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library service, and not allow several to be absent at the same time. As to length of vacation time, few libraries can afford the very liberal fashion of twelve months wages for eleven months work, as prevalent in the Washington Departments. The average vacation time of business houses—about two weeks—more nearly corresponds to that allowed in the smaller public libraries. Out of 173 libraries reporting in 1893, 61 allowed four weeks or more vacation, 27 three weeks, 54 two weeks, and 31 none. But in cases of actual illness, the rule of liberality should be followed, and no deduction of wages should follow temporary disability.
Where many library attendants are employed, all should be required to enter on a daily record sheet or book, the hour of beginning work. Then the rule of no absence without special leave should be enforced as to all during
We now come to such rules of library administration as concern the readers, or the public. The rule of silence, or total abstinence from loud talking, should be laid down and enforced. This is essential for the protection of every reader from annoyance or interruption in his pursuits. The rule should be printed on all readers' tickets, and it is well also to post the word SILENCE, in large letters, in two or more conspicuous places in the reading-room. This will give a continual reminder to all of what is expected, and will usually prevent any loud conversation. While absolute silence is impossible in any public library, the inquiries and answers at the desk can always be made in a low and even tone, which need attract no attention from any readers, if removed only a few feet distant. As there are always persons among readers who will talk, notwithstanding rules, they should be checked by a courteous reminder from the librarian, rather than from any subordinate. This—for the obvious reason that admonition from the highest authority carries the greatest weight.
Another rule, which should always be printed on the call-slips, or readers' tickets, is the requirement to return books and receive back their tickets always before leaving the library. This duty is very commonly neglected, from the utter carelessness of many readers, who do not realize that signing their ticket for any book holds them responsible for it until it is returned. Many are unwilling to spend a moment's time in waiting for a ticket to be returned to them. Many will leave their books on tables or seats where they were reading, and go away without reclaiming their receipts. While complete observance of this rule is of course hopeless of attainment in a country where free and easy manners prevail, every librarian should endeavor to secure at least an approximate compliance with a rule adopted alike for the security and good order of the library, and the efficient service of the reader.
All readers should be privileged to reserve books from day to day which they have not completed the use of, and instructed always to give notice of such reservation before leaving the library. This saves much time, both to the reader and to the librarian in sending repeatedly for books put away needlessly.
In a circulating library, a fixed rule limiting the time for which a book may be kept, is essential. This may be from three days to two weeks, according to the demand for the book, but it should not exceed the latter period. Still, a renewal term may be conceded, provided the book is not otherwise called for. A small fine of so much a day for each volume kept out beyond the time prescribed by the rule, will often secure prompt return, and is the usage in most libraries where books are lent out. In the Boston Public Library no renewals are allowed. A rule requiring
the replacement or repair of books damaged while in the hands of a reader should be printed and enforced. It may properly be waived where the damage is slight or unavoidable.
In public circulating libraries, a rule of registration is required, and in some libraries of reference also; but in the Library of Congress all readers over sixteen are admitted without any formality or registration whatever.
In popular libraries, the need of a registry list of those entitled to borrow books, is obvious, to prevent the issue to improper or unauthorized persons; as, for example, residents of another town, or persons under the prescribed age of admission to library privileges. A printed library card should be issued to each person privileged to draw books; corresponding in number to the page or index-card of the library record. Each card should bear the full name and address of the applicant, and be signed with an obligation to obey the rules of the library. On this card all books drawn may be entered, always with month and day date, and credited with date of return, the parallel entries being at the same time made in the library charging record.
Library cards of registration should be issued for a limited period, say twelve months, in order to bring all persons to a systematic review of their privilege, and should be renewed annually, so long as the holder is entitled to registration. No books should be issued except to those presenting registration cards, together with a call-slip or ticket for the book wanted.
Another rule should fix a limit to the number of volumes to be drawn by any reader. Two volumes out at any one time would be a fair limit. If made more to all readers, there is likely to be sometimes a scarcity of books to be drawn upon; and if a few readers are permitted to draw more than others, the charge of undue favoritism will be justified.
Another rule should be that any incivility or neglect on the part of any library attendant should be reported to the librarian. In such cases, the attendant should always be heard, before any admonition or censure is bestowed.
An almost necessary rule in most libraries is that no book should be taken from the shelves by any person not employed in the library. The exceptions are of course, the books provided expressly for the free and open reference of the readers.
Another essential rule is that no writing or marks may be made in any library book or periodical; nor is any turning down of leaves permitted. A printed warning is important to the effect that any cutting or defacing of library books or periodicals is a penal offense, and will be prosecuted according to law.
The regulations for admission to library privileges are important. In this country the age limitation is more liberal than in Europe. The Boston Public Library, for example, is free to all persons over twelve years of age. In the Library of Congress, the age limit is sixteen years or upward, to entitle one to the privileges of a reader. In the Astor Library, none are admitted under nineteen, and in the British Museum Library none below twentyone years.
The hours during which the library is open should be printed as part of the regulations.
All the library rules should be printed and furnished to the public. The most essential of them, if carefully expressed in few words, can be grouped in a single small sheet, of 16mo. size or less, and pasted in the inside cover of every book belonging to the library. Better still, (and it will save expense in printing) let the few simple rules, in small but legible type, form a part of the book plate, or library label, which goes on the left-hand inner cover of each volume. Thus every reader will have before him, in daily prominence, the regulations which he is to observe, and no excuse can be pleaded of ignorance of the rules.
As no law is ever long respected unless it is enforced, so no regulations are likely to be observed unless adhered to in every library. Rules are a most essential part of library administration, and it should be a primary object of every librarian or assistant to see that they are observed by all.
LIBRARY REPORTS AND ADVERTISING.
We now come to consider the annual reports of librarians. These should be made to the trustees or board of library control, by whatever name it may be known, and should be addressed to the chairman, as the organ of the board. In the preparation of such reports, two conditions are equally essential conciseness and comprehensiveness. Every item in the administration, frequentation, and increase of the library should be separately treated, but each should be condensed into the smallest compass consistent with clear statement. Very long reports are costly to publish, and moreover, have small chance of being read. In fact, the wide perusal of any report is in direct proportion to its brevity.