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of many city and town libraries also. We have yet to learn of any benefit resulting to those who use the libraries.
In the case of a few of the State libraries, trustees or library commissioners or boards of control have been provided by law, but in others, a joint library committee, composed of members of both houses of the Legislature, has charge of the library interests. This is also the case in the Library of Congress at Washington, where three Senators and three Representatives constitute the Joint Committee of both Houses of Congress on the Library. The membership of this committee, as of all others in Congress, is subject to change biennially. It has been proposed to secure a more permanent and careful supervision of this National Library by adding to the Joint Committee of Congress three or more trustees of eminent qualifications, elected by Congress, as the Regents of the Smithsonian Institution now are, for a longer term of years. The trustees of the British Museum are appointed by the Crown, their tenure of office being for life.
In several States the librarian is appointed by the supreme court, as the State libraries are composed more largely of law books, than of miscellaneous literature, and special knowledge of case law, and the principles of jurisprudence, is demanded of the librarian.
Where the trustees of a public library are elected by the people, they have in their own hands the power of choosing men who are far above party considerations, and they should exercise it. In no department of life is the maxim —“the tools to the hands that can use them," more important than in the case of librarians and boards of managers of libraries. The value of skilled labor over the unskilled is everywhere recognized in the business of the world, by more certain employment and larger compensation: and why should it not be so in libraries?
No feature in library administration is more important than the regulations under which the service of the library is conducted. Upon their propriety and regular enforcement depends very much of the utility of the collection.
Rules are of two kinds, those which concern the librarian and assistants, and those which concern the public resorting to the library. Of the first class are the regulations as to hours, division of labor, leaves or vacations of employees, &c. The larger the library, and consequently the force employed, the more important is a careful adjustment of relative duties, and of the times and seasons to be devoted to them. The assignment of work to the various assistants will naturally depend upon their respective qualifications. Those who know Latin, and two or more of the modern languages, would probably be employed upon the catalogue. Those who are familiar with the range of books published, in literature and science, will be best qualified for the service of the reading-room, which involves the supply of books and information. In direct proportion to the breadth of information possessed by any one, will be his usefulness in promptly supplying the wants of readers. Nothing is so satisfactory to students in libraries, or to the casual seekers of information of any kind, as to find their wants immediately supplied. The reader whom an intelligent librarian or assistant answers at once is grateful to the whole establishment; while the reader who is required to wait ten to twenty minutes for what he wants, becomes impatient and sometimes querulous, or leaves the library unsatisfied.
One rule of service at the library desk or counter should be that every assistant there employed should deem it his duty to aid immediately any one who is waiting, no matter what other concerns may engage his attention. In other words, the one primary rule of a public library should be that the service of the public is always paramount. All other considerations should be subordinate to that.
It is desirable that assistants in every library should learn all departments of library work, cataloguing, supplying books and information, preparing books for the shelves, etc. This will enable each assistant to take the place of another in case of absence, a most important point. It will also help to qualify the more expert for promotion.
A second rule for internal adminstration in any library should be that all books are to be distributed, or replaced upon their shelves, daily. If this is not systematically done, the library will tend to fall into chaos. And even a small number of volumes not in their places will embarrass the attendants seeking them, and often deprive readers of their use-a thing to be always sedulously avoided.
In the Library of Congress, the replacement of books upon the shelves is carried out much more frequently than once daily. As fast as books come in at the central desk by the returns of readers, they are sent back through the book-carriers, to the proper floors, where the outside labelnumbers indicate that they belong, and replaced by the attendant there on their proper shelves. These mechanical book-carriers run all day, by electric power, supplied by a dynamo in the basement, and, with their endless chain and attached boxes constantly revolving, they furnish a near approach to perpetual motion. Thus I have seen a set of Macaulay's England, called for by ticket from the reading-room, arrive in three minutes from the outlying book-repository or iron stack, several hundreds of feet dis
tant on an upper floor, placed on the reader's table, referred to, and returned at once, then placed in the bookcarrier by the desk attendant, received back on its proper floor, and distributed to its own shelf by the attendant there, all within half an hour after the reader's application. Another rule to be observed by the reading-room attendants is to examine all call-slips, or readers' tickets, remaining uncalled for at the close of each day's business, and see if the books on them are present in the library. This precaution is demanded by the security of the collection, as well as by the good order and arrangement of the library. Neglect of it may lead to losses or misplacements, which might be prevented by careful and unremitting observance of this rule.
Another rule of eminent propriety is that librarians or assistants are not to read newspapers during library hours. When there happen to be no readers waiting to be helped, the time should be constantly occupied with other library work. There is no library large enough to be worthy of the name, that does not have arrears of work incessantly waiting to be done. And while this is the case, no library time should be wasted upon periodicals, which should be perused only outside of library hours. If one person employed in a library reads the newspaper or magazine, the bad example is likely to be followed by others. Thus serious inattention to the wants of readers, as well as neglect of library work postponed, will be sure to follow.
A fourth rule, resting upon the same reason, should prevent any long sustained gossip or conversation during library hours. That time belongs explicitly to the public or to the work of the library. The rule of silence which is enforced upon the public in the interest of readers should not be broken by the library managers themselves. Such brief question and answer as emergency or the needful business of the library requires should be conducted in a low tone, and soon ended. Library administration is a business, and must be conducted in a business way. No library can properly be turned into a place of conversation.
All differences or disputes between attendants as to the work to be done by each, or methods, or any other question leading to dissension, should be promptly and decisively settled by the librarian, and of course cheerfully submitted to by all. Good order and discipline require that there should be only one final authority in any library. Controversies are not only unseemly in themselves, but they are time-consuming, and are liable to be overheard by readers, to the prejudice of those who engage in them.
Another rule to be observed is to examine all books returned, as carefully as a glance through the volume will permit, to detect any missing or started leaves, or injury to bindings. No volume bearing marks of dilapidation of any kind should be permitted to go back to the shelves, or be given to readers, but placed in a bindery reserve for needful repairs.
It should hardly be necessary to say that all those connected with a public library should be carefully observant of hours, and be always in their places, unless excused. The discipline of every library should be firm in this respect, and dilatory or tardy assistants brought to regard the rule of prompt and regular service. "No absence without leave” should be mentally posted in the consciousness and the conscience of every one.
Another rule should limit the time for mid-day refreshment, and so arrange it that the various persons employed go at different hours. As to time employed, half-an-hour for lunch, as allowed in the Washington departments, is long enough in any library.
Furloughs or vacations should be regulated to suit the