Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

feared that they would injure their trade, several free libraries of various imporfind that they create a taste for reading, tance and character. There is the adand multiply their customers. Sub- mirable Guildhall Library, so well manscription libraries, find that the free aged by Mr. Overall, and supported by libraries, so far from injuring them, the corporation of the city. There is a serve as pioneers for them. At the small free library at Notting Hill, mainsame time, this plan would add consid- tained entirely by the munificence of erably to the funds of the town libraries, Mr. James Heywood, F.R.S. Several and the country people when going to institutions, too, have of late thrown town would fairly acquire the right of open small libraries to the public, as in using the news-rooms and reference the case of the free library of 1000 vol. library. No doubt it seems rather a umes, with abundant periodicals, maingrotesque idea to speak of a country tained entirely on voluntary contribubumpkin frequenting a reference library, tions by the South London Working but it is what we are gradually coming Men's College at 143 Upper Kenningto. At any rate, it may most confi- ton Lane. Bethnal Green practically dently be said that we must come to it possesses a fair library of 5000 volumes, unless we are content to be left far be- opened to the public by the trustees of hind in the race of intellectual, material, The Hall” in London Street. In St. and moral progress. What we are too Pancras an anonymous lady benefactress stupid and antiquated to do, the colonies opened a small free library at 29 Camand the United States are doing. The den Street, and after three years of suceyes of the British landowner and the cessful operation it was placed in the British farmer have been opened a little hands of a committee of subscribers and in the last few years, and the most con- residents of the parish, who are graduservative people will perhaps appreciate ally increasing its usefulness. more than they would formerly have There are, it is true, several other imdone the value of the warning—“ Be- portant libraries which are practically ware of the competition of your own free to the public. The Lambeth Palace educated offspring.

Library is open to the public on MonIt is difficult, however, to find fault days, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and with minor towns, while the vast metro Fridays, and Tuesday mornings ; but polis of London, in the wider sense of the collection of books, though highly the name, remains practically devoid of valuable to the scholar, is totally unsuitrate-supported libraries. The fact it- ed to popular use. ;The excellent library self is its own condemnation ; no ex- of the London Institution in Finsbury tenuation is possible ; it is a case of Circus is practically opened to the use mere ignorant impatience of taxation. of any suitable readers by the liberality It would not be correct to say there are of the managers of that institution and no free libraries in London. There is the public spirit of its principal librain Westminster a real rate-supported rian, Mr. E. B. Nicholson. The relibrary belonging to the united parishes markable scientific library collected by of St. Margaret and St. John, started as Sir Francis Ronalds and bequeathed to long ago as 1857, with only three dis- the Society of Telegraph Engineers, is sentient votes. It is a lending library also available to the public. But such possessing 11,700 volumes, with an special libraries do not in the least fill annual issue of nearly 85,000 volumes, the place occupied in Manchester, Birand it is supported by a halfpenny rate. mingham, and other towns by the public To show the extent of the deficiency in libraries, with their numerous branches, London, it is enough to mention that news-rooms, etc. the eighty-six provincial towns possess- It has been seriously argued that Loning free libraries have an aggregate don does not want rate-supported population in 1871) of not quite six libraries because there is in the British millions of persons'; while London, Museum a vast library maintained at the with its one small rate-supported library, cost of the state. To any one in the has a population of 3,620,000 persons. least acquainted with the British

Though there is only one library under Museum it is not necessary to give an the public library act as yet, there are answer to such an absurd argument. It

ance.

would be in the highest degree waste- sonally acquainted with a well-constructful and extravagant to open such a ed free library, with its open doors, its library to popular use. Panizzi's great cheerful lights and bright fires, its invitreading-room is the national literary lab- ing newspaper stands, its broad tables oratory, whence no small part of the lit- littered over with the best and most aterature of the country directly or indi- tractive periodical literature, with here rectly draws its material and inspiration. and there perhaps a small table for The cost may be considerable, but the chess, and other quiet occupations, I work done there is essential. Already feel sure they would demand a like instithe privileges of the reading-room are to tution in every division of that housesome extent abused by loungers, stu- covered province called London. For dents reading the commonest text-books, some years past the Metropolitan Free or others who like the soft seats and Libraries Association, an offshoot of the rather warm atmosphere ; but it is im- Librarians' Conference, has been strivpossible to draw the line with perfect ing, under the able management of Mr. accuracy. If any change is to be made, Edward B Nicholson, to procure the more restriction rather than more free- adoption of the acts in the metropolis, dom of entry to the Museum library is and it is to be hoped that we shall soon desirable. In any case, the National hear of some success. Library is probably the most admirable In addition to their principal work of and the most admirably managed insti- popularizing the best literature of the tution belonging to the British nation; country, public libraries have other funcbut it has nothing to do with the free tions to perform of no slight importlibrary movement.

The reference departments will Not far from the Museum is another naturally become in the progress of time library which might well be converted the depositories of collections of local into a free public library. It is known literature and records which would as Dr. Williams's Library, and is placed otherwise not improbably perish. The in a very suitable building in Grafton public librarian will consider it part of Street, close to University College. It his duty to collect the ephemeral publiwas founded by a Nonconformist min- cations of the local press. Local pamister, and contains a rather strong in- phlets, municipal reports, companies' refusion of theological literature. In later ports, fly-sheets of various kinds, local years, however, the trustees have added newspapers, minor magazines, election the best books of general literature and squibs-in fact, all the documents which science, and they admit any properly in- register the life of the town and countroduced person to read or even borrow try, should be sedulously brought tothe books. It can hardly be maintained, gether, filed, and bound after due arhowever, that the library renders the rangement. It is sometimes supposed public services which it might readily that the British Museum collects everydo. In the close vicinity of University thing which issues from the press, but College and the Museum, it is not needed this applies at the best only to publicaas a scholar's library, and therefore I tions having copyright. Mr. W. E. A. think it should be converted into a Axon has urged that the Museum people's library.

should not only collect all literature, but In spite of the existence of the above- issue periodical indexes of all that is mentioned and possibly several other printed. I hardly see how it is possible practically free libraries, the fact is for the Museum to cope with the everthat there is no institution well adapted increasing mass of printed documents. to give London rate-payers an idea of the Already the newspaper collections are advantages which are really within their increasing so much in bulk that it is reach under the libraries acts, if they difficult to find space for them. I know, would once overcome the interested as a positive fact, that there are immense owners of cottage property and others, numbers of statistical reports, police rewho from selfish motives oppose every- ports, country finance reports, and docuthing appearing to tend towards the ments of all kinds, public, private, or slightest increase of the rates. If the semi-private, which seldom do and hardpopulace of London could become per- ly can find their way to the Museum, or to any great metropolitan library. But there may be a dark, or at least sombre where the Museum necessarily fails, the and doubtful, side to the somewhat coulocal library can easily succeed, so as to leur de rose view which we have taken of become in time the depository of invalu- free libraries. There are a few persons able materials for local history and sta- who assert that reading is capable of betistical inquiry.

ing carried to a vicious and enervating A good deal is already being done in excess.

At the Manchester meeting of this direction, as explained by Mr. W. the Library Association, Mr. J. Taylor H. K. Wright, of the Plymouth Free Kay, the librarian of Owens College, Library, in the report of the first annual read a paper, much criticised at the meeting of the Library Association (pp. time, on "The Provision of Novels in 44-50). At Liverpool, Mr. Cowell is Rate-supported Libraries." In previous collecting, arranging, and cataloguing a years Mr. Kay was one of the staff at large number of books, plans, maps, and the Manchester Free Library, and the drawings of local interest. At Rochdale following is the result of his observation and Bristol like efforts are being made of readers : "For many years a reIn the Leicester Library there is a dis- markable fact has been before my notice, tinct “ Leicestershire Department.” and continually confirmed by a long exBirmingham has unfortunately lost its perience in the Manchester Free Libranoble Shakespeare and Cervantes Libra- ries, that schoolboys or students who ries, and what is almost worse, its irre- took to novel reading to any great explaceable Staunton collection of War- tent never made much progress in after wickshire literature has fallen a victim to life. They neglected real practical life the flames. But Mr. Mullins is doing for a sensually imaginative one, and sufall that can be done to re-create a valu- fered accordingly from the enervating able local library. At Plymouth, Mr. influence." This matter is far too de. Wright is himself forming the nucleus batable to be argued out in this place, of a future Devon and Cornwall library. and I would only answer to Mr. Kay

Free libraries will also become event- that it is quite too late in the political ually the depositories of many special day to think of restraining the reading collections of books formed in the first of sensational literature. In this respect place by enthusiastic collectors. At the our boats were long since burnt behind London Conference of Librarians, Mr. us. Time was when the paper duty and Cornelius Walford showed (Report, pp. various cunningly devised stamp duties 45-49) what important services may be were supposed to save the common peodone in this way ; and in the Second ple from the demoralizing effects of liteAnnual Report of the Library Associa- rature. But the moralist has now only tion (pp. 54-60, Appendix, pp. 139–148) to notice some of the dingy shops crowdthere is a really wonderful account by ed with cheap penny and halfpenny Mr. John H. Nodal of the special col- papers, in order to feel that restraint of lections of books existing in the neigh- literature is a thing of the past, as much borhood of Manchester. The best as the parish stocks or the ducking-stool. possible example of what may be done There is a perfect deluge of low class by a free library is furnished by the and worthless periodical literature Wigan Free Public Library. The libra- spreading over the country, and it can rian at Wigan, Mr. Henry Tennyson only be counteracted by offering gratuiFolkard, has formed a remarkable col- tous supplies of literature, which, whether lection of works relating to mining, it be fiction or not, may at any rate be metallurgy, and manufactures, and has pure and harmless, and often of great lately issued a first index catalogue. moral and intellectual excellence. What This forms a complete guide, or at least between the multiplying powers of the a first attempt at a complete guide, to steam press and the cheapness of straw the literature of the subject. It is to be and wood paper, fiction of the “penny hoped that in time other librarians will dreadful" class can be issued ad infitake up other special branches of litera- nitum. The only question is, whether ture and prepare like bibliographical the mass of the people are to read the guides.

most worthless and often immoral trash, It is not well to ignore the fact that or whether they are to have the best

class of fictionthat of Dickens, of books. The site of the Stoke-uponGeorge Eliot, of Trollope, and the rest Trent Library, together with a handsome -placed within their reach.

sum of money, was given by Mr. C. M. Many attempts have been made and Campbell, a local society presenting a are being made by societies or by en- library of books and a museum. At lightened publishers to place constant Reading the adoption of the act was desupplies of pure and yet attractive lite- feated seven years ago; but Mr. William rature within the reach of the mass of Palmer, of the great biscuit firm, prothe people. But I venture to think that ceeded to open a library at his own exa wide extension of the free library pense, under the management of a lady system is a necessary complement to librarian. The library soon became so such efforts. It seems to me impossi- popular that when the rate-payers again ble to publish the best light literature at voted there was only a single dissentient. a price to compete with the inane penny Hereford, Coventry, and several other or halfpenny novelettes, whereas the places owe their libraries partly to benefree library offers the best works of factors, while in many cases valuable fiction or general literature free of collections of books have been handed charge to the borrowers, and at a cost over to the public by individuals or to the public not exceeding a penny or societies. It is to be hoped that the list twopence for a whole volume.

of benefactions will be largely increased One point which it is worth while to

in future years. notice about free libraries is, that they The economical working of free liare likely to be most permanent and braries has been much advanced by the progressive institutions. I have pointed invention of Indicators, which, like out in a former article (Contemporary finger-posts at cross-roads, afford a great Review, February, 1880, Vol. xxxvii. p. deal of information at the least possible 181) how evanescent many kinds of cost. The one now most in use was insocial movements have proved to be. vented by Mr. John Elliot, librarian to But an important collection of books, the Wolverhampton Public Library. It once formed and housed, is a solid nu- was preceded, indeed, by a rude kind of cleus, which attracts gifts and legacies, indicator-board with the numbers of the and often grows altogether beyond the books painted upon it, and pegs which conception of the first founders. It could be stuck into holes so as to show would be possible to mention many public to the library attendants whether the libraries which had small beginnings and book so numbered was in or out. Mr. are already great. With the increase of Diall, of Liverpool, improved upon this education and general intelligence, libra- board by using numbered blocks, so ries will be far more esteemed institu- moving upon a slide that they would extions half a century hence than they are hibit to the public the numbers of all now. It is difficult to imagine, then, a books available for borrowing. wiser and better way in which a rich Mr. Elliot's Indicator is a much more man or a rich woman may spend avail- valuable instrument, for it not only able wealth than in founding a free shows at a glance whether any book is library in some town which has hitherto in or out, but it also affords a means of feared the first cost of the undertaking. recording mechanically the names of borSeveral free libraries have already

have already rowers, so as almost entirely to replace been established more or less at the cost the use of book-ledgers or other written of individuals. The Liverpool Library records. It was well described by Mr. was built at the expense of the late Sir W. J. Haggerston, of the South Shields William Brown, on a site given by the Library, at a conference of the Northern corporation. The Paisley Library Union of Mechanics’ Institutions. building was presented by Sir P. Coats. Some account of it will also be found in Mr. David Chadwick gave a building the Transactions of the First Meeting of and books, all complete, to Macclesfield. the Library Association, in the paper of Mr. Bass built the Derby Library. The Mr. James Yates (pp: 76–78) already Wigan Library building was erected by referred to. The Indicator consists of Mr. Thomas Taylor, while Mr. Winnard upright square frames, each containing presented £12,000 for the purchase of a thousand small shelves, in ten vertical New Series.-VOL. XXXIII., No. 5

41

re

means.

divisions of one hundred shelves each. that the book is out. Mr. Cotgreave The two faces of the frame are identical, has also devised a simple system of date with the exception that the one exposed marks, which will show in which week, towards the public is covered with plate and, if required, on what day in each glass so as to prevent meddling, while week, a book was borrowed. The chief the librarians have access to the inner advantages of this Indicator is the fact face. Each shelf is numbered on both that it preserves in the small ledger a faces with the number of the one book permanent record of the use of each which it represents. When a borrower book. There are various incidental adtakes a book out, he hands his library vantages not easily to be appreciated exticket to the librarian, who writes upon cept by those frequently using these deit the number of the book taken and the vices. It is almost impossible, for indate of borrowing, and then places it on stance, to make mistakes with Cotthe shelf corresponding to the book, greave's Indicator by misplacing cards, where it remains until the book is re- because all the shelves are full except turned. If any other person comes in- that which is being dealt with. The tending to borrow the same book, he numbers of the books, again, can looks at the Indicator, and seeing the arranged, if required, without taking the ticket of the borrower lying in the cor- framework of the Indicator to pieces. responding shelf, knows at once that the The economy effected in the working book is out. It is also possible to indi- of a large public library by the use of cate, by appropriate marks placed on the these Indicators is very remarkable. shelves, that books are at the binders, Thus it is stated that in the Leeds Pubwithdrawn from circulation, or missing. lic Library books can be easily issued An immense deal of trouble in searching by the use of Elliot's Indicator at the and inquiring is saved by this simple rate of 76 per hour, and at the cost of

The Indicator, as thus con- 235. 3d. per 1000 volumes. In the structed, has been in use at the Public Leeds Mechanics' Institution books Libraries of Paisley, Exeter, Coventry, were issued without an Indicator at the Hereford, Bilston, Stockton-on-Tees, rate of 11 per hour, at a cost of £5 6s. Leeds, South Shields, Wolverhampton, per 1000.

At South Shields as many as Cardiff, Leicester, Derby, Sheffield, 169 volumes have been issued in one Darlaston, and Southport, besides some hour, being at the rate of nearly one private subscription libraries.

volume per minute for each member of Efficient as Elliot's Indicator may the staff ! At Wolverhampton one seem, Mr. Cotgreave, formerly Librarian librarian, assisted by two boys, effected at Wednesbury, but now in charge of the a total issue in one year of 97,800 books. beautiful little library approaching com- Technical details of this sort may seem pletion at Richmond (Surrey), has suc- trilling, but they are really of great imceeded in making improvements upon it. portance in showing what ingenuity and In this new Indicator the frames and systematization can do in bringing the shelves are much the same as in Elliot's, best classes of literature within the reach but each shelf bears a very small book of the people. or ledger, about three inches long and Looking back over ten, fifteen, or one inch wide. This is attached to a twenty years, it is surprising to notice tin slide bearing the number of the what an advance has been accomplished library book on each end, but in differ- in our notions of library economy and ent colors. When a borrower applies extension. This is greatly due, I befor any book, say 117D, the librarian, lieve, to the reflex effect of American while delivering the book, takes out of activity. A glance through the Special the Indicator the corresponding slide Report on the Public Libraries in the and small ledger, records in spaces United States of America, their history, therein the number of the borrower's condition, and management, issued at card and the date of issue, and then re- Washington in 1876, shows how wide places the slide with the reverse end the American ideas of library foremost-i.c., towards the public. Any management. The Library Journal, subsequent applicant will then see by edited by Mr. Melvil Dewey, and formthe altered color of the book number ing the official organ of the American

are

« VorigeDoorgaan »