Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/134

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124
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

by subjects, so that the resources of the library in any field of knowledge can be seen at a glance; the books are arranged in the same way, so that the readers, who have free access to the shelves, can find the material relating to each topic of study all in one place; there is a large, light, and airy reading-room with an electric lamp on every table; the method of calling for books gives the least possible trouble to the reader; those lent out are charged under a system which enables the charging clerk to tell the whereabouts of every volume at any time; trained librarians are always at band to give any assistance needed, and users of books are afforded other facilities too numerous to mention. The improvements in this library made by Mr. Dewey induced several societies to deposit their special libraries here permanently, and drew in so many gifts that the collection grew as much in five years as it had during the preceding century. In such a library we have the same thorough adaptation of resources to the work to be done that characterizes the laboratory. Similar methods are spreading widely among libraries designed for study, and promise to give books a higher value and a truer usefulness than they ever had when they were the objects of a sort of fetich-worship.




LITERARY NOTICES.

American Spiders and their Spinning-work. By Henry C. McCook, D.D. Vol. II. Published by the author: Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. Pp. 480, quarto. Price, $30 for set of three volumes.

The high character of the first volume of this work is fully kept up, if not excelled, in the second. We have here the same careful observation that marked the first volume, the same painstaking description, the same clear and picturesque language, and more than an equal wealth of illustrations, for, in addition to the four hundred cuts, Volume II contains five colored plates. These last may be taken as samples of those that are to form so large a feature of the concluding volume. Upon the completion of Volume III, which is now well under way, the price of the set will be raised to $50. This has been found necessary, in order to reimburse the author for the cost of publication. The early portion of the present volume is devoted to the courtship and mating of spiders. Here are described the search of the male for a mate, his approaches, made cautious by the knowledge that his prospective bride may eat him if she does not feel amiable, his actions in the union, and his flight for life afterward. The males of some species execute curious dances to win the favor of the females; the water-spiders have special habits of mating due to their mode of life; and various other peculiarities are observed in other species. Maternal industry and instincts are next taken up, this subject comprising the making of cocoons, and the means employed to protect their contents from exigencies of climate and weather, and assaults of enemies. The habits of orb-weavers are taken as the basis of the account, but the cocoonery of many other species is fully described for the purpose of comparison. The early adventures of the young form another phase of spider-life that receives similar detailed attention. One of the most interesting chapters is that dealing with the ballooning habit of spiders, or their practice of sailing through the air borne up by several streaming threads. The habit is by no means confined to one species, Dr. McCook deeming it probable that the young of most spiders are more or less addicted to this mode of motion. There is a chapter on the senses of spiders, in which the anatomy of the sense-organs is described. In speaking of color and the color-sense, Dr. McCook contradicts the popular idea that spiders as a class are ugly, and says that as fair and brilliant colors may be found among the spiders as among the butterflies. Other topics treated are the influence of hostile agents in causing mimicry on the part of spiders, in modifying their habits, and in causing the feigning of death. Dr. McCook does not accept the theory of fear-paralysis as regards spiders, but believes that their assuming of death-like stillness in the presence of stronger enemies is entirely voluntary. The bodies of spiders are so easily destroyed that many readers will be surprised to find a chapter on fossil spiders