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Library Work with Children
Classics of American Librarianship
Edited by ARTHUR E. BOSTWICK, Ph.D.
LIBRARY WORK WITH CHILDREN
REPRINTS OF PAPERS AND ADDRESSES
SELECTED AND ANNOTATED BY
ALICE I. HAZELTINE
Supervisor of Children’s Public Library St. Louis, Mo.
This second volume in the series of Classics of American Librarianship is devoted to library work with children. As stated in the preface to the first volume, on “Library and school,” the papers chosen are primarily of historic rather than of present-day value, although many of them embody principles which govern the practice of today. They have been grouped under general headings in order to bring more closely together material relating to the same or to similar subjects. Several different phases of children’s work are thus represented, although no attempt has been made to make the collection comprehensive.
Book-selection for children has not been included except incidentally, since it is expected that this subject will be treated in another volume as part of the general subject of book-selection. In the same way, material on training for library work with children has been reserved for a volume on library training.
The present volume is an attempt to bring together in accessible form papers representing the growth and tendencies of forty years of library work with children. ALICE I. HAZELTINE.
HISTORY AND GENERAL DISCUSSION
Public Libraries and the Young. (U. S. Bureau of Education. Public Libraries in the United States, 1876, p. 412) WILLIAM ISAAC FLETCHER.
Boys’ and Girls’ Reading. (Library Journal, 1882, p. 182.) CAROLINE MARIA HEWINS.
Reading of the Young. (U.S. Bureau of Education Papers prepared for the World’s Library Congress held at the Columbian Exposition; ed. by M. Dewey, 1896, p. 944.) CAROLINE MARIA HEWINS.
How Library Work with Children Has Grown in Hartford and Connecticut. (Library Journal, 1914, p. 91.) CAROLINE MARIA HEWINS.
A Chapter in Children’s Libraries. (Library Journal, 1913, p. 20.)
ALICE M. JORDAN
The Children’s Library in New York. (Library Journal, 1887, p. 185.)
EMILY S. HANAWAY.
The Work for Children in Free Libraries. (Library Journal, 1897, p. 679.)
MARY WRIGHT PLUMMER.
The Growing Tendency to Over-Emphasize the Children’s Side. (Library Journal, 1908, p. 135.)
Library Work with Children. (A. L. A. Proceedings, 1911, p. 240.)
HENRY EDUARD LEGLER.
VALUES IN LIBRARY WORK WITH CHILDREN
Library Membership as a Civic Force. (A. L. A. Proceedings, 1908, P. 372.)
ANNIE CAROLL MOORE.
The Civic Value of Library Work with Children. (A. L. A. Proceedings, 1908, P. 380)
DR. GRAHAM TAYLOR.
Establishing Relations between the Children’s Library and Other Civic Agencies. (Library Journal, 1909, P. 195.) 131 CLARA WELLS HERBERT.
Values in Library Work with Children. (A. L. A. Proceedings, 1913, P. 275.)
CLARA WHITEHILL HUNT.
Values in Library Work with Children
ADMINISTRATION AND METHODS; REFERENCE WORK; DISCIPLINE
The Children’s Room and the Children’s Librarian. (Public Libraries, 1898, P. 417.)
LINDA ANNE EASTMAN.
Work with Children in the Small Library. (Library Journal, 1903, P. C53.)
CLARA WHITEHILL HUNT.
Personal Work with Children. (Public Libraries, 1900, P. 191.)
ROSINA CHARTER GYMER.
The Library and the Children: An Account of the Children’s Work in the Cleveland Public Library. (Library Journal, 1898, P. 142.)
LINDA ANNE EASTMAN.
Picture Bulletins in the Children’s Library. (Library Journal, 1902, P. 191.)
MARY E. S. ROOT AND ADELAIDE BOWES MALTBY.
How to Interest Mothers in Children’s Reading. (Public Libraries, 1915, P. 165.)
MAY GENEVIEVE QUIGLEY.
Reference Work among School Children. (Library Journal, 1895, P. 121.)
ABBY LADD SARGENT.
Reference Work with Children. (Library Journal, 1901, P. C74.)
HARRIET HOWARD STANLEY.
Instruction of School Children in the Use of Library Catalogs and Reference Books. (Public Libraries, 1899, P. 311.)
Elementary Library Instruction. (Public Libraries, 1912, P. 260.)
GILBERT O. WARD.
The Question of Discipline. (Library Journal, 1901, P. 735.) LUTIE EUGENIA STEARNS.
Maintaining Order in the Children’s Room. (Library Journal, 1903, P. 164)
CLARA WHITEHILL HUNT.
Problems of Discipline. (Wisconsin Library Bulletin, 1908, P. 65.)
MARY EMOGENE HAZELTINE AND HARRIET PRICE SAWYER.
SPECIAL METHODS AND TYPES OF WORK:
STORY-TELLING; READING CLUBS; HOME
LIBRARIES, PLAYGROUNDS, ETC.
The Story Hour. (Wisconsin Library Bulletin, 1905, P. 4.) EDNA LYMAN SCOTT.
Story-telling in Libraries. (Public Libraries, 1908, P. 349.) JOHN COTTON DANA.
Story-telling–A Public Library Method. (Child Conference for Research and Welfare, 1909, P. 225.) FRANCES JENKINS OLCOTT.
Story-telling as a Library Tool. (Child Conference for Research and Welfare, 1909, P. 39.)
ALICE A. BLANCHARD.
Report of the Committee on Story-Telling. (Playground, 1910, P. 160.)
ANNIE CARROLL MOORE.
Reading Clubs for Older Boys and Girls. (Child Conference for Research and Welfare, 1909, p. 13)
CAROLINE MARIA HEWINS.
Library Clubs for Boys and Girls. (Library Journal, 1911, p. 251.)
MARIE HAMMOND MILLIKEN.
Library Reading Clubs for Young People. (Library Journal, 1912, p 547.)
ANNA COGSWELL TYLER.
Home Libraries. (International Congress of Charities, Correction, and Philanthropy, 1893, Second Section, Report, p. 144.)
CHARLES WESLEY BIRTWELL
Home Libraries. (Library Journal, 1896, p. 60.) MARY SALOME FAIRCHILD.
Library Day at the Playgrounds. (Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Monthly Bulletin, 1901, p. 275.)
Library Work in Summer Playgrounds. (A. L. A. Proceedings, 1911, p. 246.)
GERTRUDE ELIZABETH ANDRUS.
The Selection of Books for Sunday School Libraries and Their Introduction to Children. (Library Journal, 1882, p. 250.)
SAMUEL SWETT GREEN.
The Children’s Museum in Brooklyn. (Library Journal, 1910, p. 149.)
MIRIAM S. DRAPER.
Work with Children at the Colored Branch of the Louisville Free Public Library. (Library Journal, 1910, p. 160.) RACHEL D. HARRIS.
The Foreign Child at a St. Louis Branch. (Library Journal, 191, p. 851)
JOSEPHINE MARY MCPIKE.
LIBRARY WORK WITH CHILDREN
HISTORY AND GENERAL DISCUSSION
The history of library work with children is yet to be written. From the bequest made to West Cambridge by Dr. Ebenezer Learned, of money to purchase “such books as will best promote useful knowledge and the Christian virtues” to the present day of organized work with children –of the training of children’s librarians, of cooperative evaluated lists of books, of methods of extension– the development has been gradual, yet with a constantly broadening point of view.
A number of libraries have claimed the honor of being the first to establish children’s work–a fact which in itself seems to show that the movement was general rather than sporadic. The library periodicals contain many interesting accounts of these beginnings, a number of which have been mentioned in the articles included in this volume.
Certain personalities stand out very clearly in the history of the early days, and many of the same ones are still closely associated with children’s work in its later developments. The Library Journal says editorially in 1914: “Probably the credit of the initiative work for children within a public library should remain with Mrs. Sanders of the Pawtucket Library, who made the small folk welcome a generation ago, when, in most public libraries, they were barred out by the rules and regulations and frowned away by the librarian.”
Three articles from Miss Caroline Hewins’s pen have been chosen for this collection, the last written thirty-two years later than the first. They not only give details of the history of children’s work, but reflect Miss Hewins’s personality and opinions.
A paper given by Miss Lutie E. Stearns at the Lake Placid Conference of the American Library Association in 1894 has been referred to as one of the most important contributions to the development of work with children. This paper was printed in the first volume of this series, “Library and school” (New York, 1914).
The leading editorial in The Library Journal for April, 1898, says: “Within the past year or two the phrase ‘the library and the child’–which was itself new not so long ago–has been changed about. It is now ‘the child and the library,’ and the transposition is suggestive of the increasing emphasis given to that phase of library work that deals with children, either by themselves or in connection with their schools.”
Mr. Henry E. Legler, in the last paper in this group, traces the growth of the “conception of what the duty of society is to the child”; claims that the children’s library should be one in a union of social forces, and asserts that it contributes to the building of character, the enlargement of narrow lives, the opening of opportunity to all alike.
Thus the modern viewpoint includes the ideals of democracy in addition to Dr. Learned’s emphasis on “knowledge” and “virtue” and probably points the way to the future development of library work with children.
PUBLIC LIBRARIES AND THE YOUNG
The special report on “Public Libraries in the United States of America,” published in 1876 by the U. S. Bureau of Education includes the following paper by Mr. W. I. Fletcher, in which he advocates the removal of age-restriction and emphasizes the importance of choosing only those books which “have something positively good about them.” This and the following eight papers give, in some measure, a history of library work with children.
William Isaac Fletcher was born in Burlington, Vermont, April 28, 1844. He was educated in the Winchester, Mass., schools, and received the honorary degree of A.M. from Amherst in 1884. He served as librarian of Amherst College from 1883 to 1911, when he was made librarian emeritus. Mr. Fletcher was joint editor of Poole’s Index to Periodical Literature, and editor of the continuation from 1882 to 1911; edited the A. L. A. Index to general literature in 1893 and 1901; the Cooperative Index to periodicals from 1883 to 1911, and in 1895 published his Public Libraries in America. He was president of the A. L. A. in 1891-1892.
What shall the public library do for the young, and how? is a question of acknowledged importance. The remarkable development of “juvenile literature” testifies to the growing importance of this portion of the community in the eyes of book producers, while the character of much of this literature, which is now almost thrust into the hands of youth, is such as to excite grave doubts as to its being of any service, intellectual or moral. In this state of things the public library is looked to by some with hope, by others with fear, according as its management is apparently such as to draw young readers away from merely frivolous reading, or to make such reading more accessible and encourage them in the use of it; hence the importance of a judicious administration of the library in this regard.
One of the first questions to be met in arranging a code of rules for the government of a public library relates to the age at which young persons shall be admitted to its privileges. There is no usage on this point which can be called common, but most libraries fix a certain age, as twelve or fourteen, below which candidates for admission are ineligible. Only a few of the most recently established libraries have adopted what seems to be the right solution of this question, by making no restriction whatever as to age. This course recommends itself as the wisest and the most consistent with the idea of the public library on many grounds.
In the first place, age is no criterion of mental condition and capacity. So varying is the date of the awakening of intellectual life, and the rapidity of its progress, that height of stature might almost as well be taken for its measure as length of years. In every community there are some young minds of peculiar gifts and precocious development, as fit to cope with the masterpieces of literature at ten years of age, as the average person of twenty, and more appreciative of them. From this class come the minds which rule the world of mind, and confer the greatest benefits on the race. How can the public library do more for the intellectual culture of the whole community than by setting forward in their careers those who will be the teachers and leaders of their generation? In how many of the lives of those who have been eminent in literature and science do we find a youth almost discouraged because deprived of the means of intellectual growth. The lack of appreciation of youthful demands for culture is one of the saddest chapters in the history of the world’s comprehending not the light which comes into it. Our public libraries will fail in an important part of their mission if they shut out from their treasures minds craving the best, and for the best purposes, because, forsooth, the child is too young to read good books.
Some will be found to advocate the exclusion of such searchers for knowledge on the ground that precocious tastes should be repressed in the interests of physical health. But a careful investigation of the facts in such cases can hardly fail to convince one that in them repression is the last thing that will bring about bodily health and vigor. There should doubtless be regulation, but nothing will be so likely to conduce to the health and physical well being of a person with strong mental cravings as the reasonable satisfaction of those cravings. Cases can be cited where children, having what seemed to be a premature development of mental qualities coupled with weak or even diseased bodily constitutions, have rapidly improved in health when circumstances have allowed the free exercise of their intellectual powers, and have finally attained a maturity vigorous alike in body and mind. This is in the nature of a digression, but it can do no harm to call attention thus to the facts which contradict the common notion that intellectual precocity should be discouraged. Nature is the best guide, and it is in accordance with all her workings, that when she has in hand the production of a giant of intellect, the young Hercules should astonish observers by feats of strength even in his cradle. Let not the public library, then, be found working against nature by establishing, as far as its influence goes, a dead level of intellectual attainments for all persons below a certain age.
But there is a much larger class of young persons who ought not to be excluded from the library, not because they have decided intellectual cravings and are mentally mature, but because they have capacities for the cultivation of good tastes, and because the cultivation of such tastes cannot be begun too early. There is no greater mistake in morals than that often covered by the saying, harmless enough literally, “Boys will be boys.” This saying is used perhaps oftener than for any other purpose to justify boys in doing things which are morally not fit for men to do, and is thus the expression of that great error that immoralities early in life are to be expected and should not be severely deprecated. The same misconception of the relations of youth to maturity and of nature’s great laws of growth and development is seen in that common idea that children need not be expected to have any literary tastes; that they may well be allowed to confine their reading to the frivolous, the merely amusing. That this view is an erroneous one thought and observation agree in showing. Much like the caution of the mother who would not allow her son to bathe in the river till he had learned to swim, is that of those who would have youth wait till a certain age, when they ought to have good tastes formed, before they can be admitted to companionship with the best influences for the cultivation of them. Who will presume to set the age at which a child may first be stirred with the beginnings of a healthy intellectual appetite on getting a taste of the strong meat of good literature? This point is one of the first importance. No after efforts can accomplish what is done with ease early in life in the way of forming habits either mental or moral, and if there is any truth in the idea that the public library is not merely a storehouse for the supply of the wants of the reading public, but also and especially an educational institution which shall create wants where they do not exist, then the library ought to bring its influences to bear on the young as early as possible.
And this is not a question of inducing young persons to read, but of directing their reading into right channels. For in these times there is little probability that exclusion from the public library will prevent their reading. Poor, indeed, in all manner of resources, must be the child who cannot now buy, beg, or borrow a fair supply of reading of some kind; so that exclusion from the library is likely to be a shutting up of the boy or girl to dime novels and story papers as the staple of reading. Complaints are often made that public libraries foster a taste for light reading, especially among the young. Those who make this complaint too often fail to perceive that the tastes indulged by those who are admitted to the use of the public library at the age of twelve or fourteen, are the tastes formed in the previous years of exclusion. A slight examination of facts, such as can be furnished by any librarian of experience in a circulating public library, will show how little force there is in this objection.
Nor should it be forgotten, in considering this question, that to very many young people youth is the time when they have more leisure for reading than any other portion of life is likely to furnish. At the age of twelve or fourteen, or even earlier, they are set at work to earn their living, and thereafter their opportunities for culture are but slight, nor are their circumstances such as to encourage them in such a work. We cannot begin too early to give them a bent towards culture which shall abide by them and raise them above the work-a-day world which will demand so large a share of their time and strength. The mechanic, the farmer, the man in any walk of life, who has early formed good habits of reading, is the one who will magnify his calling, and occupy the highest positions in it. And to the thousands of young people, in whose homes there is none of the atmosphere of culture or of the appliances for it, the public library ought to furnish the means of keeping pace intellectually with the more favored children of homes where good books abound and their subtle influence extends even to those who are too young to read and understand them. If it fails to do this it is hardly a fit adjunct to our school system, whose aim it is to give every man a chance to be the equal of every other man, if he can.
It is not claimed that the arguments used in support of an age limitation are of no force; but it is believed that they are founded on objections to the admission of the young to library privileges which are good only as against an indiscriminate and not properly regulated admission, and which are not applicable to the extension of the use of the library to the young under such conditions and restrictions as are required by their peculiar circumstances.
For example, the public library ought not to furnish young persons with a means of avoiding parental supervision of their reading. A regulation making the written consent of the parent a prerequisite to the registration of the name of a minor, and the continuance of such consent a condition of the continuance of the privilege, will take from parents all cause for complaint in this regard.
Neither should the library be allowed to stand between pupils in school and their studies, as it is often complained that it does. To remove this difficulty, the relations of the library to the school system should be such that teachers should be able to regulate the use of the library by those pupils whose studies are evidently interfered with by their miscellaneous reading. The use of the library would thus be a stimulus to endeavor on the part of pupils who would regard its loss as the probable result of lack of diligence in their studies.
Again, it must be understood that to the young, as to all others, the library is open only during good behavior. The common idea that children and youth are more likely than older persons to commit offenses against library discipline is not borne out by experience; but were it true, a strict enforcement of rules as to fines and penalties would protect the library against loss and injury, the fear of suspension from the use of the library as the result of carelessness in its use, operating more strongly than any other motive to prevent such carelessness.
If there are other objections to the indiscriminate admission of the young to the library, they can also be met by such regulations as readily suggest themselves, and should not be allowed to count as arguments against a judicious and proper extension of the benefits of the library to the young.
CHOICE OF BOOKS
But when the doors of the public library are thrown open to the young, and they are recognized as an important class of its patrons, the question comes up, What shall the library furnish to this class in order to meet its wants? If the object of the library is understood to be simply the supplying of the wants of the reading public, and the young are considered as a portion of that public, the question is very easily answered by saying, Give them what they call for that is not positively injurious in its tendency. But if we regard the public library as an educational means rather than a mere clubbing arrangement for the economical supply of reading, just as the gas company is for the supply of artificial light, it becomes of importance, especially with reference to the young, who are the most susceptible to educating influences, that they should receive from the library that which will do them good; and the managers of the library appear not as caterers to a master whose will is the rule as to what shall be furnished, but rather as the trainers of gymnasts who seek to provide that which will be of the greatest service to their men. No doubt both these elements enter into a true conception of the duty of library managers; but when we are regarding especially the young, the latter view comes nearer the truth than the other.
In the first place, among the special requirements of the young is this, that the library shall interest and be attractive to them. The attitude of some public libraries toward the young and the uncultivated seems to say to them, “We cannot encourage you in your low state of culture; you must come up to the level of appreciating what is really high toned in literature, or we cannot help you.” The public library being, however, largely if not mainly for the benefit of the uncultivated, must, to a large extent, come down to the level of this class and meet them on common ground. Every library ought to have a large list of good juvenile books, a statement which at once raises the question, What are good juvenile books? This is one of the vexed questions of the literary world, closely allied to the one which has so often been mooted in the press and the pulpit, as to the utility and propriety of novel reading. But while this question is one on which there are great differences of opinion, there are a few things which may be said on it without diffidence or the fear of successful contradiction. Of this kind is the remark that good juvenile books must have something positively good about them. They should be not merely amusing or entertaining and harmless, but instructive and stimulating to the better nature. Fortunately such books are not so rare as they have been. Some of the best minds are now being turned to the work of providing them. Within a few months such honored names in the world of letters as those of Hamerton and Higginson have been added to the list which contains those of “Peter Parley,” Jacob Abbott, “Walter Aimwell,” Elijah Kellogg, Thomas Hughes, and others who have devoted their talents, not to the amusement, but to the instruction and culture of youth. The names of some of the most popular writers for young people in our day are not ranked with those mentioned above, not because their productions are positively injurious, but because they lack the positively good qualities demanded by our definition.
There is a danger to youth in reading some books which are not open to the charge of directly injurious tendencies. Many of the most popular juveniles, while running over with excellent “morals,” are unwholesome mental food for the young, for the reason that they are essentially untrue. That is, they give false views of life, making it consist, if it be worth living, of a series of adventures, hair-breadth escapes; encounters with tyrannical schoolmasters and unnatural parents; sea voyages in which the green hand commands a ship and defeats a mutiny out of sheer smartness; rides on runaway locomotives, strokes of good luck, and a persistent turning up of things just when they are wanted –all of which is calculated in the long run to lead away the young imagination and impart discontent with the common lot of an uneventful life.
Books of adventure seem to meet a real want in the minds of the young, and should not be entirely ruled out; but they cannot be included among the books the reading of which should be encouraged or greatly extended. In the public library it will be found perhaps necessary not to exclude this class of juvenile books entirely. Such an exclusion is not here advocated, but it is rather urged that they should not form the staple of juvenile reading furnished by the library. The better books should be duplicated so as to be on hand when called for; these should be provided in such numbers merely that they can occasionally be had as the “seasoning” to a course of good reading.
But the young patrons of the library ought not to be encouraged in confining their reading to juveniles, of no matter how good quality. It is the one great evil of this era of juvenile books, good and bad, that by supplying mental food in the form fit for mere children, they postpone the attainment of a taste for the strong meat of real literature; and the public library ought to be influential in exalting this real literature and keeping it before the people, stemming with it the current of trash which is so eagerly welcomed because it is new or because it is interesting. When children were driven to read the same books as their elders or not to read at all, there were doubtless thousands, probably the majority of all, who chose the latter alternative, and read but very little in their younger years. This class is better off now than then by the greater inducements offered them to mental culture in the increased facilities provided for it. But there seems to be danger that the ease and smoothness of the royal road to knowledge now provided in the great array of easy books in all departments will not conduce to the formation of such mental growths as resulted from the pursuit of knowledge under difficulties. There is doubtless more knowledge; but is there as much power and muscle of mind?
However this may be, none can fail to recognize the importance of setting young people in the way of reading the best books early in life. And as the public library is likely to be the one place where the masters of literature can be found, it is essential that here they should be put by every available means in communication with and under the influence of these masters.
It only remains now to say that, as we have before intimated the public library should be viewed as an adjunct of the public school system, and to suggest that in one or two ways the school may work together with the library in directing the reading of the young. There is the matter of themes for the writing of compositions; by selecting subjects on which information can be had at the library, the teacher can send the pupil to the library as a student, and readily put him in communication with, and excite his interest in, classes of books to which he has been a stranger and indifferent. Again, in the study of the history of English literature, a study which, to the credit of our teachers be it said, is being rapidly extended, the pupils may be induced to take new interest, and gain greatly in point of real culture by being referred for illustrative matter to the public library.
BOYS’ AND GIRLS’ READING
This first of a series of yearly reports on “Reading for the young” was made by Miss Caroline M. Hewins at the Cincinnati Conference of the A. L. A. in 1882. It embodies answers from twenty-five librarians to the question, “What are you doing to encourage a love of good reading in boys and girls?”
Caroline Maria Hewins was born in Roxbury, Mass., October 10, 1846. She attended high school in Boston; received her library training in the Boston Athenaeum; taught in private schools for several years, and took a year’s special course in Boston University. In 1911 she received an honorary degree of M.A. from Trinity College, Hartford. She has been librarian in Hartford, Conn., for many years, from 1875 to 1892 in the Hartford Library Association, since that time in the Hartford Public Library. She has done editorial work for various magazines and has contributed many articles to the library periodicals. Her list of “Books for boys and girls,” of which the third edition was published in 1915, represents the result of many years’ thoughtful and appreciative study of children’s literature. Library work with children owes to Miss Hewins a debt of gratitude for her unusual contribution to the establishment of high standards, the development of a broad vision, and the maintenance of a wholesome, sympathetic, but not sentimental point of view.
About the first of March I sent cards to the librarians of twenty-five of the leading libraries of the country, asking, “What are you doing to encourage a love of good reading in boys and girls?” and soon after published a notice in the New York Evening Post and Nation, saying that statements from librarians and teachers concerning their work in the same direction would be gladly received The cards brought, in almost every case, full answers; the newspaper notice has produced few results.
The printed report of the Thomas Crane Public Library, Quincy, Mass., says: “The trustees have recently made a special effort to encourage the use of the library in connection with the course of teaching in the public schools. Under a rule adopted two years ago the teachers of certain grades of schools are in the practice of borrowing a number of those volumes they consider best adapted to the use of their scholars, and keeping them in constant circulation among them. During the year two lists of books for the use of the children in the public schools were printed under the direction of the trustees. One of these lists contained works in juvenile fiction; the other, biographies, histories, and books of a more instructive character. All the works included were selected by the trustees as being such as they would put in the hands of their own children. The lists thus prepared were then given to the teachers of the schools for gratuitous circulation among their scholars.”
Mr. Green, of the Worcester, Mass., Free Public Library, writes: “The close connection which exists between the library and the schools is doing much to elevate the character of the reading of the boys and girls. Many books are used for collateral reading, others to supplement the instruction of text-books in geography and history, others still in the employment of leisure hours in school. Boys and girls are led to read good books and come to the library for similar ones. Lists of good books are kept in the librarian’s room, and are much used by teachers and pupils.”
Mr. Upton, of the Peabody Library, Peabody, Mass., gives as his opinion: “If teachers did their duty, librarians would not be troubled as to good reading. My experience of about thirty- five or forty years as a public grammar-school teacher is, that teachers can control, to a great extent, the reading of their pupils, and also that, as a class, teachers are not GREAT readers. We should have little trouble in changing to some degree our circulation, but our thirteen-foot shelves and long ladders prevent the employment of the best help. We print bulletins and assist all who ask aid.”
Miss Bean, of the Public Library, Brookline, Mass., says: “I have no statistics of results relative to my school finding-list. Its influence is quietly but steadily making itself felt. The teachers tell me that many of the pupils use no other catalogue in selecting books from the library, and I know there are many families where the children are restricted to its use. We keep two or three interleaved and posted with the newest books when I think them desirable. Several of the teachers have told me personally that they had found the list useful to themselves; but teachers are mortal and human. Many of them think duty done when the day’s session is over, and the matter of outside reading with their pupils is of little moment to them. I want to get out a revised list, with useful notes.”
Mr. Rice, of the City Library, Springfield, Mass., writes: “We have a manuscript catalogue of the best and most popular books for boys and girls. We call attention to the best books as we have opportunity when the young people visit the library. We endeavor to influence the teachers in our public schools to aid us in directing the attention of boys and girls to the best juveniles, and such other books as they can appreciate.”
Mr. Arnold, of the Public Library, Taunton, Mass., says: “What I am doing is to indicate in the margin of my catalogues the works which are adapted to the taste and comprehension of young people, so that not only their own attention may be diverted from the fiction department, but that their parents and teachers may easily furnish them with proper lists. We aim at excluding from the library books of a sensational character, as well as those positively objectionable on the score of morality.”
Miss James, librarian of the Free Library, Newton, Mass., in speaking of the catalogue, without notes, of children’s books, published by that library in 1878, and given to the pupils of the public schools, says: “I do not think that catalogue ever influenced a dozen children. We have just completed a very full card-catalogue which the children use a great deal in connection with their studies. Eleven hundred zinc headings are a great help. I frequently speak to the children to get acquainted with them, so they are quite free to ask for help. Our local paper has offered me half a column a week for titles and notices. I shall, of course, notice children’s books as well as others.” Mr. Peirce, the superintendent, says in his last report: “It is only from homes where the intellectual and moral character of childhood is neglected, as a rule, that the library with us is in any wise abused by the over-crowding of the mind with novels. In many of even these cases kind and wise restraint can be, and is, exercised by the librarian.”
Mr. Cummings, curator of the Lower Hall card-catalogue of the Boston Public Library, and Miss Jenkins, assistant librarian in the same place, have kindly sent me the manuscripts of their forthcoming reports to the trustees. These reports are wholly on the methods and results of their personal intercourse with readers, and the increase in special reading during the last few years. Concerning boys and girls Mr. Cummings writes: “I must not forget the juvenile readers, school-boys and school- girls, and the children from the stores and offices about town. These latter are smart, bright, active little bodies, often more in earnest than their more fortunate fellows of the same age. They are an object of special solicitude and care. The school children come for points in reading for their compositions and for parallel reading with their lessons in school; and such books are suggested as may be found useful. The two most available faculties in children to work upon are the heart and the imagination. Get a hold on their affections by encouraging words and manifesting a readiness to help them, and you command their devotion and confidence. Give them interesting books (Optic and Alger, if needs be), and you fix their attention. Above all, let the book be interesting; for the attention is never fixed by, nor does the memory ever retain, what is laborious to read. But, once assured of their devotion, with their confidence secured and their attention fixed, there is nothing to prevent the work of direction succeeding admirably with them.”
Miss Jenkins says: “The use of the library by the young people is increasing every year. The change in the character of children’s books has been a great help to us, fairly crowding out many of the trashy stories so long the favorite reading. One of the first things that attracted my attention was their perseverance in seeking certain authors, and their continual exchange of books. I soon found their difficulties with the catalogue. They read only stories, and wanted those full of incident and excitement; when their favorite author failed, they sought for something else that sounded right in the catalogue, or sometimes wrote only the numbers without much reference to the titles, trusting, I suppose, to luck. Not liking the looks of the books they would return them. A steady recurrence of this made it a nuisance.
One of my first steps was to join one of the many groups around the room, and look over with them, suggest this author, or this, that, and the other book, until they were furnished with a list of books fairly suited to their age, and then, suggesting that the list should be kept for future reference, pass on to another group. This is now a general practice, and seems to suit the little folks; if, after several applications, they are unsuccessful, it is my custom to get them a book. My young people began to ask me to help their friends, also to help others themselves; so gradually the bright faces of my boy and girl friends have grown familiar, and as they gain confidence in me we strike out into other paths, and many bright, readable books, historical or containing bits of geography or elementary science, have been read. It so happened that many of my young friends grew quite confidential, and told me about their school and lessons. It was not very difficult to induce them to read some things bearing upon their studies; these books were shown to their teachers, and many were ready to cooperate at once; this led to an acquaintance with several, and the teachers’ plan of study became a basis of selection for reading in history, biography, travel, and natural science. From books suited to their capacity much effective work has been done. Several classes have studied English history, and their reading has been made supplementary from the topics. Later, when a list of notable persons was given to them, they showed the effect of their reading by giving very good short sketches of these persons. American history–colonial, revolutionary, administrations, civil war, reconstruction–has been treated similarly, and the teachers are much gratified at the result. We find that these boys do not fall back to trashy reading, but ask for better reading in place of their old favorites.
Several girls of the high school have sought assistance in their various studies, especially in Greek and Roman history, and have read, in connection with the histories recommended, novels and some interesting travels, and have spent much time over engravings and photographs illustrative of their reading. Two of these girls, having asked me for a novel, meaning something like their former reading, I made tests by giving them exactly what they asked for. Very soon both books were returned, with the remark, ‘I couldn’t read it.’ In a little talk that ensued, and in which I drew from them a criticism of their reading, it dawned upon them that they had developed, or grown, as they said. I could go on giving instances of this gradual development in individual cases, and of its influence upon others to whom these readers recommended what they had read, the increased call for the better books of fiction, biography, history, travel, miscellany, and science. In four years’ work books of sensational incident, so long popular, have lost much of their charm. They have been crowded out by better books and personal interests in the young people themselves.”
Mr. Foster of the Public Library, Providence, R. I., has sent an account in detail of his work among pupils and teachers, which may be thus condensed: Soon after the opening of the library, in 1878, he held a conference with the grammar-school masters of the city, and through them met the other teachers. He printed for the use of pupils a list of suggestions, some of the most important of which were summed up in the following words: “Begin by basing your reading on your school text-books;” “Learn the proper use of reference-books;” “Use imaginative literature, but not immoderately;” “Do not try to cover too much ground;” “Do not hesitate to ask for assistance and suggestions at the library;” “See that you make your reading a definite gain to you in some direction.”
Mr. Foster soon gained influence among the teachers by personally addressing them, and began to publish annotated lists of books for young readers. A reading hour was established in the public schools, and pupils learned to give in their own language the substance of books which they had read. Mr. Foster says: “Our plans were by no means limited to the public schools, but included Brown University, the Rhode Island State Normal School, the Commercial College, the private schools for girls, and the two private boys’ schools preparatory for college, one of which has ten teachers and some two hundred and fifty pupils. One morning I met the boys of this school in their chapel, and gave them a twenty minutes’ talk on reading, particularly on the question how to direct one’s current reading, as of newspapers, into some channel of permanent interest and value. Since my address before the teachers of the State (published in the papers and proceedings of the Rhode Island Institute of Instruction for 1880) we have had many calls for assistance from outside the city, from teachers in the high schools and grammar schools of other places. In 1878 I began the preparation of a bulletin of new books, issued quarterly by the State Board of Education, and there have been several instances of a series of references in connection with school-work. In July, 1880, I sent to the different teachers a series of suggestions about the reading of their pupils, covering such points as preserving a record of the books read, books not being read and returned at too frequent intervals, and the inspection of these matters by the teacher, or rather establishing communication between the teacher and pupil so that these things shall be talked over.” Finding-lists have been checked for the schools, appeals have been made by Mr. Foster in public addresses for supervision of children’s reading by teachers and parents, and duplicate copies of books have been placed in the library for school use. In conclusion, Mr. Foster adds: “There has been a gradual and steady advance in methods of cooperation and mutual understanding, so that now it is a perfectly understood thing, throughout the schools, among teachers and pupils, that the library stands ready to help them at almost every point.”
Mrs. Sanders, of the Free Public Library, Pawtucket, R. I., writes: “I am circulating by the thousand Rev. Washington Gladden’s ‘How and What to Read,’ published as a circular by the State Board of Education of Rhode Island. I am constantly encouraging the children to come to me for assistance, which they are very ready to do; and I find that after boys have had either a small or a full dose of Alger (we do not admit ‘Optic’), they are very ready to be promoted to something more substantial– Knox, Butterworth, Coffin, Sparks, or Abbott. I find more satisfaction in directing the minds of boys than girls, for though I may and generally do succeed in interesting them in the very best of fiction, it is much more difficult to draw them into other channels, unless it is poetry. I should like very much to know if this is the experience of other librarians. My aim is first to interest girls or boys according to their ability to enjoy or appreciate, and gradually to develop whatever taste is the most prominent. For instance, I put on the shelves all mechanical books for boys; works upon adornments for homes–painting, drawing, music, aids to little housekeepers, etc., for the girls.”
Mr. Fletcher, of the Watkinson Library, Hartford, Conn., says, in a recent address on the public library question in its moral and religious aspect: “Many of our public libraries beg the whole question, so far as it refers to the youngest readers, by excluding them from the use of books. A limit of fourteen or sixteen years is fixed, below which they are not admitted to the library as its patrons. But, in some of those more recently established, the wiser course has been adopted of fixing no such limitation. For, in these times, there is little probability that exclusion from the library will prevent their reading. Poor, indeed, in resources must be the child who cannot now buy, beg, or borrow a fair supply of reading of some kind; so that exclusion from the library is simply a shutting up of the boy or girl to the resources of the home and the book-shop or newspaper. A slight examination of the literature found in a majority of homes and most prominent in the shops is enough to show what this means, and to explain the fact, that the young persons first admitted to the public library at fourteen years of age come to it with a well-developed taste for trash and a good acquaintance with the names of authors in that department of literature, but with apparently little capacity left for culture in higher directions.”
Mr. Winchester, of the Russell Free Library, Middletown, Conn., said in his report, last January: “A departure from the ordinary rules governing the use of the library has been made in favor of the teachers in the city schools, allowing a teacher to take to the school, a number of books upon any topic which may be the subject of study for the class for the time, and to retain them beyond the time regularly allowed.” In a letter three months later he writes, “I cannot trace directly to this arrangement any change in the reading of young folks. We have taken a good deal of pains to get good books for the younger readers, and I make it a point to assist them whenever I can. I feel quite sure that, if trash is shut out of the library and withheld from young readers, and, if good and interesting books are offered to them, they will soon learn not to care for the trash.”
Mr. Bassett, of the Bronson Library, Waterbury, Conn., says in his printed report: “The librarian can do a little towards leading young book-borrowers towards the selection of proper books, but it does not amount to much unless his efforts are seconded by parents and teachers. It is of little use, I fear, to appeal to parents to look after their children’s reading. It is possible that they do not know that, in not a few cases, boys and girls from eight to sixteen years of age, even while attending school, draw from three to six volumes a week to read, and often come for two volumes a day. That they fail to realize the effects of so much reading on their children’s minds is evident when we hear them say, and with no little pride, too, ‘Our children are great readers; they read all the time.’ Such parents ought to know that instead of turning out to be prodigies of learning, these library gluttons are far more likely to become prodigious idiots, and that teachers find them, as a rule, the poorest scholars and the worst thinkers.” He adds an appeal to teachers: “Give out questions that demand research, and send out pupils to the library for information if necessary, and be assured that a true librarian enjoys nothing so much as a search, with an earnest seeker, after truths that are hidden away in his books. Do not hesitate even to ask questions that you cannot answer, and rely upon your pupils to answer them, and to give authorities, and do not be ashamed to learn of your pupils. Work with them as well as for them. But, whatever else you do, do not waste your time in urging your pupils to stop story-reading and to devote their time to good books. A parent can command this, you cannot; but you can make the use of good books, and the acquisition of knowledge not found in books, attractive and even necessary, and your ability to do this determines your real value as a teacher. Your work is to change your earth-loving moles into eagle-eyed and intelligent observers of all that is on, in, above, and under the earth.” Mr. Bassett writes that as a result of this appeal there was in November, December, January, and February, an increase of nineteen (19) per cent in the circulation of general literature, science, history, travel, and biography, and a decrease in juveniles of ten (10) per cent for January and February, 1882, as compared with the same months of 1881, For the first nineteen days of March the increase of the classes first-named was thirty-seven (37) per cent over last year, and the decrease in juvenile fiction twenty-seven (27) per cent. He ends his letter: “As a school officer and acting school visitor, I find that those teachers whose education is not limited to textbooks, and who are able to guide their pupils to full and accurate knowledge of subjects of study, are not only the best, but the only ones worth having.”
Mr. Rogers, of the Fletcher Free Library, Burlington, Vermont, says: “I have withdrawn permanently all of Alger, Fosdick, Thomes, and Oliver Optic. I have for some time past been making the teachers in the primary schools my assistants without pay. I give them packages of books to circulate among their respective schools. Very good results have been obtained. The Police Gazette and other vile weeklies have been discarded for books from the Fletcher Library. Most of the young folks are not old enough to draw at the library themselves, and this method has to be used, as in many instances the parents will not or cannot draw books for their children. Each teacher has a copy of Mr. Smart’s excellent book, ‘Reading for Young People.’ Such books as are in our collection are designated in their copies.”
The New York Free Circulating Library is quietly doing good by the establishment of carefully selected branch libraries in the poorest and most thickly settled parts of the city In the words of the last report: “The librarian has been constantly instructed to aid all readers in search of information, however trivial may be the subject, and, while the readers are to have free scope in their choice of books, librarians have attempted, when they properly could do so, free from seeming officiousness, to suggest books of the best character, and induce the cultivation of a good literary taste.” Miss Coe, the librarian, adds, “Boys will read the best books, if they can get them.”
Mr. Schwartz, of the Apprentices’ Library, New York, says: “We are always ready and willing to direct and advise in special cases, but have not as yet been able to come across any general plan that seemed to us to promise success. The term ‘good reading’ is relative, and must vary according to the taste of each reader, and it is just this variety of standards that seems to present an unsurmountable obstacle to any general and comprehensive system of suggestions.”
Miss Bullard, of the Seymour Library, Auburn, N. Y., reports a decrease in fiction from sixty-five (65) to fifty-eight (58) per cent in the last five years. She says: “I have endeavored, year by year, to gain the confidence of the younger portion of our subscribers in my ability to always furnish them with interesting reading, and have thus been able to turn them from the domain of fiction into the more useful fields of literature. Another noticeable and encouraging feature of the library is the increasing use made of it by pupils in the high school in connection with school-work.”
Mr. Larned, of the Young Men’s Library of Buffalo, N. Y., writes: “I think the little catalogue is doing a great deal of good among our young readers and among parents and teachers. We exert what personal influence we can in the library, but there are no other special measures that we employ.” The catalogue, a carefully chosen list of books for young readers, with stars placed against those specially recommended, includes, besides books mentioned in other letters, the Boy’s Froissart and King Arthur, Miss Tuckey’s Joan of Arc, Le Liefde’s Great Dutch Admirals, Eggleston’s Famous American Indians, Bryan’s History of the United States, Verne’s Exploration of the World, Du Chaillu’s books, What Mr. Darwin Saw, Science Primers, Faraday’s Chemical History of a Candle, Smiles’s Biographies, Clodd’s Childhood of the World, Viollet Le Duc’s Learning to Draw, Dana’s Household Book of Poetry, Uncle Remus, Sir Roger de Coverley, several pages on out and in door games, hunting and fishing, with plenty of myths and fairy tales, an annotated selection of historical novels, and a short list of good stories.
The Friends’ Free Library, Germantown, Pa., still excludes all fiction except a few carefully chosen stories for children. The report of the committee says: “Our example has been serviceable in stimulating some other library committees and communities to use more discrimination in their selection of books than may have been the case with them in the past. From our own precious children we would fain keep away the threatening contamination, if in our power to do so, the divine law of love to our neighbor thence instructs us to use the opportunity to put far away the evil from him also.” The representatives of the religious Society of Friends for Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, have published during the year a protest against demoralizing literature and art, taking the ground that the national standard of moral purity is lowered, and the sanctity of marriage weakened, by most of the books, pictures, and theatrical exhibitions of to-day.
The current report of the Cincinnati public schools gives a full account of the celebrations of authors’ birthdays in the last two years, and the superintendent, the Hon. John B. Peaslee, LL.D., in an address on moral and literary training in school, urges that the custom, so successfully begun, shall be kept up, and that children in all grades of schools shall be required to learn every week a few lines of good poetry, instead of choosing for themselves either verse or prose for declamation. Mr. Merrill asks in his last report for coooperation between the school and the library, and says in a letter: “I read a paper some time ago which was published in a teachers’ magazine, and have addressed our Cincinnati teachers. We purchased a number of the catalogues of the Young Men’s Library of Buffalo, and have written in our corresponding shelf numbers. A few of our teachers have also obtained these catalogues. I judge that the children are beginning to take out better books than formerly. The celebration of authors’ days in the schools has been very beneficial in making the children acquainted with some of the best literature in the libraries as well as with the use of books of reference.”
Miss Stevens, of the Public Library, Toledo, Ohio, says: “We are fond of children, and suggest to them books that they will like. Give a popular boy a good book, and there is not much rest for that book. Librarians should like children.”
Mr. Poole, of the Chicago Public Library, writes: “I have met the principals of the schools, and have addressed them on their duties in regulating the reading of their pupils, and advising their pupils as to what to read and how to read. My talk has awakened some interest in the teachers, and a committee has been appointed to consider what can be done about it.”
Mr. Carnes, of the Odd Fellows’ Library Association, San Francisco, fires this shot in his report: “Even the child knows that forbidden fruit is the sweetest on the branch. If you wish to compel a boy to read a given book, strictly forbid him even to take it from the shelves. The tabooed books will somehow be secured in spite of their withdrawal.”
Mr. Metcalf, of the Wells School, Boston, who told at the conference of 1879 of his work in encouraging a love for good, careful, and critical reading, writes: “My girls have bought Scott’s Talisman, and we have read it together. I have now sent in a request for forty copies of Ivanhoe. My second class have read, on the same plan, this year, Mrs. Whitney’s We Girls, and the third class have finished Towle’s Pizarro, and are now reading Leslie Goldthwaite. The City Council refused, last year, to appropriate the $1,000 asked for. When we have the means, all our grammar and high school masters will be able to order from the library such books as are suited to their classes. This plan introduces the children to a kind of reading somewhat better than would otherwise reach them, and, best of all, it gives them great facility in expression.”
Hartford, which has now no free circulating library, but hopes for one within two years, still keeps the old district system of schools, and several of these schools have a library fund. Mr. Barrows, principal of the Brown School, writes: “Our library contains the usual school reference-books. Recently we have added quite a number of books especially adapted to interest and instruct children, such as The Boy Travellers, Miss Yonge’s Histories, Butterworth’s Zigzag Journeys, Forbes’s Fairy Geography, etc. The children are not permitted to take these books away from the building. Pupils are invited to bring such additional facts in geography, or history, as they may obtain by reading. Topics are assigned. Should spices be the topic, one pupil would read up concerning cloves; another nutmeg, etc. Again, pupils are allowed to make their own selections, and invited to give, at a specified time, any facts in geography, history, natural science, manufactures, inventions, etc. For this extra work extra credits are given. Our object is to cause pupils to realize the conscious and abiding pleasure that comes by instructive reading; to encourage such as have not been readers to read, and to influence such as have been readers of trash to become readers of profitable books. The result, so far, is very encouraging. Many have become enthusiastic readers, and can give more facts and information thus obtained than we have time to hear. As the Christmas holidays approached, many signified a desire that their presents might be books, such as we have in our library; for they do not have time at school to exhaust the reading of these books, and consequently do not lose their interest.”
Within the last few months Mr. Northrop, Secretary of the Board of Education of Connecticut, has distributed in the high schools and upper classes of the grammar schools of the State, blanks to be filled by the pupils with the kind of reading that they like best, and the names of their favorite authors. Several hundred of these circulars were destroyed when the Hartford High School was burned last winter. The publication of a list of books suitable for boys and girls has been delayed, but Mr. Holbrook, of the Morgan School, Clinton, Conn., who prepared the list, writes concerning his work in school: “I have the practical disbursement of three or four hundred dollars a year for books. In the high school, in my walks at recess among the pupils, I inquire into their reading, try to arouse some enthusiasm, and then, when the iron is hot, I make the proposition that if they will promise to read nothing but what I give them I will make out a schedule for them. A pupil spending one hour, even less, a day, religiously observing the time, will, in five years, have read every book that should be read in the library. Those who agree to the above proposition I immediately start on the Epochs of History, turning aside at proper times to read some historical novel. When that is done I give them Motley, then Dickens, or Prescott, or Macaulay, Hawthorne, Thackeray, Don Quixote. Cooper I depend on as a lure for younger readers. When they have read about enough (in my opinion), I invite them to go a little higher. Whenever they come to the office and look helplessly about, I immediately jump up from my work, and, solving the personal equation, pick out two or three books which I think adapted first to interest, and then instruct. I try to welcome their appearance, assuring them that the books are to be read, urging the older ones to read carefully and with thought. Some I benefit; others are too firmly wedded to their idols, Mrs. Holmes and Southworth. Finally, it is my aim to send them away from school with their eyes opened to the fact that they have, the majority, been reading to no purpose; that there are better, higher, and nobler books than they ever dreamed of. Of course I don’t always accomplish this; but he who aims at the sun will go higher than one aiming at the top of the barn.”
A commission of sixteen ladies was appointed last year, by the Connecticut Congregational Club, to select and print a catalogue of books for Sunday Schools. During the year it has examined one hundred and eighty-four, almost all reprints of well-known books, and has selected one hundred. At least one annotated Sunday-School catalogue was prepared before the appointment of the commission, directing the attention of children to such books as Tom Brown’s School Days and Higginson’s Young Folks’ Book of American Explorers, and of older readers to Stanley’s Jewish Church, Martineau’s Household Education, Robertson’s Sermons, Sister Dora, Hypatia, Charles Kingsley’s Life, and Atkinson’s Right Use of Books.
The conclusions to which these opinions, from libraries and schools in ten different States, lead us, are these: 1. The number of fathers and mothers who directly supervise their children’s reading, limiting their number of library books to those which they themselves have read, and requiring a verbal or written account of each before another is taken, is small.
2. The number of teachers who read and appreciate the best books, or take pains to search in libraries for those which illustrate lessons, or are good outside reading for the pupils, is also small.
3. The high schools, normal schools, and colleges are every year sending out young men and women with little knowledge of books except text-books and poor novels.
4. In towns and cities with free libraries, much may be and has been done by establishing direct communication between libraries and schools, making schools branch libraries.
5. This can be done only by insisting that teachers in such towns and cities shall know something of literature, and by refusing to grant certificates to teachers who, in the course of an hour’s talk, do not show themselves well enough informed to guide children to a love of good books. The classes now reading under Mr. Metcalf’s direction in Boston, or celebrating authors’ days and the founding of their own state in Cincinnati, will be, in a few years, the teachers, the fathers, or the mothers of a new generation, and the result of their reading may be expected to appear in the awakened intelligence of their pupils and children.
6. Daily newspapers may be used with advantage in schools to encourage children to read on current events and to verify references.
7. Direct personal intercourse of librarians and assistants with children is the surest way of gaining influence over them. Miss Stevens, of Toledo, has put the secret of the whole matter, so far as we are concerned, into four words: “Librarians should like children.” It may be added that a librarian or assistant in charge of circulation should never be too busy to talk with children and find out what they need. Bibliography and learning of all kinds have their places in a library; but the counter where children go needs no abstracted scholar, absorbed in first editions or black-letter, but a winsome friend, to meet them more than halfway, patiently answer their questions, “and by slow degrees subdue them to the useful and the good.”
READING OF THE YOUNG
Miss Hewins made a later report on the same subject [see the previous article] in a paper presented before the World’s Library Congress in 1893. In this paper, given below, she has summarized several of the early yearly reports made at the meetings of the A. L. A., all of which are of great interest as a record of the work of various libraries.
In the Government report on libraries, 1876, the relation of public libraries and the young was treated by Mr. W. I. Fletcher, who discussed age-restrictions, direction of reading, choice of books, and incidentally the relation of libraries to schools, referring to librarians and trustees as “the trainers of gymnasts who seek to provide that which will be of greatest service to their men.” The report was suggestive, and called for several radical changes in the usual management of libraries. No statistics were given, for none had been called for, and the number of libraries which were working in the modern spirit was not large. Mr. Green, in his paper at the Philadelphia conference of 1876 (L. j. 1: 74), gave some suggestions as to how to teach school boys and girls the use of books, and in one or two of the discussions the influence of a librarian on young readers was noticed, but the American Library Association did not give much time to the subject till the Boston conference of 1879, when a whole session was devoted to schools, libraries, and fiction (L. j. 4:319), the general expression of opinion being similar to the formula expressed in the paper by Miss Mary A. Bean, “Lessen the quantity and improve the quality.” In 1881, Mr. J. N. Larned, of the Buffalo Young Men’s Library, issued his pamphlet, “Books for young readers.” The report on “Boys’ and girls’ reading” which I had the honor of making at the Cincinnati conference of 1882 has answers from some 25 librarians to the question “What are you doing to encourage a love of good reading in boys and girls?” (L. j. 7:182.) Several speak of special catalogs or bulletins, most of personal interest in and friendship with young readers. One writes, “Give a popular boy a good book, and there is not much rest for that book. Librarians should like children.” It was in 1883 that, by the suggestion and advice of our lamented friend, Frederick Leypoldt, I published a little classified pamphlet, “Books for the young.” In January of the same year the Library Journal began a department of “Literature for the young,” which was transferred at the end of the year to the Publishers’ Weekly, where it still remains. The report on the subject, made for the Buffalo conference by Miss Bean, is on the same lines as the former one, with the addition of the experience of some smaller libraries. She says, “I believe the Lynn library has hit a fundamental truth, and applied the sovereign remedy, so far as the question concerns public libraries, in its ‘one-book-a-week’ rule for pupils of the schools.”
Miss Hannah P. James’s report at the Lake George conference in 1885 (L. j. 10:278) sums up the information received from 75 sources in some suggestions for work in connection with school and home, suggesting the publication of book lists in local papers, supervision of children’s reading if authority is given by parents, and the limitation of school children’s book to one or two a week. At the St. Louis conference of 1889 Miss Mary Sargent reported on “Reading for the young” (L. j. 14:226), One librarian fears that lists of books prepared for boys and girls will soon become lists to be avoided by them, on account of young people’s jealous suspicion of undue influence. Sargent’s “Reading for the young” was published just after the White Mountain conference of 1890, and the subject was not discussed in San Francisco in 1891 or at Lakewood in 1892 except in relation to schools.
The Ladies’ Commission on Sunday school books is at least five years older than the American Library Association. It has done good service in printing lists of books specially adapted to Unitarian Sunday schools, others unfitted for them only by a few doctrinal pages or sentences, and a third class recommended as household friends on account of their interests, literary value, and good tone. The Church Library Association stands in the same relation to Episcopal Sunday schools, recommending in yearly pamphlets:
1. Books bearing directly on church life, history, and doctrine.
2. Books recommended, but not distinctly church books.
The Connecticut Ladies’ Commission has, at the request of the Connecticut Congregational Club, published since 1881 several carefully chosen and annotated lists.
The National Young Folks’ Reading Circle, the Chautauqua Young Folks’ Reading Union, and the Columbian Reading Union, the latter a Catholic society, the others undenominational, have published good lists for young readers. The Catholic Church also recommends many recent stories for children which have no reference to doctrines or differences in belief.
One hundred and fifty-two out of 160 libraries have answered the following questions:
1. Are your children’s books kept by themselves?
2. Are they classified, and how?
3. Have they a separate card catalog or printed finding list?
4. Are they covered?
5. Do you enforce rules with regard to clean hands?
6. Have you an age limit, and if so, what is it?
7. Do you allow more than one book a week on a child’s card?
8. Are children’s cards different in color from others?
9. What authors are most read by children who take books from your library?
10. What methods have you of directing their reading? Have you a special assistant for them, or are they encouraged to consult the librarian and all the assistants?
11. Have you a children’s reading room?
Seventy-seven reply to the first question that their children’s books are kept by themselves, 22 that stories or other books are separate from the rest of the library, and 53 that there is no juvenile division.
Three answer simply “Yes” to the second question, 24 have adopted the Dewey system, in two or three cases with the Cutter author marks, 4 the Cutter, and 1 the Linderfelt system; 10 arrange by authors, 18 by subjects, 4 by authors and subjects, 42 report methods of their own or classification like the rest of the library, and 46 do not classify children’s books at all.
In answer to the third question, 6 libraries report both a separate card catalog and finding list, 43 a finding list for sale or distribution, 15 a card catalog for children, and 88 no separate list. Of the printed finding lists 4 are Sargent’s, 1 Larned’s, 2 Hardy’s, and 2 Miss James’s.
The fourth question relates to covering books for children. Eighty-five libraries do not cover them, 30 cover some, either those with light bindings or others that have become soiled and worn, 35 cover all, and 2 do not report.
In reply to the fifth question, 45 libraries require that children’s hands shall be clean before they can take books from the library, or at least when they use books or periodicals in the building, and 50 have no such rules. Others try various methods of moral suasion, including in one instance a janitor who directs the unwashed to a lavatory, and in another a fine of a few cents for a second offense.
The sixth question, whether there is an age limit or not, brings various replies. Thirty-six libraries have none, five base it on ability to read or write, one fixes it at 6, one at 7, and one at 8. Ten libraries allow a child a card in his own name at 10, two at 11, forty-seven at 12, six at 13, thirty-three at 14, four at 15, and six at 16. They qualify their statements in many cases by adding that children may use the cards of older persons, or may have them if they bring a written guarantee from their parents or are in certain classes in the public schools.
Question 7 deals with the number of books a week allowed to children. Ninety-five libraries allow them to change a book every day; one (subscription) gives them a dozen a day if they wish. Fifteen limit them to two, and 3 to three a week, and 16 to only one. Several librarians in libraries where children are allowed a book a day express their disapproval of the custom, and one has entered into an engagement with her young readers to take 1 book in every 4 from some other class than fiction. Others do not answer definitely. A few libraries issuing two cards, or two-book cards, allow children the use of two books a week, if one is not a novel or story.
Question 8 is a less important one, whether children’s cards are of a different color from others. There is no difference between the cards of adults and children in 124 libraries, except in case of school cards in 2. In 4 the color of cards for home use varies, and 4 report other distinctions, like punches or different charging slips. Eight do not charge on cards and 12 do not answer.
With regard to question 9, “What authors are most read by children who take books from your library?” the lists vary so much in length that it is impossible to give a fair idea of them in in few sentences. Some libraries mention only two or three authors, others ten times as many. Miss Alcott’s name is in more lists than any other. Where only two or three authors are given, they are usually of the Alger, Castlemon, Finley, Optic grade. These four do not appear in the reports from 35 libraries, where Alden, Ballantyne, Mrs. Burnett, Susan Coolidge, Ellis, Henty, Kellogg, Lucy Lillie, Munroe, Otis, Stoddard, and various fairy tales fill their places. Seven are allowing Alger, Castlemon, Finley, and Optic to wear out without being replaced, and soon find that books of a higher type are just as interesting to young readers.
Question 10 asks what methods are used in directing children’s reading, and if a special assistant is at their service, or if they are encouraged to consult the librarian and all the assistants. Many librarians overconscientiously say, “No methods,” but at the same time acknowledge the personal supervision and friendly interest that were meant in the query. Only nine do not report something of this kind. Six have, or are about to have, a special assistant, or have already opened a bureau of information. Five say that they pay special attention to selecting the best books, 4 of the larger libraries have open shelves, and 2 are careful in the choice and supervision of assistants.
In answer to question 11, 5 report special reading rooms, present or prospective, for children; 3 more wish that they had them, while others believe that the use of a room in common with older readers teaches them to be courteous and considerate to others. Most reading rooms are open to children, who sometimes have a table of their own, but in a few cases those under are excluded.
My own opinion on the subjects treated in the questions are:
1. It is easier for a librarian or assistant to find a book for a child if whatever is adapted to his intelligence on a certain subject is kept by itself, and not with other books which may be dry, out of date, or written for a trained student of mature mind.
2. It is easier to help a child work up a subject if the books which he can use are divided into classes, not all alphabeted under authors.
3. A separate card catalog for children often relieves a crowd at the other cases. A printed dictionary catalog without notes does not help a child.
A public library can make no better investment than in printing a classified list for children, with short notes on stories illustrating history or life in different countries, and references to interesting books written for older readers. Such a list should be sold for 5 cents, much less than cost.
4. The money spent in paying for the paper and time used in covering books is just as well employed in binding, and the attractive covers are pleasant to look at.
5. The books can be kept reasonably clean if children are made to understand that they must not be taken away, returned, or if possible, read with unwashed hands. City children soon begin to understand this if they are spoken to pleasantly and sent away without a book till they come back in a fit state to handle it.
6. As soon as a child can read and write he should be allowed to use books. A proper guarantee from parent or teacher should, of course, be required.
7. A child in school cannot read more than one story book a week without neglecting his work. If he needs another book in connection with his studies he should take it on a school teacher’s, or nonfiction card.
8. It is best, if a child has only one book a week, for his card to be of a different color from others, that it may be more easily distinguished at the charging desk.
9. It has been proved by actual experiment that children will read books which are good in a literary sense if they are interesting. New libraries have the advantage over old ones, that they are not obliged to struggle against a demand for the boys’ series that were supplied in large quantities fifteen or twenty years ago.
10. As soon as children learn that in a library there are books and people to help them on any subject, from the care of a sick rabbit to a costume for the Landing of the Pilgrims, they begin to ask advice about their reading. It is a good thing if some of the library assistants are elder sisters in large families who have tumbled about among books, and if some of the questions asked of applicants for library positions relate to what they would give boys or girls to read. If an assistant in a large library shows a special fitness for work with children, it is best to give it into her charge. If all the assistants like it, let them have their share of it.
11. The question of a children’s reading room depends on the size of the room for older readers, and how much it is used by them in the afternoons. Conditions vary so much in libraries that it is impossible for one to make a rule for another in this case.
HOW LIBRARY WORK WITH CHILDREN HAS GROWN IN HARTFORD AND CONNECTICUT
The Library Journal for February, 1914, says: “One of the pleasantest features of ‘Library week’ at Lake George in 1913 was the welcome given to Miss Hewins, that typical New England woman, whose sympathy with children and child life has made this relation of her public library work a type and model for all who have to do with children…. Miss Hewins’s paper was really a delightful bit of literary autobiography, and she has now happily acceded to a request from the Journal to fill out the outlines into a more complete record.”
Not long ago I went into the public library of a university town in England and established confidence by saying, “I see that Chivers does your binding,” whereupon the librarian invited me inside the railing. A boy ten or twelve years old was standing in a Napoleonic attitude, with his feet very far apart, before the fiction shelves, where the books were alphabetized under authors, but with apparently nothing to show him whether a story was a problem-novel or a tale for children. My thoughts went back many years to the days when I first became the librarian of a subscription library in Hartford, where novels and children’s stories were roughly arranged under the first letter of the title, and not by authors. There was a printed catalog, but without anything to indicate in what series or where in order of the series a story-book belonged, and it was impossible when a child had read one to find out what the next was except from the last page of the book itself or the advertisements in the back and they had often been torn out for convenient reference.
My technical equipment was some volunteer work in a town library, a little experience in buying for a Sunday-school library, and about a year in the Boston Athenaeum. The preparation that I had had for meeting children and young people in the library was, besides some years of teaching, a working knowledge of the books that had been read and re-read in a large family for twenty-five years, from Miss Edgeworth and Jacob Abbott, an old copy of “Aesop’s fables,” Andersen, Grimm, Hawthorne, “The Arabian nights,” Mayne Reid’s earlier innocent even if unscientific stories, down through “Tom Brown,” “Alice in Wonderland,” Our Young Folks, the Riverside Magazine, “Little women,” to Scott, Dickens, Thackeray, George Eliot, Charlotte Bronte and Mrs. Gaskell. These books were in the Hartford Young Men’s Institute, but they were little read in comparison with the works of the “immortal four,” who were then writing series at the rate of two or more volumes a year–Optic, Alger, Castlemon and Martha Finley–and still refuse to be forgotten. The older girls demanded Ouida, a new name to me, but I read some of her novels before I had been in the library many weeks, and remember writing a letter to a daily paper giving an outline of the plot of one of them as a hint to fathers and mothers of what their schoolgirl daughters were reading. I think that there was something about boys, too, in the letter, and a plea for “Ivanhoe” and other books of knightly adventure.
The Young Men’s Institute Library in Hartford was a survival from the days of subscription libraries and lecture courses. The city had then a population of about fifty thousand, of whom some five or six hundred were subscribers to the library, paying three dollars for the use of one book at a time or five dollars for two, including admission to the periodical room. Hartford had a large number of Irish inhabitants, some Germans, a few of whom were intelligent and prosperous Jews, a few French Canadians, possibly still fewer Scandinavians. It was several years before the first persecution of the Russian and Polish Jews sent them to this country. In the year when I came, 1875, there were forty-six boys and girls in the high school graduating class, all, from their names and what I know of some of them, apparently of English descent, except one whose name is Scotch.
The class which was graduated last June had about 650 members on entering, and 250 at the end of its course. Among the names are Italian, Hebrew, Swedish, Irish, German, Danish, Spanish, Bohemian, Armenian–the largest percentage from families not of English descent being Hebrew.
It is fair to say that at least half of the boys and girls of the earlier graduating class, or their families, had library subscriptions, but little use of the library was recommended even by the high school teachers, and none by the teachers of the graded schools. How could there be? Five dollars is a large sum in most families, and children at that time had to read what they could get at home or from the Sunday-school libraries, which were no better nor worse than others of the period.
The first effort that I remember making for a better choice of books was showing the library president some volumes by Thomes, a writer for the older boys, whose stories were full of profanity and brutal vulgarity. There was no question about discarding them and some of Mayne Reid’s books like “The scalp hunters” and “Lost Lenore,” which are much of the same type, very different from his earlier stories, and in a short time we did not renew books by some other authors, but let them die out, replacing them if possible by stories a little better, giving preference to those complete in themselves.
Within a short time, in 1878, we began to publish a quarterly bulletin. In the first number “Library notes” begins: “Much time and thought have been given to suggesting in this bulletin good books for boys and girls. As a rule, they read too much. Our accounts show that one boy has taken 102 story-books in six months, and one girl 112 novels in the same time. One book a week is certainly enough, with school studies. Within the last month one boy has asked us for Jack Harkaway’s stories, another for bound volumes of the Police News, and a third for ‘The murderer and the fortune teller,’ ‘The two sisters and the avenger’ and ‘The model town and the detective.’ These are not in the library and will not be. The demand for girls for the New York Weekly novels is not small. We shall gladly cooperate with fathers and mothers in the choice of children’s books.”
Of what we now call nature-books there were very few written or well illustrated for children, though the library had John Burroughs, Harris’s “Insects injurious to vegetation” and Samuels’s “Birds of New England and the adjacent states.” There was little interest in out-of-door study, and I have never forgotten the contempt on the face of one boy when instead of Mayne Reid’s “Boy hunters,” which was out, he was offered “The butter- fly hunters,” or the scorn with which he repeated the title. All that is changed, thanks to the influence of schools and teachers, and children are no longer ignorant of common birds and insects. St. Nicholas helped in opening their eyes, when a librarian, Harlan H. Ballard, of Pittsfield, organized the Agassiz Association with a monthly report in the magazine. We had a chapter, Hartford B., that met for years out of doors on Saturday mornings through the spring, early summer and autumn, and even through one winter when some specimens of the redheaded woodpecker were on the edge of the city. Usually our winter meetings were in the library, and we often had readings from Burroughs, Thoreau, Frank Buckland and others of the earlier nature-lovers. The children came from families of more than usual intelligence, and some of them who now have well-grown children of their own often refer with pleasure to our walks and talks.
I had taught for three years in a school where the children and I were taken out of doors every week in spring and autumn by an ornithologist and an entomologist. At this time we were beginning to buy more books on out-of-door subjects, and I had learned enough in my teaching to be able to evaluate them in a bulletin.
The years went on, with once in a while an encouraging report about a boy who had made experiments from works on chemistry or beguiled a fortnight’s illness with Wordsworth’s “Greece,” or Guhl and Koner’s “Life of the Greeks and Romans,” or had gone on from Alger and Optic to Cooper, Lossing, Help’s “Life of Columbus” and Barber’s “History of New England.” Both boys and girls were beginning to apologize for taking poor stories.
In one of our bulletins, January, 1881, is an acknowledgment of Christmas material received from the advance sheets of Poole’s Index, then in preparation in the Watkinson Library, on the other side of the building. Imagine life in a library without it, you who have the Readers’ Guide and all the debates and Granger’s Index to Poetry and the Portrait Index! Nevertheless, we were not entirely without printed aids, for we had the Brooklyn catalog, the Providence bulletins, and the lists of children’s books prepared by the Buffalo and Quincy libraries.
In 1882, at the request of Frederick Leypoldt, editor of the Publishers’ Weekly, I compiled a list of “Books for the young,” some of which are of permanent value. In a second edition, in 1884, I reprinted from our bulletin a list of English and American history for children, between twelve and fifteen, based on my own experience with boys and girls. I can laugh at it now, after years of meeting child-readers, seventy-five per cent of whom have no books at home, and can also find food for mirth in my belief that a list of books recommended for vacation reading in another bulletin would attract most boys and girls under sixteen.
One school, under a wise and far-seeing principal, who is now an authority on United States history and the author of several school books on the subject, had in 1884 an arrangement with us for a supply of historical stories for reading, and we printed a list of these and of other books on American history which would be interesting if read by or to the older pupils in the grammar grades.
Sets of fifty copies each of books for supplementary reading in school were bought by the library in 1894, and apportioned by the school principals at their monthly meetings. Several new sets were bought every year till 1905, when the collection numbered about three thousand, and was outgrowing the space that we could spare for it. The schools then provided a place for the school duplicates, and relieved the library of the care of them. Since 1899 the graded schools have received on request libraries of fifty books to a room, from the third grade to the ninth, to be kept until the summer vacation, when they are returned for repairs and renewal. The number circulated during the school year has grown from 6,384 in 1899-1900 to 17,270 in 1912-13. The children’s applications are sent to the main library, and no child may have a card there and in a school branch at the same time.
There were rumors for several years that the library would be made free, and when it was at last announced in 1888 that $250,000 had been given by the late J. Pierpont Morgan, his father and two families related to them, on condition that $150,000 more should be raised by private subscription to remodel the Wadsworth Athenaeum, which then housed three libraries and a picture- gallery, and to provide for its maintenance, the rumor bade fair to come true. That the money came in, is largely due to the personal efforts of Charles Hopkins Clark, editor-in-chief of the Hartford Courant, for many years treasurer of the Athenaeum, the Watkinson Library and the Hartford Public Library, and the sum required was promised in 1890. Later the library offered the free use of its books, and also the income of about $50,000 to the city, on condition of keeping its form of government by a self-perpetuating corporation.
The first step towards the enlarged use of the library was to separate the children’s books and classify them. We had had a fixed location up to that time, and I had not yet broken loose from it, but I numbered them according to the best light I had, though in a very short time I saw that with the increased number of duplicates we had to buy, only a movable location was of the least practical use. It was several years before the Dewey classification was finally adopted for the children, although we classified our grown-up books by it before we opened to the public.
When the library became free, in 1892, the annual circulation of children’s books rose at once to 50,000, 25 per cent of the whole, and as large as the largest total in the subscription days. We immediately had to buy a large supply of new books, carefully chosen, and printed a too fully annotated list, which we found useful for some years and discarded when we were able to open the shelves. We had only a corner for children’s books, almost none for children under ten, and no admission to the shelves. We struggled on as well as we could for the next few years.
A dialogue between a reader and the librarian in 1897 shows what we were trying to do at this time. It is really true, and illustrates the lack of knowledge in one of the most intelligent women in the city of the many points of contact between the library and the boys and girls of the city.
Reader: “There ought to be somebody in the library to tell people, especially children, what to read.”
Librarian: “Have you ever seen the children’s printed list, with notes on books connected with school work, and others written for older readers but interesting to children, hints on how and what to read, and a letter R against the best books?”
Reader: “No, I never heard of it.”
Librarian: “It was ready the day after the library opened, was sold for five cents, and the first edition of a thousand copies was exhausted so soon that a second had to be printed. Have you ever heard of the lists of interesting books in connection with Greek, Roman and English history given to high school pupils’ or the records kept for years by the North School children of books which they have read, and sent to the librarian to be commented on and criticised in an hour’s friendly talk in the school room, or the letters written on the use of the library by pupils in the other schools?”
Librarian: “Have you ever seen the lists of good novels for boys and girls growing away from books written for children and also a list of interesting love-stories for readers who have heard of only a few authors?”
Librarian: “Have you ever noticed the printed lists of new books, with notes, hung on the bulletin board every Monday?”
Librarian: “Do you know that the library has twelve hundred volumes of the best books by the best authors, fifty of each, for use in the public schools?”
The library opened in 1895 a branch for children in the Social Settlement, and in 1897 reading rooms in connection with vacation schools, established by the Civic Club and afterwards taken in charge by the city.
The Educational Club, an organization of parents, teachers and others interested in education, began in 1897 with very informal meetings, suggested by the school section of the Civic Club, which were held in my office for three years, until they outgrew it and needed a more formal organization. The directors of the Civic Club and managers of the Social Settlement have met there for years, and the Connecticut Public Library Committee found it a convenient meeting place until it seemed better to hold sessions in the Capitol, where its office is.
The history classes of the North School, of whose principal I have spoken, used to make a pilgrimage every year to points of interest in the city, ending with an hour in the rooms of the Historical Society in the building, where they impersonated historical characters or looked at colonial furniture and implements. After the hour was over they used to come to the office for gingerbread and lemonade, which strengthened their friendly feeling for the library. This lasted until the principal went to another city.
In 1898, in a talk to some children in one of the schools just before the summer vacation, I asked those who were not going out of town to come to the library one afternoon every week for a book-talk, with a tableful of books such as they would not be likely to find for themselves. The subjects the first year were:
Out-of-door books and stories about animals, Books about Indians, Travellers’ tales and stories of adventure, Books that tell how to do things, Books about pictures and music, A great author and his friends (Sir Walter Scott), Another great author and his short stories (Washington Irving), Old-fashioned books for boys and girls. The talks have been kept up ever since.
The series in 1900 was on Books about knights and tournaments, what happened to a man who read too much about knights (Don Quixote), Books about horses, Two dream-stories, (The divine comedy and The pilgrim’s progress), Some funny adventures (A traveller’s true tale and others), Some new books, How a book is made, Stories about India, Pictures and scrap-books.
The next year, 1901, the talks were about stories connected with English history, the Old-English, the Normans, the Plantagenet times, King Henry V., the Wars of the Roses, King Henry VII, and King Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth and Mary, Queen of Scots, the Stuarts, and the English Revolution and eighteenth- century England.
The year after, 1902, the talks were on “Books that you have not read,” under the titles Sea stories, Indian stories, Horse stories, Wonder stories, Hero stories, African stories, South Sea stories, School and college stories, Old stories. A table of books was in the room, and I took them up one by one and told a little about the story, sometimes reading aloud and stopping at a very interesting point.
In 1903, the subjects were Stories about dragons, Stories about soldiers, Stories about shipwrecks, Stories about out-of- doors, Stories of real people told by themselves, Stories about adventures, Stories about pictures, Stories about the West, the object being to give the children of the upper grammar grades a glimpse into interesting books of which they might otherwise never hear. In that year we printed a list of novels for young readers that is now ten years old and needs revision, but still has its uses.
The use of the reference-room by children steadily increased, until the need of a room for them became evident, both on weekdays and Sundays. The Bulletin for March 1, 1900, says: “On Sunday, Feb. 25, there were eighty-one children in the small room, filling not only chairs too high for their short legs, but benches extending into the circulation room. They were all quiet and orderly, and some of them read seriously and absorbedly for several hours on ‘The twentieth century,’ ‘The boundaries of the United States,’ and ‘The comparative greatness of Napoleon and Alexander.’ The younger children read storybooks in the same quiet manner. A children’s room would relieve the pressure on all three departments of the library.” The “last straw” that led to the grant of rooms was a newspaper article illustrated by a photograph of the reference-room on a Sunday afternoon with one man, one woman and fifty-one children in it.
In 1904, the library came into possession of two large, bright sunny rooms and a smaller one adjoining in an old-fashioned house next door, which belonged to the Athenaeum and had been released by the removal of the Hartford Club to a large new house across the street. We opened rooms in November, just before Thanksgiving, and from then till New Year’s Day we received gifts from many friends: a pair of andirons for the open fireplace, several pictures, a check “for unnecessary things” from one of the women’s clubs, another for wall-decoration from teachers, students and graduates of the Albany Library School, fifty Japanese color-prints of chrysanthemums from the Pratt Institute children’s room, a cuckoo clock that is still going, though it demands a vacation about once a year, and a Boston fern that is now in flourishing condition. A large Braun photograph of the Madonna del Granduca came later from the Pittsburgh School for Children’s Librarians.
The furniture is of the simplest kind. We used some tables that we had, and bought one new one, some bentwood chairs for the older children and others such as are used in kindergartens for the younger. Pratt Institute lent us that first winter the very attractive illustrations by the Misses Whitney for Louisa Alcott’s “Candy country.” Some friends who were breaking up housekeeping gave the room a case of native and foreign stuffed birds with the hope that they might be as great a source of pleasure to the children as they had been to them in their childhood. Another friend sent us two trunks of curiosities from Europe, Asia, Africa and North America, which are shown a few at a time.
The next summer, 1905, the book-talks were about pictures in the room, most of which had been bought with our friends’ gifts. Windsor Castle, Kenilworth, Heidelberg Castle, The Alhambra, St. George, King Arthur, Sir Walter Scott, the Canterbury Pilgrims, some Shakespeare stories. On the Alhambra afternoon, a girl who had spent her first year out of college in Spain described the palace and showed curiosities from Granada. One day a Civil War nurse who happened in was persuaded to tell the boys and girls in the room about the three weeks she spent in the White House, taking care of Tad Lincoln through a fever. Some years later we