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A. L. A. Proceedings, 1908, P. 380

The second paper at the Minnetonka sectional meeting, mentioned in the introduction to the preceding article, was presented by Dr. Graham Taylor, Director of the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy, who believes that "equally with the schools and playgrounds, our library centers are essential to American democracy." Dr. Taylor was born in Schenectady, N. Y., in 1851; received the degree of A.B. from Rutgers College in 1870, and was graduated from the Reformed Theological Seminary, New Brunswick, N. J., in 1873. He has since been granted the honorary degrees of D.D. and LL.D. From 1873 to 1892 he remained in the pastorale; from 1888 to 1892 was Professor of Practical Theology in Hartford Theological Seminary, and in 1892 became Professor of Social Economics in the Chicago Theological Seminary. In 1894 he became the founder and resident warden of the Chicago Commons Social Settlement. Dr. Taylor is associate editor of the Survey.

The child is coming to be as much of a civic problem as it ever has been a family problem. Upon the normality of its children the strength and perpetuity of the state depend, as surely as the dependency and delinquency of its children undermine the prowess and menace the life of the state. The education and discipline, labor and recreation of the child figure larger all the while in our legislation and taxes, our thinking and literature.

Democracy, machine industry, immigration and child psychology combine to make the child a new problem to the modern state and city, especially in America. With the problems of the child's normality and defectiveness, discipline and delinquency, work and play, and its assimilation into the body politic, our towns and cities, states and nation have been forced to deal. Hitherto we have dealt far more with the negative and repressive aspects of these problems than with any constructive ideal, purpose and method respecting them. We have, for instance, paid more attention to defective children than to the prenatal antecedents and early conditions of child life. We have been too long punishing juvenile delinquency without trying to help the backward and wayward child. We have let young children work without regard to the industrial efficiency of their whole life. We are only beginning to share the attention we have paid to the education of our children with the equally serious problem of their recreation. We have been content merely with their physical exercise and have been stupidly obtuse to awaking and satisfying the pleasurable interest of the child in his play and the organization of it. Where there have been an un-American fear of immigration and feeling against the immigrant there has been all too little effort put forth to assimilate the foreign elements of our local population.

But we are coming to see that to prepossess is better than to dispossess. Prevention is found to be a surer and cheaper solvent of our child problems than punishment. The child's own resources for self development and self mastery prove to be greater than all the repressive measures to obtain and maintain our control over him. Thus our very disciplinary measures have become saner and more effective. No way-mark of our civilization registers greater progress than our abandonment of the criminal procedure against children and our adoption of the paternal spirit and method of our juvenile courts and reformatory measures. To our agencies for dealing with defectives and delinquents we have added the kindergarten and all the kindred principles, methods and instrumentalities of constructive work with children.

Chief among these is the use we are making of the child's instinct for play and mental diversion as a means of building up both the individual and the social life. Chicago has made the discovery of the civic value of recreation centers for the play of the people. Not since old Rome's circus maximus and the Olympic games of Greece has any city made such provision for the recreation of its people as is to be found in these great playfields, surrounding the beautifully designed and well equipped field houses, which at a cost of $12,000,000 of the tax payers' money have been built in the most crowded districts of Chicago. The recreation centers illustrate the civic opportunity and value of library work with children. For the Chicago public library was quick to see and seize the advantage thus offered to serve the city. The delivery stations and reading rooms established in these field houses are already recognized to be the most useful of its centers to the child life of the city. The organized volunteer cooperation of several groups of women has added the story hour as a regular feature of the library work at these playgrounds, and at two public school buildings where similar stations are to be established in cooperation with the Board of education. At the central library building the work in the Thomas Hughes Young people's reading room has also been successfully supplemented by the story hour appointments in a large hall, with the same efficient cooperation.

The quick and large response given by the people to these civic extensions of library service in every city and town where they have been offered, demonstrates what a large field of usefulness awaits public library enterprise and occupancy. But the experiment has gone far enough to prove the absolute necessity of having librarians especially trained for work with children; and to that end, the addition of the position of children's librarian to the classified civil service lists for which special examinations are set.

Equally with the schools and playgrounds, our library centers are essential to American democracy. All three are to be classed together as our most democratic and efficient agencies for training our people into their citizenship and assimilating them into the American body politic. Nowhere are we on a more common footing of an equality of opportunity than in the public schools, the public playground and the public library.

The public school stands upon that bit of mother earth which belongs equally to us all. The playground is open alike to all comers. And the public library is not only as free and open to all as to any of our whole people, but also confers citizenship in that time-long, world wide democracy of the Republic of Letters.

The civic service thus democratically to be rendered by library work with children is indispensably valuable. It may be made more and more invaluable to any community by intelligent insight into the needs of the people, and by the practical and prompt application of library resources which are limited only by our capacity, enterprise and energy to develop and apply them.

Library Work with Children

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