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The largest library in the country, save one (that at Washington), owes its origin and success to this principle, combined with some private munificence. The Boston Public Library is unquestionably one of the most widely useful collections of books open to the public in this country. Of all the greater collections, it is the only one which lends out books free of charge to all citizens. Instituted in 1852, its career has been one of rapid progress and ever widening usefulness. I shall not dwell upon it at length, as the facts regarding it have been more widely published than those relating to any other library.

Under the permissive library laws of thirty States, there had been formed up to 1896, when the last comprehensive statistics were gathered, about 1,200 free public libraries, supported by taxation, in the United States.

A still more widely successful means of securing a library foundation that shall be permanent is found in uniting private benefactions with public money to found or to maintain a library. Many public-spirited citizens, fortunately endowed with large means, have offered to erect library buildings in certain places, on condition that the local authorities would provide the books, and the means of maintaining a free library. Such generous offers, whether coupled with the condition of perpetuating the donor's name with that of the library, or leaving the gift unhampered, so that the library may bear the name of the town or city of its location, have generally been accepted by municipal bodies, or by popular vote. This secures, in most cases, a good working library of choice reading, as well as its steady annual growth and management, free of the heavy expense of building, of which the tax-payers are relieved. The many munificent gifts of library buildings by Mr. Andrew Carnegie, to American towns and cities, and to some in his native Scotland, are worthy of special note.

And the reader will see from the long list heretofore given of the more considerable public libraries to be credited wholly or in part to private munificence, that American men of wealth have not been wanting as public benefactors.

In some cases, whole libraries have been given to a town or village where a public library already existed, or liberal gifts or bequests of money, to be expended in the enrichment of such libraries, have been bestowed. Very interesting lists of benefactions for the benefit of libraries may be found in the volumes of the Library Journal, New York. It is with regret that candor requires me to add, that several proffers of fine library buildings to certain places, coupled with the condition that the municipal authorities would establish and maintain a free library, have remained without acceptance, thus forfeiting a liberal endowment. Where public education has been so neglected as to render possible such a niggardly, penny-wise and pound-foolish policy, there is manifestly signal need of every means of enlightenment.

We now come to the various State libraries founded at the public charge, and designed primarily for the use of the respective legislatures of the States. The earliest of these is the New Hampshire State Library, established in 1790, and the largest is the New York State Library, at Albany, founded in 1818, now embracing 325,000 volumes, and distinguished alike by the value of its stores and the liberality of its management. The reason for being of a State library is obviously and primarily to furnish the legislative body and State courts with such ample books of reference in jurisprudence, history, science, etc., as will aid them in the intelligent discharge of their duties as law-makers and judges of the law. The library thus existing at each State capital may well be opened to the public for reading and reference, thus greatly enlarging its usefulness.

Every State in the Union has now at least a legislative library, although the most of them consist chiefly of laws and legislative documents, with a few works of reference superadded; and their direct usefulness to the public is therefore very circumscribed. The New York State Library is a model of what a great public library should be in the capital of a State. In it are gathered a great proportion of the best books in each department of literature and science, while indefatigable efforts have been made to enrich it in whatever relates to American history and polity. Its reading-room is freely opened to the public during many hours daily. But a State library should never be made a library of circulation, since its utility as a reference library, having its books always in for those who seek them, would thereby be destroyed. Even under the existing system, with the privilege of drawing books out confined to the Legislature, some of the State libraries have been depleted and despoiled of many of their most valuable books, through loaning them freely on the orders of members. The sense of responsibility is far less in the case of borrowed books which are government property, than in other cases. The only safe rule for keeping a government library from being scattered, is strict refusal of orders for loaning to any one not legally entitled to draw books, and short terms of withdrawal to legislators, with enforcement of a rule of replacement, at their expense, as to all books not returned at the end of each session.

There is one class of libraries not yet touched upon, namely, school district libraries. These originated for the first time in a legally organized system, through an act of the New York State Legislature in 1835, authorizing the voters in each school district to levy a tax of twenty dollars with which to start a library, and ten dollars a year for adding to the same. These were not to be for the schools alone, but for all the people living in the district where the school was located. This was supplemented in 1838 by a State appropriation of $55,000 a year, from New York's share of the surplus revenue fund distributed by Congress to the States in 1837, and the income of which was devoted by New York to enlarging the school district libraries. After spending nearly two millions of dollars on these libraries in forty years, the system was found to have been so far a failure that the volumes in the libraries had decreased from 1,600,000 to 700,000 volumes.

This extraordinary and deplorable result was attributed to several distinct causes. 1st. No proper responsibility as to the use and return of books was enforced. 2d. The insignificance of the sum raised by taxation in each district prevented any considerable supply of books from being acquired. 3d. The funds were largely devoted to buying the same books in each school district, instead of being expended in building up a large and varied collection. Thus the system produced innumerable petty libraries of duplicates, enriching publishers and booksellers, while impoverishing the community. The school district library system, in short, while promising much in theory, in the way of public intelligence, broke down completely in practice. The people quickly lost interest in libraries which gave them so little variety in books, either of instruction or of recreation.

Although widely introduced in other States besides New York, from 1837 to 1877, it proved an admitted failure in all. Much public money, raised by taxation of the people, was squandered upon sets of books, selected by State authority, and often of inferior interest and utility. Finally, it was recognized that school district libraries were an evanescent dream, and that town libraries must take their place. This instructive chapter in Library history shows an experience by which much was learned, though the lesson was a costly one.

The Historical libraries of the country are numerous, and some of the larger ones are rich in printed Americana, and in historical manuscripts. The oldest is that of the Massachusetts Historical Society, founded in 1791, and among the most extensive are those of the New York Historical Society, American Antiquarian Society, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the New England Historic-genealogical Society, and the Wisconsin State Historical Society. There are no less than 230 historical societies in the U. S., some forty of which are State associations.

The Mercantile libraries are properly a branch of the proprietary, though depending mostly upon annual subscriptions. The earliest of these was the Boston Mercantile Library, founded in 1820, and followed closely by the New York Mercantile the same year, the Philadelphia in 1821, and the Cincinnati Mercantile in 1835.

Next we have the professional libraries, law, medical, scientific, and, in several cities, theological. These supply a want of each of these professions seldom met by the public collections, and are proportionately valuable.

The most recent plan for the wide diffusion of popular books is the travelling library. This originated in New York in 1893, when the Legislature empowered the Regents of the State University (a body of trustees having charge of all library interests in that State) to send out selections of books to any community without a library, on request of 25 resident taxpayers. The results were most

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