Page:Essays in librarianship and bibliography.djvu/54

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
34
ESSAYS IN LIBRARIANSHIP

department," created for the express benefit of desert too angular and abnormal to fit into recognised grooves. Lessing was a typical specimen of this class of librarian, installed at Wolfenbüttel nominally to catalogue books but in reality to write them. This type is now nearly extinct in England, except here and there in one of those colleges which Mr. Bagehot thought existed to prevent people from over-reading themselves, or some cathedral, where the functions of librarian are entrusted to a church dignitary or a church mouse. Elsewhere the professional character of the librarian's pursuits is pretty generally recognised; the need of special training and special qualifications is commonly admitted; and the result has been a general improvement in the status and consideration of librarians, the more satisfactory as it is in no degree due to quackery or self-assertion, but has come about by the mere force of circumstances. It may not be uninteresting briefly to trace the steps by which librarianship has become a recognised profession, and the public library an acknowledged branch of the State service.

"Prior to the year 1835," says Mr. Winter Jones, in his inaugural address before the first Conference of Librarians, "there had been little discussion, if any, about public libraries." In that year—the year of the publication of the epoch-making works of Strauss and De Tocqueville, and of the removal of Copernicus and Galileo from the Index Expurgatorius—the complaints of a discharged clerk led,