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books on three sides with combustible wood, as is done in most libraries. Shelves of oxidized metal will be found smooth enough to prevent any abrasion of bindings. Shelves should be easily adjustable to any height, to accommodate the various sizes of books.
In calculating shelf capacity, one and a half inches thickness a volume is a fair average, so that each hundred volumes would require about thirteen feet of linear shelf measurement. The space between uprights, that is, the length of each shelf, should not exceed two and a half feet. All spaces between shelves should be 104 or 11 inches high, to accommodate large octavos indiscriminately with smaller sizes; and a base shelf for quartos and folios, at a proper height from the floor, will restrict the number of shelves to six in each tier.
In the arrangement of the cases or book-stacks, the most economical method is to place book-cases of double face, not less than three feet apart, approached by aisles on either side, so as to afford free passage for two persons meeting or passing one another. The cases may be about ten feet each in length. There should be electric lights between all cases, to be turned on only when books are sought. The cases should be set at right angles to the wall, two or three feet from it, with the light from abundant windows coming in between them. The width of shelves
be from 16 to 18 inches in these double cases, thus giving about eight to nine inches depth to each side. No partition is required between the two sides.
It should be stated that the light obtained from windows, when thrown more than twenty feet, among cases of books on shelves, becomes too feeble for effective use in finding books. This fact should be considered in advance, while plans of construction, lighting, and interior arrangement are being made. All experience has shown that too much light cannot be had in any public library.
Railings and stair-cases for the second or upper floors should be of perforated iron.
The reading-room should be distinct from the book delivery or charging-room, to secure quiet for readers at all hours, avoiding the pressure, hurry and noise of conversation inevitable in a lending library or department. In the reading-room should be shelved a liberal supply of books of reference, and bibliographies, open without tickets to the readers. Next the central desk there should be shelves for the deposit of books reserved day by day for the use of readers. The library chairs, of whatever pattern may be preferred, should always combine the two requisites of strength and lightness. The floor should be covered with linoleum, or some similar floor covering, to deaden sound. Woolen carpets, those perennial breeders of dust, are an abomination.
In a library reading-room of any considerable size, each reader should be provided with table or desk room, not flat but sloping at a moderate angle, and allowing about three feet of space for each reader. These appliances for study need not be single pieces of furniture, but made in sections to accommodate from three to six readers at each. About thirty inches from the floor is a proper height.
For large dictionaries, atlases, or other bulky volumes, the adjustable revolving case, mounted on a pedestal, , should be used.
For moving any large number of volumes about the library, book-trucks or barrows, with noiseless rubber wheels, are required.
Every library will need one or more catalogue cases to hold the alphabetical card catalogue. These are made with a maximum of skill by the Library Bureau, Boston.
The location of the issue-counter or desk is of cardinal importance. It should be located near the centre of the
system of book-cases, or near the entrance to the stack, so as to minimize the time consumed in collecting the books wanted. It should also have a full supply of light, and this may be secured by a location directly in front of a large side window. Readers are impatient of delay, and the farther the books are from the issue-counter the longer they will have to wait for them.
Among modern designs for libraries, that of Dr. W. F. Poole, adapted for the Newberry Library, Chicago, is notable for dividing the library into many departments or separate rooms, the book shelves occupying one half the height of each, or 71 feet out of 15, the remaining space being occupied by windows. This construction, of course, does not furnish as compact storage for books as the stack system. It is claimed to possess the advantage of extraordinarily good light, and of aiding the researches of read
But it has the disadvantage of requiring readers to visit widely separated rooms to pursue studies involving several subjects, and of mounting in elevators to reach some departments. A system which brings the books to the reader, instead of the readers travelling after the books, would appear to be more practically useful to the public, with whom time is of cardinal importance.
In all libraries, there should be a receiving or packing room, where boxes and parcels of books are opened and books mended, collated, and prepared for the shelves. This room may well be in a dry and well lighted basement. Two small cloak-rooms for wraps will be needed, one for each sex.
Two toilet rooms or lavatories should be provided. A room for the library directors or trustees, and one for the librarian, are essential in libraries of much extent. A janitor's room or sleeping quarters sometimes needs to be provided. A storage room for blanks, stationery, catalogues, etc., will be necessary in libraries of much extent. A periodical room is sometimes provided, distinct from the reading-room or the delivery department. In this case, if several hundred periodicals are taken, an attendant should be always present to serve them to readers, from the shelves or cases where they should be kept in alphabetical order. Without this, and a ticket system to keep track of what are in use, no one can readily find what is needed, nor ascertain whether it is in a reader's hands when sought for. System and the alphabet alone will solve all difficulties.
As to the space required for readers in a periodical room, it may be assumed that about five hundred square feet will accommodate twenty-five readers, and the same proportion for a larger number at one time. A room twenty-five by forty would seat fifty readers, while one twenty-five by twenty would accommodate twenty-five readers, with proper space for tables, &c. The files for newspapers are referred to in another chapter on periodicals.
In a library building, the heating and ventilation are of prime importance. Upon their proper regulation largely depends the health and consequently the efficiency of all employed, as well as the comfort of the reading public. There is no space to enter upon specific descriptions, for which the many conflicting systems, with experience of their practical working, should be examined. Suffice it to say in general, that a temperature not far below nor above 70 degrees Fahrenheit should be aimed at; that the furnace, with its attendant nuisances of noise, dust, and odors, should be outside the library building—not under it; and that electric lighting alone should be used, gas being highly injurious to the welfare of books.
In calculating the space required for books shelved as has been heretofore suggested, it may be approximately stated that every one thousand volumes will require at least eighty to one hundred square feet of floor measurement. Thus, a library of 10,000 volumes would occupy an area of nearly one thousand square feet. But it is necessary to provide also for the continual growth of the collection. To do this, experience shows that in any flourishing public library, space should be reserved for three or four times the number of volumes in actual possession. If rooms are hired for the books, because of inability to build, the library should be so arranged as to leave each alternate shelf vacant for additions, or, in the more rapidly growing divisions, a still greater space. This will permit accessions to be shelved with their related books, without the trouble of frequently moving and re-arranging large divisions of the library. This latter is a very laborious process, and should be resorted to only under compulsion. The preventive remedy, of making sure of space in advance, by leaving a sufficiency of unoccupied shelves in every division of the library, is the true one.
In some libraries, a separate reading-room for ladies is provided. Mr. W. F. Poole records that in Cincinnati such a room was opened at the instance of the library directors. The result was that the ladies made it a kind of social rendezvous, where they talked over society matters, and exhibited the bargains made in their shopping excursions. Ladies who came to study preferred the general reading room, where they found every comfort among well
, conducted gentlemen, and the "ladies' reading-room" was abandoned, as not fulfilling its object. The same experiment in the Chicago Public Library had the same result.
Some libraries in the larger towns provide a special reading-room for children; and this accomplishes a two-fold object, namely, to keep the public reading-room free from flocks of little people in pursuit of books under difficulties,