(3) Knowledge of library methods.
In any work, interest and enthusiasm go a great way, but they can never wholly take the place of accurate technical knowledge of the best ways of doing things. The more general knowledge of library work and methods one can bring to the children’s department, the better it will be both for the work and for the worker; and given these methods, one must have ability to fit them to the conditions and to the peculiar needs to be accomplished, or, where they will not fit, to modify them or originate new ones which are better for the work in hand.
(4) A thorough knowledge of the course of study of the public schools.
This is very necessary in order to intelligently supplement the work of the schools. A child comes wanting information on some subject upon which his ideas are exceedingly vague; for instance, he wants something about the mayor–what, he cannot tell you, but he was sent by his teacher to look up something about the mayor. You ask him what grade he is in, and he tells you the fourth. Your familiarity with the course of study should give you the clue at once, for the fourth grade topics in conduct and government include lessons on the city government, with its principal departments and officers, so you will look up, if you have not already done so, an outline of municipal government describing the position and duties of the mayor, which will be within the comprehension of the child. It should not happen that a dozen children ask for Little white lily, and be turned away without it, before it is discovered to be a poem by George MacDonald which the third grade children are given to read.
This course of study the children’s librarian should–not eat and sleep with exactly, but verily live and work with; it is one of her most valuable tools, and she should keep it not only within reach, at her finger’s end, but as much as possible at her tongue’s end, keeping pace with the assignment of work in the different grades and studies from month to month, and from week to week. She should know beforehand when a certain subject will be taken up by a certain grade, and have all available material looked up and ready, and new books bought if they will be needed and can be had–not wait until several hundred children come upon her for some subject on which a frantic search discloses the fact that the library contains not a thing suitable for their use, and then ask that books be bought, which, of course, come in after the demand is over, and stand idle upon the shelves for a whole year, taking the place of just so many more new books on subjects which will be needed later.
The course of study, too, will furnish more useful hints for bulletins, exhibitions, reading-lists, and other forms of advertising, than can come from any other source; and not only in supplementing the school work, but also in directing the children in their general reading, is an intimate knowledge of the course of study an invaluable aid, as it gives you the unit of measurement for any child which enables you to correlate his reading along certain lines to that which has gone before, and to that which is to follow.
(5) A knowledge of the principles of psychology and of education.
I have placed last the requisite which I feel sure some theorists, at least, would place first, because I believe that, as a rule, it will come last in point of time, and will be worked up to through the preceding stages of the development of the children’s librarian; but her work will not be grounded upon a firm foundation until she has consciously mastered these principles, and clearly outlined her own work, this new work of the book, in perfect harmony with them.
There are many features of the children’s work which I should like to dwell upon in detail, but I can do no more than mention a few of them. One of these is the Library league, with its threefold object of training the children in the proper care of books, of serving as an advertising medium for the library among the children themselves, and of furnishing a means of directing the reading of hundreds of children who cannot be reached individually. The possibilities of the league are beyond anything we have been able to realize.
Another thing is the necessity of guarding against letting children read too much, or too entirely along one line. There is a habit of reading along lines which deaden, instead of stimulating, thought, and the habit, if carried to excess, becomes a mental dissipation which is utterly reprehensible; but the pathway to this habit is entered upon so innocently and unconsciously by the story-loving child that he (perhaps more often she) must be guided very tenderly and wisely past its dangers; the library which ignores this necessity may have much harm laid at its doors.
The importance of providing, either in the school or the library, for systematic instruction in the use of books was emphasized in the report of the library section of the National Educational Association at Washington this summer; it is a necessity which must be met somewhere and somehow.
Of one more thing I should speak because of its provision for the children–the expansion of the library ideal; not so many years ago branch libraries and traveling libraries were unknown; now we feel that one library is not enough for a large city; it must have branch libraries and delivery stations to take the books to the people, while traveling libraries carry them into the scattered districts in the country. For the future, we have visions of a system of libraries so complete that in no town or country district of the state will a little child be deprived of the pleasure of good books; and wherever it is possible to put a live, warm-hearted, sympathetic and child-loving woman as the medium between the library and the child, it will be done.
Library work in its entirety offers much play for the missionary spirit, but nowhere else in its whole range is there such a labor of love as is hers who tries to bring the children early to their heritage in the beautiful world of books.
WORK WITH CHILDREN IN THE SMALL LIBRARY
The blessings rather than the limitations of the small library are portrayed and the “possibility of personal, individual, first-hand contact with the children” is emphasized in this paper presented by Miss Clara W. Hunt at the Niagara Conference of the A. L. A. in 1903. A sketch of Miss Hunt appears on page 135.
As the young theological student is prone to look upon his first country parish as a place to test his powers and to serve as a stepping-stone to a large city church, so the librarian of the country town who, visiting a great city library and seeing books received in lavish quantities which she must buy as sparingly as she buys tickets for expensive journeys out of her slender income, a beautifully furnished, conveniently equipped apartment especially for the children, for the student, for the magazine reader, evidences everywhere of money to spend not only for the necessities but also for the luxuries of library life–so it is quite natural for such a visitor to heave a deep sigh as she returns to her library home and contrasts her opportunities, or limitations as she would call them, with those of the worker in a numerically larger field; and quite natural is it for her to long for a change which she feels would mean a broadening and enlarging of outlook and opportunity.
It is encouraging sometimes to look at our possessions through other people’s spectacles, and perhaps I may help some worker in a small field to see in what she calls her limitations, not a hedging in but an opening, by drawing the contrast from another point of view–from that of one who is regretfully forced to give up almost all personal, individual work with the children and delegate to others that most delightful of tasks, because her library is so large and she has so much money to spend that her services are more needed in other directions. With a keen appreciation of the privilege it is to have charge of a small library, I am going to enumerate some of my reasons for having this feeling.
I should explain, in this connection, that my thoughts have centered about the small town library, the library whose citizen supporters do not yet aggregate a population large enough to admit to dignifying their place of residence with the name of a city, a place, therefore, where the librarian may really be able to know every citizen of prominence, every school principal and teacher, the officers of the women’s clubs, many of the mothers of the children she hopes to reach, and a very large number of the children themselves.
What are the attractions in a spot like this, the compensations which make up even for the lack of a large amount of money to spend? Let me begin first with the less apparent advantages, the “blessings in disguise,” I should call them.
The first is the necessity for economy in spending one’s appropriation. I imagine your astonishment and disapproval of the judgment of a person who can count the need of economy as any cause for congratulation. But let us look for a moment at some of the things you are saved by being forced to be “saving.” The greatest good to your public and to yourself is that you must think of the ESSENTIALS, the “worth while” things first, last and always. You cannot afford to buy carelessly. Every dollar you spend must bring the best return possible and to the greatest number of people. Every foolish purchase means disappointment to your borrowers and wear on your own nerves. So, instead of being able to order in an off-hand way many things which may be desirable but which are really not essential, one gets a most valuable training in judgment by this constant weighing of good, indifferent and indispensable. To apply this to the principle of the selection of children’s books–and nothing in work with children, except the personality of the worker with them is so important as this, we cannot buy everything, we must buy the best, and we therefore have an argument that must have a show of reasonableness to those borrowers who advocate large purchases of books you tell them your income will not cover.
What are the essentials in children’s books if your selection must be small? Our children can grow up without Henty. They must not grow up without the classics in myth and fable and legend, the books which have delighted grown people and adults for generations, and upon the child’s early acquaintance with which depends his keen enjoyment of much of his later reading, because of the wealth of allusion which will be lost to him if he has not read aesop and King Arthur and the Wonder Book, Gulliver, Crusoe, Siegfried and many others of like company, in childhood. Then the librarian cannot afford to leave out collections of poetry. Her children must have poetry in no niggardly quantity, from Mother Goose and the Nonsense Book to our latest, most beautiful acquisitions, “Golden numbers” and the “Posy ring.” And American history and biography must be looked after among the first things and constantly replenished. So must fairy tales, the best fairy tales–Andersen, Grimm, the Jungle books, MacDonald, Pyle, “The rose and the ring.” Much more discrimination must be exercised in selecting the nature and science books than is usually the case.
But, of course, most of the problems come when we are adding the story books. Here, most of all, the necessity for economy ought to be a help. It is a question of deciding on essentials, and having nerve enough to leave out those books whose only merits are harmlessness, and putting in nothing that is not positively good for something. The threadbare argument that we must buy of the mediocre and worse for the children who like such literature (principally because they know little about any other kind) will look very thin when we squarely face the fact that by such purchases we shut out books we admit to be really better, and when we honestly reflect upon the purpose of the public library. The sanest piece of advice that I ever heard given to those librarians who argue in favor of buying all the bootblack stories the boys want, was that of Miss Haines at a recent institute for town libraries. She asked that those men and women who enjoyed Alger and “Elsie” in childhood and who are arguing in their favor on the strength of the memory of a childish pleasure, take some of their old favorites and re-read them now, read them aloud to their young people at home, and then see if they care to risk the possibility of their own children being influenced by such ideals, forming such literary tastes as these books illustrate. Most of us desire better things for our children than we had ourselves. If a man was allowed to nibble on pickles and doughnuts and mince pie and similar kinds of nourishment before he cut all his teeth, miraculously escaping chronic dyspepsia as he grew older, he does not for that reason care to risk his boy’s health and safety by allowing him to repeat the process. A child’s taste, left to itself, is no more a safe guide in his choice of reading than is his choice of food. What human boy would refuse ice cream and peanuts and green pears and piously ask for whole-wheat bread and beefsteak instead? Or choose to go to bed at eight o’clock for his health’s sake, rather than enjoy the fun with the family till a later hour? It seems such a senseless thing for us to feel it our duty to decide for the children on matters relating to their temporary welfare, but to consider them fit to decide for themselves on what may affect their moral and spiritual nature.
Not only in the selection of books as to their contents, but in the study of the editions the most serviceable for her purposes, will the town librarian gain valuable training from the necessity of being economical. The point is worth enlarging upon, but the time is not here.
It will perhaps be harder to look upon the impossibility of having a separate room for the children as a blessing which enforced economy confers. It will doubtless seem heresy for a children’s librarian to suggest the thought. Yet while we recognize the great desirability, the absolute necessity in fact, for the separate room in order to get the best results in a busy city library, we can see the many advantages to the children of their mingling with the grown people in the town library. It is good for them, in the public as in the home library, to browse among books that are above their understanding. It is better for the small boy curiously picking up the Review of Reviews to stretch up to its undiluted world news than to shut into his Little Chronicle or Great Round World. It is good for the American child to learn just a little of the old fashioned “children should be seen and not heard” advice, to learn at least a trifle of consideration for his elders by restraining his voice and his heels and his motions within the library, saving his muscles for the wildest exercise he pleases out of doors. The separate children’s room is too apt to become a place for so persistently “tending” the child that he loses the idea of a library atmosphere which is one of the lessons of the place he should NOT miss. I am of the opinion that, while we want to do everything in the world to attract the children to the library and the love of good reading, they should have impressed upon them so constantly the feeling that the children’s room is a reading and study room that when a child is wandering around aimlessly, not behaving badly but simply killing time, he should be, not crossly nor resentfully, but pleasantly advised to go out into the park to play, as he doesn’t feel like reading and this is a LIBRARY. I know that this has an excellent effect in developing the right idea of the purpose of the place.
Sometimes the town library has a building large enough to admit of a separate room for the children, and books and readers in such numbers as would make the use of this room desirable, but there is not money enough to pay the salary of an attendant to watch the room. Here indeed is a blessing in disguise. This idea that the children must be watched all the time, that they cannot be left alone a minute, is fatal to all teaching of honor and self-restraint and self-help. It will take time and determination and tact, but I know that it is possible to train the children–not the untrained city slum children perhaps, but the average town children–to behave like ladies and gentlemen left almost entirely to themselves through a whole evening.
I must hardly allude to further blessings which to my mind the need of economy insures. It all comes under the head, of course, of forming the habit of asking “What is most worth while?” before rushing headlong into thoughtless imitation of the larger library’s methods, regardless of their wisdom for the small one. The town librarian will thus be apt to use some far simpler but equally effective style of bulletin than the one that means hours of time spent in cutting around the petals of an intricate flower picture, or printing painstakingly on a difficult cardboard surface what her local newspaper would be glad to print for her, thus making a slip to thumb tack on her board without a minute’s waste of time.
The question of having insufficient help gives an excuse for getting a personal hold on some of the bright older boys and girls who can be made to think it a privilege to have a club night at the library once in a while, when they will cut the leaves of new books and magazines, paste and label and be useful in many ways. Of course they have to be managed, but you can get a lot of fine work out of assistants of this sort, and do them a great amount of good at the same time.
Another of the blessings for which the town librarian may be thankful is that her rules need not be cast iron, but may be made elastic to fit certain cases. Because the place is so small that she can get to know pretty well the character of its inhabitants, she need not be obliged to face the crestfallen countenance of a sorely disappointed little girl who, on applying for a library card, is told that she must bring her father or mother to sign an application, and who knows that that will be a task impossible of performance. The town librarian may dare to take the very slight risk of loss, and issue the card at once, enjoying the pleasure of making one small person radiantly happy.
Then there is the satisfaction of doing a little of everything about your library with your own hands and knowing instantly just where things are when you are asked. To illustrate from a recent experience of my own. At one of the small branches or stations rather, of the Brooklyn Public Library, a certain small boy used to appear at least two or three times a week and ask the librarian, “Have you got the ‘Moral pirates’ yet?” And over and over again the librarian was forced wearily to answer, “No, not yet, Sam.” Now, although the library’s purchases of children’s books are very generous, running from 1,500 to 2,000 volumes a month for the 20 branches, of course with such large purchases it is necessary to systematize the buying by getting largely the same 50 titles for all branches, varying the number of copies per branch according to each one’s need. The branch librarian of whom I am speaking did not feel like asking often for specials, realizing that she was only one of many having special wants, and knowing that we would in time reach the “Moral pirates” in the course of our large, regular monthly purchases. But one afternoon I went up to this station and helping at the charging desk, this small boy appeared asking me for the “Moral pirates.” The librarian told me of the hopeful persistence of his request, and it did not take long after that to get the “Moral pirates” into the small boy’s hands. I only hope the realization of a long anticipated wish did not prove to him like that of many another, and that his disappointment was not too unbearable in finding a pirate story minus cutlasses and black flags and decks slippery with gore.
The point of this tale is, that in a great system it is impossible often to get as close to an individual as in this case, while the town librarian, who does everything from unpacking her books to handing them out to her borrowers, can many a time have the personal pleasure of seeing a book into the right hands.
I have only indirectly alluded to the greatest joy of all, the possibility of personal, individual, first-hand contact with the children whom you can get to know so well and to influence so strongly, and another joy that grows out of it–seeing results yourself.
We are so ready to be deceived and discouraged by numbers! The town librarian reads of a tremendous circulation of children’s books in a city library, and straightway gets the blues over her own small showing. But I beg such an one to think rather of what the QUALITY of her children’s use of the library may be as compared with that of the busy city library. A great department must be so arranged for dispatching a large amount of work in a few minutes of time, that in spite of every effort, something of the mechanical must creep into its administration.
The town librarian may know by name each child who borrows her books. Not only that, but she may know much of his ancestry and environment and so be able to judge the needs of each one. She will not be so rushed with charging books by the hundred that she cannot USE that knowledge to help him in the wisest, most tactful manner. But the joy of watching her children develop, of seeing a boy or girl whom she helped bring up, grow into a manhood and womanhood of noble promise, of feeling that she had a large influence in forming the taste of this girl, in sending to college that lad who wouldn’t have dreamed of such a thing had he not been stirred to the ambition through the reading taste she awakened in him–these are pleasures the city children’s librarian is for the most part denied.
The latter can see that her selection of books is of the best, she can make her room as attractive as money will admit, she can choose her staff with great care. She knows that good must result in the lives of many and many a child from contact even in brief moments with people of strong magnetic personality, and from constantly taking into their minds the sort of reading she provides. But very rarely will she be permitted to see the results in individual cases that make work seem greatly worth while, and that compensate in a few brief minutes, for weeks and months and years of quiet, uninspiring, plodding effort.
And so I congratulate the worker with children in the small library. It would be a delight to me if I could feel that my appreciation of the blessings that are yours might help you to look upon your opportunity as a very great and worthy one. The parents of the small town need your help, the teachers cannot carry on their work well without you, the boys and girls would miss untold good if you were not their friend and counselor, the library profession needs the benefit of the practical judgment your all-round training gives. And so you may believe of your position that though in figures your annual report does not read large, in quality of work, in power of influence it reads in characters big with significance, radiant with encouragement.
PERSONAL WORK WITH CHILDREN
“The whole secret of success is really to be in sympathy with children, quick to see their needs and to look at things from their point of view; but above all to have a genuine, common-sense love for them.” This point of view is expressed in the following paper on Personal work with children, read by Miss Rosina Gymer before the Ohio Library Association annual meeting in 1905. Rosina Charter Gymer was born in Cleveland, Ohio; received a special certificate from the Training School for Children’s Librarians in 1904; was children’s librarian in the Cleveland Public Library from 1904 to 1907; supervisor of children’s work in small branches from 1907 to 1910, and since that time has been a branch librarian.
Work with children is so large in its scope and so rich in its possibilities that we shall only consider work in the library proper, passing over home visiting, school visiting and cooperation with social settlements and like institutions, all of which, however, are of the greatest importance to the work as a whole.
Work with children may be grouped under three heads– that with girls, that with boys and that with little children. While in each group the work differs in nearly every point, one point they have in common–the choosing of fiction according to the individual child, boy or girl; the choosing of classed books for the book itself. In giving fiction, the child must be known as well as the book, his character and needs, for it is on the character that fiction has most influence. In classed books, on the other hand, the book is the thing to know, for if a child wants to know something about electricity or carpentry, he is not being influenced so much in character as in education. If the book is not as good as some other, it will not injure him especially as to morals and character, but of course he should have the very best you can give him that he can mentally understand. Girls almost always become interested in books through the personality of the children’s worker. While it is very desirable to use this regard as a means of influencing their reading, care must be taken to guard against a merely sentimental attitude on the part of the girls toward the worker. As a rule, girls want stories about people, other girls, school stories and so forth, and will take a book that you say is a good one without looking into it. If she likes it she will come to you to select another, and in this way you can lead her from pure fiction to historical fiction and biography and so on up to good literature, all through, at the first, knowing a book that would please and attract her. This is done, in great measure, through the girl’s liking for the worker and also through her interest in people rather than things.
Boys, on the other hand, are not so much interested in people as in things, and when they ask for a book it is usually on some specific subject–electricity, carpentry, how to raise pigeons, how to take care of dogs. When the book is given them they usually examine it pretty thoroughly to see whether or not it is what they want or can use. To know what book will give the boy what he wants to know and in the most interesting way is to gain that boy’s confidence. To sum up: Boys like you through the books you give them, while girls learn to like good books through their liking for you. The result is the same in either case–the personal influence of the worker with the children.
The problem of managing children is much the same everywhere. Wherever they are there are sure to be some restless and disobedient boys and girls whose confidence and good will must be gained. A willing obedience must be sought for untiringly. The children’s worker must be for and not against the child. To win is far better than to compel. Conquering may do for those who are expected to remain as enemies, but friends are won. While a display of authority should be avoided, a firm attitude must at times be taken, but it should be an attitude of friendship and fairness. If a loss to the child of some coveted pleasure can be made to follow his fault it is an effectual punishment. For instance, if a boy never misses the story and yet his general behavior in the library leaves a good deal to be desired, do not allow him to attend the story hour for one or two weeks. In extreme cases the plan of not allowing the boys to come to the library for a number of days or weeks has been tried with good results.
An endeavor should be made so far as possible to follow the inclinations of children. Every boy likes the idea of belonging to a club and if advantage is taken of this fact it will prove a great help in discipline. When a gang of boys comes to the library night after night, apparently for no reason except to make trouble, the best solution of the problem is to form them into a reading circle or club. They usually prefer to call themselves a club. A good plan in starting is to ask three or four of the troublesome boys if they would like to come on a certain evening and hear a story read. An interesting story is selected, carefully read and cut if too long, and at the end of the evening the boys are invited to bring some of their friends with them next time. It is well to begin in this small way and thus avoid the mistake of having too many boys at the start or of getting boys of different gangs in the same club, for this will always cause trouble. Seven o’clock is a good time for them to meet. If the hour is later the boys who come early get restless and it is difficult for them to fix their attention. It is better to take the boys to a separate room as their attention is easily distracted from the reading by people passing back end forth. It is a great effort for boys with, one might say, wholly untrained minds to concentrate for any length of time, and it is well not to ask them for more than half an hour at first. Unless the selection holds their interest they will disappear one after another, for they simply refuse to be bored. For this reason, begin with popular subjects, such as animal stories, Indian stories, fire stories, railroad stories, gradually leading them on to more solid reading. That this can be done was proved by the boys’ attention to Sven Hedin’s account of his search for water in his Through Asia. The incident is most graphically told of the repeated disappointments, of the sufferings of the caravan and the dropping out of one after another until only the author is left staggering across the sand hills in his search for the precious water. The boys listened breathlessly until one boy finally burst out, Ain’t they never going to find no water?
Very often the subject of the next evening’s reading is determined by the boys themselves who, if they have been particularly interested, will ask for another story “just like that only different.” If possible, have good illustrated books to show them on the subject of the evening’s reading. This serves two purposes –it fixes the awakened interest of the boys and it also prevents the rush for the door they are apt to make to work off the accumulated energy of the hour of physical inactivity. In libraries where there are few assistants it ought not to be difficult to find some young man or woman interested in work of this sort to come and read to the boys once or twice a week, but the same person should have the club regularly.
Work with little children is important because in a year or two they are going to be readers, and yet they are a problem to the busy librarian from the fact that they require a good deal of attention. Perhaps the best plan is to set a time for them to come to the library, say Saturday morning at ten, when they can feel that the children’s worker is all their own. They like to be read to, but they love to hear stories told. Telling stories to them is a great pleasure to the story-teller, because of their responsiveness, their readiness to enjoy. But besides the enjoyment of the children there is something far higher to work for–the development of the moral sense. The virtues of obedience, kindness, courage and unselfishness are set forth over and over again in the fairy tale. The story East o’ the sun and west o’ the moon, is nothing but a beautiful lesson in obedience, The king of the golden river in unselfishness, Diamonds and toads, kindness– and many others could be named, all with a lesson to be learned. Little children love repetition and when a story pleases them ask for it again and again. They do not see the lesson all at once, but little by little it sinks into their hearts and becomes a part of their very life. This is where the fairy tale, properly and judiciously used, does its great work. Be most careful to give children stories that are wholly worthy of their admiration. Know your story thoroughly and in telling it present strong, clear pictures. Tell the story in such a way that the child’s heart swells within him and he says, I can do that, I could be as brave as that.
But let not the children’s worker labor under the delusion that when she closes the door of the library her work is finished. On the contrary, another phase of it is only beginning, for she is constantly meeting the children on the street, in the stores, in fact almost everywhere she goes, and it behooves her to be on the watch for friendly smiles, to listen with interest when Johnny tells her that Mary is coming out of the hospital tomorrow, or when Mike calls across the street, Did you know Willie was pinched again? to make a note of it and take pains to find out whether Willie is paroled under good behavior or whether he has been sent to a boys’ reformatory school; or, when she is waiting for a street car and a newsboy rushes up and says he can’t get his books back in time and will she renew them for him, the children’s worker takes his library number and renews the books when she returns to the library.
If the worker is at all earnest in her work she can not help but have her heart wrung time and again by the sufferings of the children of the poor. Not that they complain–they take it all as a matter of course, but by some unconscious remark they quite often throw an almost blinding light on their home conditions showing that family life for a good many of them is anything but easy and pleasant. Children of the poor often have responsibilities far beyond their years, and the library with its books, pictures, flowers and story-telling means much more to them than to a child who has all these at home. One little girl about 10 years old came one afternoon and was so disappointed to find there was to be no story. On being told to come at ten o’clock next morning, she said: What, do you think I can get here at ten o’clock with four kids to dress! As first heard, funny; but after all showing a pathetic side, a childhood without childhood’s freedom from care.
The whole secret of success is really to be in sympathy with children, quick to see their needs and to look at things from their point of view; but above all to have a genuine, common sense love for them so that we may feel as did the little girl who missed one of the assistants, and asking for her was told that she was taking a vacation. I love her, said the child, and then, fearing she had hurt the feelings of the one to whom she was speaking added, I love all the library teachers, ‘cos we’re all childs of God.
THE LIBRARY AND THE CHILDREN: AN ACCOUNT OF THE CHILDREN’S WORK IN THE CLEVELAND PUBLIC LIBRARY
The interesting experiment of conducting a Library League is described by Miss Linda A. Eastman in the following account of the children’s work in the Cleveland Public Library. A sketch of Miss Eastman appears on page 159.
Work with the children assumed its first real importance in the Cleveland Public Library when the library began, about 10 years ago, to issue books to the teachers for reissue to their pupils. This brought the books to the hands of thousands of children who had never drawn them before, although at no time has the library been able to furnish all of the books asked for by the teachers. The next step came with the establishment of our branches, where it was soon noticed that a most important part of the work done was that with the children, and that very few of these children had ever used the main library.
Early in 1897 a notable change was made at the main library in bringing all of the juvenile books together in what was known as the juvenile alcove, but which heretofore had contained the juvenile fiction only, the classed books having been shelved with the other books on the same subject. This change meant much planning and shifting in our cramped quarters, and writing of dummies and changing of records for every book; but it proved to be well worth all the work, for the children seldom went beyond this alcove, and those who had been reading fiction only, began to vary it with history, travel, science, until about half of the books issued from the department are now from the other classes.
During the Christmas holidays, 1896, we advertised “Children’s week,” and the numbers and evident enjoyment of the children who then accepted the invitation to visit the library or its branches, led to similar plans for the spring vacation. At this time we were able to put into circulation about a thousand bright new books, and the desire to impress upon the children the necessity for their proper care resulted in starting the Library League, the general plan of which is so familiar that I need not go fully into the details concerning it.
 For accounts of the Library League, see Library Journal October and November, 1897.
Without question, the labor spent upon the Library League has been more than repaid in the greater care which the children take of their library books. Dirt is at a discount; it is noticed that many more children than formerly now stop to choose the cleanest copy of a book, and many are the books reported daily by the little people as being soiled or torn. A boy, not long ago, brought a book up to the information-desk, reported a loose leaf, then very seriously, by way of explanation, opened his overcoat and displayed his league badge; another replied in all good faith to a query about a damaged book, “Why, I belong to the Library League”–proof quite sufficient, he thought, to clear him of any doubt. Most of the children stop at the wrapping- counter before leaving the library, to tie up their books in the wrapping paper which is provided, and which saves many a book from a mud-bath on its way to or from the library.
But aside from the better care of the books, the Library League has done much as an advertising medium among the children; the league now numbers 14,354, and many of its members had never used the library until they joined the league. Something has been accomplished through it, too, in directing the reading of the children, as it gives opportunities, in many ways, for making suggestions which they are glad to accept. At the South Side branch a club-room has been finished off in the basement, and two clubs formed among the members of the league: one, a Travel Club, is making a tour of England this winter; the other is a Biography Club, which is studying great Americans; the children who compose these two clubs are largely of foreign parentage, almost without exception from uncultured homes, and the work our earnest branch librarian is beginning with them cannot fail in its effect on these young lives. A boy’s club-room is to be fitted up at the new West Side branch, in addition to the children’s room, which is already proving inadequate.
The Maxson book marks have been very useful in connection with the league, and have suggested a series of book marks which will also serve as bulletins for league notes, little lists of good books, suggestions about reading, etc. The color will be changed each time, as variety is pleasing to children. The
================================================== Cleveland Public Library. LIBRARY LEAGUE BOOK MARK NO. 1.
Boys and Girls: How would you like to have a new book mark every month or two with Library League news, and suggestions about good books? That is what the Library is going to try to give you. Read this one through, use it until you get the next one, which will be Library League Book Mark No. 2; then put No. 1 away with your League certificate and keep it carefully as a part of your League records, that some day you will be proud to own and to show.
League Report: The Library League was started March 29th, 1897. On December 31st, 1897 it numbered 14,074. How large is it going to be on its first birthday anniversary? What the League has done: It has brought many children to the Library who never used it before. It has taught many boys and girls to love books and to handle them carefully with clean hands. Many books have been reported which were in bad condition, and the juvenile books are now in better shape than before the League began its work.
Library League Reading Clubs: Some of the League members have been starting reading clubs. One of these clubs is a Travel Club, and another is a Biography Club. The Library assistants will be glad to tell League members about these clubs if they would like to form others.
Library League Motto: Clean hearts, clean hands, clean books. (OVER) ==================================================
The other side of this book mark contains a list of the juvenile periodicals in the library. No. 2 gives the beginning of a little serial, in which a thread of story will weave in hints on reading and on the care and use of books.
At our main library the children have come in such numbers after school and on Saturdays, that it has been impossible to push the work much this past winter, for fear the adults should suffer. It was finally decided that we must achieve the impossible, and by shifting about and putting up glass partitions, have a separate children’s room instead of the open juvenile alcove. This room, while not half so large as it should be to meet the needs of the work, is indeed a great improvement in giving the children a place which they feel to be really their own; the change has involved the re-registration of the children having cards here, but it is affording much needed relief at the general receiving desks, and will greatly facilitate the service to adults, at the same time making it possible to do much more for the little people.
The library is endeavoring to co-operate more and more closely with the schools. More books have been issued to the teachers this winter than ever before. A new course of study having been published, all of the books referred to in it were looked up, and if not in the library or its branches, were purchased as largely as seemed desirable or possible. A list of “References for third-grade teachers,” compiled by Miss May H. Prentice, training teacher in the Cleveland Normal School, has recently been published by the library. It was given to all of the third-grade teachers of the city, and sold to others. This is, we believe, the most comprehensive list ever prepared for a single grade of the common schools. We are hoping that it will prove so helpful to third-grade teachers that all of the other grades will demand similar ones for themselves, and that somehow the way will be found to meet the demand. The list of books noted by Miss Prentice for the children’s own reading has been reprinted, without the annotations, in a little folder and 5,000 copies of it have just been distributed among the children of this grade.
Recently our school children were treated to the largest exhibition ever made in the United States to photographic reproductions of the masterpieces in art; to the work of the library in circulating pictures to teachers and children for school-room decoration and for illustration, is due no small share of this new interest in art.
While the children come to the library daily to look up subjects in connection with their school work, very little attention can be given to training them to use reference books as tools. Somewhere, either in the school or the library, this systematic teaching should be given. It is one of the things which is not being done.
And another thing is not being done–we are not reaching all of the children; in spite of our branches, our stations, our books in the schools, our Library League, there are many children who sadly need the influence of good books, who are not getting them–whole districts shut off from the use of the library by distance and inability to pay carfare. And we cannot give them branches or send books–for lack of funds.
It is a growing conviction in my own mind that the library, aside from its general mission, and aside from its co-operation with the schools in the work of education, has a special duty to perform for the city child. No one can observe city life closely without seeing something of the evil which comes to the children who are shut up within its walls; the larger the city the greater is the evil, the more effectually are the little ones deprived of the pure air, the sweet freedom of the fields and woods, to be given but too often in their stead the freedom of the streets and the city slums. The evil is greater during the long vacations, when the five-hour check of the school room is entirely removed, and many a teacher will testify to the demoralization which takes place among the children who are then let loose upon the streets. For these the library must to some extent take the place of Mother Nature, for under present condition it is through books alone that some of them can ever come to know her; books must furnish them with wholesome thoughts, with ideals of beauty and of truth, with a sense of the largeness of life that comes from communion with great souls as from communion with nature. If this be true, the school vacation ceases to be the resting time of the children’s librarian; she must sow her winter wheat and tend it as in the past, but she must also gather in her crops and lay her ground fallow during the long summer days when school does not keep; she must find ways of attracting these children to spend a healthy portion of their time among the books, always guarding against too much as against too little reading. For this work the individual contact is needed, and there must be more children’s librarians, more branch libraries. This necessity and the problem of meeting it require grave consideration by the librarian of to-day.
PICTURE BULLETINS IN THE CHILDREN’S LIBRARY
The practical usefulness as well as the artistic merit of picture bulletins is discussed in this report prepared for the Club of Children’s Librarians for presentation at the Waukesha Conference of the A. L. A. in 1901. It is based upon answers received in response to a circular letter sent to various libraries.
Mrs. Mary E. S. Root was born and educated in Rhode Island, studied art before her marriage, became interested in children’s literature through her own children, and organized the children’s work in the Providence Public Library, where she still has charge of this work. She has held many offices in educational and civic organizations, and has lectured on children’s literature. For two summers she conducted a course in children’s work in the Simmons College Library School.
Mrs. Adelaide Bowles Maltby was born in New York City, and was graduated from a private school in Elmira, New York, in 1893, with an equivalent of one year’s college work. After completing the regular course in Pratt Institute Library School in 1900, she spent six months in the Pratt Library, at the same time taking lectures in the second-year children’s course. For four and one-half years she was head of the Children’s Department in the Buffalo Public Library. She then became a member of the New York Public Library staff, first as special children’s worker in Chatham Square Branch, then as branch librarian there, and later as librarian of the Tompkins Square Branch.
There has been a rather marked difference in activity between the eastern and western libraries on this subject of picture work, we of the east seeming more conservative, somewhat prone on the whole, because there is not time for elaborate work, to doubt its practical usefulness. The questions upon which this report is based were sent out in a circular letter to different libraries. These questions with their answers may be considered in order:
Question 1. If you make picture bulletins in your library, what is your object in so doing?
To supplement school work, advertise the books, stimulate non-fiction reading and celebrate anniversaries are the four answers which the majority give.
There is no question but bulletins made for school helps are useful, help teacher, pupil and library; but we are all studying to do away with suggestions of a school atmosphere in our rooms as far as possible, so, primarily, these bulletins should give pleasure. They offer a strong point of contact between the children and the librarian, and if too strongly labelled with “school work,” do we not rob the child of the one place where he could have the indescribable charm of learning what his natural tastes prompt him to acquire? It is easy enough in our libraries to teach without calling it teaching. Again, a bulletin to “advertise our books,” especially new ones, seems misdirected energy, as the new books are always eagerly sought and there is often need of checking in some way the desire for the new just because it is new. If the books to which the attention is directed by the bulletins enlarge the child’s experience, well and good, but we do not need to post a bulletin merely to circulate the books or with the feeling of advertisement in any sense of the word.
Question 2. Are these bulletins used only to illustrate books owned by the library or are they general, commemorating anniversaries, etc?
The majority of bulletins seem of the most general character –book bulletins, illustrations of school work, holidays and anniversaries especially dear to childhood. Miss Putnam, of the library at Los Angeles, offers a most serviceable suggestion in her guide to the books in the children’s room: “This is composed of pictures, each representing a book clipped from the publisher’s catalogs, each author kept separate mounted on large sheets of tagboard, and when the author’s picture, call number, criticism of books are added, the sheets are kept on the tables for the children’s use.” At Detroit there is constantly on the walls a bulletin board about 28×32 in. covered with dark green burlap on which are placed lists of books, pictures of their authors, illustrations, current events, public affairs, etc., not of sufficient interest to demand a separate bulletin. Some change is made in this every week, keeping two lists of books, taking down one and moving the other as a fresh list is added.
Question 3. Of what material and by whom are your bulletins made?
The best material is classified clippings and pictures from duplicate magazines and illustrated papers. Braun & Cie photographs, Perry prints, bird portraits from Chapman’s “Bird manual,” and from Birds and All Nature, Fitzroy prints and Perkins’ Mother Goose pictures can also be used to advantage. Card board can be obtained at slight cost, in some cities at $4.20 per hundred. Pulp board, book cover paper and charcoal paper, all can be utilized for this purpose. Where the book cases are low enough to admit of it, red denim stretched above the top of the cases makes an effective background for the bulletins. Where the cases are five feet in height this is not practicable, as the pictures must be opposite the eyes of our small readers. In the Providence Public Library an excellent substitute for this is in the shape of a six-panelled mahogany bulletin surrounding the large circular pillar in the center of the room. The mahogany serves as an excellent frame to the panel and the many sides offer opportunities for a series of bulletins on a given subject, each simple in itself and conveying one idea to the child, which seems far preferable to us than trying to crowd all on one bulletin.
Other libraries use a stationary framework across the tables, with glass each side, so that pictures may be slipped in between.
At Minneapolis Public Library an interesting experiment was tried with success by Mrs. Ellison. Arrangements were made with the Director of Drawing to have the pupils furnish the picture bulletins, Mrs. Ellison furnishing the subjects and doing the reference work.
The making of bulletins in most cases devolves on the children’s librarian, but we hear from several libraries where different members of the staff take their turn, all showing a keen interest in gathering material.
Questions 4 and 5. Do you have more than one bulletin at a time? Have you noticed any poor results from exhibiting more than one at a time?
The returns as to this point were not all that had been hoped. Two bulletins seem to be an accepted number, but more than that a question. We do not desire to confuse our children, or to detract in value from a bulletin when once posted, and most certainly not to cheapen our rooms; but if the standard is held high in each case, the number would not matter. Take for instance a hero bulletin. Here is a wealth of material which overwhelms us, and even when we have selected with the utmost thought our heroes and placed them side by side, we realize we have more or less of a jumble and have not told our story simply enough. Some division is absolutely necessary. We saw a bulletin on this subject grouped under three excellent heads: When all the world was young; In the glorious days of chivalry; Heroes of modern times. We should like to adopt this suggestion, but instead of one, offer three bulletins, as a safeguard against confusion.
Question 6. Can you show by citing cases that this picture work is of sufficient practical use to the children to pay for time and money spent?
One library–and this is an eastern one–gives us an encouraging, inspiring reply: “Case after case, actually hundreds of letters from teachers thanking us for the work.” A general summary of reports from all the libraries shows an increased demand for the books on the subject posted. The perfectly evident pleasure of the little ones in the mere looking, to say nothing of their joy in telling at one time or another something they have seen before, shows with what keenness they observe. At the Buffalo Public Library there have been on exhibition some excellent silhouette pictures made by cutting figures, trees, etc., from black paper and pasting them on white backgrounds. “The pied piper” was one subject illustrated. To appreciate this it should be understood that the figure of the piper and of each little rat, some not more than a half inch high, were cut with scissors, without any drawing whatever. These were labelled “Scissors pictures. Can you make them?” When they had been up a week, one of the boys, 14 years old, brought in four, one of which was better in composition than any of those exhibited. This was posted as showing what one boy had done, and this boy is studying drawing and designing this summer, with good promise. Another library cites a case in relation to school work, where the superintendent of schools offered rewards in each school of five of Landseer’s pictures for the best five compositions on Landseer and his work. A collection of his pictures was gathered, a bulletin made with lists, which at once attracted the boys and girls, set many earnestly to work, who would not otherwise have given it much thought, and finally received the hearty commendation of the superintendent. Miss Clarke, of Evanston, says: “We have no children’s room, and have not done enough of bulletin work to be able to speak very surely of results.” Yet she can give us this, which speaks for itself. “An Indian exhibit which we gave, where among the Indian curios and Navajo blankets I had all our books on Indian life and customs and our best Indian stories displayed, aroused a great demand for the books. I kept the list of Indian books and stories posted for some months, and it was worn out and had to be replaced by a new copy, owing to its constant use. Our boys at that time really read a great deal of good literature on the subject, including Mrs. Custer’s books and those by Grinnell and Lummis.” These are but a few of the many interesting illustrations, yet we all know there is a great part of our work of which we can see no results, but if these bulletins beautify the room, offer some new thought to the child and give pleasure, then the time and work spent on them is a small factor, and even in that we are the gainers, as we unconsciously acquire in the making of these bulletins much general information, and an ability to present subjects in their relative value to each other which is invaluable.
Question 7. Are these bulletins allowed to circulate?
In most cases, no. Several libraries allow them to go to schools and a few make duplicates for both library and school, and in Indianapolis the bulletins are sent to other libraries in the state. This should prove very helpful to small libraries which are open but a few hours in the week. The bulletins may wear out, but a bulletin once planned, three quarters of the work is accomplished, and it is little labor to make the duplicate one.
Question 8. Please describe the exhibit which has proved of the greatest interest in the past year.
We wish that time and space would allow a repetition of all the replies to this question. Miss Hewins says: “The exhibit which has proved of the greatest interest is on Queen Victoria. Within an hour after we heard the news of her death we had the bulletin for her last birthday and 40 portraits of her on our walls. I made one bulletin on her for the children out at Settlement Branch, and gave them a little talk about her. In this bulletin there were pictures of the dolls’ house and toys that she gave the nation and I told the children how careful she must have been of them to be able to keep them so many years, and something about how careful she was taught to be also of her spending money, and that even although she was a princess and lived in a palace, she never could buy anything until she had the money to pay for it. I made a Stevenson bulletin for them on his birthday, and we had Stevenson songs and a talk about him and his childhood, his lovableness, courage and cheerfulness.” At Buffalo the most popular exhibit was one illustrating the changes of the last century, taking the post-office methods, transportation of all kinds, i.e., carriages, boats, railroads, electricity in all its uses and those which could be appreciated by the children–guns, lifesaving methods, diving, etc. In each instance an old and a new type was shown. The children swarmed around the boards every day for the two months it was up, one of the pages who was interested in numbers having counted 60 an hour. Nature exhibits are always popular with children. “Our own birds” was the title of a bird- day bulletin at Evanston. A green poster board, on which were tied bunches of pussy-willows, among whose twigs were perched some of the common birds around Evanston, was used. The plates used were the nature study bird plates, brightly colored, which were cut out and pasted on the board in such a way that the effect was very lifelike. Much the same idea was carried out in Providence, only in this library the title is “Procession of the birds and flowers,” each bird being added as it arrives. At the same time in the class room adjoining this library there was an exhibit of 150 photographs called “Joy in springtime,” all being charming pictures of flowers, birds and happy children, with appropriate selections of poetry affixed. The long windows were hung with tranparencies, a framework being built in which to slide the tranparencies, that they may be changed from time to time. Invitations were sent to all the schools, and the exhibit was a great delight to the little ones. Miss Moore, of Pratt, tells of a picture bulletin illustrating life in Porto Rico and a companion bulletin illustrating the Porto Rican village at Glen island (a summer resort accessible to the children), with objects such as water jugs, cooking utensils made from gourds, etc., a hat in the process of making, musical instruments made from gourds, such as were used by the native band at Glen Island. The objects were carefully selected with the aid of the gentleman who instituted the village at Glen Island, and who had made a study of the country and people of Porto Rico. “The bulletin led not so much to the reading of books, because there are few on the subject, but it gave the children a very clear idea of the manner of living of the Porto Ricans and drew the attention of many visitors to Glen Island, as an educational point as well as a pleasure resort.”
Question 9. Do you do anything with Perry pictures, scrap books, etc., for the little children?
At Medford scrap books are made by the children themselves, much to their delight. Several librarians make their own scrap books, Miss Hammond, of St. Paul, sending perhaps the best description of work of this nature. For the little children she always keeps on hand several scrap books made from worn out books, by Howard Pyle and Walter Crane. Other scrap books enjoyed alike by the older children and the little ones are “Colonial pictures” and “Arctic explorers,” the last especially liked by the boys. Miss Hammond also cuts whole articles from discarded magazines, putting on heavy paper covers, labelling and arranging in a case according to subject for the use of teachers and pupils.
Question 10. Mention five examples of pictures suitable for a children’s library.
The pictures suggested are given in order, according to the number of votes assigned to each one.
Raphael, Sistine Madonna, 6 Watts, Sir Galahad, 6 Guido Reni, Aurora, 4 Bonheur, Horse fair, 4 King Arthur, (Chapel of Innspruck), 3 Corot, Landscape, 3 Hardie, Meeting of Scott and Burns, 2 St. Gaudens, Shaw monument, 2 Murillo, Children of the shell, 2 Stuart, Washington, 2 Van Dyck, Baby Stuart, 2
The selection of these pictures must, of course, depend on the library, but there are a few other suggestions which are worthy of mention:
Regnault, Automedon and the horse of Achilles.
Raphael’s Madonna of the chair.
Reynolds, Penelope Boothby.
Question 11. In preparing your lists of books to accompany bulletin, do you prepare an analytical list or refer to book only?
An analytical list seems preferable where any list is used, although some librarians seem to question the advantage of lists. Miss Brown, of Eau Claire, says: “I have, however, decided for myself that the bulletin that pays is the one which tells something of itself and has no long list of books. If the child is interested in the bulletin it is no sign that he will take a book listed, but if he gets a fact from looking at it he has gained something and you lose the bad effect of having him get into the habit of skipping the books on the bulletin, which he usually does.” On the other hand, lists help the systematic reader and relieve the librarian.
In closing we will quote a criticism of an eastern librarian, as a thought on which we all need to dwell: “From the artistic point of view such bulletins as I have seen are commonly too scrappy, ill arranged and given too much to detail. One or two pictures on a large card, with a brief descriptive note, all conveying one idea or emphasizing one point only, is the best form. In bulletins, as in many other things, the rule to follow first of all is simplicity.”
HOW TO INTEREST MOTHERS IN CHILDREN’S READING
One of the newer developments of organized work is with mothers who can be interested in the books their children read, although informal, individual work has always been a part of library work with children. This paper was read at the joint meeting of the Michigan and Wisconsin Library Associations in July, 1914, by Miss May G. Quigley, children’s librarian of the Public Library, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
May Genevieve Quigley was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and was graduated from the Grand Rapids High School. Soon after this, she began work in the Grand Rapids Public Library and has been Head of the Children’s Department since it was organized in 1907.
You ask me how to interest mothers in children’s reading. I began by being invited to the different mothers’ meetings held in the schools; public, parochial and private, the churches and women’s clubs. At each institution, the mothers, coming from widely different circles are always attentive listeners, and many frequently remain to have a word in private, as to whether I consider fairy tales good for their children and to get my personal opinion about detective stories, or some other subject important to them.
I always take with me our Monthly Bulletin, in which are printed the new books for children. This list is talked over with the mothers and books for children of different ages specified. If there is time, I frequently tell the story the book tells or an interesting incident which occurs in some one of the chapters. After such an introduction there is apt to be a “run” on the Children’s department the next few days. Boys and girls come in numbers to ask for the book “You told mother about yesterday.”
These talks at the different schools, clubs and churches are the means of bringing the mothers to the library. They are interested now in wishing to see the place where the “fine English books are kept,” as one little foreign mother always says. I find that the foreign-born mothers are intensely alive to the fact that their children must get the English language if they are ever to succeed, and they too, these foreign mothers, ask intelligent questions as to the books on history and civics for their boys and girls.
Birthdays and holidays are also strong factors, by means of which the library can interest the mothers. We have not as yet printed a list of books suitable for birthdays, but we did print a Christmas list in our November Bulletin of last year, and like Mary’s little lamb, this book was with me wherever I went during the Christmas season. It was an exceedingly valuable list, because prices were given. There were books suitable for every taste and every purse.
I talked the list over with 250 mothers, whom I met at the various schools. A large number came to the library to see the books before buying. Then too, ways and means are always suggested by which they can obtain additional information, namely the telephone, post card, and by appointment with me at the book store, if they desire it, to say nothing of the many times advice is given outside of library hours.
On three different occasions we have had exhibits of books at the schools. This perhaps is the ideal way to interest mothers. I remember at one school the disappointment manifested when it was announced that orders were not taken for the books, but that the same could be obtained at the book store.
Our annual Conference on children’s reading, which is held on the first Saturday in May, brings together still another group. The mothers are represented on the program and they take part in the discussion. The subject at these conferences is always some phase of children’s reading. The discussions are interesting and educational, not only for the mothers, but for the library as well.
If you are able to speak one or two languages besides English, the way is open for you to the foreign mothers’ clubs. I have frequently been a guest at the Italian mothers’ club, where in a small way I have been able to tell them about the library and the books–English and Italian.
Not often do these mothers come to the library, but they are sure to send their children, and through these useful little citizens I hope some day to see the mothers frequent visitors at the library.
I would not have you think that these mothers are not interested because they are not able to come to the library. It is strange and they are often too busy. When I go to the store or they meet me on the street they will ask about the books and express their appreciation of what we are doing for their children.
Three-fourths of the mothers, regardless of nationality, social position or education, have no definite idea as to the kind of books their children ought to read.
If you would succeed in this movement, be interested, know your books, and be ready to have a human interest in every child’s mother, be she rich or poor, American or foreign born. Success will then attend your efforts.
REFERENCE WORK AMONG SCHOOL CHILDREN
The importance of reference work with children is indicated in the next article by the fact that “the subjects on which children seek information are as varied as those brought by older people, and the material is equally elusive.” Miss Abby L. Sargent contributed this article to the Library Journal for April, 1895.
Abby Ladd Sargent received her training under her sister, Miss Mary E. Sargent. She reorganized the Wilmington Library Association Library in 1890-1891. From 1891 to 1895 she was librarian of the Middlesex Mechanics Association. In 1895 she became reference librarian and classifier of the Medford Public Library, where her sister was librarian. In 1910, after her sister’s death, she became librarian of the Medford Public Library. In 1900 she organized and purchased books for the Owatonna, Minnesota, Public Library. She has been instructor in the Expansive Classification in Simmons College Library School since its opening. Miss Sargent was joint editor and compiler of Sargent’s “Reading for the young,” and its supplement.
Let us suppose that the momentous problem is solved of persuading children to use the library for more serious purpose than to find a book “as good as ‘Mark the match boy,’ ” and that we are trying to convince children that the library is infallible, and can furnish information on whatever they wish to know about–whether it is some boy who comes on the busiest morning of the week, to find out how to make a puppet show in time to give an afternoon exhibition, or some high-school girl who rushes over in the 20 minutes’ recess to write an exhaustive treatise on women’s colleges.
It is unnecessary to say that the fewer books the library can supply the more must those few be forced to yield. A large library, with unlimited volumes, meets few of the difficulties which beset smaller and poorer institutions.
If the librarian can name at once “a poem about Henry of Navarre,” or tell who wrote “by the rude bridge that arched the flood,” and on what monument it is engraved, can furnish material for debate on “the Chinese question,” “which city should have the new normal school,” “who was Mother Goose,” or on any possible or impossible subject, she gains at once the confidence of the severest of critics, and is sure of their future patronage.
The subjects on which children seek information are as varied as those brought by older people and the material is equally elusive. Perhaps the hardest questions to answer are about the allusions which are found in literature studies, and which frequently the teacher who has given the question cannot answer. I find it helpful whenever I come across material of this nature to make a reference to it in the catalog, and, in fact, to analyze carefully all juvenile books, not fiction, whose titles give no hint of the contents. A great many books otherwise valueless become thus most useful, especially if one is pressed for time.
Mr. Jones, in his “Special reading lists,” gives many such references to juvenile literature. Books like Ingersoll’s “Country cousins,” which contains an article on shell money, also an account of Professor Agassiz’s laboratory at Newport; Mary Bamford’s “Talks by queer folks,” giving many of the superstitions prevalent about animals; the set of books by Uncle Lawrence, “Young folks’ ideas,” “Queries,” and “Whys and wherefores,” recently republished under the title “Science in story,” and others of this sort, if carefully indexed, answer many of the questions brought every day by children, and amply repay for the trouble. For even if juvenile books are classified on the shelves, much time is wasted in going through many indexes.
A wide-awake teacher often gives his pupils the events of the day to study, and if they cannot grasp the situation from the daily papers, juvenile periodicals furnish the best material. For this a classified index is indispensable; it makes available accounts of the workings of government, the weather bureau, mint, and other intangible topics. Until the recent publication of Capt. King’s “Cadet days,” I knew of no other place to find any description of West Point routine outside of Boynton’s or Cullum’s histories. One glimpse of either would convince any boy he would rather try some other subject.
A short article often suffices to give the main facts. My experience, both as teacher and librarian, persuades me that the average child is eminently statistical. “A horse is an animal with four legs–one at each corner,” is fairly representative of the kind of information he seeks. When he becomes diffuse, we may feel sure he has had help. Sissy Jupes are of course to be found, who cannot grapple with facts.
Working on this principle, I have made liberal use of a book issued by the U. S. Government–“The growth of industrial art.” It gives, in pictures, with only a line or two of description, the progress of different industries–such as the locomotive, from the clumsy engine of 1802 to the elaborate machinery of the present day; the evolution of lighting, from the pine-knot and tallow-dip to the electric light; methods of signalling, from the Indian fire-signal to the telegraph; time-keeping, etc. A child will get more ideas from one page of pictures than from a dozen or more pages of description and hard words.
If lack of space compels one to deny the privilege of going to the shelves, it seems to me more essential for children to have ready access to reference-books, and especially to be taught how to use them, than for grown-up people. The youngest soon learn to use “Historical notebooks,” Champlin’s Cyclopaedias, Hopkins’ “Experimental science,” “Boys’ and Girls’ handy books,” and others of miscellaneous contents. If they have a mechanical bent they will help themselves from Amateur Work or “Electrical toy-making”; if musical, from Mrs. Lillie’s “Story of music” or Dole’s “Famous composers”; if they have ethical subjects to write about, they find what they need in Edith Wiggin’s “Lessons in manners,” Everett’s “Ethics for young people,” or Miss Ryder’s books, which give excellent advice in spite of their objectionable titles. They can find help in their nature studies in Gibson’s “Sharp-eyes,” Lovell’s “Nature’s wonder workers,” Mrs. Dana’s “How to know the wild flowers,” or turn to Mrs. Bolton’s or Lydia Farmer’s books to learn about famous people, if they are encouraged to do so. These, of course, are only a few of the books which can be used in this way. As the different holidays come round there are frequent applications for the customs of those days, or for appropriate selections for school or festival. Miss Matthews and Miss Ruhl have helped us out in their “Memorial day selections,” and McCaskey’s “Christmas in song, sketch, and story,” and the “Yule-tide collection” give great variety. If the juvenile periodicals do not furnish the customs, they can, of course, be found in Brand’s “Popular antiquities,” or Chambers’s “Book of days.” It is necessary sometimes to use the books for older people, since there is a point where childhood and grown-up-hood meet. I was recently obliged to give quite a small child Knight’s “Mechanical dictionary,” to find out when and where weather-vanes were first used, and to give a grammar-school girl Mrs. Farmer’s “What America owes to women,” for material for a graduating essay.
A few excellent suggestions for general reference work are given in Miss Plummer’s “Hints to small libraries”; but in spite of all the aids at command there come times when our only resource is to follow the adage, “look till you find it and your labor won’t be lost,” and to accept the advice of Cap’n Cuttle, “When found, make a note on’t.”
REFERENCE WORK WITH CHILDREN
Another report based on answers received from various libraries in reply to a list of questions suggests that we are “concerned not so much to supply information as to educate in the use of the library.” This report was presented by Miss Harriet H. Stanley at the Waukesha Conference of the A. L. A. in 1901.
Harriet Howard Stanley is a native of Massachusetts. After completing a normal school course and teaching for a few years in secondary schools, she entered the New York State Library School, where she was graduated in 1895. She served for four years as librarian of the Public Library at Southbridge, Mass., and thereafter was for eleven years school reference librarian in the Public Library of Brookline, Mass. Since 1910 she has had positions in the Library of the U. S. Department of Agriculture and the Providence (R. I.) Athenaeum, and was for a year librarian of New Hampshire College. At various times she has taught in summer library schools–Albany, India and McGill University. She is now on the staff of the Public Library of Utica, N. Y.
Preliminary to preparing this report, a list of 15 questions was sent to a number of libraries in different parts of the United States, from 24 of which replies were received. So far as space would permit, the facts and opinions obtained have been embodied in this paper.
Reference work with grown people consists in supplying material on various topics; we consider it sufficiently well done when the best available matter is furnished with as little cost of time and trouble to the inquirer as is consistent with the service we owe to other patrons of the library. To a certain extent this statement is true also of reference work with children, but I think we are agreed that for them our aim reaches further– reaches to a familiarity with reference tools, to knowing how to hunt down a subject, to being able to use to best advantage the material found. In a word, we are concerned not so much to supply information as to educate in the use of the library. Seventeen of the 24 libraries reporting judge children to be sent to them primarily, if not wholly, for information. One of the first steps towards improving and developing reference work with children will have been taken when the teacher appreciates the larger purpose, since the point of view must materially affect the character and scope of the work. Another forward step is for the library to have definitely in mind some plan for accomplishing these ends. Whatever the plan, it will in likelihood have to be modified to accord with the teacher’s judgment and deeds, but a definite proposal ought at least to give impetus to the undertaking.
Six libraries state that a considerable part of the inquiries they receive from children are apparently prompted by their individual interests, and not suggested by the teacher. These inquiries relate chiefly to sports, mechanical occupations and pets. This paper is confined to the discussion of reference work connected with the schools.
In selecting reference books for the purpose, certain familiar ones come at once to our minds. Beyond those there have been suggested: Chase and Clow’s “Stories of Industry,” “Information readers,” Brown’s “Manual of commerce,” Boyd’s “Triumphs and wonders of the 19th century,” Patton’s “Resources of the United States,” Geographical readers, Youth’s Companion geographical series, Spofford’s “Library of historic characters,” Larned’s “History for ready reference,” Ellis’s “Youth’s dictionary of mythology,” Macomber’s “Our authors and great inventors,” Baldwin’s “Fifty famous stories,” “Riverside natural history,” Wright’s “Seaside and wayside,” bound volumes of the Great Round World, and text-books on various subjects.
A dictionary catalog will be useful in teaching the child to look up subjects for himself. If a separate catalog is provided for children, the question arises whether it is wiser to follow closely the A. L. A. headings or to modify them where they differ from topics commonly asked for by children or used as headings in text-books. This question suggests also the advisability of a modified classification for a children’s library.
Last and not least, children should have room and service adapted to their needs, so that they may not constantly have to be put aside in deference to the rightful demands of adult readers.
So far as the writer knows, the Public Library of Boston was the first library to open a reference room expressly for children, well equipped and separate from the children’s reading room or circulating department, and from the general reference department for adults.
CHOICE OF TOPICS
Many libraries report that they find the topics habitually well chosen. The gist of the criticisms is as follows:
(a) The teacher should make clear to the child just what he is to look up and how to ask for it. An eastern library furnishes this incident:
“I want a book about flowers.”
“Do you want a special flower?”
“Yes, I want the rose.”
A book on the cultivation of roses is handed her. Her companion, looking over, exclaims, “Why she wants the Wars of the roses!” The same librarian was invited to provide something on American privileges; whether social, religious, political, or otherwise, the child did not know.
(b) The teacher should be reasonably sure that there is on the topic something in print, in usable shape, that can be gotten at with a reasonable amount of labor.
(c) The subject when found should be within the child’s comprehension. The topic Grasses is manifestly unfit for children, since grasses are difficult to study, and the description of them in encyclopedias and botanies is too technical. An eight- year-old had to investigate the Abyssinian war. Pupils under 16 were assigned the topic Syncretism in the later pagan movement. A western librarian was asked by some girls for Kipling’s “Many inventions” and “Day’s work.” Both were out. “Well, what other books of Kipling’s on agriculture have you?” “Why, Kipling hasn’t written any books on agriculture; he writes stories and poems.” “But we have to debate on whether agriculture or manufacturing has done more for the welfare of the country, and we want a book on both sides.”
(d) The topic should be definite and not too broad, and should be subdivided when necessary. The briefest comprehensive description of Rome is probably that in Champlin’s “Persons and places,” where the six columns, already much condensed, would take more than an hour to copy. A young girl came to find out about Italian painters. None of the several encyclopedias treated them collectively under either Italy or Art. Mrs. Bolton’s book of 10 artists includes four Italians, but it takes some time and skill to discover them, as the fact of their nationality does not introduce the narrative. How should a sixth grade pupil make a selection from the 60 painters in Mrs. Jameson’s book? Three names were furnished by the librarian, and the child made notes from their biographies. The next day she returned and said she hadn’t enough artists.
(e) The question should preferably be of such nature that the child can be helped to find it rather than be obliged to wait while the librarian does the work. One inquiry was, “What eastern plant is sometimes sold for its weight in gold?” This is not in the book of “Curious questions.”
(f) The topic should be worth spending time upon. The genealogy of Ellen Douglas will hardly linger long in the average memory.
USE MADE OF THE MATERIAL BY THE CHILD
Suppose the topic to be good and suitable material to have been found; for older children there are two good ways of using it–one to read through and make notes on the substance, the other to copy in selection. Children need practice in doing both. The first method suits broad description and narration, the second detailed description. There seems to be a prevailing tendency to copy simply, without sufficient neglect of minor points, a process which should be left to the youngest children, since it furnishes little mental training, uses a great deal of time, keeps the writer needlessly indoors, and fosters habits of inattention, because it is easy to copy with one’s mind elsewhere. The necessity for using judgment after the article has been found is illustrated by the case of some children who came for the life of Homer. Champlin, in about a column, mentions the limits within which the conjectures as to the time of Homer’s birth lie, the places which claim to be his birthplace, and tells of the tradition of the blind harper. The children, provided with the book, plunged at once into copying until persuaded just to read the column through. “When you finish reading,” I said, “come to me and tell me what it says.” They came and recounted the items, and only after questioning did they at all grasp the gist of the matter, that nothing is known about Homer. Even then their sense of responsibility to produce something tangible was so great that they would copy the details, and from the children who came next day I judged that the teacher had required some facts as to time and place and tradition. While it is true that we learn by doing and it is well that children should rely upon themselves, it is evident that young pupils need some direction. Even when provided with sub-topics, they often need help in selecting and fitting together the appropriate facts, since no article exactly suits their needs. About half of the reporting librarians are of the opinion that it is the teacher’s business to instruct pupils in the use of books; they consider the library to have done its share when the child has been helped to find the material. The other half believe such direction as is suggested above to be rightly within the librarian’s province; several, however, who express a willingness to give such help, add that under their present library conditions it is impracticable. We can easily see that time would not permit nor would it be otherwise feasible for the teacher to examine every collection of notes made at the library, but there ought to be some systematic work where the topics are thoughtfully chosen, the librarian informed of them in advance, and the notes criticised. A moderate amount of reference work so conducted would be of greater benefit than a large quantity of the random sort which we now commonly have. Five librarians state that they are usually given the topics beforehand. Several others are provided with courses of study or attend grade meetings in which the course is discussed.
SYSTEMATIC INSTRUCTION IN THE USE OF THE LIBRARY
While a general effort is being made to instruct children individually, only a few libraries report any systematic lessons. In Providence each visiting class is given a short description of books of reference. In Hartford an attempt at instruction was made following the vacation book talks. In Springfield, Mass., last year the senior class of the literature department was given a lesson on the use of the library, followed by two practice questions on the card catalog. In one of the Cleveland branches talks are given to both teachers and pupils. At the Central High School of Detroit the school librarian has for the past three years met the new pupils for 40 minutes’ instruction, and test questions are given. A detailed account of similar work done in other high school libraries is to be found in the proceedings of the Chautauqua conference. Cambridge has given a lecture to a class or classes of the Latin school. In the current library report of Cedar Rapids, Ia., is outlined in detail a course of 12 lessons on bookmaking, the card catalog, and reference books. The librarian of Michigan City, Ind., writes: “Each grade of the schools, from the fifth to the eighth, has the use of our class room for an afternoon session each month. Each child is assigned a topic on which to write a short composition or give a brief oral report. When a pupil has found all he can from one source, books are exchanged, and thus each child comes into contact with several books. At these monthly library afternoons I give short talks to the pupils on the use of the library, the reference books, and the card catalog, accompanied by practical object lessons and tests.” At Brookline our plan is to have each class of the eighth and ninth grades come once a year to our school reference room at the library. The teacher accompanies them, and they come in school hours. The school reference librarian gives the lesson. For the eighth grade we consider the make-up of the book–the title-page in detail, the importance of noting the author, the significance of place and date and copyright, the origin of the dedication, the use of contents and index. This is followed by a description of bookmaking, folding, sewing and binding, illustrated by books pulled to pieces for the purpose. The lesson closes with remarks on the care of books. The ninth grade lesson is on reference books, and is conducted largely by means of questioning. A set of test questions at the end emphasizes the description of the books. In these lessons the pupils have shown an unexpected degree of interest and responsiveness. The course brought about 400 children to the library, a few of whom had never been there before. These were escorted about a little, and shown the catalog, charging desk, bulletins, new book shelves, etc. Every one not already holding a card was given an opportunity to sign a registration slip. The following year the eighth grade, having become the ninth, has the second lesson. With these lessons the attitude of the children towards the library has visibly improved, and we are confident that their idea of its use has been enlarged.
The inquiry was made of the reporting libraries whether any bibliographical work was being done by the high school. The question was not well put, and was sometimes misunderstood. Almost no such work was reported. At Evanston, III., one high school teacher has taught her class to prepare bibliographies, the librarian assisting. At Brookline we have ambitions, not yet realized, of getting each high school class to prepare one bibliography a year (we begin modestly) on some subject along their lines of study. Last May the principals of two grammar schools offered to try their ninth grades on a simple bibliography. The school reference librarian selected some 60 topics of English history–Bretwalda, Sir Isaac Newton, East India Company, the Great Commoner, etc. Each bibliography was to include every reference by author, title and page to be found in the books of the school reference collection of the public library. The pupils displayed no little zest and enjoyment in the undertaking, and some creditable lists were made. Observation of the work confirmed my belief in its great practical value. Pupils became more keen and more thorough than in the usual getting of material from one or two references on a subject. Such training will smooth the way and save the time of those students who are to make use of a college library, and is even more to be desired for those others whose formal education ends with the high or grammar schools.
The practice of sending collections of books from the public library to the schools is becoming general. When these collections are along the lines of subjects studied, it would seem as if the reference use of the library by pupils might be somewhat diminished thereby. No doubt it is a convenience to both teacher and pupils to have books at hand to which to refer. The possession of an independent school library also tends to keep the reference work in the school. But in neither case ought the reference use of the public library or its branches to be wholly or materially overlooked, since it is on that that pupils must depend in after years, and therefore to that they must now be directed. We recognize that the people of modest means need the library. As for the very-well-to-do, the library needs them. Other things being equal, the pupil who has learned to know and to know how to use his public library ought later so to appreciate its needs and so to recognize the benefits it bestows that he will be concerned to have it generously supported and wisely administered.
Even we librarians claim for our public collection no such fine service as is rendered by those private treasures that stand on a person’s own shelves, round which “our pastime and our happiness will grow.” Books for casual entertainment are more and more easily come by. But so far as our imagination reaches, what private library will for most readers supplant a public collection of books for purposes of study and reference? Is it not then fitting that we spend time and effort to educate young people to the use of the public library? Do not the methods for realizing this end seem to be as deserving of systematic study as the details of classification and of cataloging? We have learned that to bring school authorities to our assistance our faith must be sufficient to convince and our patience must be tempered by a kindly appreciation of the large demands already made upon the schools. Have we not yet to learn by just what lessons and what practice work the reference use of the public library can best be taught to children?
INSTRUCTION OF SCHOOL CHILDREN IN THE USE OF LIBRARY CATALOGS AND REFERENCE BOOKS
The necessity of close cooperation between school and library in the practical use of books as tools in order that we may have “our grown people more appreciative of the value of their public library and better able to use it” is clearly brought out in this article written by Miss Elizabeth Ellis, Peoria Public Library, for Public Libraries, July, 1899. Miss Ellis says: “It was written at a time when we had no children’s department and was an account of my pioneer efforts made entirely as a side issue from my own work as general reference librarian.”
Elizabeth Ellis spent one year in the New York State Library School, later taking three months of special work. With the exception of organizing a library at Wenona, Illinois, her work was with the Peoria Public Library. She is not now in library work.
Since the public school of today is the source from which must come our support tomorrow, it behooves us to give some attention to the proper training of our school children if we would have our grown people more appreciative of the value of their public library and better able to use it.
We cannot begin too early, and if the children fall into line there will be no trouble with the coming generation.
But they must learn to really use the library; to feel that they are standing on their own feet and using their own tools, not merely that there is a pleasant room where a good story may be had for the asking. They must grow up in such familiar use of the library in all its departments that it will come to be an actual necessity to them in the pursuit of knowledge.
There are music, drawing, and physical culture teachers for our schools; may we not have a few lessons in how to use a library to the best advantage as part of the course? This field for instruction may be worked to advantage by the librarian, with comparatively little expenditure of time after the first round has been made.
Teachers often feel that they have themselves already more outside work than they can accomplish, but they are really glad to have this instruction given in their schools, and in our experience they have invariably taken great interest in it and have done all in their power to further our efforts.
There is certainly no library work which sends in its returns more promptly, for children feel an instinctive sense of ownership in their library, and take a personal interest in anything pertaining to it. They give the most flattering attention and put their instructions into immediate practice. I believe they really take more interest in the subject when presented by “a lady from the library” than if it were only an additional school lesson taught them by their teacher.
Most of the practical instruction must come in the grammar grades and high school, but it is well to begin as early as the third year, and possibly with the second, if there are found to be many children in a room who have already begun to take books and if there is no age limit. If it should so chance that only a small number in a room are library members, it is better to give only the general interesting library talk, leaving the specific instruction till a second visit, when the fruits of the first will probably appear. There is one point for the lowest room which it may be well to mention. See to it that they are learning to say their A B C’s in the good old-fashioned way, for upon this depends all familiar use of catalogs and indexes.
Any child who can write can fill out a call slip, and this we teach them to do from the very first, either from a catalog when help in selection must be given, or from a special list of books for little children.
It must be impressed upon them that if they do not understand the general instruction you are always ready and glad to explain further. If they feel that you are really interested, even the smallest ones will work with enthusiasm to prepare their own call slips instead of asking each time for just any good book.
The intermediate grades, the fifth and sixth, and sometimes the fourth, are quite able to understand the general catalog. I should not advise much explanation at the school, at least in these grades, of the card catalog, if the library has a printed list. The use of a classed catalog, with its index, is easily comprehended, and there are many whole classes of books which these children will enjoy knowing about; boys, I should say, perhaps, for it is the pages containing electricity, photography, boat-building, and hunting, which are worn and crumpled. It is the classed catalog which they will use most, but they should understand the difference between it and the author list.
In all schools it is a good plan to give quizzes, even on a first visit, to draw the children out. Those who are already patrons of the library are delighted to show their knowledge. Afterwards it would be well before the day of the visit, with the teacher’s consent, to send a short set of questions which would be answered and returned for correction, thus giving you an idea of what points need dwelling upon. These questions would vary from the simplest points in filling out library numbers, giving authors to titles and vice versa, to questions on arrangement, use of dictionary catalog and of various reference books.
In upper grades and high school add a simple explanation of the card catalog as being the most complete record, trusting to their interest in coming to the library to use it practically. If there is no printed catalog this explanation will have to be given to fifth and sixth years also.
They should be advised to use both kinds, and particularly the dictionary catalog for biography, as the short analytical references are most often what they want.
Children, boys again particularly, take to the card catalog with a confidence often lacking in their elders. I have seen them even make out their fiction lists from the cards in preference to the printed catalog, though for what reason I cannot explain, unless it is their innate desire to explore the unknown.
It is a good plan to have sample cards plainly written in large form on a sheet of paper, in addition to using a section of the catalog itself if it seems advisable to take it. In lower rooms a blackboard talk holds the attention better.
The use of the guide card, which misleads so many grown people, the heading in red, and the see and see also cards in the dictionary catalog, and the arrangement of biography in a classed list are a few points, which may need dwelling upon, and which I mention as having been found in our experience to be pitfalls for the unwary.
In the upper grade rooms, and particularly in the high school, comes the use of the encyclopedias and reference books.
I have found it hard to hold the attention of sixth-year pupils in this part, but they ought to be familiar with a good encyclopedia and biographical dictionary, and the gazeteer.
Tell them about Harper’s Book of facts, Hayden’s Dictionary of dates, the Century and Lippincott reference books and so on; also Chambers’ Book of days, and the mythological dictionaries, in addition to the best encyclopedias, leaving at each school a descriptive list of these books for their further use. Call especial attention to the biographical dictionaries–few persons know how to use a set whose index is in the last volume; also note difference between table of contents and index in general books, and accustom them to use the latter. If there is a very large reference room it might be well to have some of the best books for school use collected on one shelf, and of course every children’s room should be thus supplied.
Poole’s index may be explained for the principle, but practically people are so sure to select the very volume you have not that it is well to use a little discretion with regard to it, unless you have made an index of all your own periodicals which are included in Poole, and can induce children to be patient enough to use it as a key to the other. The Cumulative index is rather better to teach them the use of periodicals, since it does not contain so many, and also as it gives such a very good idea of the dictionary catalog. The back numbers can be used in your explanations in the schoolroom for both purposes. Find out whether there is a debating society, and if so bring out Briefs for debate, Pros and cons, and tell them specially about the periodical indexes for late subjects.
Care must be taken not to crowd too much into one lesson, or to make it too technical; this latter point we must specially guard against, and experience in teaching comes into good use here. Their individual work with these books will have to be overlooked for some time, even though they are not conscious of it; and one must be ready to fly to the rescue and lend a helping hand without a special request, which I have found some children too timid to make.
In the first year of this kind of work the grammar grades and high school would need some of the instruction given in the lower grades, and after the system is really in working order there would be no actual need to go beyond the grammar grade, as the aim should be to have all really necessary instruction given then as so large a majority of pupils never go farther; but in the high school, if advisable, a course in bibliography could be introduced, based on their school work.
The use of the reference room, or reference desk, is a thing to be taught as much as the books themselves, and in this matter those libraries in which there is not an entirely separate children’s room may have an advantage.
I am told that there is a certain feeling of timidity in entering a reference room which is sometimes hard to overcome in children accustomed to a special room and attendant.
Whatever the arrangement, they must be made to feel that the reference room, its appliances and its attendants, are part of their school outfit, an annex to the school as it were, however much we, carrying out the idea of Dr. Harris, may think the school an annex to the library. Accustom them as far as possible to use reference books at the library, and perhaps the coming generation will not invariably demand a book to take home, no matter how small the subject or how large the number of applicants for the same.
In this, as in all other school work, we must look to the teacher for aid after the technical use of our tools is taught.
The average child does not so much need the encouragement to read which may come from the library as constant guidance, which, to a large degree, must and does rest with the teacher, and in this matter of instruction much must depend on her even though the teaching itself is not imposed upon her as part of her duties. Explain to her your ideas, get her individual interest, and I can testify that she will assist in many ways. Children take their tone from their teacher, and the battle is half won if we have her hearty cooperation. A catalog should be placed in every school, and this she will help her pupils to use in nature work, history, and geography, and at the different holidays; also for their selections in speaking.
Particularly can she help in regard to their use of the reference room. She will remind them from time to time to go there instead of to the general delivery counter for special school topics. She will furnish a weekly memorandum of her essay work, this especially in the high school. She will send a warning note when her whole class is to descend upon us in a body at the busiest part of the afternoon, thereby probably saving our reputation in the minds of these young people whom we are laboring to convince that the library is an inexhaustible storehouse of information, equal to any demand which may be made upon it.
Now is the time for them to put their theoretical knowledge into practice, and we must often turn them loose with the reference books to find their own way, if we would be able in the future to deny the accusation that we are fostering laziness by having the very page and line pointed out.
I really believe that when the present library and school movement, has had time to exert its influence over even one generation, unlimited possibilities will unfold. Think what it will be to have our legislatures and city councils, our school and library boards and corps of teachers, drawn from the ranks of