Questia Online Library


THE WORK FOR CHILDREN IN FREE LIBRARIES
Library Journal, 1897, p. 679.
MARY WRIGHT PLUMMER.

In the following paper, read in 1897 before the Friends' Library Association of Philadelphia, and the New York Library Club, Miss Mary W. Plummer discussed some of the "experiences and theories" of a number of libraries and the "requisites for the ideal children's library." Mary Wright Plummer was born in Richmond, Indiana, in 1856, was graduated from the Friends' Academy there, and was a special student at Wellesley College, 1881-1882. She entered the "first class of the first library school," and in 1888 became a certified graduate of the Library School of Columbia College. For the next two years she was the head of the Cataloguing department of the St. Louis Public Library. She was Librarian of the Pratt Institute Free Library from 1890 to 1904, and Director of the Pratt Institute of Library Science until 1911. She then became Principal of the Library School of the New York Public Library, the position she held until her death in 1916. Miss Plummer was President of the A. L. A. in 1915-1916. She contributed many articles to library periodicals, and has written numerous books, several of which are for children. It is so early in the movement for children's libraries that by taking some thought now it would seem possible to avoid much retracing of steps hereafter, and it is for this reason that even at this early day a comparison of experiences and theories by those libraries which have undertaken the work is desirable and even necessary. It is as well, perhaps, to begin with a few historical statistics, gathered from questions sent out last December and from perusal of the Library Journal reports since then. Many libraries, probably the majority, have had an age-limit for borrowers, and the admission of children under 12 to membership is of comparatively recent date. The separation of children from the adult users of the library by means of a room of their own was probably originated by the Public Library of Brookline, which in 1890 set aside an unused room in its basement for a children's reading-room. In 1893 the Minneapolis Public Library fitted up a library for children, from which books circulate also, where they had (as reported in December, 1896) 20,000 volumes, the largest children's library yet reported. In 1894 the Cambridge Public Library opened a reading-room and the Denver Public Library a circulating library for children. An article on the latter undertaking may be found in the Outlook for September 26, 1896. In 1895 Boston, Omaha, Seattle, New Haven and San Francisco, all opened either circulating libraries or reading-rooms for children, and in 1896 Detroit, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Pratt Institute of Brooklyn, Everett (Mass.) and Kalamazoo (Mich.) followed suit. The libraries of Circleville (O.), Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Helena (Mont.) are all projecting plans for the same, and probably this year will show a notable increase. The new Public Library of Chicago has made no especial provision for children, from the fact that its situation in the heart of the business district of the city will prevent many children from coming to it, but provision of some sort will be made for them at the various branch reading-rooms throughout the city. In the new building of the Providence Library considerations of cost made it necessary to give up the addition of a children's library, a matter of great disappointment to every one. From all these libraries except the last two, reports were received by us in December, 1896, on comparing which we found considerable similarity of usage, though as there had been but little in print on the subject up to 1896 this probably arose not from communication between the libraries but from the fact that like circumstances and causes produced like effects in different places. Of the 15 libraries reporting, 11 circulated books from the children's room, three making an age-limit for this, while the four remaining contented themselves with giving the children a reading-room, in which a number of books--about 300--were placed, for reading on the premises. The temptation for a child who becomes interested in a book, to carry it off when closing- hour comes, in order to finish it, is a strong one, and of these four libraries one reported 35 books missing in its first six months, or over one-tenth of its stock. Two others which circulate from open shelves to all borrowers lost 100 children's books in a little over 12 months. A number of others reported that as yet they had taken no inventory of the books in the room, and were evidently willing that ignorance should remain bliss a little longer. Several report that very few books are unaccounted for, and one or two that not a book has been taken. Free access to the children's books is allowed in all the 15, and in about half of them the room is open all day, and in two cases in the evening also. The number of volumes shelved ranges all the way from 300 to 20,000, the average number being from 3,000 to 4,000. An age- limit for the use of the room is set by seven libraries, three of these making the limit for circulation only, while eight admit children of any age, and doubtless make provision for the very youngest The circulation of these rooms that lend books ranges from 65 to 350 as a daily average, frequently exceeding this. As a rule, one attendant is kept in the room, with assistance when necessary, two libraries only reporting two regular assistants and the Boston Public Library three. The Detroit Library has two attendants in order to give the children personal attention. The library at Kalamazoo has for one of its assistants a trained kindergarten. Eight libraries report no reference-books on the children's shelves and the majority of the others only a few such works. The largest number of periodicals taken appears to be our own list of 10, though by this time the libraries reporting in 1896 may have increased their number. Instead of taking a variety of periodicals, they seem to prefer duplicating a few favorites. One library reports a number of copies of Puck taken for children, the wisdom of which I should doubt, and two subscribe for Golden Days. The Minneapolis Library circulates 10 copies of St. Nicholas. The Boston Public Library, having a large foreign clientele among children as well as adults, takes one German and one French periodical for them. In the Detroit Library the Scientific American is on the list, and in our children's library we take a copy of Harper's Weekly. A number of libraries report crowding and lack of time and space. In one no periodicals can be kept in the children's library, because there is no room for the children to sit down to read them. Another reports as many as 75 children frequently in the room at once, a third that the room is so full children have often to be sent out, and a fourth, which at the time was only a reading-room, that the attendance was so large very little could be done except to keep order. Most of the libraries report a fair proportion of foreigners among the children, and one speaks of having many colored children among the readers. Turning from these reports to a general consideration of the subject, we must admit, first, that a definite decision as to the object of a children's library is the first thing needful. This decision will doubtless vary in different libraries, and the results will differ accordingly, but almost any decision is better than none, since one cannot be arrived at without giving much thought to the subject, and the desirable thing is that the work should be entered upon thoughtfully. We have passed the time when reading in itself was considered a vast good. The ability to read may easily be a curse to the child, for unless he be provided something fit to read, it is an ability as powerful for evil as for good. When we consider the dime-novels, the class of literature known as Sunday- school books, the sensational newspapers, the vicious literature insinuated into schools, and the tons of printed matter issued by reputable publishers, written by reputable people, good enough in its intention but utterly lacking in nourishment, and, therefore, doing a positive harm in occupying the place of better things-- when we consider that all these are brought within a child's reach by the ability to read, we cannot help seeing that the librarian, in his capacity as selector of books for the library, has the initial responsibility. Certain classes of the printed stuff just spoken of do not, of course, find their way into children's libraries, since they are barred out from all respectable shelves; but we are still too lenient with print because it is print, and every single book should be carefully examined before it goes into a library where children should have access to the shelves. But given an ideal selection of books, or as near it as we can get and still have enough books to go around, is just the reading of them--that is, the passing of the eye over the types, gaining a momentary impression--the most desirable thing to be got out of them? Are there not here and there children who are reading to the lasting detriment of their memories and powers of observation and reflection, stuffing themselves with type, as it were? Nearly every observant librarian knows of such cases. Are there not days when the shining of the sun, the briskness of the air, the greenness of the turf and of the trees, should have their invitation seconded by the librarian, and the child be persuaded AWAY from the library instead of TO it? We are supposed to contribute with our books toward the sound mind, but we should be none the less advocates of the sound body--and the child who reads all day indoors when he ought to be out in the fresh air among his kind, should have our especial watching. But, granted the suitable book and the suitable time for reading, what do we know of the effect our books are having? We count our circulation just the same whether a book is kept two days--about long enough for the family to look at the pictures-- or a week. Whether it has been really read we do not know. Sometimes I think those pencilled notes on the margin, recording the child's disgust or satisfaction, should have more meaning for us than they do. At least, they prove that the book has taken hold of the reader's imagination and sympathies. Don't let us be too severe with a criticism written in the honest feeling of the moment (if it be in pencil); we are really gathering psychological and sociological data for which the child-study clubs would thank us, perhaps. I see only one way in which we can be enabled to estimate fairly the value of what we are doing, and that is by so gaining the good-will and confidence of the children as to get them to answer our questions as to their reading or to tell us of their own accord what they get from it. From this information we may make our inferences as to the value of our books in themselves, and may be enabled to regulate their use. A child whose exclusive diet is fairy-tales is evidently over-cultivating the imagination; a girl who has outgrown children's books and dipped into the premature love-stories that are written for her class needs our most careful guidance; a boy whose whole thought is of adventure, or who cannot read anything but jokes, is also in a critical condition. In short, the judicious regulation of the children's reading should be made practicable for the librarian, if the children's library is to be the important agency in education which it may be made. In regard to the desirability of amusements in the library, I own that I am somewhat sceptical. The library has its own division of labor in the work of education, and that division is the training of the people to the use and appreciation of books and literature. An argument in favor of games is that they draw in children who might not otherwise come, but I should fear they would be drawn in finally in such crowds as to be unmanageable. Books properly administered should have the same drawing power, and their influence, once felt, is toward quietness and thought, rather than toward activity and skill with the complications of dispute and cheating that may arise from the use of games. Children are natural propagandists. Let one child find that at the children's library he may select his own books from a good-sized collection, may find help in his composition-work, the news of what is going on in the world in the shape of an attractive illustrated bulletin-board, different every week--and tomorrow 10 children will know of it, and each of these will tell other 10, and so on. The library will have all the children it can attend to eventually, and they will have come gradually so that the assistants shall have been able to get a proper grasp of the situation, while the earlier children will have been somewhat trained to help, like the elder brothers and sisters in a family. Certain freedoms may be granted in the children's library as an education for the adult constituency of the future; for instance, the guarantee may be done away with, thus putting the child on his honor to pay his own fines and damages--the only penalties for not doing so being those which society naturally inflicts on offenders--the debarring from privileges and from association. If there is nothing injurious or doubtful on the shelves, freedom in choice of books may be allowed to the smallest child, only he must know that help and guidance are at hand if he wishes them, and if a tendency to over-read in any one direction or in all is noticed, the librarian should feel at liberty to make suggestions. And as to freedom of action, the maxim should be that one man's liberty ends where another man's begins. No child should be allowed to disturb the room or to interfere with the quiet of those who are studying, for many children, more than one would think, really come to study. But the stiffness and enforced routine of the school-room should by all means be avoided. There should be no set rules as to silence, but consideration for others should be inculcated, and in time the room will come to have a subduing, quiet atmosphere that will insensibly affect those who enter. Whispering, or talking in a low tone, where several little heads are bent together over picture-books, is certainly admissible, and the older heads are very soon quiet of their own accord, each over its own book or magazine. After the selection of the books themselves there is nothing so important as thoughtful administration, a practical question, since the employment of assistants comes in under this head. Educators have for some time seen the mistake of putting the cheapest teachers over the primary schools--kindergartners have seen it--and it remains for the library to profit by their experience without going through a similar one. If there is on the library staff an assistant well read and well educated, broad- minded, tactful, with common sense and judgment, attractive to children in manner and person, possessed, in short, of all desirable qualities, she should be taken from wherever she is, put into the children's library, and paid enough to keep her there. There is no more important work in the building, no more delicate, critical work than that with children, no work that pays so well in immediate as well as in far-off results. Who that has met the fault- finding, the rudeness and coldness too frequent in a grown-up constituency, would not expand in the sunshine of the gratitude, the confidence, the good-will, the natural helpfulness of children! And it rests partly with the assistant to cultivate these qualities in them, and so modify the adult constituency of the future. I say THOUGHTFUL administration because the children's library is no sooner opened than it begins to present problems. Some of these are simply administrative and economic, others take hold of social and ethical foundations. There will be scarcely a day on which the librarian and the children's librarian will not have to put their heads, and sometimes their hearts, together over puzzling cases--cases of fraud, of mischief-making, of ignorant evil-doing, of inherited tendencies, physical, mental, and moral-- and sometimes it will seem as if the whole human creation were incurably ailing, and the doctrine of total depravity will take on alarming probability. But at this point some sound, smiling, active boy or girl comes in with a cheerful greeting, and pessimism retires into the background. And all this reminds me of one more quality which the children's librarian must have--a sense of humor. It is literally saving in some circumstances. Our own experience has led to the following suggestions, made by the children's librarian in our library to those who come in at given hours from the other departments to take her place or to assist her. It will be seen that most of them are the product of observation and thought arising from the daily evidence of the room itself: "Always tell a child how to fill out his application-blank, even when you are busy. Tell him just where to write his name in the register and stay near him till it is completed. Whenever it is possible, go to the shelves with a child who has just received his card of membership. Show him where different kinds of books are to be found. Ask him what kind of book he likes. Show him one or two answering to his description and then leave him to make his own selection. "Explain the routine carefully and fully to children just beginning to use the library. "Let no child sign the register, look at a book, receive or present an application, with soiled hands. Soiled and crumpled applications are considered defective and cannot be accepted. "Do not expect or demand perfect quiet. Frequent tapping upon the desk excites the children and betrays nervousness on the part of the person in charge. Let the discipline of the room seem to be incidental; let the child feel that it is first and foremost a library where books are to be had for the asking, and that you are there to make it easier to get them. "Never call children's numbers, but use their names if necessary, though a glance of recognition pleases them better. Do not force acquaintance. Children like it even less than grown people. Be sympathetic and responsive, but beware of mannerism or effusiveness. Remember, too, that questioning is a fine art, and one should take care not to offend. "Speed is not the first requisite at a children's desk. Children have more patience with necessary formalities than grown people. "Let some of the children help in the work of the room, but do not urge them to do so. "Avoid stereotyped forms of expression when reproving a child or conversing with him. Let him feel you are speaking to him personally; he will not feel this if he hears the same words used for 50 other boys." For evening work, when there is no circulation of books: "read to them sometimes; talk to them at others; and sometimes leave them quite alone. They are more appreciative when they find you are leaving work to give them pleasure than they would be if they found you were making their pleasure your work." These are a few of the instructions or suggestions consequent upon daily observation and experience. Doubtless every children's librarian could supplement them with many more, but they are enough to show what I mean by "thoughtful administration." Occasionally the librarian who serves children will have to take account of stock, sum up the changes for better or for worse in the use and treatment of the room, in the manners and habits of the children and in their reading. She will have to retire a little from her work, take a bird's-eye view of it, and decide if on the whole progress is making toward her ideal. Without identifying itself with any of the movements such as the kindergarten, child-study, and social settlement, without losing control of itself and resigning itself to any outside guidance, the children's library should still absorb what is to its purpose in the work of all these agencies. "This one thing I do," the librarian may have to keep reminding herself, to keep from being drawn off into other issues, but by standing a little apart she may see what is to her advantage without being sucked in by the draft as some enthusiastic movement sweeps by. Must she have no enthusiasm? Yes, indeed; but is not that a better enthusiasm which enables one to work on steadily for years with undiminished courage than the kind that exhausts itself in the great vivacity of its first feeling and effort? It will not be long after the opening of the children's library before an insight will be gained into domestic interiors and private lives that will make the librarian wish she could follow many a child to his home, in order to secure for him and his something better than the few hours' respite from practical life which they may get from the reading of books. When the boy who steals and the girl who is vicious before they are in their teens, have to be sent away lest other children suffer, it is borne in upon the librarian that a staff of home-missionaries connected with the library to follow up and minister in such cases would not be a bad thing--and she has to remind herself again and again that it is not incumbent on any one person to attempt everything, and that Providence has other instrumentalities at work besides herself. The humors of the situation, on the other hand, are many. The boys who, being sent home to wash their hands, return in an incredibly short time with purified palms and suppressed giggles, and on persistent inquiry confess, "We just licked 'em," present to one who is "particular" only a serio-comic aspect; and the little squirrel who wriggles to the top of the librarian's chair until he can reach her ear, and then whispers into it, "There couldn't be no library here 'thout you, could there?" is not altogether laughable; but incidents of pure comedy are occasionally to be set over against the serious side. Last spring, with a view to gaining information directly in the answers to our questions and indirectly in the light the answers should throw on the character of the children, we chose 150 boys and girls who were regularly using the library and sent to them a series of questions to be answered in writing. They were apparently greatly pleased to be consulted in this way, and it seemed to us that very few of the replies were insincere in tone, or intended merely to win approbation. From the 100 replies worth any consideration I have drawn these specimen answers: One of the first questions we asked was, "How long have you been using the library?" Of 100 who answered, 25 had used the library more than six months, 33 more than a year, 22 more than two years, 11 more than three years, nine more than four years, and one six years, since books were first given out to children. Many children first hear of the library when they are 13 and over, and after 14 they have the use of the main library, so that in their case the time of use is necessarily shorter. However, if a child has not done with the children's library by the time he is 14, we allow him to continue using it until he wishes to be transferred. Of 100 children, 68 reported that other members of their families used the library, while 32 reported themselves the only borrowers. This is interesting in connection with their answers to the question, "Does any one at home or at school tell you good books to read?" 71 reported yes and 29 no, about the same proportion. In many families the parents are of a mental calibre or at a stage in education to enjoy books written for children, and we have found that children often drew books with their parents' tastes in view. One little girl whose own tastes led her to select a charming little book on natural history was sent back with it by an aunt who said it was not suitable and requested one of the semi-demi-novels that are provided for quite young girls, as being much more appropriate. The difficulty in keeping "hands off" in a case where grown people are thus influencing children injuriously can be fully appreciated only by one who knows and cares for the children. Fifty-seven children reported that they were read to at home or that they read to their younger brothers and sisters, while 43 stated that their reading was a pleasure all to themselves. The large number who shared their reading was a pleasant surprise to us, evincing a companionship at home that we had hardly anticipated. Twenty-eight children stated that they preferred to have help in selecting their books, 63 that they preferred to make their own choice, while nine said it depended. 49 said that they came to the library to get help in writing their compositions or in other school-work, while 51 said they did not, one proudly asserting, "I am capable of writing all my compositions myself," and another, seeming to think help a sort of disgrace, "I do not come to the library for help about anything at all." Seventy out of the 100 children answering used no library but ours--the others made use of their Sunday-school libraries also. An inquiry as to the books read since New Year's, the questions being sent out in May, brought out the fact that an average of six books in the four and a half months had been read--not a bad average, considering that it was during term-time in the schools, when studies take up much of the child's otherwise spare time. Boys proved to prefer history and books of adventure, travel and biography, to any other class of reading; girls, books about boys and girls, fairy stories and poetry. The tastes of the boys on the whole were more wholesome, and the girls need most help here. It is not at all unlikely that it is chiefly the wars and combats in history which make it interesting to the boys, as they seem to go through a sanguinary phase in their development that nothing else will satisfy; but many of them will get their history in no other way, and since wars have been prominent in the past it is of no use to disguise the fact. Fairness to both sides would seem to be the essential in the writing of these children's histories and historical tales, since the ability to stop and deliberate and to make allowances is rare even in grown people and needs cultivation. The question as to the best book the child had ever read brought in a bewildering variety of answers, proving beyond a doubt that there had been no copying or using of other children's opinions. While no list can be given, the reasons they offered in response to a request for them were often interesting. Girls wrote of "Little women": "It is so real, the characters are so real and sweet." "I feel as if I could act the whole book." "This story has helped me a very great deal in leading a better and a happier life." "It shows us how to persevere," etc. Boys like "The Swiss family Robinson" "because it describes accurately the points of a shipwreck and graphically describes how a man with common sense can make the best of everything." Another, "because it shows how some people made the most of what they had." Another, "It shows how progressive the people were." One liked "Uncle Tom's cabin" "because it describes life among the colored people and shows how they were treated before the war"; another, "because it is a true story and some parts of it are pitiful and other parts are pleasant." A boy of 12 says of "Grimm's fairy tales," "They are interesting to read, and I learn there is no one to give you wings and sandals to fly--you have to make your own." Another likes "John Halifax" "because it tells how a boy who had pluck obtained what he wanted and made his mark in the world." "Pluck," I imagine, in a boy's mind stands for the old virtue of the poets, "magnanimity," that included all the rest. Harper's story-books are still read and appreciated "because they tell me about different kinds of people's ways, about animals, and a little about history." Another child "learned games out of them, and how to tell the truth and the use of the truth." A child of eight puts in a pathetic plea worth considering for the Prudy books, "because I understand them better than any books I have read." An incipient author says that she uses the library because "I make a good deal of stories and find pretty ideas." Perhaps the most enlightening replies came in answer to the question, "Can you suggest anything which would make the library more interesting that it is now?" One delightfully reassuring boy says, "I like the children's library to stay just the same, and a boy who never went there would like it. I'll bring more boys." "Pictures of art" are requested, and "a set of curiosities from all parts of the world." As we regard the children of all nationalities and types crowding about the desk on our busy days we sometimes think we already have this latter item. "A prize for the best story every month." "More histories." "Pictures of noted men on the walls." "More fairy-tales." "More magazines." "Books showing how to draw." "A pencil fastened to each table." "Stories in Scottish history." "More books of adventure." "More funny books." "A chart of real and genuine foreign stamps." "Lectures for children between 10 and 14, with experiments accompanying them." "A one-hour lecture once a week by noted men on different subjects." "A book giving the value of celebrated paintings." "More books. The shelves look bare," as indeed they do after a rush-day. "Rules to keep the children in order," from a nine-year-old who has doubtless suffered. "Not to be disturbed by other boys for unknown crimes," says one mysterious victim of something or other. "Historical fiction." "Catholic books." "Tanks with fishes, in the windows." "An aquarium; children would enjoy seeing pollywogs change to frogs every time they came to the library." This is the comment of a little girl, I am glad to say. "School-books." "More amusement for little children." This was before we bought our linen picture-books. And the "Elsie books," and Oliver Optic, and Castlemon are vainly desired by two or three. The general sentiment is pretty well voiced by one child who says, "The library is just perfect in about every respect." We feel that with this enumeration of desiderata, the children's library has its work cut out for it for some time to come, and that these evidences of the children's likings and needs have removed a certain vagueness from our ambitions. With lectures and experiments, reading clubs, and possibly original stories, in contemplation, there is no danger of rust from inaction, especially as to obtain any one of these there are serious obstacles to overcome. But always and everywhere the library should put forward its proper claim of the value and use of the book--though in the word book I by no means include all that goes under the name. If there are lectures with experiments or lantern-slides, they should be attended by information as to the best literature on the subject and the children encouraged to investigate what has been printed, as well as to take in through the ear. There is no "digging" in lecture-going, and it is "digging" that leaves a permanent impression on the mind. The lecture should stimulate to personal research. From reading aloud together at the library in the evening, reading clubs may come to be formed, each with a specialty, decided by the tastes of the members. The writing of stories, particularly if the library selected the subject, might be made the occasion of the use of histories, biographies, travels, etc. Quiet games in the evening for the older children, of a nature to require the use of reference-books, would be strictly within the library's province. Personal talks with the children about their reading, if judiciously conducted, are always in order. With a generation of children influenced in this way to use books as tools and a mental resource as well as for recreation, and to find recreation only in the best-written books, the library constituency of the future would be worthy of the best library that could be imagined. The bulletin-board is attracting attention generally as a means of interesting children in topics of current interest, and such a periodical as Harper's Weekly is invaluable when it comes to securing illustrations for this purpose. Sandwiched in among the pictures, we have occasionally smuggled in a printed paragraph of useful information or a set of verses, and our latest move, to induce more general reading of the periodicals, has been to analyze their contents on the bulletin, under the head of "Animals," "Sports," "Engines," "Short stories," "Long stories," etc. Boys who "know what they like" are beginning to turn to this analysis to see if there is anything new on their favorite topic and to explain the workings of the board to other boys, and the desired end is gradually being brought about. As the references are taken down to make way for new ones, they are filed away by subject, making the beginnings of a permanent reference list. Birds, the new magazine with its colored plates, is a boon for the children's room, The Great Round World is good for the assistant-in-charge and the teachers who come to the room, as well as for the children. In order to add to the number of books without overstepping our rules as to quality, we are beginning, though not yet very systematically, to look over the works of certain authors of grown-up books with a view to finding material that can be understood sufficiently by children to interest them. A number of Stevenson's books can be given to boys and girls, and we hope to find many others. Most children, I think, read books without knowing who has written them, and if we can induce them to learn to know authors and can interest them in a writer like Stevenson, we can feel fairly secure that they will not drop him when they are transferred from the children's room to the main library. Perhaps it is best always to have a working hypothesis to begin with, in children's libraries as elsewhere; but we can assure those who have not tried it that facts are stubborn things, and the hypothesis has frequently to be made over in accordance with newly-observed facts, and theories may or may not be proven correct. The whole subject is as yet in the empirical stage, and the way must be felt from day to day. If the children's librarian lives in a continual rush, what "leisure to grow wise" on her chosen subject does she have? and if she is hurried constantly from one child to another, what chance have the children for learning by contact with the individual? which, as Mr. Horace E. Scudder truly says, is the method most sure of results. This contact may be had most naturally, it seems to us, through the ordinary channels of waiting on the children, provided it is quiet, deliberate waiting upon them. We go out of our way to think out new philanthropies and are too likely to forget that, as we go about our every-day business, natural opportunities are constantly presenting for strengthening our knowledge of and our hold upon the people who come to us--who are sent to us, I might almost say. The registry and the charging-desks offer chances for acquaintance to begin naturally and unconsciously and for much incidental imparting of seed-thoughts. And it is in these every-day chances, if appreciated and made the most of, that the work of the children's library is going to tell. The necessity of especial training in psychology, pedagogy, child study, and kindergarten ideas, has been treated of recently in a paper before the A. L. A. There is no doubt that the "called" worker in this field will be better for scientific training, but let him or her first be sure of the call. It is quite as serious as one to the ministry, if not more so, and no amount of intellectual training will make up for the lack of patience and fairness and of a genuine interest in children and realization of their importance in the general scheme. To sum up, the requisites for the ideal children's library, as we begin to see it, are suitable books, plenty of room, plenty of assistance, and thoughtful administration. Better a number of children's libraries scattered over a town or city than a large central one, since only in this way can the children be divided up so as to make individual attention to them easy. But if it devolves upon one library to do the work for the entire town, and branches are out of the question, something of the same result may be obtained by providing at certain hours an extra number of assistants. I can imagine a large room with several desks, at each of which should preside an assistant having charge of only certain classes of books, so that in time she might come to be an authority on historical or biographical or scientific or literary books for children, and the children might learn to go to her as their specialist on the class of books they cared most for. Perhaps this may sound Utopian. I believe there are libraries present and to come for which it is entirely practicable.

Library Work with Children

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THE GROWING TENDENCY TO OVER-EMPHASIZE THE CHILDREN'S SIDE