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pose of submitting to the qualified electors of said District the question as to the establishment of a Free Public Library.
Those favoring the establishment of a Free Library will vote by ballot, upon which shall be printed or written the words "For a Free Library ;'' and those opposing the establishment of a Free Library will vote by ballot upon which shall be printed or written the words "Against a Free Library."
Said election will be held in the
in District No.
on the day and year aforesaid, and will be o'clock M., and closed at
M., and will be conducted, ballots counted and results certified as now are provided by the Law for regular school elections.
The Board of Education, or School Committee, of District No.
The friendly services of some one member of the Board should be enlisted that he may be ready to support the petition and introduce a resolution to submit the question to the voters as requested.
Usually the members of the School Boards will be found very willing to follow public sentiment in founding public enterprises, but, like other human beings they are governed somewhat by their prejudices and should be approached by people whom they respect, and who have tact and good judgment. An enthusiastic but tactless hobby rider may easily undo months of careful work in the development of interest and confidence in a library movement.
The chief difficulty which will confront the library worker will probably be on the part of the tax-payers who naturally object to any increase of their burdens, but it
seems likely that their objections will be readily over-ruled when they realize that the amount of tax permitted by law is so small, and the benefits to accrue to its use so great, and a tactful person ought to be able to persuade the most obdurate tax-payer to withdraw his opposition.
The necessity of a Free Public Library should be urged through the local press, upon the platform and by private appeals. Include in the canvass all citizens irrespective of creed, business or politics, whether educated or illiterate. To ignore any class is to imply its indifference to education and frequently to make its leaders hostile when they might well have been enthusiastic friends.
Enlist the support of the teachers, and through them, of the children and parents. Literary societies, Chautauqua circles, Debating and Women's Clubs and all other allied agencies for the public good should be earnest champions of the movement.
The local newspapers will be found to be a powerful agency in enlisting and sustaining interest in the measure.
Herewith are presented some of the reasons which have found weight in other States where the success of Free Public Libraries is no longer questioned and where, even in the smallest communities, it has long passed the stage of experiment. And let those Delawareans who after reading will still say that "Ours is not a reading community," that "No one round here cares for books," or that "We have no time to read''-let them turn to p. 20 of this Handbook and find the answer to all such Doubting Thomases in Henry Ridgely, Jr.'s account of the library experience of Dover. What has happened there is in no way exceptional-beyond the fact that it has occurred in the heart of our own little State-it is the practically universal experience of libraries everywhere, which, however small, are owned by the people; which have a steady growth from year to year, however slow; which are abso
lutely free, and which have an assured income, though it be one of but a few dollars.
The more books of the right kind are read, the more efficient a Nation becomes. To deny that books of the right kind contribute to human efficiency, or that the great books of a Nation contribute to a Nation's efficiency, is like a refusal to acknowledge that heat comes from the sun, or motive power from steam. No man or woman who contests that sort of proposition deserves a hearing. SIDNEY LEE.
All may learn, and all may be comforted.—I Corinthians xiv, 31.
WHAT A FREE LIBRARY DOES FOR A
1. It keeps boys home in the evening by giving them well-written stories of adventure.
2. It gives teachers and pupils interesting books to aid their school work in history and geography, and makes better citizens of them by enlarging their knowledge of their country and its growth.
3. It provides books on the care of children and animals, cookery and housekeeping, building and gardening, and teaches young readers how to make simple dynamos, telephones and other machines.
4. It helps clubs that are studying history, literature, or life in other countries, and throws light upon Sundayschool lessons.
5. It furnishes books of selections for reading aloud, suggestions for entertainments and home amusements, and hints on correct speech and good manners.
6. It teaches the names and habits of the plants, birds and insects of the neighborhood, and the differences in soil and rock.
7. It tells the story of the town from its settlement, and keeps a record of all important events in its history. 8. It offers pleasant and wholesome stories to readers of all ages.
Let us thank God for books.
When I consider what some books have done for the world, and what they are doing, how they keep up our hope, awaken new courage and faith, soothe pain, give an ideal life to those whose homes are hard and cold, bind together distant ages and foreign lands, create new worlds of beauty, bring down truths from Heaven-I give eternal blessings for this gift and pray that we may use it aright, and abuse it not.
REASONS FOR HAVING A FREE PUBLIC
The Public Libraries have without delay become an essential part of a public education system and are as clearly useful as the Public Schools. They are not only classed with schools but have generally become influential adjuncts of the Public Schools. The number of readers is rapidly increasing and the character of the books is constantly improving.
Not unfrequently the objection is heard that the Public Libraries are opening the doors to light and useless books; that reading can be, and often is, carried to a vicious and enervating excess, and therefore that the Libraries' influence is doubtful and on the whole not good. This argument does not need elaborate exposure.
counteract and empty and not A visit to any
The main purpose of the Library is to check the circulation and influence of the infrequently vicious books that are so rife. news-stand will disclose a world of low and demoralizing "penny dreadfuls'' and other trash. These are bought by boys and girls because they want to read and can nowhere else obtain reading material. This deluge of worthless periodicals and books can be counteracted only by gratuitous supplies from the Public Library.
Whether these counteracting books be fiction or not, they may be pure and harmless, and often of intellectual merit and moral excellence. The question is not whether people shall read fiction-for read it they will — but
whether they are to have good fiction instead of worthless and harmful trash.
The tendency to read inferior books can soon be checked by a good Library. If the attention of the children in school is directed to good books, and the Free Library contains such books, there will be no thought of the newsstand as the place for finding reading matter.
The economical reason for establishing Free Public Libraries is the fact that public officers and public taxation manage and support them efficiently and make them available to the largest number of readers. By means of a Free Library there is the best utilization of effort and of resources at a small cost to individuals.
While a private library may greatly delight and improve the owner and his immediate circle of friends, it is a luxury to which he and they only can resort.
A Library charging a fee may bring comfort to a respectable board of directors by ministering to a small and financially independent circle of booktakers, by its freedom from the rush of numerous and eager readers, and by strict conformity to the notions and vagaries of the managers. But such a Library never realizes the highest utility. The greater part of the books lie untouched upon the shelves and compared with the Free Library it is a lame and impotent affair.
The books of a Public Library actively pervade the community; they reach and are influential with very large numbers and the utility of the common possession-books -is multiplied without limit.
Before several of our towns lies the question of opening to all what is now limited to those who pay a fee. This is not merely a limitation-it is practically a prohibition.
Whether right or wrong, and that we need not now discuss,―human beings as at present constituted will not