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LIBRARY WORK IN SUMMER PLAYGROUNDS
A. L. A. Proceedings, 1911, p. 246.
GERTRUDE ELIZABETH ANDRUS.

At the Pasadena Conference of the A. L. A. in 1911, Miss Gertrude Andrus led a discussion on library work in summer playgrounds, in which she considered some simple methods of administration. Gertrude Elisabeth Andrus was born in Buffalo, N. Y., acted as an assistant in the Buffalo Public Library in 1900-1901; was a student in the Training School for Children's Librarians in Pittsburgh from 1902 to 1904; children's librarian in the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh from 1903 to 1908, and since that time has been head of the children's department in the Seattle Public Library.

The library in a summer playground serves a double purpose; it supplies books in a district not otherwise reached by the library and it acts as a lure to the use of the main library. If the books are attractive, the children will follow them to the main library and thus become permanent borrowers. So it is plain that the books we place in our summer playgrounds must be of the most popular type. Easy books, picture books, fairy tales, stories, histories, books of travel, and books on games and manual arts are the ones most in demand. A knowledge of the district in which the playground is located is also necessary. If the children have a school library and are accustomed to reading, the books sent to the playground will differ from the kind sent to one in a foreign district where little reading has been done.

As the library room is invariably used for other work on other days, the books must be locked up. A satisfactory solution of this is a built-in bookcase with adjustable doors which may easily be lifted from their sockets and set aside when access to the books is desired, and may be replaced and padlocked when the day's work is done. The arrangement of the room and the charging desk should always be made so that the exit can be very carefully supervised.

In order to conserve our time so that we may have leisure to give attention to individual children, we must arrange to have the mechanical part of the work as systematic as possible. Playground library work is a life of stress and strain. Everything comes in rushes. There is always a mad dash for the door as soon as the library is opened, for each child is sure that unless he is the first he will miss the good book that he is convinced is there. This rush of course makes it difficult to discharge the books, slip them, shelve them, and at the same time charge the ones the children have selected, to say nothing of helping the children in their choice. We have therefore found it best to collect the books beforehand, discharge them and distribute the cards among the children before opening the library doors. When the Newark system is used, however, and a child has drawn two books, this may result in considerable confusion, for the books may be separated and one may not be sure that both charges on the card should be cancelled. When our first playground library in Seattle opened, we used the Browne system of charging and this proved so satisfactory that we have continued to use it in the others. According to this method, each borrower receives two cards. When a book is borrowed, the book slip is drawn and put with one of the borrower's cards in a small envelope. It is readily seen how easy it is to avoid complications when the books are gathered before the opening of the library, for the slip of each one is with the borrower's card, and if the borrower returns no book, no card is given him. After the books are discharged and shelved and the cards distributed, the children are admitted. In this way much of the confusion incident to opening is eliminated and more time is secured to help the children make their choice.

In order that the care of the books may not interfere with the children's play, we have devised a checking system by means of which the children may leave their books in charge of the librarian until they are ready to go home. This not only allows the children freedom in play but obviates the possibility of loss of books through their being left on benches and swings. The playground is a place of freedom and fun and good fellowship, and the library's rules should be made as inconspicuous as possible.

The librarian should be not only willing, but anxious to enter into the life of the playground as far as her duties permit. One way in which she will be able to make herself popular not only with the children but with the instructors is by means of story telling. Joseph Lee says that story telling is the only passive occupation permissible on a playground and the librarian thus finds her work ready to her hand. She is able to advertise her books, make friends with the children is a most effective way, and at the same time relieve the playground instructor of a duty which is sometimes found irksome.

She must remember that she is an integral part of that playground, not a weekly visitor, and she must throw herself into the interests and activities of the children with all the enthusiasm at her command.

Library Work with Children

Next Section:
THE SELECTION OF BOOKS FOR SUNDAY SCHOOL LIBRARIES AND THEIR INTRODUCTION TO CHILDREN