A Library Primer (1899)/Chapter XXXI
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Chapter XXXI, Lists, bulletins, and printed catalogs
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Give the public access to the card catalog if possible. If a dictionary catalog is made it will prove to be most helpful to the serious students. For the average reader, the person who wishes to get a recent book, the latest novel, etc., prepare lists of additions from month to month, post them up in some convenient place in the library, and put them in a binder to be left on desk or table in the delivery room.
Print lists of additions, if possible, in the local papers; also publish reference lists having to do with current events and matters of popular interest. Oftentimes the newspapers will furnish, for a small sum, extra copies of the lists which they have printed. If the means warrant the expenditure, a periodical bulletin, appearing once a month, or even oftener, containing information about the library, notes on recent additions, suggestions as to the use of books, lists on special subjects, and lists of books lately added may prove useful. Such a bulletin can often be maintained without cost to the library by having it published by some one who will pay its expenses by means of advertisements. The very best way of bringing new books to the attention of readers is to print a list of additions, with call-numbers, as condensed as possible, and with no other matter, for free distribution in the library.
In printing lists of books, make the classes covered special, not general. Give lists suitable for as many different needs and occasions as possible. There can't be too many of them. For instance, a teacher would find thoroughly helpful and practicable such classified lists of books as, for beginners in third and fourth grades, for the intermediate pupils, for boys, for girls, numerous references to the current events of the day; historical readings divided into periods and adapted to different grades; historical fiction under several forms of classification; biographies and biographical sketches suited to different ages; geographical aids, including travel, description, life, scenes, and customs in different countries; natural history and elementary science; the resources of the library available for the purpose of illustrating topics in history, art, and science; material for theme studies; special lists for anniversary days now so generally observed in schools, and so on.
Lists in which the titles of the books come first are better liked by the general public than are author-lists. People commonly know books by name, not by author.
Don't make the mistake of spending much money, at the library's beginning, for a printed catalog. A printed catalog, as stated in chapter 25, is not a necessity. It is useful, particularly for home use, to tell whether the library owns certain books; but with a good card catalog, newspaper lists, special lists, and the like, it is not a necessity. Few large libraries now publish complete catalogs.