A Library Primer (1899)/Chapter LI

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A Library Primer by John Cotton Dana
Chapter LI, Schoolroom libraries

"Schoolroom library" is the term commonly applied to a small collection, usually about 50v., of books placed on an open shelf in a schoolroom. In a good many communities these libraries have been purchased and owned by the board of education, or the school authorities, whoever they may be. If they are the property of the school board they commonly remain in the schoolroom in which they are placed. As the children in that room are changed each year, and as the collections selected for the different grades are usually different, the child as he passes through the rooms comes into close contact with a new collection each year. There are some advantages in having the ownership and control of these libraries remain entirely in the hands of the school board and the superintendent. The library, however, is generally the place in the community in which is to be found the greatest amount of information about books in general, the purchasing of them, the proper handling of them in fitting them for the shelves, cataloging, binding, etc., and the selection of those best adapted to young people. It is quite appropriate therefore, that, as is in many cities the case, the public library should supply the schools with these schoolroom libraries from its own shelves, buying therefor special books and often many copies of the same book.

If schoolroom libraries do come from the public library, they can with very little difficulty be changed several times during the school year. With a little care on the part of the librarian and teachers, the collection of any given room can be by experience and observation better and better adapted to the children in that room as time goes on.

There are many ways of using the schoolroom library. The books forming it should stand on open shelves accessible to the pupils whenever the teacher gives permission. They may be lent to the children to take home. Thus used they often lead both children and parents to read more and better books than before, and to use the larger collections of the public library. They may be used for collateral reading in the schoolroom itself. Some of them may be read aloud by the teacher. They may serve as a reference library in connection with topics in history, geography, science, and other subjects.

Wherever introduced these libraries have been very successful.