How Library Work with Children Has Grown in Hartford
The Library Journal for February, 1914, says: "One of the pleasantest features of 'Library week' at Lake George in 1913 was the welcome given to Miss Hewins, that typical New England woman, whose sympathy with children and child life has made this relation of her public library work a type and model for all who have to do with children.... Miss Hewins's paper was really a delightful bit of literary autobiography, and she has now happily acceded to a request from the Journal to fill out the outlines into a more complete record."
Not long ago I went into the public library of a university town in England and established confidence by saying, "I see that Chivers does your binding," whereupon the librarian invited me inside the railing. A boy ten or twelve years old was standing in a Napoleonic attitude, with his feet very far apart, before the fiction shelves, where the books were alphabetized under authors, but with apparently nothing to show him whether a story was a problem-novel or a tale for children. My thoughts went back many years to the days when I first became the librarian of a subscription library in Hartford, where novels and children's stories were roughly arranged under the first letter of the title, and not by authors. There was a printed catalog, but without anything to indicate in what series or where in order of the series a story-book belonged, and it was impossible when a child had read one to find out what the next was except from the last page of the book itself or the advertisements in the back and they had often been torn out for convenient reference.
My technical equipment was some volunteer work in a town library, a little experience in buying for a Sunday-school library, and about a year in the Boston Athenaeum. The preparation that I had had for meeting children and young people in the library was, besides some years of teaching, a working knowledge of the books that had been read and re-read in a large family for twenty-five years, from Miss Edgeworth and Jacob Abbott, an old copy of "Aesop's fables," Andersen, Grimm, Hawthorne, "The Arabian nights," Mayne Reid's earlier innocent even if unscientific stories, down through "Tom Brown," "Alice in Wonderland," Our Young Folks, the Riverside Magazine, "Little women," to Scott, Dickens, Thackeray, George Eliot, Charlotte Bronte and Mrs. Gaskell. These books were in the Hartford Young Men's Institute, but they were little read in comparison with the works of the "immortal four," who were then writing series at the rate of two or more volumes a year--Optic, Alger, Castlemon and Martha Finley--and still refuse to be forgotten. The older girls demanded Ouida, a new name to me, but I read some of her novels before I had been in the library many weeks, and remember writing a letter to a daily paper giving an outline of the plot of one of them as a hint to fathers and mothers of what their schoolgirl daughters were reading. I think that there was something about boys, too, in the letter, and a plea for "Ivanhoe" and other books of knightly adventure.
The Young Men's Institute Library in Hartford was a survival from the days of subscription libraries and lecture courses. The city had then a population of about fifty thousand, of whom some five or six hundred were subscribers to the library, paying three dollars for the use of one book at a time or five dollars for two, including admission to the periodical room. Hartford had a large number of Irish inhabitants, some Germans, a few of whom were intelligent and prosperous Jews, a few French Canadians, possibly still fewer Scandinavians. It was several years before the first persecution of the Russian and Polish Jews sent them to this country. In the year when I came, 1875, there were forty-six boys and girls in the high school graduating class, all, from their names and what I know of some of them, apparently of English descent, except one whose name is Scotch.
The class which was graduated last June had about 650 members on entering, and 250 at the end of its course. Among the names are Italian, Hebrew, Swedish, Irish, German, Danish, Spanish, Bohemian, Armenian--the largest percentage from families not of English descent being Hebrew.
It is fair to say that at least half of the boys and girls of the earlier graduating class, or their families, had library subscriptions, but little use of the library was recommended even by the high school teachers, and none by the teachers of the graded schools. How could there be? Five dollars is a large sum in most families, and children at that time had to read what they could get at home or from the Sunday-school libraries, which were no better nor worse than others of the period.
The first effort that I remember making for a better choice of books was showing the library president some volumes by Thomes, a writer for the older boys, whose stories were full of profanity and brutal vulgarity. There was no question about discarding them and some of Mayne Reid's books like "The scalp hunters" and "Lost Lenore," which are much of the same type, very different from his earlier stories, and in a short time we did not renew books by some other authors, but let them die out, replacing them if possible by stories a little better, giving preference to those complete in themselves.
Within a short time, in 1878, we began to publish a quarterly bulletin. In the first number "Library notes" begins: "Much time and thought have been given to suggesting in this bulletin good books for boys and girls. As a rule, they read too much. Our accounts show that one boy has taken 102 story-books in six months, and one girl 112 novels in the same time. One book a week is certainly enough, with school studies. Within the last month one boy has asked us for Jack Harkaway's stories, another for bound volumes of the Police News, and a third for 'The murderer and the fortune teller,' 'The two sisters and the avenger' and 'The model town and the detective.' These are not in the library and will not be. The demand for girls for the New York Weekly novels is not small. We shall gladly cooperate with fathers and mothers in the choice of children's books."
Of what we now call nature-books there were very few written or well illustrated for children, though the library had John Burroughs, Harris's "Insects injurious to vegetation" and Samuels's "Birds of New England and the adjacent states." There was little interest in out-of-door study, and I have never forgotten the contempt on the face of one boy when instead of Mayne Reid's "Boy hunters," which was out, he was offered "The butter- fly hunters," or the scorn with which he repeated the title. All that is changed, thanks to the influence of schools and teachers, and children are no longer ignorant of common birds and insects. St. Nicholas helped in opening their eyes, when a librarian, Harlan H. Ballard, of Pittsfield, organized the Agassiz Association with a monthly report in the magazine. We had a chapter, Hartford B., that met for years out of doors on Saturday mornings through the spring, early summer and autumn, and even through one winter when some specimens of the redheaded woodpecker were on the edge of the city. Usually our winter meetings were in the library, and we often had readings from Burroughs, Thoreau, Frank Buckland and others of the earlier nature-lovers. The children came from families of more than usual intelligence, and some of them who now have well-grown children of their own often refer with pleasure to our walks and talks.
I had taught for three years in a school where the children and I were taken out of doors every week in spring and autumn by an ornithologist and an entomologist. At this time we were beginning to buy more books on out-of-door subjects, and I had learned enough in my teaching to be able to evaluate them in a bulletin.
The years went on, with once in a while an encouraging report about a boy who had made experiments from works on chemistry or beguiled a fortnight's illness with Wordsworth's "Greece," or Guhl and Koner's "Life of the Greeks and Romans," or had gone on from Alger and Optic to Cooper, Lossing, Help's "Life of Columbus" and Barber's "History of New England." Both boys and girls were beginning to apologize for taking poor stories.
In one of our bulletins, January, 1881, is an acknowledgment of Christmas material received from the advance sheets of Poole's Index, then in preparation in the Watkinson Library, on the other side of the building. Imagine life in a library without it, you who have the Readers' Guide and all the debates and Granger's Index to Poetry and the Portrait Index! Nevertheless, we were not entirely without printed aids, for we had the Brooklyn catalog, the Providence bulletins, and the lists of children's books prepared by the Buffalo and Quincy libraries.
In 1882, at the request of Frederick Leypoldt, editor of the Publishers' Weekly, I compiled a list of "Books for the young," some of which are of permanent value. In a second edition, in 1884, I reprinted from our bulletin a list of English and American history for children, between twelve and fifteen, based on my own experience with boys and girls. I can laugh at it now, after years of meeting child-readers, seventy-five per cent of whom have no books at home, and can also find food for mirth in my belief that a list of books recommended for vacation reading in another bulletin would attract most boys and girls under sixteen.
One school, under a wise and far-seeing principal, who is now an authority on United States history and the author of several school books on the subject, had in 1884 an arrangement with us for a supply of historical stories for reading, and we printed a list of these and of other books on American history which would be interesting if read by or to the older pupils in the grammar grades.
Sets of fifty copies each of books for supplementary reading in school were bought by the library in 1894, and apportioned by the school principals at their monthly meetings. Several new sets were bought every year till 1905, when the collection numbered about three thousand, and was outgrowing the space that we could spare for it. The schools then provided a place for the school duplicates, and relieved the library of the care of them. Since 1899 the graded schools have received on request libraries of fifty books to a room, from the third grade to the ninth, to be kept until the summer vacation, when they are returned for repairs and renewal. The number circulated during the school year has grown from 6,384 in 1899-1900 to 17,270 in 1912-13. The children's applications are sent to the main library, and no child may have a card there and in a school branch at the same time.
There were rumors for several years that the library would be made free, and when it was at last announced in 1888 that $250,000 had been given by the late J. Pierpont Morgan, his father and two families related to them, on condition that $150,000 more should be raised by private subscription to remodel the Wadsworth Athenaeum, which then housed three libraries and a picture- gallery, and to provide for its maintenance, the rumor bade fair to come true. That the money came in, is largely due to the personal efforts of Charles Hopkins Clark, editor-in-chief of the Hartford Courant, for many years treasurer of the Athenaeum, the Watkinson Library and the Hartford Public Library, and the sum required was promised in 1890. Later the library offered the free use of its books, and also the income of about $50,000 to the city, on condition of keeping its form of government by a self-perpetuating corporation.
The first step towards the enlarged use of the library was to separate the children's books and classify them. We had had a fixed location up to that time, and I had not yet broken loose from it, but I numbered them according to the best light I had, though in a very short time I saw that with the increased number of duplicates we had to buy, only a movable location was of the least practical use. It was several years before the Dewey classification was finally adopted for the children, although we classified our grown-up books by it before we opened to the public.
When the library became free, in 1892, the annual circulation of children's books rose at once to 50,000, 25 per cent of the whole, and as large as the largest total in the subscription days. We immediately had to buy a large supply of new books, carefully chosen, and printed a too fully annotated list, which we found useful for some years and discarded when we were able to open the shelves. We had only a corner for children's books, almost none for children under ten, and no admission to the shelves. We struggled on as well as we could for the next few years.
A dialogue between a reader and the librarian in 1897 shows what we were trying to do at this time. It is really true, and illustrates the lack of knowledge in one of the most intelligent women in the city of the many points of contact between the library and the boys and girls of the city.
Reader: "There ought to be somebody in the library to tell people, especially children, what to read."
Librarian: "Have you ever seen the children's printed list, with notes on books connected with school work, and others written for older readers but interesting to children, hints on how and what to read, and a letter R against the best books?"
Reader: "No, I never heard of it."
Librarian: "It was ready the day after the library opened, was sold for five cents, and the first edition of a thousand copies was exhausted so soon that a second had to be printed. Have you ever heard of the lists of interesting books in connection with Greek, Roman and English history given to high school pupils' or the records kept for years by the North School children of books which they have read, and sent to the librarian to be commented on and criticised in an hour's friendly talk in the school room, or the letters written on the use of the library by pupils in the other schools?"
Librarian: "Have you ever seen the lists of good novels for boys and girls growing away from books written for children and also a list of interesting love-stories for readers who have heard of only a few authors?"
Librarian: "Have you ever noticed the printed lists of new books, with notes, hung on the bulletin board every Monday?"
Librarian: "Do you know that the library has twelve hundred volumes of the best books by the best authors, fifty of each, for use in the public schools?"
The library opened in 1895 a branch for children in the Social Settlement, and in 1897 reading rooms in connection with vacation schools, established by the Civic Club and afterwards taken in charge by the city.
The Educational Club, an organization of parents, teachers and others interested in education, began in 1897 with very informal meetings, suggested by the school section of the Civic Club, which were held in my office for three years, until they outgrew it and needed a more formal organization. The directors of the Civic Club and managers of the Social Settlement have met there for years, and the Connecticut Public Library Committee found it a convenient meeting place until it seemed better to hold sessions in the Capitol, where its office is.
The history classes of the North School, of whose principal I have spoken, used to make a pilgrimage every year to points of interest in the city, ending with an hour in the rooms of the Historical Society in the building, where they impersonated historical characters or looked at colonial furniture and implements. After the hour was over they used to come to the office for gingerbread and lemonade, which strengthened their friendly feeling for the library. This lasted until the principal went to another city.
In 1898, in a talk to some children in one of the schools just before the summer vacation, I asked those who were not going out of town to come to the library one afternoon every week for a book-talk, with a tableful of books such as they would not be likely to find for themselves. The subjects the first year were:
Out-of-door books and stories about animals, Books about Indians, Travellers' tales and stories of adventure, Books that tell how to do things, Books about pictures and music, A great author and his friends (Sir Walter Scott), Another great author and his short stories (Washington Irving), Old-fashioned books for boys and girls. The talks have been kept up ever since.
The series in 1900 was on Books about knights and tournaments, what happened to a man who read too much about knights (Don Quixote), Books about horses, Two dream-stories, (The divine comedy and The pilgrim's progress), Some funny adventures (A traveller's true tale and others), Some new books, How a book is made, Stories about India, Pictures and scrap-books.
The next year, 1901, the talks were about stories connected with English history, the Old-English, the Normans, the Plantagenet times, King Henry V., the Wars of the Roses, King Henry VII, and King Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth and Mary, Queen of Scots, the Stuarts, and the English Revolution and eighteenth- century England.
The year after, 1902, the talks were on "Books that you have not read," under the titles Sea stories, Indian stories, Horse stories, Wonder stories, Hero stories, African stories, South Sea stories, School and college stories, Old stories. A table of books was in the room, and I took them up one by one and told a little about the story, sometimes reading aloud and stopping at a very interesting point.
In 1903, the subjects were Stories about dragons, Stories about soldiers, Stories about shipwrecks, Stories about out-of- doors, Stories of real people told by themselves, Stories about adventures, Stories about pictures, Stories about the West, the object being to give the children of the upper grammar grades a glimpse into interesting books of which they might otherwise never hear. In that year we printed a list of novels for young readers that is now ten years old and needs revision, but still has its uses.
The use of the reference-room by children steadily increased, until the need of a room for them became evident, both on weekdays and Sundays. The Bulletin for March 1, 1900, says: "On Sunday, Feb. 25, there were eighty-one children in the small room, filling not only chairs too high for their short legs, but benches extending into the circulation room. They were all quiet and orderly, and some of them read seriously and absorbedly for several hours on 'The twentieth century,' 'The boundaries of the United States,' and 'The comparative greatness of Napoleon and Alexander.' The younger children read storybooks in the same quiet manner. A children's room would relieve the pressure on all three departments of the library." The "last straw" that led to the grant of rooms was a newspaper article illustrated by a photograph of the reference-room on a Sunday afternoon with one man, one woman and fifty-one children in it.
In 1904, the library came into possession of two large, bright sunny rooms and a smaller one adjoining in an old-fashioned house next door, which belonged to the Athenaeum and had been released by the removal of the Hartford Club to a large new house across the street. We opened rooms in November, just before Thanksgiving, and from then till New Year's Day we received gifts from many friends: a pair of andirons for the open fireplace, several pictures, a check "for unnecessary things" from one of the women's clubs, another for wall-decoration from teachers, students and graduates of the Albany Library School, fifty Japanese color-prints of chrysanthemums from the Pratt Institute children's room, a cuckoo clock that is still going, though it demands a vacation about once a year, and a Boston fern that is now in flourishing condition. A large Braun photograph of the Madonna del Granduca came later from the Pittsburgh School for Children's Librarians.
The furniture is of the simplest kind. We used some tables that we had, and bought one new one, some bentwood chairs for the older children and others such as are used in kindergartens for the younger. Pratt Institute lent us that first winter the very attractive illustrations by the Misses Whitney for Louisa Alcott's "Candy country." Some friends who were breaking up housekeeping gave the room a case of native and foreign stuffed birds with the hope that they might be as great a source of pleasure to the children as they had been to them in their childhood. Another friend sent us two trunks of curiosities from Europe, Asia, Africa and North America, which are shown a few at a time.
The next summer, 1905, the book-talks were about pictures in the room, most of which had been bought with our friends' gifts. Windsor Castle, Kenilworth, Heidelberg Castle, The Alhambra, St. George, King Arthur, Sir Walter Scott, the Canterbury Pilgrims, some Shakespeare stories. On the Alhambra afternoon, a girl who had spent her first year out of college in Spain described the palace and showed curiosities from Granada. One day a Civil War nurse who happened in was persuaded to tell the boys and girls in the room about the three weeks she spent in the White House, taking care of Tad Lincoln through a fever. Some years later we were fortunate enough to hear her again in the room above, on Abraham Lincoln's hundredth birthday, when she held the attention of a large number of boys and girls for more than an hour.
The next summer "What you can get out of a Henty book" was used as an excuse for showing books and pictures about the Crusades, Venice, the knights of Malta, the Rebellion of the Forty-five, the East India Company, the siege of Gibraltar, the Peninsula war, and modern Italy.
That summer we had a puzzle-club to show younger children how to work the puzzles in St. Nicholas and other magazines and newspapers. We held our first Christmas exhibition that year, 1906, in the room itself, for one day only, before the hour of opening.
After an exhibition of lace in the Athenaeum the next spring, the specialist who arranged it held the attention of her audience of girls between ten and fourteen, giving a practical illustration of the making of pillow-lace, showing specimens of different kinds, pointing out the use of lace in old-fashioned costumes for children, and exhibiting a piece of Valenciennes which had been stolen by a catbird and recovered before it was woven into a nest. This talk was given at my request, because we could find almost nothing on lace in books for children, and the exhibit was then attracting much notice.
That year our first children's librarian, who had given only a part of her working hours to the room, the rest to the loan- desk, left us to be married. The school work had grown so fast that it had become necessary for us to find a successor who was equal to it, and whose sole time could be given to that and the care of the room, which is open only from 3.30 to 6 on school- days, except on Wednesdays, Saturdays and in vacations, when we have all-day hours. The children in vacation-time may change story-books every day if they like--practically none of them do it--but in school time they are allowed only one a week. This is not a hardship, for they may use their non-fiction cards, which give them anything else, including bound magazines.
Our children's librarian makes up for lack of library technique by her acquaintance with teachers, and experience in day, evening and vacation schools, that have brought her into contact with children of all sorts and conditions.
The summer before her coming I had charge of the room for a part of every day, and observing that children under fourteen were beginning to think that they had read everything in the room and were asking to be transferred, I made a collection of books, principally novels, from the main library, marked them and the bookcards with a red star, and placed them on side shelves, where the younger children soon learned that they would find nothing to interest them. This keeps the older boys and girls in the room until they are ready for the main library, and when they are transferred they are sent to me in my office, where they are told that some one is always ready to give them help if they ask for it. The list of books for the first year after coming into the library is handed to them, and they are also referred to the high school shelves, to be mentioned later.
We insist on a father or mother coming with a child and leaving a signature or mark on the back of the application-card. This is placing responsibility where it belongs, and as we always have at least one of the staff who can speak Yiddish, and others who speak Italian, the parents are usually willing to come.
We are very strict in exacting fines as a means of teaching children to be responsible and careful of public property.
One summer the children acted simple impromptu plays, Cinderella, Blue Beard, Beauty and the beast, on the lawn outside the long windows. The lawn has been in bad condition for nearly two years, on account of the building of the Morgan memorial, but has now been planted again. One May-day we had an old English festival around a Maypole on the green, with Robin Hood, Maid Marian, Friar Tuck, Will Scarlett, the hobby- horse, the dragon and all the rest, including Jack in the Green and an elephant. This was such a success that we were asked to repeat it across the river on the East Hartford Library green, where it was highly complimented on account of being so full of the spirit of play.
Our Christmas exhibits have been held every year, at first, as I have said, for one day only, then for two or three in the rooms above, and for the last two years in a large room used by the Hartford Art Society as a studio until it moved to a whole house across the street. This room has space for our school libraries, and the room which they had outgrown was fitted up at no expense except for chairs and a change in the lighting, as a study-room for the older boys and girls, who also have the privilege of reading any stories they find on the shelves, which are on one side only. The other shelves, placed across the room, were moved to the studio, which is so large that it has space for story-telling, or oftener story-reading. The winter of the Dickens centennial, through the month of February, the beginnings of "David Copperfield," "Nicholas Nickleby," "Dombey and son" and "Great expectations" were read.
In 1911, a gift of twenty-five dollars from a friend was spent for the boys' and girls' room, and has bought specimens of illustration, Grimm's "Fairy tales," illustrated by Arthur Rackham; Kate Greenaway's "Under the window," "Marigold garden," "Little Ann" and "Pied piper", Laura Starr's "Doll book," and a fine copy of Knight's "Old England," full of engravings, including a morris dance such as has been performed here, and Hare's "Portrait book of our kings and queens." The rest of the money bought a globe for the older boys' and girls' reading-table, and sent from Venice a reproduction of a complete "armatura," or suit of Italian armor, eighteen inches high.
In 1912 the boys and girls of grades 7 to 9 in the district and parochial schools were invited to listen to stories from English history in the Librarian's office of the Hartford Public Library on Tuesday afternoons in July and August. Some of the subjects were The Roman wall, The Danish invasion, King Alfred and the white horses said to have been cut to commemorate his victories, The Crusades, and The captivity of James I. of Scotland. The Longman series of colored wall-prints was used as a starting point for the stories. Children in grades 4 to 6 listened at a later hour to stories from Hawthorne's "Wonderbook" and "Tanglewood tales."
The Hartford Public Library had an exhibit at the state fair, September 2-7, 1912, in the Child-welfare building. In a space 11 by 6 were chairs, tables covered with picture-books, a bookcase with libraries for school grades, probation office, and a settlement, and another with inexpensive books worth buying for children. Pictures of countries and national costumes were hung on the green burlap screens which enclosed the sides of the miniature room. At about the same time we printed a list of pleasant books for boys and girls to read after they have been transferred to the main library. They are not all classics, but are interesting. The head of the high school department of English and some of the other teachers asked the library's help in making a list of books for suggested reading during the four years' course. This list has been printed and distributed. Copies are hung near two cases with the school pennant above them, and one of the staff sees that these cases are always filled with books mentioned in it. The high school has a trained librarian, who borrows books from the Public Library and tries in every way to encourage its use.
From Dec. 3 to 24, 1912 and 1913, the exhibit of Christmas books for children and young people was kept open by the library in the large room in the annex. The exhibit included three or four hundred volumes, picture books by the best American, English, French, German, Italian, Danish, and Russian illustrators, inexpensive copies and also new and beautiful editions of old favorites, finely illustrated books attractive to growing-up young people, and the best of the season's output. It had many visitors, some of them coming several times. We sent a special invitation to the students in the Hartford Art Society, some of whom are hoping to be illustrators, and appreciate the picture- books highly.
The boys' and girls' room received last winter a fine photo- graphic copy of Leighton's "Return of Persephone," in time for Hawthorne's version of the story, which is usually read when pomegranates are in the market and again six months later, when Persephone comes up to earth and the grass and flowers begin to spring.
One day John Burroughs made an unexpected visit to the room, and it happened that when the children reading at the tables were told who he was, and asked who of them had read "Squirrels and furbearers," the boy nearest him held up his hand with the book in it. That boy will probably never forget his first sight of a real live author!
Last winter we received a gift of a handsome bookcase with glass doors, which we keep in the main library, filled with finely illustrated books for children to be taken out on grown-up cards only. This is to insure good care.
For several years we have been collecting a family of foreign dolls, who are now forty-five in number, of all sorts and sizes, counting seventeen marionettes such as the poor children in Venice play with, half a dozen Chinese actors, and nine brightly colored Russian peasants in wood. The others are Tairo, a very old Japanese doll in the costume of the feudal warriors, Thora from Iceland, Marit the Norwegian bride, Erik and Brita from Sweden, Giuseppe and Marietta from Rome, Heidi and Peter from the Alps, Gisela from Thuringia, Cecilia from Hungary, Annetje from Holland, Lewie Gordon from Edinburgh, Christie Johnstone the Newhaven fishwife, Sambo and Dinah the cotton- pickers. Mammy Chloe from Florida, an Indian brave and squaw from British America, Laila from Jerusalem, Lady Geraldine of 1830 and Victoria of 1840. Every New Year's Day, in answer to a picture bulletin which announces a doll-story and says "Bring your doll," the little girls come with fresh, clean, Christmas dolls, and every one who has a name is formally presented to the foreign guests, who sit in chairs on a table. Lack of imagination is shown in being willing to own a doll without a name, and this year the subject of names was mentioned in time for the little girls to have them ready. Mrs. Mary Hazelton Wade, author of many of the "Little cousins," lives in Hartford, and lately gave us a copy of her "Dolls of many countries." I told her about the party and invited her, and she told the fifty children who were listening about the Feasts of Dolls in Japan. The doll-story was E. V. Lucas's "Doll doctor," and it was followed by William Brightly Rands's "Doll poems."
In 1893, the year after the library became free, the Connecticut Public Library Committee was organized. For about ten years it had no paid visitor and inspector, and I, as secretary of the committee, had to go about the state in the little time I could spare from regular duties, trying to arouse library interest in country towns. Now most of the field work is done by the visitor, but I have spoken many times at teachers' meetings and library meetings. We began by sending out pamphlets--"What a free library can do for a country town"--emphasizing what its possibilities are of interesting children, and "What a library and school can do for each other." Every year the libraries receive a grant of books from the state, and send in lists subject to approval. We often found the novels and children's books asked for unworthy of being bought with state money by a committee appointed by the Board of Education, and began to print yearly lists of recommended titles of new books, from which all requested must be chosen. The standard is gradually growing higher. The Colonial Dames have for years paid for traveling libraries, largely on subjects connected with colonial history, to be sent to country schools from the office of the committee, and have also given traveling portfolios of pictures illustrating history, chosen and mounted by one of their number. The Audubon Society sends books, largely on out-of-door subjects, and bird-charts, to schools and libraries all over the state. Traveling libraries, miscellaneous or on special subjects, are sent out on request.
A Library Institute has been held every summer for five years under the direction of the visitor and inspector. It lasts for two weeks, and several lectures are always given by specialists in work with children.
The choice of books, sources of stories for children, and what to recommend to them are frequently discussed in meetings for teachers and librarians.
A book-wagon has for the last two or three years gone through a few towns where there is no public library, circulating several thousand books a year for adults and children, and exciting an interest which may later develop into the establishment of public libraries. The committee has now 105 which receive the state grant. Wherever a new library is opened, a special effort is made through the schools to make it attractive to children.
At this time of year the mothers' clubs in the city and adjoining towns often ask for talks on what to buy, and boxes of books are taken to them, not only expensive and finely illustrated copies, but the best editions that can be bought for a very little money. These exhibitions have been also given at country meetings held by the Connecticut Public Library Committee.
A library column in a Hartford Sunday paper is useful in showing the public what libraries in other states and cities are doing, and in attracting attention to work with children. Letters to the children themselves at the beginning of vacation, printed in a daily paper and sent to the schools, invite them to book-talks. Other printed letters about visits to places connected with books and authors, sent home from England and Scotland with postcards, have excited an interest in books not always read by children. This year the Hartford children's librarian has read the letters and shown the books referred to, post-cards and pictures, to a club of girls from the older grammar grades, who were invited through the letters just spoken of to leave their names with her.
A club of children's librarians from towns within fifteen miles around Hartford meets weekly from October to May. Meetings all over the state under the Public Library Committee have stimulated interest in work with children, and Library Day is celebrated every year in the schools.
The visitor and inspector reports visits to eight towns in December, and says: "Somewhat more than a year ago, at the request of the supervisor, I made out a list of books for the X---- school libraries. These were purchased, and this year the chairman of the school board requested my assistance in arranging the collection in groups to be sent in traveling library cases until each school shall have had each library. I spent two days at the town hall working with the chairman of the school board, the supervisor, a typist and two school teachers.
"A new children's room has been opened in the Y---- library since my visit there. It is double the size of the room formerly in use, and much lighter and more cheerful. The first grant from the state was expended entirely for children's books, the selection being made in this office.
"In Z---- I gave an Audubon stereopticon lecture, prefacing it with an account of the work on the Audubon Society, and an enumeration of the loans to schools. The audience in a country schoolhouse, half a mile from Z---- village, numbered 102."