hospitality and
friendship, as well as an uncommon share or patronage, afforded
me by the inhabitants of West Cambridge, in the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts, in the early part of my life when patronage was
most needful to me, I give to the said town of West Cambridge one
hundred dollars for the purpose of establishing a juvenile
library in said town. The Selectmen, Ministers of the Gospel, and
Physicians of the town of West Cambridge, for the time being
shall receive this sum, select and purchase the books for the
library which shall be such books as, in their opinion, will best
promote useful knowledge and the Christian virtues among the
inhabitants of the town who are scholars, or by usage have a
right to attend as scholars in their primary schools. Other
persons may be admitted to the privilege of said library under
the direction of said town, by paying a sum for membership and an
annual tax for the increase of the same. And my said executors
are directed to pay the same within one year after my decease."

This "extract from the last will and testament of Dr. Ebenezer
Learned, late of Hopkinton, N. H.," forms the first book plate of
the Arlington (Mass.) Public Library, founded in 1835. It appears
to be the earliest record we have of a specific bequest for a
children's library, free to all the children of the town
receiving it.

In the late eighteenth century it was the custom at Harvard
College to grant a six-weeks' vacation in winter and summer, when
students could earn money for college expenses. The popular way
of doing this was to teach school. Ebenezer Learned, a young man
in the class of 1787, availed himself of this opportunity and
taught in West Cambridge, or Menotomy. His associations there
were pleasant ones, and the memory of the friends then made
persisted through his later successful career. Dr. Learned became
a practicing physician, first in Leominster (Mass.) and later in
Hopkinton, N. H. He is said to have been warmly interested in
education and science throughout his life, and was the
originator of the New Hampshire Agricultural Society and
vice-president of the New Hampshire Medical Society. And yet with
all these later interests, his thought, toward the end of his
life, was of the little town where he taught his first school.

At the time of receiving this legacy there were in West Cambridge
two ministers--a Unitarian and a Baptist--and one physician.
Together with the selectmen, they formed the first board of
trustees, which met on Nov. 30, 1835, and voted that the books
selected for the library should be such as were directed by Dr.
Learned's will, "the same not being of a sectarian character."
Selection of books was left largely to Mr. Brown, of the newly
formed firm of Little & Brown, publishers. He was directed to
spend at least half of the bequest for books suitable for the
purpose, and these were sent to the home of Dr. Wellington, the
physician on the board.

Then followed the task of selecting a librarian, and the obvious
choice was Mr. Dexter, a hatter by trade and already in charge of
the West Cambridge Social Library. This was a subscription
library, founded in 1807, and consisting mainly of volumes of
sermons and "serious reading." The question of the librarian's
salary was the next care, for the state law authorizing towns to
appropriate tax money for libraries was yet ten years in the
future. At town meeting, in 1837, however, one of the trustees
called attention to the clause in Dr. Learned's will which
provided that others, beside children, might use the library by
paying a sum for membership and an annual assessment. "Why should
not the town pay the tax, and thus make it free to all the
inhabitants?" he asked. And this was done. The town at once
appropriated thirty dollars for the library, and the right to
take books was extended to all the families in town. From this
time the institution has been a free town library, the earliest
of its class in Massachusetts.

The little collection of books for the West Cambridge Juvenile
Library traveled to its first home on a wheelbarrow. "Uncle"
Dexter would make hats during the week, and on Saturday
afternoons open the library for the children. Three books were
the limit for a family, and they could be retained for thirty
days. That the books were actually read by the children is
vouched for by those who remember the library from its beginning.
Even free access to the shelves was permitted for a while. But we
come to a period, later, when the by-laws declare, "No person
except the librarian shall remove a book from the shelves."

One would like to know just what those books were for which
one-half of that precious bequest was first spent. The earliest
extant catalog of the juvenile library is dated 1855, though
there exists an earlier list (1835) of the Social Library.
Tradition has handed down the names of two books said to be in
the first collection, but one of these is certainly of later
date. The first is still in existence, a copy of the "History of
Corsica," by James Boswell. One who as a boy read this book,
years ago, in the West Cambridge Juvenile Library, recalled it
with delight when he visited Corsica years afterward.

The other title, mentioned as belonging to the first library, is
"The history of a London doll." But this delightful child's
story, by Richard Hengist Home, was not published until 1846.
Some of the Waverley novels are also remembered as being among
the earliest purchases. Of course, we realize that books which
"will best promote useful knowledge and the Christian virtues" in
school children are not necessarily children's books. So we may
be tolerably sure that Rollins' and Robertson's histories, as
well as Goldsmith and Irving, would have appeared in the catalog
had there been one.

The juvenile library remained a year in its first home, the frame
house still standing near the railroad which runs through
Arlington. There have been five library homes since then,
including the meeting house, where the collection of books was
nearly doubled by the addition of the district school libraries
and a part of the Social Library.

In 1867 the town changed its name to Arlington, discarding the
Indian name of Menotomy, by which it was known before its
incorporation as West Cambridge. The library then became known as
the Arlington Juvenile Library, and, in 1872, its name was
formally changed to Arlington Public Library. With the gift of a
memorial building, in 1892, the present name, the Robbins
Library, was adopted by the town.

It is characteristic of our modern carelessness of what the past
has given us, that we have lost sight of this first children's
library. Not Brookline in 1890, not New York in 1888, but
Arlington in 1835 marks the beginning of public library work with
children. Here is one public library, with a history stretching
back over seventy-five years, which need not apologize for any
expenditure in its work with children. Its very being is rooted
in one man's thought for the children of the primary schools. Dr.
Learned could think of no better way of repaying the kindnesses
done to a boy than by putting books into the hands of other boys
and girls. A children's librarian may well be grateful for the
memory of this far-seeing friend of children, who held the belief
that books may be more than amusement, and that the civic virtues
can be nourished by and in a "juvenile library."


The leading editorial in The Library Journal for May, 1887, says:
"The plan of providing good reading for very little children
begins at the beginning, and the work of the Children's Library
Association, outlined in a paper in this number, may prove to be
the start of a movement of great social importance." This
interesting personal account was written by Miss Emily S.
Hanaway, principal of the primary department of Grammar School
No. 28, in New York City, to whom came the thought, "Why not give
the children reading-rooms?", and through whose efforts the
Association was organized.

Emily S. Hanaway was married in 1891 to the Reverend Peter
Stryker. She died in 1915 in her eightieth year. Her library was
ultimately forced to close its doors, but its influence remains.

For several years it had caused me much pain to find that many of
the children in our school were either without suitable reading
or were reading books of a most injurious kind. The more I
pondered the matter the more I became convinced that much of the
poison infused into the mind of a child begins at a very early
age. As soon as a child takes interest in pictures the taste
begins to be formed. Give him only common comic or sensational
ones, and he will seize them and look no higher. On the other
hand, give him finely-wrought sketches and paintings, tell him to
be very careful how he handles them, and he will despise the
trash of the present day. Place in his hand clear print, and he
will never want the vile copy of a sensational paper often thrown
in at our doors. Place in his hand Babyland, tell him that he is
an annual subscriber, and the importance of having his name
printed on the copy will induce him to do as a little relative of
mine has frequently done. He will run after the postman and ask
him how long before the next number will arrive.

Upon one occasion we endeavored to find out what sort of books
our school-children were reading, and asked them to bring a few
for us to examine. Some of them, having been directed in their
reading by discreet, faithful parents, brought such periodicals
as St. Nicholas, Chatterbox, Harper's Young People, etc., while
others brought the vilest kind of literature, and one little
fellow brought a large copy of the "Annual Report of the Croton

In the summer of 1885, while seated in a room where the National
Association of Teachers had assembled, a thought, as if some one
had leaned over my shoulder and suggested it, came suddenly into
my mind: "Why not give the children reading- rooms?" There was no
getting rid of the thought. All that afternoon and evening it
followed me. After the meeting, in the evening, I asked Prof. E.
E. White, of Ohio, if he thought such an undertaking could be
carried out. He answered, "Yes; but it is gigantic." I came home
fully persuaded that it must be tried; but where should I begin?
As soon as school opened in September, it occurred to me that
almost opposite our school- building there was a day-nursery, the
lady in charge of which appeared to be a very earnest worker. She
said she would be very glad to help, as she had a small library
at that time, which her children used in the nursery.

On visiting the publishers, generous donations were promised from
Treat, Scribner, Taintor & Merrill, Barnes, and others. These
were sent to the nursery. A few years before, a former principal
in our school, Miss Victoria Graham, had worked with great energy
to have a library in P. D., G. S. 28, and the proceeds of an
entertainment given in 1872 in the Academy of Music had furnished
two or three hundred books. Miss Graham died the same year, and
as we had no regular librarian, many of the books were lost.
About sixty were left. These also were sent to the nursery, and
our children went over every week to draw books. This was the
first attempt. But we felt that it was but a small beginning, and
that if we wished to bring in all creeds we must free the public
mind from suspicion, and have a representation from every
denomination, Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Hebrew.
Accordingly, we planned that when a committee should be
organized, every religious faith should be represented among
those who were to choose the books. As we wished to have many of
these rooms throughout the city, and as our friends at the
day-nursery, under their arrangements, could not have a
committee, we thought it would do no harm to start anew. So we
conferred with the various clergymen of all denominations, in a
neighborhood well known to us, and received great encouragement.
Dr. Mendez became a member of our organization committee, and has
been present at very many of our business meetings.

We then visited the persons named by these gentlemen, for our
organization committee, and when we had found eleven willing to
serve, a kind friend in West 22d St., Mrs. Hanford Smith, gave us
the use of her parlors for our meeting. A more gloomy committee
has been seldom seen. "Have you a room for a library?" was asked.
"No." "Any money?" "No." "Any books?" "No." "Absurd! How do you
expect to start such a work?" "On faith." Next a vote was taken
whether to organize or not. It was decided to organize. Mr.
Edward Chichester was elected president, Mr. Edward Vanderbiit
secretary, and Mr. E. P. Pitcher to the very responsible position
of treasurer, without a cent in the treasury.

Here it is only due to Rev. Dr. Terry to speak of the
encouragement he gave. The Y. M. C. A. connected with the South
Reformed Church, on 21st St. and 5th Ave., were talking of taking
rooms at 243 9th Ave., for a young men's club, and through the
doctor's efforts we were allowed to come into these rooms from 4
to 6 p. m., all through the season, from December to May, with
the understanding that we might pay or not, according to our
success in obtaining funds. One trouble was over. We then began
our circuit once again through the city, after school hours,
visiting every publishing-house named in the directory, beside
making many personal visits to friends, who encouraged us by
gifts of books.

We are largely indebted to Dodd, Mead & Co., Carter, Taintor,
Merrill & Co., and many others, who have given most liberally;
also to friends, who have given us many $5 bills, and enabled us
not only to pay expenses, including librarian, tickets of
admission, covers for books, circulars, etc., but also to hand
over most joyfully to Dr. Terry $40 for the use of room at the
close of the season.

Last fall we tried to begin our work once more, and after walking
from 40th to 23d St., along 8th and 9th Avenues, I at last found
rooms on W. 35th Street. Dr. Terry kindly loaned us furniture,
and the Women's Christian Temperance Union shared with us the
modest rent of $13 per month, $6.50 each.

Last year P. D. No. 45, in West 24th St., sent a large
representation from their school. This year they asked for and
received tickets. We had about 350 books, and issued about 700
admission tickets. At one time during the winter the librarian
sent me this message: "Only eight books are left on the shelves.
Do you think it best to close the room to-day?" I returned word:
"Get in all the books you can; do not give out any for a short
time, but let the children come in and look at the stereoscopic
views, play games, look at or read pamphlets. When they have
returned a sufficient number, begin to distribute again." That
week we received several parcels of books, and started up again.
We had applications for tickets from P. D., G. S. No. 11, 37th
St. Prim. Deptt, 34th St. R. Ch. S. School, Ind. School, West
415t St., and others. Male Dep't, G. S. No. 67, asked for 91
tickets. Some of the children in P. D., G. S. No. 28, shed tears
when their teacher informed them that we had no more tickets.

The children stood on the sidewalk on a Friday afternoon, not
long ago, from 2:30 until 5:30, patiently waiting for their turn
to enter the room, as the librarian could only allow a certain
number to enter at one time.

Dr. Barnett visited the rooms with the intention of putting up
chest-expanders for exercise, but he found them too small, and
the woodwork too frail, for any such purposes.

We have a number of subscribers at $1 per year, although some
have gone far beyond this in subscriptions. We closed on May 1,
to reopen in the fall.

One great reason for keeping open through the year is that many
parents are obliged to work all day, and the children run the
risk of getting into all sorts of crime. As an instance, not long
since I found a little girl in our department who had been
frequently caught pilfering. At last we thought it necessary to
send for the mother. She burst into tears and said: "What am I to
do? My children are alone after school hours until I return, and
I do not know what they are doing." I asked if the children had
tickets for the reading-room, and here found another difficulty.
"Not on the same day," she said. We had been obliged to send the
girls on three days of the week, and the boys on two days,
because of the lack of room, and of helpers. Several teachers
have since come forward and offered their services. Two teachers
in our department have gone every Monday, and two others every
Friday, and appeared to take great pleasure in the work. All
honor to such young, earnest workers, for they deserve it!

We have recently received a box of books, toys, etc., from the
"Little Helpers" in Elyria, Ohio, and Columbia College is taking
an active interest in our work. We are leaning upon our friends
of the college library for support and help, in time to come. All
our meetings are held at Columbia College.

We hope for liberal donations, and we feel quite sure--yes, as
sure as we felt on that gloomy evening last winter, when we
decided to go on--that from the kind words of encouragement, and
the liberal gifts that we have received in the past, the gifts
are coming in the future; and when we are resting from our
labors, others yet unborn shall rise up and call those blessed
who have strengthened our hands. And we believe that when this
comes the prison doors will open less frequently.


In the following paper, read in 1897 before the Friends' Library
Association of Philadelphia, and the New York Library Club, Miss
Mary W. Plummer discussed some of the "experiences and theories"
of a number of libraries and the "requisites for the ideal
children's library." Mary Wright Plummer was born in Richmond,
Indiana, in 1856, was graduated from the Friends' Academy there,
and was a special student at Wellesley College, 1881-1882. She
entered the "first class of the first library school," and in
1888 became a certified graduate of the Library School of
Columbia College. For the next two years she was the head of the
Cataloguing department of the St. Louis Public Library. She was
Librarian of the Pratt Institute Free Library from 1890 to 1904,
and Director of the Pratt Institute of Library Science until
1911. She then became Principal of the Library School of the New
York Public Library, the position she held until her death in
1916. Miss Plummer was President of the A. L. A. in 1915-1916.
She contributed many articles to library periodicals, and has
written numerous books, several of which are for children.

It is so early in the movement for children's libraries that by
taking some thought now it would seem possible to avoid much
retracing of steps hereafter, and it is for this reason that even
at this early day a comparison of experiences and theories by
those libraries which have undertaken the work is desirable and
even necessary. It is as well, perhaps, to begin with a few
historical statistics, gathered from questions sent out last
December and from perusal of the Library Journal reports since

Many libraries, probably the majority, have had an age-limit for
borrowers, and the admission of children under 12 to membership
is of comparatively recent date. The separation of children from
the adult users of the library by means of a room of their own
was probably originated by the Public Library of Brookline, which
in 1890 set aside an unused room in its basement for a children's
reading-room. In 1893 the Minneapolis Public Library fitted up a
library for children, from which books circulate also, where they
had (as reported in December, 1896) 20,000 volumes, the largest
children's library yet reported. In 1894 the Cambridge Public
Library opened a reading-room and the Denver Public Library a
circulating library for children. An article on the latter
undertaking may be found in the Outlook for September 26, 1896.
In 1895 Boston, Omaha, Seattle, New Haven and San Francisco, all
opened either circulating libraries or reading-rooms for
children, and in 1896 Detroit, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Pratt
Institute of Brooklyn, Everett (Mass.) and Kalamazoo (Mich.)
followed suit. The libraries of Circleville (O.), Milwaukee,
Cleveland, and Helena (Mont.) are all projecting plans for the
same, and probably this year will show a notable increase. The
new Public Library of Chicago has made no especial provision for
children, from the fact that its situation in the heart of the
business district of the city will prevent many children from
coming to it, but provision of some sort will be made for them at
the various branch reading-rooms throughout the city. In the new
building of the Providence Library considerations of cost made it
necessary to give up the addition of a children's library, a
matter of great disappointment to every one.

From all these libraries except the last two, reports were
received by us in December, 1896, on comparing which we found
considerable similarity of usage, though as there had been but
little in print on the subject up to 1896 this probably arose not
from communication between the libraries but from the fact that
like circumstances and causes produced like effects in different

Of the 15 libraries reporting, 11 circulated books from the
children's room, three making an age-limit for this, while the
four remaining contented themselves with giving the children a
reading-room, in which a number of books--about 300--were placed,
for reading on the premises. The temptation for a child who
becomes interested in a book, to carry it off when closing- hour
comes, in order to finish it, is a strong one, and of these four
libraries one reported 35 books missing in its first six months,
or over one-tenth of its stock. Two others which circulate from
open shelves to all borrowers lost 100 children's books in a
little over 12 months. A number of others reported that as yet
they had taken no inventory of the books in the room, and were
evidently willing that ignorance should remain bliss a little
longer. Several report that very few books are unaccounted for,
and one or two that not a book has been taken. Free access to the
children's books is allowed in all the 15, and in about half of
them the room is open all day, and in two cases in the evening

The number of volumes shelved ranges all the way from 300 to
20,000, the average number being from 3,000 to 4,000. An age-
limit for the use of the room is set by seven libraries, three of
these making the limit for circulation only, while eight admit
children of any age, and doubtless make provision for the very
youngest The circulation of these rooms that lend books ranges
from 65 to 350 as a daily average, frequently exceeding this. As
a rule, one attendant is kept in the room, with assistance when
necessary, two libraries only reporting two regular assistants
and the Boston Public Library three. The Detroit Library has two
attendants in order to give the children personal attention. The
library at Kalamazoo has for one of its assistants a trained
kindergarten. Eight libraries report no reference-books on the
children's shelves and the majority of the others only a few such
works. The largest number of periodicals taken appears to be our
own list of 10, though by this time the libraries reporting in
1896 may have increased their number. Instead of taking a
variety of periodicals, they seem to prefer duplicating a few
favorites. One library reports a number of copies of Puck taken
for children, the wisdom of which I should doubt, and two
subscribe for Golden Days. The Minneapolis Library circulates 10
copies of St. Nicholas. The Boston Public Library, having a large
foreign clientele among children as well as adults, takes one
German and one French periodical for them. In the Detroit Library
the Scientific American is on the list, and in our children's
library we take a copy of Harper's Weekly.

A number of libraries report crowding and lack of time and space.
In one no periodicals can be kept in the children's library,
because there is no room for the children to sit down to read
them. Another reports as many as 75 children frequently in the
room at once, a third that the room is so full children have
often to be sent out, and a fourth, which at the time was only a
reading-room, that the attendance was so large very little could
be done except to keep order. Most of the libraries report a fair
proportion of foreigners among the children, and one speaks of
having many colored children among the readers.

Turning from these reports to a general consideration of the
subject, we must admit, first, that a definite decision as to the
object of a children's library is the first thing needful.

This decision will doubtless vary in different libraries, and the
results will differ accordingly, but almost any decision is
better than none, since one cannot be arrived at without giving
much thought to the subject, and the desirable thing is that the
work should be entered upon thoughtfully.

We have passed the time when reading in itself was considered a
vast good. The ability to read may easily be a curse to the
child, for unless he be provided something fit to read, it is an
ability as powerful for evil as for good. When we consider the
dime-novels, the class of literature known as Sunday- school
books, the sensational newspapers, the vicious literature
insinuated into schools, and the tons of printed matter issued by
reputable publishers, written by reputable people, good enough in
its intention but utterly lacking in nourishment, and, therefore,
doing a positive harm in occupying the place of better things--
when we consider that all these are brought within a child's
reach by the ability to read, we cannot help seeing that the
librarian, in his capacity as selector of books for the library,
has the initial responsibility. Certain classes of the printed
stuff just spoken of do not, of course, find their way into
children's libraries, since they are barred out from all
respectable shelves; but we are still too lenient with print
because it is print, and every single book should be carefully
examined before it goes into a library where children should have
access to the shelves.

But given an ideal selection of books, or as near it as we can
get and still have enough books to go around, is just the reading
of them--that is, the passing of the eye over the types, gaining
a momentary impression--the most desirable thing to be got out of
them? Are there not here and there children who are reading to
the lasting detriment of their memories and powers of observation
and reflection, stuffing themselves with type, as it were? Nearly
every observant librarian knows of such cases. Are there not days
when the shining of the sun, the briskness of the air, the
greenness of the turf and of the trees, should have their
invitation seconded by the librarian, and the child be persuaded
AWAY from the library instead of TO it? We are supposed to
contribute with our books toward the sound mind, but we should be
none the less advocates of the sound body--and the child who
reads all day indoors when he ought to be out in the fresh air
among his kind, should have our especial watching.

But, granted the suitable book and the suitable time for reading,
what do we know of the effect our books are having? We count our
circulation just the same whether a book is kept two days--about
long enough for the family to look at the pictures-- or a week.
Whether it has been really read we do not know. Sometimes I think
those pencilled notes on the margin, recording the child's
disgust or satisfaction, should have more meaning for us than
they do. At least, they prove that the book has taken hold of the
reader's imagination and sympathies. Don't let us be too severe
with a criticism written in the honest feeling of the moment (if
it be in pencil); we are really gathering psychological and
sociological data for which the child-study clubs would thank us,

I see only one way in which we can be enabled to estimate fairly
the value of what we are doing, and that is by so gaining the
good-will and confidence of the children as to get them to answer
our questions as to their reading or to tell us of their own
accord what they get from it. From this information we may make
our inferences as to the value of our books in themselves, and
may be enabled to regulate their use. A child whose exclusive
diet is fairy-tales is evidently over-cultivating the
imagination; a girl who has outgrown children's books and dipped
into the premature love-stories that are written for her class
needs our most careful guidance; a boy whose whole thought is of
adventure, or who cannot read anything but jokes, is also in a
critical condition.

In short, the judicious regulation of the children's reading
should be made practicable for the librarian, if the children's
library is to be the important agency in education which it may
be made.

In regard to the desirability of amusements in the library, I own
that I am somewhat sceptical. The library has its own division of
labor in the work of education, and that division is the training
of the people to the use and appreciation of books and
literature. An argument in favor of games is that they draw in
children who might not otherwise come, but I should fear they
would be drawn in finally in such crowds as to be unmanageable.
Books properly administered should have the same drawing power,
and their influence, once felt, is toward quietness and thought,
rather than toward activity and skill with the complications of
dispute and cheating that may arise from the use of games.
Children are natural propagandists. Let one child find that at
the children's library he may select his own books from a
good-sized collection, may find help in his composition-work, the
news of what is going on in the world in the shape of an
attractive illustrated bulletin-board, different every week--and
tomorrow 10 children will know of it, and each of these will tell
other 10, and so on. The library will have all the children it
can attend to eventually, and they will have come gradually so
that the assistants shall have been able to get a proper grasp of
the situation, while the earlier children will have been somewhat
trained to help, like the elder brothers and sisters in a family.

Certain freedoms may be granted in the children's library as an
education for the adult constituency of the future; for instance,
the guarantee may be done away with, thus putting the child on
his honor to pay his own fines and damages--the only penalties
for not doing so being those which society naturally inflicts on
offenders--the debarring from privileges and from association. If
there is nothing injurious or doubtful on the shelves, freedom in
choice of books may be allowed to the smallest child, only he
must know that help and guidance are at hand if he wishes them,
and if a tendency to over-read in any one direction or in all is
noticed, the librarian should feel at liberty to make
suggestions. And as to freedom of action, the maxim should be
that one man's liberty ends where another man's begins. No child
should be allowed to disturb the room or to interfere with the
quiet of those who are studying, for many children, more than one
would think, really come to study. But the stiffness and enforced
routine of the school-room should by all means be avoided. There
should be no set rules as to silence, but consideration for
others should be inculcated, and in time the room will come to
have a subduing, quiet atmosphere that will insensibly affect
those who enter. Whispering, or talking in a low tone, where
several little heads are bent together over picture-books, is
certainly admissible, and the older heads are very soon quiet of
their own accord, each over its own book or magazine.

After the selection of the books themselves there is nothing so
important as thoughtful administration, a practical question,
since the employment of assistants comes in under this head.
Educators have for some time seen the mistake of putting the
cheapest teachers over the primary schools--kindergartners have
seen it--and it remains for the library to profit by their
experience without going through a similar one. If there is on
the library staff an assistant well read and well educated,
broad- minded, tactful, with common sense and judgment,
attractive to children in manner and person, possessed, in short,
of all desirable qualities, she should be taken from wherever she
is, put into the children's library, and paid enough to keep her
there. There is no more important work in the building, no more
delicate, critical work than that with children, no work that
pays so well in immediate as well as in far-off results. Who that
has met the fault- finding, the rudeness and coldness too
frequent in a grown-up constituency, would not expand in the
sunshine of the gratitude, the confidence, the good-will, the
natural helpfulness of children! And it rests partly with the
assistant to cultivate these qualities in them, and so modify the
adult constituency of the future.

I say THOUGHTFUL administration because the children's library is
no sooner opened than it begins to present problems. Some of
these are simply administrative and economic, others take hold of
social and ethical foundations. There will be scarcely a day on
which the librarian and the children's librarian will not have to
put their heads, and sometimes their hearts, together over
puzzling cases--cases of fraud, of mischief-making, of ignorant
evil-doing, of inherited tendencies, physical, mental, and
moral-- and sometimes it will seem as if the whole human creation
were incurably ailing, and the doctrine of total depravity will
take on alarming probability. But at this point some sound,
smiling, active boy or girl comes in with a cheerful greeting,
and pessimism retires into the background. And all this reminds
me of one more quality which the children's librarian must
have--a sense of humor. It is literally saving in some

Our own experience has led to the following suggestions, made by
the children's librarian in our library to those who come in at
given hours from the other departments to take her place or to
assist her. It will be seen that most of them are the product of
observation and thought arising from the daily evidence of the
room itself:

"Always tell a child how to fill out his application-blank, even
when you are busy. Tell him just where to write his name in the
register and stay near him till it is completed. Whenever it is
possible, go to the shelves with a child who has just received
his card of membership. Show him where different kinds of books
are to be found. Ask him what kind of book he likes. Show him one
or two answering to his description and then leave him to make
his own selection.

"Explain the routine carefully and fully to children just
beginning to use the library.

"Let no child sign the register, look at a book, receive or
present an application, with soiled hands. Soiled and crumpled
applications are considered defective and cannot be accepted.

"Do not expect or demand perfect quiet. Frequent tapping upon the
desk excites the children and betrays nervousness on the part of
the person in charge. Let the discipline of the room seem to be
incidental; let the child feel that it is first and foremost a
library where books are to be had for the asking, and that you
are there to make it easier to get them.

"Never call children's numbers, but use their names if necessary,
though a glance of recognition pleases them better. Do not force
acquaintance. Children like it even less than grown people. Be
sympathetic and responsive, but beware of mannerism or
effusiveness. Remember, too, that questioning is a fine art, and
one should take care not to offend.

"Speed is not the first requisite at a children's desk. Children
have more patience with necessary formalities than grown people.

"Let some of the children help in the work of the room, but do
not urge them to do so.

"Avoid stereotyped forms of expression when reproving a child or
conversing with him. Let him feel you are speaking to him
personally; he will not feel this if he hears the same words used
for 50 other boys."

For evening work, when there is no circulation of books: "read to
them sometimes; talk to them at others; and sometimes leave them
quite alone. They are more appreciative when they find you are
leaving work to give them pleasure than they would be if they
found you were making their pleasure your work."

These are a few of the instructions or suggestions consequent
upon daily observation and experience. Doubtless every children's
librarian could supplement them with many more, but they are
enough to show what I mean by "thoughtful administration."

Occasionally the librarian who serves children will have to take
account of stock, sum up the changes for better or for worse in
the use and treatment of the room, in the manners and habits of
the children and in their reading. She will have to retire a
little from her work, take a bird's-eye view of it, and decide if
on the whole progress is making toward her ideal. Without
identifying itself with any of the movements such as the
kindergarten, child-study, and social settlement, without losing
control of itself and resigning itself to any outside guidance,
the children's library should still absorb what is to its purpose
in the work of all these agencies. "This one thing I do," the
librarian may have to keep reminding herself, to keep from being
drawn off into other issues, but by standing a little apart she
may see what is to her advantage without being sucked in by the
draft as some enthusiastic movement sweeps by. Must she have no
enthusiasm? Yes, indeed; but is not that a better enthusiasm
which enables one to work on steadily for years with undiminished
courage than the kind that exhausts itself in the great vivacity
of its first feeling and effort?

It will not be long after the opening of the children's library
before an insight will be gained into domestic interiors and
private lives that will make the librarian wish she could follow
many a child to his home, in order to secure for him and his
something better than the few hours' respite from practical life
which they may get from the reading of books. When the boy who
steals and the girl who is vicious before they are in their
teens, have to be sent away lest other children suffer, it is
borne in upon the librarian that a staff of home-missionaries
connected with the library to follow up and minister in such
cases would not be a bad thing--and she has to remind herself
again and again that it is not incumbent on any one person to
attempt everything, and that Providence has other
instrumentalities at work besides herself. The humors of the
situation, on the other hand, are many. The boys who, being sent
home to wash their hands, return in an incredibly short time with
purified palms and suppressed giggles, and on persistent inquiry
confess, "We just licked 'em," present to one who is "particular"
only a serio-comic aspect; and the little squirrel who wriggles
to the top of the librarian's chair until he can reach her ear,
and then whispers into it, "There couldn't be no library here
'thout you, could there?" is not altogether laughable; but
incidents of pure comedy are occasionally to be set over against
the serious side.

Last spring, with a view to gaining information directly in the
answers to our questions and indirectly in the light the answers
should throw on the character of the children, we chose 150 boys
and girls who were regularly using the library and sent to them a
series of questions to be answered in writing. They were
apparently greatly pleased to be consulted in this way, and it
seemed to us that very few of the replies were insincere in tone,
or intended merely to win approbation. From the 100 replies worth
any consideration I have drawn these specimen answers:

One of the first questions we asked was, "How long have you been
using the library?" Of 100 who answered, 25 had used the library
more than six months, 33 more than a year, 22 more than two
years, 11 more than three years, nine more than four years, and
one six years, since books were first given out to children. Many
children first hear of the library when they are 13 and over, and
after 14 they have the use of the main library, so that in their
case the time of use is necessarily shorter. However, if a child
has not done with the children's library by the time he is 14, we
allow him to continue using it until he wishes to be transferred.

Of 100 children, 68 reported that other members of their families
used the library, while 32 reported themselves the only
borrowers. This is interesting in connection with their answers
to the question, "Does any one at home or at school tell you good
books to read?" 71 reported yes and 29 no, about the same
proportion. In many families the parents are of a mental calibre
or at a stage in education to enjoy books written for children,
and we have found that children often drew books with their
parents' tastes in view. One little girl whose own tastes led her
to select a charming little book on natural history was sent back
with it by an aunt who said it was not suitable and requested
one of the semi-demi-novels that are provided for quite young
girls, as being much more appropriate. The difficulty in keeping
"hands off" in a case where grown people are thus influencing
children injuriously can be fully appreciated only by one who
knows and cares for the children.

Fifty-seven children reported that they were read to at home or
that they read to their younger brothers and sisters, while 43
stated that their reading was a pleasure all to themselves. The
large number who shared their reading was a pleasant surprise to
us, evincing a companionship at home that we had hardly

Twenty-eight children stated that they preferred to have help in
selecting their books, 63 that they preferred to make their own
choice, while nine said it depended. 49 said that they came to
the library to get help in writing their compositions or in other
school-work, while 51 said they did not, one proudly asserting,
"I am capable of writing all my compositions myself," and
another, seeming to think help a sort of disgrace, "I do not come
to the library for help about anything at all."

Seventy out of the 100 children answering used no library but
ours--the others made use of their Sunday-school libraries also.

An inquiry as to the books read since New Year's, the questions
being sent out in May, brought out the fact that an average of
six books in the four and a half months had been read--not a bad
average, considering that it was during term-time in the schools,
when studies take up much of the child's otherwise spare time.
Boys proved to prefer history and books of adventure, travel and
biography, to any other class of reading; girls, books about boys
and girls, fairy stories and poetry. The tastes of the boys on
the whole were more wholesome, and the girls need most help here.
It is not at all unlikely that it is chiefly the wars and combats
in history which make it interesting to the boys, as they seem to
go through a sanguinary phase in their development that nothing
else will satisfy; but many of them will get their history in no
other way, and since wars have been prominent in the past it is
of no use to disguise the fact. Fairness to both sides would
seem to be the essential in the writing of these children's
histories and historical tales, since the ability to stop and
deliberate and to make allowances is rare even in grown people
and needs cultivation.

The question as to the best book the child had ever read brought
in a bewildering variety of answers, proving beyond a doubt that
there had been no copying or using of other children's opinions.
While no list can be given, the reasons they offered in response
to a request for them were often interesting. Girls wrote of
"Little women": "It is so real, the characters are so real and
sweet." "I feel as if I could act the whole book." "This story
has helped me a very great deal in leading a better and a happier
life." "It shows us how to persevere," etc. Boys like "The Swiss
family Robinson" "because it describes accurately the points of a
shipwreck and graphically describes how a man with common sense
can make the best of everything." Another, "because it shows how
some people made the most of what they had." Another, "It shows
how progressive the people were." One liked "Uncle Tom's cabin"
"because it describes life among the colored people and shows
how they were treated before the war"; another, "because it is a
true story and some parts of it are pitiful and other parts are
pleasant." A boy of 12 says of "Grimm's fairy tales," "They are
interesting to read, and I learn there is no one to give you
wings and sandals to fly--you have to make your own." Another
likes "John Halifax" "because it tells how a boy who had pluck
obtained what he wanted and made his mark in the world." "Pluck,"
I imagine, in a boy's mind stands for the old virtue of the
poets, "magnanimity," that included all the rest. Harper's
story-books are still read and appreciated "because they tell me
about different kinds of people's ways, about animals, and a
little about history." Another child "learned games out of them,
and how to tell the truth and the use of the truth."

A child of eight puts in a pathetic plea worth considering for
the Prudy books, "because I understand them better than any books
I have read." An incipient author says that she uses the library
because "I make a good deal of stories and find pretty ideas."

Perhaps the most enlightening replies came in answer to the
question, "Can you suggest anything which would make the library
more interesting that it is now?" One delightfully reassuring boy
says, "I like the children's library to stay just the same, and a
boy who never went there would like it. I'll bring more boys."
"Pictures of art" are requested, and "a set of curiosities from
all parts of the world." As we regard the children of all
nationalities and types crowding about the desk on our busy days
we sometimes think we already have this latter item. "A prize for
the best story every month." "More histories." "Pictures of noted
men on the walls." "More fairy-tales." "More magazines." "Books
showing how to draw." "A pencil fastened to each table." "Stories
in Scottish history." "More books of adventure." "More funny
books." "A chart of real and genuine foreign stamps." "Lectures
for children between 10 and 14, with experiments accompanying
them." "A one-hour lecture once a week by noted men on different
subjects." "A book giving the value of celebrated paintings."
"More books. The shelves look bare," as indeed they do after a
rush-day. "Rules to keep the children in order," from a
nine-year-old who has doubtless suffered. "Not to be disturbed by
other boys for unknown crimes," says one mysterious victim of
something or other. "Historical fiction." "Catholic books."
"Tanks with fishes, in the windows." "An aquarium; children would
enjoy seeing pollywogs change to frogs every time they came to
the library." This is the comment of a little girl, I am glad to
say. "School-books." "More amusement for little children." This
was before we bought our linen picture-books. And the "Elsie
books," and Oliver Optic, and Castlemon are vainly desired by two
or three. The general sentiment is pretty well voiced by one
child who says, "The library is just perfect in about every

We feel that with this enumeration of desiderata, the children's
library has its work cut out for it for some time to come, and
that these evidences of the children's likings and needs have
removed a certain vagueness from our ambitions. With lectures and
experiments, reading clubs, and possibly original stories, in
contemplation, there is no danger of rust from inaction,
especially as to obtain any one of these there are serious
obstacles to overcome. But always and everywhere the library
should put forward its proper claim of the value and use of the
book--though in the word book I by no means include all that goes
under the name. If there are lectures with experiments or
lantern-slides, they should be attended by information as to the
best literature on the subject and the children encouraged to
investigate what has been printed, as well as to take in through
the ear. There is no "digging" in lecture-going, and it is
"digging" that leaves a permanent impression on the mind. The
lecture should stimulate to personal research. From reading aloud
together at the library in the evening, reading clubs may come to
be formed, each with a specialty, decided by the tastes of the
members. The writing of stories, particularly if the library
selected the subject, might be made the occasion of the use of
histories, biographies, travels, etc. Quiet games in the evening
for the older children, of a nature to require the use of
reference-books, would be strictly within the library's province.
Personal talks with the children about their reading, if
judiciously conducted, are always in order. With a generation of
children influenced in this way to use books as tools and a
mental resource as well as for recreation, and to find recreation
only in the best-written books, the library constituency of the
future would be worthy of the best library that could be

The bulletin-board is attracting attention generally as a means
of interesting children in topics of current interest, and such a
periodical as Harper's Weekly is invaluable when it comes to
securing illustrations for this purpose. Sandwiched in among the
pictures, we have occasionally smuggled in a printed paragraph of
useful information or a set of verses, and our latest move, to
induce more general reading of the periodicals, has been to
analyze their contents on the bulletin, under the head of
"Animals," "Sports," "Engines," "Short stories," "Long stories,"
etc. Boys who "know what they like" are beginning to turn to this
analysis to see if there is anything new on their favorite topic
and to explain the workings of the board to other boys, and the
desired end is gradually being brought about. As the references
are taken down to make way for new ones, they are filed away by
subject, making the beginnings of a permanent reference list.

Birds, the new magazine with its colored plates, is a boon for
the children's room, The Great Round World is good for the
assistant-in-charge and the teachers who come to the room, as
well as for the children.

In order to add to the number of books without overstepping our
rules as to quality, we are beginning, though not yet very
systematically, to look over the works of certain authors of
grown-up books with a view to finding material that can be
understood sufficiently by children to interest them. A number of
Stevenson's books can be given to boys and girls, and we hope to
find many others. Most children, I think, read books without
knowing who has written them, and if we can induce them to learn
to know authors and can interest them in a writer like Stevenson,
we can feel fairly secure that they will not drop him when they
are transferred from the children's room to the main library.

Perhaps it is best always to have a working hypothesis to begin
with, in children's libraries as elsewhere; but we can assure
those who have not tried it that facts are stubborn things, and
the hypothesis has frequently to be made over in accordance with
newly-observed facts, and theories may or may not be proven
correct. The whole subject is as yet in the empirical stage, and
the way must be felt from day to day. If the children's librarian
lives in a continual rush, what "leisure to grow wise" on her
chosen subject does she have? and if she is hurried constantly
from one child to another, what chance have the children for
learning by contact with the individual? which, as Mr. Horace E.
Scudder truly says, is the method most sure of results. This
contact may be had most naturally, it seems to us, through the
ordinary channels of waiting on the children, provided it is
quiet, deliberate waiting upon them. We go out of our way to
think out new philanthropies and are too likely to forget that,
as we go about our every-day business, natural opportunities are
constantly presenting for strengthening our knowledge of and our
hold upon the people who come to us--who are sent to us, I might
almost say.

The registry and the charging-desks offer chances for
acquaintance to begin naturally and unconsciously and for much
incidental imparting of seed-thoughts. And it is in these
every-day chances, if appreciated and made the most of, that the
work of the children's library is going to tell. The necessity of
especial training in psychology, pedagogy, child study, and
kindergarten ideas, has been treated of recently in a paper
before the A. L. A. There is no doubt that the "called" worker in
this field will be better for scientific training, but let him or
her first be sure of the call. It is quite as serious as one to
the ministry, if not more so, and no amount of intellectual
training will make up for the lack of patience and fairness and
of a genuine interest in children and realization of their
importance in the general scheme.

To sum up, the requisites for the ideal children's library, as we
begin to see it, are suitable books, plenty of room, plenty of
assistance, and thoughtful administration. Better a number of
children's libraries scattered over a town or city than a large
central one, since only in this way can the children be divided
up so as to make individual attention to them easy. But if it
devolves upon one library to do the work for the entire town, and
branches are out of the question, something of the same result
may be obtained by providing at certain hours an extra number of
assistants. I can imagine a large room with several desks, at
each of which should preside an assistant having charge of only
certain classes of books, so that in time she might come to be an
authority on historical or biographical or scientific or literary
books for children, and the children might learn to go to her as
their specialist on the class of books they cared most for.
Perhaps this may sound Utopian. I believe there are libraries
present and to come for which it is entirely practicable.


An investigation of rural libraries in North Carolina and of
library work with children in Boston and New England towns led
Miss Caroline Matthews, a member of the Examining Committee of
the Public Library of Boston to believe that "exaggerated leaning
toward one phase of library work must throw out of the true the
work as a whole." The following paper explaining her conclusions
was read before the Massachusetts Library Club in October, 1907.

Caroline Matthews was born in Boston in 1855. She has contributed
articles to the Educational Review and to the Atlantic Monthly.
Miss Matthews is at present living in Switzerland.

I have been asked to speak on this subject, not because I have
professional or technical knowledge of the subject to be
discussed, but rather because I have not. This does not mean that
I have no knowledge whatever of this or other phases of library
work. It simply means that the little knowledge I do possess is
non-professional, and that my impressions, points of view,
conclusions, are wholly those of an outsider.

Up to three years ago I had had no connection with public
libraries beyond being an occasional borrower of books. Then
suddenly, through making a comparative study of the financing of
public school systems here and in France, I found myself in touch
with the public schools of an American city, and through them
with the school deposits of the Public Library of the same city.
Even so, I did not come in touch with the library side of the
work. It was always the school or teachers' side, or the pupils'
side, never any other.

The second year I became a member of the Examining Committee of
the Public Library of the city of Boston. My position on this
committee for my first year of service was a minor one. There was
never anything very important to do, certainly not enough to keep
up one's interest to the point of being a live interest.
Moreover, I spent the winter away from town. But I had the great
good fortune to pass it in the mountains of North Carolina. There
I lived for weeks at a time in the homes and cabins of the
mountain whites. I knew the men their wives, their children. I
visited the logging camps, the mines, the missions, the mills,
the schools. The life was rough, but it was worth while. It gave
me an intimate knowledge of the social surroundings of the
people, and I found the one vital problem, the problem touching
the citizen the nearest, to be that of the rural school, and
affiliated with the rural school, though affiliated in a crude
way, was the library.

Thus, for the second time in my life, I came into contact with
the library by means of the school. This coincidence led me to
think, and I reasoned out that library workers North and South
must be working along similar lines toward unity in practice.
Both were doing educative work. And both, apparently, had the
same goal--the reaching of the parent or adult through the child
or through child growth.

How far such work was legitimate work, how far such work had
intellectual or educational value, how far such work lacked or
had balance, I now wished to determine. To do this it was
necessary to assume some line of active investigation; also to
study results from the standpoint of the library, as well as from
that of the school and the citizen.

There was no need to search for a subject. I had it at hand.
Living as I did with the people I found myself in the very center
of the rural library movement--a movement so splendid in
conception; so successful in results, if statistics are credited;
so direct as to method, the entire appropriation being expended
on but two things, books and bookcases; so naively simple as to
administration, there being neither librarians, libraries, or
pay-rolls--that a study of it could not fail to prove helpful.

What were the actual conditions? First, the name "rural
libraries" I found a misnomer. It in no sense represents facts.
The words imply community interests, interests alike of adult and
child, whilst the reality is that these libraries are simply
school deposits, composed wholly of "juvenile books," graded up
to but not beyond the seventh grade. When one realizes that these
books reach a total of 200,000 volumes, that they are sent to
people living in scattered communities strung shoe-string fashion
high along mountain ridges--back and apart from civilization-- to
a people of rugged character, demanding strength in books as in
life, capable of appreciating strength, one sees what a
stupendous opportunity for community uplift has been wasted, and
one stands aghast at the folly, economic and intellectual, of the
limitations imposed. Why should children alone be considered? And
if they alone are to be considered why should they be fed nothing
but "juvenile" literature? It is both over-emphasis and false
emphasis of the most harmful kind.

Second, far and away the most interesting phase of this library
work in North Carolina is that the whole movement lies outside of
the hands of professionally trained librarians. To understand why
this is so it is necessary to turn to the Department of
Education. Education in North Carolina is a state affair and
centralized, the state being for all practical purposes
autocratic in every educational matter. Decentralization has set
in to the extent of admitting local taxation; otherwise
education in North Carolina to-day is as highly centralized as it
is in France. There is no difference whatever between the power
of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction at Raleigh,
and that of the Minister of Public Instruction in France. Such
being the case it is but natural that the rural library movement
should be absorbed by the state, incorporated into the Department
of Education, and administered by the State Superintendent of
Public Instruction. Neither would it be wise to change this. It
would be wise, however, to appoint as one of the county
superintendents of public instruction a trained librarian, having
as his charge the entire supervision and administration of
library interests.

Third, all responsibility for the care of these libraries rests
with teachers. The teachers should never have such
responsibility. It is entirely beyond and outside of their proper
work. I feel sure that this problem of how to care for school
deposits of library books, a problem which is an issue North as
it is South, is not so difficult of solution as library workers
would have us believe. Disabuse yourselves of the notion that it
is the teachers' work, and a way out of the difficulty will be

Fourth, not only is there a growing dissatisfaction with the
library act as administered, but there is actually active
opposition to it--on the part of some teachers, and on the part
of certain public-spirited citizens. So much so is this a fact
that a counter movement is already in progress. This consists in
the establishment of rural libraries by private gift, by the
citizens at large, and by certain societies. Tryon has such a
library, a delightful building with two rooms and an ample
supply of standard books; Lenoir has one; Boone has one. Yet
these are small towns, two of them not exceeding 300 inhabitants
each. An interesting feature of one of these libraries is that it
serves largely as a social center for community life. Afternoon
tea is served in it; musicals held; club papers read; even the
Woman's Exchange meets and exhibits once a week. I had no means
of discovering how general this movement was, nor yet of
determining the ratio of emphasis laid on the social side of the
work. But I want you to note one point--the movement starts with
the adult and with standard works, and only by means of the
adult, or through the parent, is the child reached. It is the
exact antithesis of the state movement.

Fifth, the libraries are neglected. In no school did I find a
well-appointed one, and where there were bookcases they were
tucked aside in corner or entry, thick with dust, unused.

The state statistics as to the growth of this movement ignore
absolutely the facts I have mentioned. Therefore, I claim that in
no true sense are these statistics representative. The movement,
however, has interest. It is alive. It is sweeping through the
state. It spends thousands of dollars a year. It concerns itself
wholly with children. These are its characteristics. There can be
no two opinions as to its lack of balance, for the adult is not
even considered. There can be no two opinions as to its
intellectual and educational values. Buying only "juvenile
literature" they are of the smallest. There can be no two
opinions as to its morality: the people are taxed, yet only a
fraction of the people, only those who have children below the
seventh and above the first grades, receive a return.

How far North Carolina was seeking guidance of the North, how far
the North was also over-emphasizing, if it was, the children's
side in library work, I next wished to determine.

This brought me back to Boston, and to my second and final year
of service on the Examining Committee. The chairmanship of the
sub-committee on branches gave me opportunity for studying
library work as it touched the child and the school in cities.
This I supplemented by a less intensive study of library
conditions in towns, in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New
Hampshire, seeking to make my knowledge comprehensive.

The first impression I received was that of the many
interpretations put upon library work. These were almost as
numerous as were the librarians and custodians. Viewing the work
as a whole such divergence in practice seemed an error. There is
power in unity; results worth while follow. There is loss in the
frittering away of time caused by casual experiment; moreover, it
bears heavily on the child. To this you may be inclined to answer
that social and moral conditions vary so in each city and town
that the individual condition must be faced individually.
Granted, but not to the extent you might wish. To illustrate:
there is wisdom in allowing a certain station of the Boston
system complete liberty of action. But the situation at this
station is unique. It could not be duplicated even in Boston. The
work is in the hands of a skilled leader, and it forms part of a
large private work, financed by a philanthropist noted for
leadership in wise experimentation. The library shows breadth in
accepting the situation. But it is not wisdom to allow the
introduction of the story hour, or, as is the case in a
neighboring town, the throwing wide open of the children's room
to tots so tiny that picture blocks have to be furnished them to
play with--before the educational authorities have pronounced
such work necessary and just.

I next noticed and with some alarm the feminization of the
library corps. And I confess that I see no remedy. The schools
are facing the same difficulty, but eventually it will be solved
for them in the raising of certain salaries to a man's standard.
This is not likely to happen in library work. Consequently we
have this feminization to reckon with, and to me it is an active
factor in the diversity of library practice to which I have
referred, for women far more than men are prone to indulge
individual fads.

A third impression was the lack of fitness of some library
workers for their posts. This is particularly unfortunate when it
occurs in a children's room. Unless the person in charge possess
the requisite qualifications, better far close the room. The
fault lies perhaps with the colleges offering library courses. It
may well be that the training in these should be more specialized
than it is. Take the case of a student intending to pursue a
given line of work--say children's departments. Something
definite should be offered her, something corresponding in worth
to the graduate courses in practice and observation offered
students of education in departments of education at
universities. This is a practical suggestion; it only requires on
the part of colleges and libraries similar agreements to those
already existing between universities and schools. A second phase
of this question is that of libraries whose employees are not
drawn from library schools or colleges, but who reach the several
posts by a system of promotion based on efficiency and faithful
service. Is there any reason why employees of such a system,
specializing in children's work should not serve an
apprenticeship in the children's department at central and be
required to return to it again and again for further instruction?
As far as I know the heads of these children's departments have
no duties of this kind. But would not the value of a library
corps be increased tenfold if they had? They seize eagerly the
opportunity to go out and instruct the teacher, to go out and
instruct the parent. They have classes for the schools in the use
of the library. But they neglect utterly the training of the
library employee who is to serve as assistant first, as chief
later, in the children's room at branch or station. Yet the
knowledge acquired by only one day of observation under skillful
guidance in the children's department at central would prove
invaluable to these women. Broaden the training given employees,
and centralize experimentation.

I found no TRUE affiliation with the schools. There was none in
North Carolina; there is none here. In countless ways the library
and the school are overlapping. Why there should not be a clearer
vision as to what is library work and what is school work is
incomprehensible to an outsider.

I grew to have a horror of children's rooms--as distinct from
children's departments. Intellectually, physically, morally, I
believe them harmful. Neither can I see their necessity.

As regards classification of books, I received the impression
that the broad division into "adult" and "juvenile" is too
dogmatic, too arbitrary. Whatever other forms or divisions are
necessary, this particular one should be abolished. It lowers the
intellectual standing of the library with the community.

The splendid character of library work in tenement districts
stood out strongly. It is vigorous, alive, with an
ever-broadening opportunity.

More vivid, however, than any other impression, stronger still,
was that of the time and thought and care bestowed on the Child.
Everywhere, in city, town and suburban library, the effort to
reach the Child is apparent. Special attendants are in readiness
to meet him the instant he comes into reading room and station
after school hours. Thoughtful women are assigned to overlook and
guide his reference work. Entertainment is offered him in the
form of blocks to play with, scrap-books to look at, story hours
to attend. Books specially selected with regard to his supposedly
individual needs are placed on the shelves. Picture bulletins are
made for his use in the schools. Where he is not segregated he is
allowed to monopolize tables and chairs. I find no corresponding
effort made to reach the adult, to reach the young mechanic, to
draw to the library the parent. I at times wonder whether
librarians and custodians are even aware that exaggerated leaning
toward one phase of library work must throw out of the true the
work as a whole.

Nothing has astonished me more than this new development in
library practice--the placing of the child in importance before
the adult. The old belief that the library is primarily for
adults and only incidentally for children still holds good at the
central buildings of large city public library systems. In these
we find the children's department only one of many
departments--the child always subordinate, the adult
dominant--the result of a well balanced, admirable whole, each
unit in its proper place, all forces pulling together. I fail to
see why the same relative balance should not be maintained
throughout the entire system, from branch to station, not always
in kind and measure, but approximately.

A second thought to which I cannot adjust myself--is that of the
parent as a factor in school and library work. The parent
believes in the public school, and he pays heavily in taxes for
the education of his children by means of it. The parent believes
in the establishment of public libraries and he pays heavily in
taxes for their equipment. Both sums raised are sufficiently
generous to enable school and library to furnish trained,
capable, efficient teachers and librarians. Such being the case
does not the parent show intelligence in turning over to the
public care the direction of his children's education and
reading? Is he not justified in so doing? Why then should he be
held ignorant or selfish? Eliminate the parent as a factor in
library practice. Give the children quality in books. Strike off
50 per cent., if you only will, of the titles to be found on the
shelves of children's rooms. Substitute "adult" books, and you
will not need to appeal to the parent to guide the child's

That there is similarity of practice in library work, in North
Carolina and here, you can hardly deny. Point by point, in so far
as the work relates to the child, the problems are mutual. Their
solution lies in the getting together of school and library
authorities, and the setting aside of the modern thought that
library work is primarily educative and primarily for the child.
Let the schools educate the children; and, if you can, let the
adult once more dominate in library practice. You will then have
a well-balanced whole, free from over-emphasis on the child's


A conception of the meaning and the possibilities of children's
work interpreted by means of present day social and industrial
conditions is given by Henry E. Legler, librarian of the Chicago
Public Library, in a paper on "Library work with children," read
at the Pasadena Conference of the A L. A. in 1911. Henry Eduard
Legler was born in Palermo, Italy, June 22, 1861. He was educated
in Switzerland and the United States. In 1889 he was a member of
the Wisconsin Assembly; from 1890 to 1894 secretary of the
Milwaukee School Board; from 1904 to 1909 secretary of the
Wisconsin Library Commission, and since 1909 has been librarian
of the Chicago Public Library. In 1912-1913 Mr. Legler was
President of the A. L. A.

Not long since a man of genius took a lump of formless clay, and
beneath the cunning of his hand there grew a great symbol of
life. He called it Earthbound. An old man is bowed beneath the
sorrow of the world. Under the weight of burdens that seemingly
they cannot escape, a younger man and his faithful mate stagger
with bent forms. Between them is a little child. Instead of a
body supple and straight and instinct with freedom and vigor, the
child's body yields to the weight of heredity and environment,
whose crushing influence press the shoulders down.

In this striking group the artist pictures for us the world-old
story of conditions which meet the young lives of one generation,
and are transmitted to the next. It is a picture that was true a
thousand years ago; it is a picture that is faithful of
conditions today. Perhaps its modern guise might be more aptly
and perhaps no less strikingly shown, as it recently appeared in
the form of a cartoon illustrating Mrs. Elizabeth Barrett
Browning's verse:

The Cry of the Children

Do ye hear the children weeping, O my brothers, Ere the
sorrow comes with years? They are leaning their young heads
against their mothers, And THAT cannot stop their tears.
The young lambs are bleating in the meadows, The young birds
are chirping in the nest, The young fawns are playing with the
shadows, The young flowers are blowing towards the west--
But the young, young children, O my brothers, They are
weeping bitterly! They are weeping in the playtime of the
others, In the country of the free.

Do you question the young children in the sorrow, Why their
tears are falling so? The old man may weep for his to-morrow
Which is lost in long ago; The old tree is leafless in the
forest, The old year is ending in the frost, The old wound,
if stricken, is the sorest, The old hope is hardest to be
lost; But the young, young children, O my brothers, Do you
ask them why they stand Weeping sore before the bosoms of their
mothers, In our happy Fatherland?

Go out, children, from the mine and from the city, Sing
out, children, as the little thrushes do. Pluck your handfuls of
the meadow cowslips pretty, Laugh aloud to feel your fingers
let them through!

Only in recent years has there grown into fulness a conception of
what the duty of society is towards the child. For near two
thousand years it was a world of grown-ups for grown-ups.
Children there have been--many millions of them--but they were
merely incidental to the scheme of things. Society regarded them
not as an asset, except perhaps for purposes of selfish
exploitation. If literature reflects contemporary life with
fidelity, we may well marvel that for so many hundreds of years
the boys and girls of their generation were so little regarded
that they are rarely mentioned in song or story. When they are,
we are afforded glimpses of a curious attitude of aloofness or of
harshness. Nowhere do we meet the artlessness of childhood. In a
footnote here, in a marginal gloss there, such references as
appear point to torture and cruelty, to distress and tears. In
the early legends of the Christians, in the pagan ballads of the
olden time, what there is of child life but illustrates the
brutal selfishness of the elders.

Certainly, no people understood as well as did the Jews that the
child is the prophecy of the future, and that a nation is kept
alive not by memory but by hope. Childhood to them was "the sign
of fulfillment of glorious promises; the burden of psalm and
prophecy was of a golden age to come, not of one that was in the
dim past." So in the greatest of all books we come frequently
upon phrases displaying this attitude:

"There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of
Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age.
And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls
playing in the streets thereof."

"They shall remember me in far countries; and they shall live
with their children."

And most significant of all: "Suffer the little children to come
unto me."

In the centuries intervening, up to a hundred years ago, the men
of pen and the men of brush give us a few touches now and then
suggestive of childhood. However, they are observers rather than
interpreters of childhood and its meaning. In the works of the
great master painters, the dominant note is that of maternity, or
the motive is devotional purely. Milton's great ode on the
Nativity bears no message other than this. In the graphic tale
that Chaucer tells about Hugh of Lincoln, race hatred is the
underlying sentiment, and the innocence of the unfortunate
widow's son appears merely to heighten the evil of his captors
and not as typical of boyhood.

Of the goodly company known collectively as the Elizabethan
writers, silence as to the element of childhood is profound. In
all the comedies and the tragedies of the greatest dramatist of
all, children play but minor parts. In none of them save in King
John, where historic necessity precludes the absence of the
princes in the Tower, they might be wholly omitted without
impairment of the structure. In the Merry Wives of Windsor,
Mistress Anne Page's son is briefly introduced, and is there made
the vehicle for conversation which in this age might be regarded
as gross suggestiveness.

True, that is a rarely tender passage in the Winter's Tale
wherein Hermione speaks with her beloved boy, and the pathos of
Arthur's plea as he asks Hubert to spare his eyes is of course a
masterpiece of literature; these, however, the sum total of the
great dramatist's significant references to childhood.

In the great works on canvas, save where the Christ-child is
depicted, may be noted that same absence of the spirit of
childhood. Wealthy and royal patrons, indeed, encouraged great
artists to add favorite sons and daughters to the array of
portraits in their family galleries. In time, the artists gave to
the progeny of the nobility and the aristocracy generally, such
creations as to them seemed appropriate to their years. These
poses are but the caricature of childhood. Morland,
Gainsborough, Sir Joshua Reynolds and other artists of their day
represented the children of their wealthy patrons in attitudes
which savor somewhat of burlesque, though it may have been
intended quite seriously to hedge them about with spontaneity.

It has been said that "a child's life finds its chief expression
in play, and that in play its social instincts are developed." If
this be true, we find in some contemporary canvases of this
English school a curious reproduction of the favorite pastimes of
children. One is called "bird-nesting," the title descriptive of
the favorite diversion thus depicted. Another bears the legend
"Snow-balling," and with no apparent disapproval save on the part
of the little victims, shows a group of larger children
ruthlessly snow-balling some smaller ones who have sought shelter
in the portico of a church. Some distance down the street the
form of an aged woman suggests another victim of youthful

A century and a half ago there was born, frail at first but with
constant growth, a perception that the great moving forces of
life contain elements hitherto disregarded. Rousseau sounded his
thesis, Pestalozzi began to teach, and but a little later on,
Froebel expounded his tenets. We need not be concerned as to the
controversial disputation of rival schools of pedagogues whose
claims for one ignore the merits of the other. A new thought came
into being, and both Pestalozzi and Froebel contributed to its
diffusion--whether in the form of Pestalozzi's ideal, "I must do
good to the child," or Froebel's, "I must do good through the
child," or perhaps a measurable merging of the two.

Responsive to the note of life and thought around them, the great
authors of prose and verse began to inject the new expression of
feeling into what they wrote. Perhaps best reflected, as indeed
it proved most potent in molding public opinion, this thought
entered into the novels of Charles Dickens. These, in the
development of child life as a social force, not only recorded
history; they made history, and the virile pencils of Leech and
Phiz and Cruikshank aided what became a movement.

For the first time in literature, with sympathetic insight, there
was laid bare the misery of childhood among the lowly and
unfortunate, and the pathos of unhappy childhood was pictured
with all its tragic consequences to society as a whole. In the
story of Poor Joe, the street-crossing sweeper, who was always
told to move on, we read the stories of thousands of the boys of
to-day. His brief tenantry of Tom-all-Alones shows us the
prototype of many thousands of living places in the slums of our
own time. Conditions which environ growing boys and girls --not
only thousands of men, but many millions--in the congested cities
of the Anglo-Saxon world, are well suggested by the names which
have been given in derision, or brutally descriptive as the case
may be, to such centers of human hiving as the Houses of Blazes
and Chicken-foot Alley, in Providence; Hell's Kitchen in New
York; the Bad Lands in Milwaukee; Tin Can Alley, Bubbly Creek and
Whiskey Row back of the stockyards in Chicago. In these regions
and in others like them darkness and filth hold forth together
where the macaroni are drying; broken pipes discharge sewage in
the basement living quarters where the bananas are ripening;
darkness and filth dwell together in the tenement cellars where
the garment-worker sews the buttons on for the sweat-shop
taskmaster; goats live amiably with human kids in the cob-webbed
basements where little hands are twisting stems for flowers; in
the unlovely stable lofts where dwell a dozen persons in a place
never intended for one; in windowless attics of tall tenements
where frail lives grow frailer day by day.

Lisabetta, Marianna, Fiametta, Teresina, They are winding
stems of roses, one by one, one by one-- Little children who
have never learned to play; Teresina softly crying that her
fingers ache today, Tiny Fiametta nodding when the twilight
slips in, gray.

High above the clattering street, ambulance and fire-gong beat;
They sit, curling crimson petals, one by one, one by one.
Lisabetta, Marianna, Fiametta, Teresina, They have never
seen a rosebush nor a dewdrop in the sun. They will dream of the
vendetta, Teresina, Fiametta,

Of a Black Hand and a Face behind a grating; They will
dream of cotton petals, endless, crimson, suffocating, Never of
a wild rose thicket, nor the singing of a cricket; But the
ambulance will bellow through the wanness of their dreams, And
their tired lids will flutter with the street's hysteric screams

Lisabetta, Marianna, Fiametta, Teresina, They are winding
stems of roses, one by one, one by one; Let them have a long,
long playtime, Lord of Toil, when toil is done; Fill their
baby hands with roses, joyous roses of the sun.

Reverting to Poor Tom, well may the words of Dickens in Bleak
House serve as a text for to-day: "There is not an atom of Tom's
shrine, not a cubic inch of any pestilential gas in which he
lives, nor an obscurity or degradation about him, nor an
ignorance, nor a wickedness, nor a brutality of his committing,
but shall work its retribution, through every order of society up
to the proudest of the proud and the highest of the high."

Whatever of permanence the ideal democracy which underlies our
institutions may achieve, it will not be the survival of
conditions such as these, but the fruition of their betterment.
Recognition of the sinister elements involved determines the
modern type of library work with children. That work rests upon a
knowledge of the background which has been pictured, upon the use
of methods that shall reach sanely and effectively the
contributing causes, upon correlation of all the social forces
that can be brought to bear unitedly.

Recognition of conditions and causation gives power to, and
justifies the modern trend of, library work with children as the
most important and far-reaching of all its great work. Of thirty
million men and women, and their children, who have come from
Over-seas in two generations, 83 per cent were dwellers along the
rim of the Mediterranean. Largely from that source have our towns
grown overnight into swarming cities. Their children of to-day
will be the men and women who in a generation will make or unmake
the Republic. Ignorance and greed, rather than necessity, breed
the chief menace in our national life. Alone as a detached social
force, the library cannot hope to combat these, but in
correlation with other forces may serve as one of the most potent
agencies. In the children's rooms and in kindred places, the
missionaries of the book take the disregarded bits of life about
them and weave them into a human element of power. The children's
rooms in the library and what they imply in the life of the
people, are of such recent origin and growth that the complete
force of their present-day work will not be fully apparent for a
quarter century. What they hope to do, the instruments they
purpose to use, are given succinctly in the pronouncement of one
of our most progressive libraries


To make good books available to all children of a community.

To train boys and girls to use with discrimination the adult

To reinforce and supplement the class work of the city schools
(public, private, parochial and "Sunday" schools).

To cooperate with institutions for civic and social betterment,
such as playgrounds, settlements, missions, boys' and girls'
clubs; and with commercial institutions employing boys and girls,
such as factories, postoffice special delivery division,
telegraph and telephone agencies and department stores.

And first and last to build character and develop literary taste
through the medium of books and the influence of the children's

Pursuing these purposes, endeavoring to meet these tests. library
work with children will make for better citizenship. It will take
account not only of the children of the poor, but of the children
of the well-to-do, who may need that influence even more. In the
cities, which now overshadow our national life, there are no
longer homes; there are flats, where the boys and girls are

"Our problem is not the bad boy, but rather the modern city,"
says Prof. Allen Hoben. "The normal boy has come honestly by his
love of adventure, his motor propensities and his gang instincts.
It is when you take this healthy biological product and set him
down in the midst of city restrictions that serious trouble
ensues. For the city has been built for economic convenience, and
with little thought for human welfare. Industrial aim is
evidenced to every sense. You smell industrialism in the far-
reaching odors of the stockyards. You hear it in the roar of the
elevated hard by the windows of the poor. You see it in a water
front that people cannot use, and you touch it in the fleck of
soot that is usually on your nose. The proof of industrial
aggression ceases to be humorous, however, when it shows itself
in the small living quarters of many a city flat where boys are
supposed to find the equivalent of the old-time house.
Constituted as he is, the boy cannot but be a nuisance in the
flat community. And because the flat dweller moves frequently, he
will be without those real neighbors of long standing whose
leniency formerly robbed the law of its victims. Furthermore, he
has no particular quarters of his own where he may satisfy his
sense of proprietorship and save up the numerous things he
collects with a view to using them in construction. The flat
dwellers will not permit the noise or litter incident to such
building as a boy likes; and he has little if any part in the
labor of conducting the house. He loses dignity as a helpful and
necessary member of the family, he loses that loyalty which
attaches to the old familiar places of boyhood experience and
strengthens many a man to-day, making him more kind and
consistent in his living by virtue of homestead memories."

So the boy is driven to the street as his domain. It is his
playground. And here he encounters the policeman. Of 717 children
arrested in one month in New York City, more than half were
arrested for playing games. Parenthetically, the fact may be
quoted that in this children's chief playground in a period of
ten months 67 children were killed and 196 injured.

Unerringly, these facts point to a union of social forces--the
children's library and the children's playground, a realization
of that clear comprehension which the ancient Greeks had of the
unity between the body and the mind. Quoting Plato: "If children
are trained to submit to laws in their plays' the love of law
enters their souls with the music accompanying their games, never
leaves them, and helps them in their development."

Having in thought physical recreation as a stimulus to mental
development, in combination bringing home the joyousness of life,
an ideal union of forces is being effected in some of the larger
cities. In some places, the movement has assumed but an initial
stage--a bit of tent shelter for distribution of books to
children gathered at the sand pile. In some instances co-
operation has joined the work of park breathing centers and
library organizations. This has reached completed form in the
placement of branch libraries as part of the park equipment,
either quarters within a general building, or a separate little
building adjacent to or on the athletic field.

But whether in place of high or low degree; whether in rented
store or memorial building of monumental type; whether in the
rooms of a school building or a corner in a factory; whether by
this method or by that, the children's librarian employs the
printed page to serve as instrument to these ends:

The building of character, making for the best in citizenship.

The enlargement of narrow lives, bringing the joy and savour and
beauty of life to the individual.

The opening of opportunity to all alike, which is the essence of

And in, the doing, an incidental and a great contribution is made
to society as a whole. For, as the story hour unfolds a new world
to the listener whose life has been bounded by a litter- covered
alley and three bare walls, or whose look into the outside world
has been perhaps a roof of tar and gravel and a yawning chasm
beyond, so the development of the imagination through the right
sort of books shall make possible the fullest development of the
individual boy and girl. In many a life there has been a supreme
moment when some circumstance, some stimulus has changed that
life for good or ill. For want of that stimulus, the dormant
power of many a man has gone to waste. Half the derelicts of
humanity who are but outcasts of the night had in them the making
of good men--perhaps some of them of great men, in science or in
art. There is no waste that is greater than lost opportunity;
there is no loss so great as undiscovered resource. Speaking of
imagination in work, Mr. Hamilton Wright Mabie points out that:

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