Page images

and to furnish the boys and girls with accommodations of their own. It may be suggested as an objection, that the dividing line as to age is difficult to be drawn: but let each applicant be questioned, and if falling below twelve, or fifteen, or whatever the age limit may be, directed to the juvenile reading-room, and there need be no trouble. Of course there will be some quite young readers who are gifted with intelligence beyond their years, and who may dislike to be reckoned as children; but library rules are not made to suit exceptions, but for the average; and as no book need be refused to any applicant in the juvenile department, no just cause of complaint can arise.

In some libraries, and those usually of the larger size, an art room is provided, where students of works on painting, sculpture, and the decorative arts can go, and have about them whatever treasures the library may contain in that attractive field. The advantages of this provision are, first, to save the necessity of handling and carrying so many heavy volumes of galleries of art and illustrated books to the general reading-room, and back again, and secondly, to enable those in charge of the art department to exercise more strict supervision in enforcing careful and cleanly treatment of the finest books in the library, than can be maintained in the miscellaneous crowd of readers in the main reading-room. The objections to it concern the general want of room to set apart for this purpose, and the desirability of concentrating the use of books in one main hall or reading-room. Circumstances and experience should determine the question for each library.

Some public libraries, and especially those constructed in recent years, are provided with a lecture-hall, or a large room for public meetings, concerts, or occasionally, even an opera-house, in the same building with the library. There are some excellent arguments in favor of this; and especially where a public benefactor donates to a city a building which combines both uses. The building given by Mr. Andrew Carnegie to the Public Library of Washington will be provided with a small hall suited to meetings, &c. But in all cases, such a public hall should be so isolated from the library reading-room as not to annoy readers, to whom quiet is essential. This end can be effected by having the intervening walls and floors so constructed as completely to deaden sound. A wholly distinct entrance should also be provided, not communicating with the doors and passages leading to the library.

Comparisons are sometimes made as to the relative cost of library buildings to the number of volumes they are designed to accommodate; but such estimates are misleading. The cost of an edifice in which architectural beauty and interior decoration concur to make it a permanent ornament to a city or town, need not be charged up at so much per volume. Buildings for libraries have cost all the way from twenty-five cents up to $4. for each volume stored. The Library of Congress, which cost six million dollars, and will ultimately accommodate 4,500,000 volumes, cost about $1.36 per volume. But it contains besides books, some half a million musical compositions, works of graphic art, maps and charts, etc.

The comparative cost of some library buildings erected in recent years, with ultimate capacity of each, may be of interest. Kansas City Public Library, 132+144, 125,000 vols., $200,000. Newark, N. J. Free Library, 138+216, 400,000 vols., $188,000. Forbes Library, Northampton, Mass. (granite), 107+137, 250,000 vols., $134,000. Fall River, Ms. Library, 80+130, 250,000 vols., $100,000. Peoria, Ill. Public Library (brick), 76+135, $70,000. Smiley Memorial Library, Redlands, Cal. (brick), 96+100, $50,000. Reuben Hoar Library, Littleton, Mass. (brick), 50+57, 25,000 vols., $25,000. Rogers Memorial Library, Southworth, N. Y. 70+100, 20,000 vols., $20,000. Belfast (Me.) Free Library (granite), 27+54, $10,000. GailBorden Public Library, Elgin, Ill. (brick), 28+52, $9,000. Warwick, Mass. Public Library (wood), 45+60, 5,000 vols., $5,000.

The largely increased number of public library buildings erected in recent years is a most cheering sign of the times. Since 1895, eleven extensive new library buildings have been opened: namely, the Library of Congress, the Boston Public Library, the Pratt Institute Library, Brooklyn, the Columbia University Library, New York, the Princeton, N. J. University Library, the Hart Memorial Library, of Troy, N. Y. the Carnegie Library, Pittsburgh, the Chicago Public Library, the Peoria, Ill. Public Library, the Kansas City, Mo. Public Library, and the Omaha, Neb. Public Library.

And there are provided for eight more public library buildings, costing more than $100,000 each; namely, the Providence, R. I. Public Library, the Lynn, Mass. Public Library, the Fall River, Mass. Public Library, the Newark, N. J. Free Public Library, the Milwaukee, Wis. Public Library and Museum, the Wisconsin State Historical Society Library, Madison, the New York Public Library, and the Jersey City Public Library.

To these will be added within the year 1901, as is confidently expected, the Washington City Public Library, the gift of Andrew Carnegie, to cost $350,000.

No philanthropist can ever find a nobler object for his fortune, or a more enduring monument to his memory, than the founding of a free public library. The year 1899 has witnessed a new gift by Mr. Carnegie of a one hundred thousand dollar library to Atlanta, the Capital of Georgia, on condition that the city will provide a site, and $5,000

A com

a year for the maintenance of the library. Cities in the east are emulating one another in providing public library buildings of greater or less cost. If the town library cannot have magnificence, it need not have meanness. petition among architects selected to submit plans is becoming the favorite method of preparing to build. Five of the more extensive libraries have secured competitive plans of late from which to select_namely, the New York Public Library, the Jersey City Public Library, the Newark Free Public Library, the Lynn Public Library, and the Phoebe Hearst building for the University of California, which is to be planned for a library of 750,000 volumes. It is gratifying to add that in several recent provisions made for erecting large and important structures, the librarian was made a member of the building committeei. e., in the New York Public Library, the Newark Free Public Library, and the Lynn Public Library.



We now come to consider the management of libraries as entrusted to boards of directors, trustees or library managers. These relations have a most intimate bearing upon the foundation, the progress and the consequent success of any library. Where a liberal intelligence and a hearty coöperation are found in those constituting the library board, the affairs of the institution will be managed with the best results. Where a narrow-minded and dictatorial spirit is manifested, even by a portion of those supervising a public library, it will require a large endowment both of patience and of tact in the librarian, to accomplish those aims which involve the highest usefulness.

Boards of library trustees vary in number, usually from three to nine or more. A board of three or five is found in practice more active and efficient than a larger number. The zeal and responsibility felt is apt to diminish in direct proportion to the increased numbers of the board. An odd number is preferable, to avoid an equal division of opinion upon any question to be determined.

In town or city libraries, the mode of selection of library trustees varies much. Sometimes the mayor appoints the library board, sometimes they are chosen by the city council, and sometimes elected by the people, at the annual selection of school or municipal officers. The term of service (most usually three years) should be so arranged that retirement of any members should always leave two at least who have had experience on the board. Library trustees serve without salary, the high honor of so serving the public counting for much.

The librarian is often made secretary of the trustees, and then he keeps the record of their transactions. He should never be made treasurer of the library funds, which would involve labor and responsibility incompatible with the manifold duties of the superintendent of a library. In case of a library supported by municipal taxation, the town treasurer may well serve as library treasurer also, or the trustees can choose one from their own board. The librarian, however, should be empowered to collect book fines or other dues, to be deposited with the treasurer at regular intervals, and he should have a small fund at disposal for such petty library expenses as constantly arise. All bills

« PreviousContinue »