The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Library Administration

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The Encyclopedia Americana
Library Administration
Edition of 1920. See also Library management on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

LIBRARY ADMINISTRATION. In recent years the conception of a library's field and functions has grown so rapidly that library administration has become a recognized science with problems vastly broader and deeper and demanding well-equipped professional schools giving systematic instruction to those in whose charge the leading libraries will be placed.

Certain library schools now require for entrance a college degree; in others the course is a regular part of the work of a college. Many colleges and normal schools conduct courses in bibliography and elementary library administration to enable students to use library facilities to the best advantage or to take charge of school libraries in connection with teaching positions. There are also numerous summer courses for those already engaged in library work and classes in individual libraries to train their own assistants. There is a growing movement, vigorously supported by the library profession, for certifying librarians, as we do teachers; and several States have already passed laws requiring tests or a certain degree of training or experience for some classes of library positions. This has greatly improved the librarian's status. In salaries, hours of service and vacations he has his place beside other educational officers, as the public recognizes that in general education, professional training, executive capacity and all factors which determine salary, the successful librarian should rank with the highest educational officer of the same community. In a college the proper salary of the college librarian is that of a full professor. In a university he should rank with deans of departments and in public libraries with superintendents of schools or high school principals. Usual daily hours are now seven and usual vacation one month.

Functions. — The chief function of the old library was to get all the books it could and preserve them safely. The modern library does this also, but has placed free public use infinitely above getting and keeping. First the word library meant any collection of books. It is now losing that sense and means the community intellectual headquarters for not only books and pamphlets, but also periodicals, newspapers, maps, pictures, music scores, player rolls, phonograph records and other material for information on subjects of current interest, as well as coins, medals and collections illustrating science, history or art. It is no longer a reservoir whose chief function is to take in and accumulate, but a fountain. Its work is no longer passive, but aggressive. The modern librarian is as anxious to put his wares before the public and have his books and other material used as is the store or factory to secure custom for its goods. He tries to attract the attention and rouse the interest of every resident or transient, child or adult, by bulletins, by book lists and notices in newspapers and in shop and office pay-envelopes, by exhibits, by floats in parades, by posters in hotels and other public places, by talks and by any other creditable means of “library advertising.”

We have learned that reading is the greatest engine human genius has evolved. It grows constantly in importance. While most reading is better than most conversation, it is as powerful for evil as for good, so that the greatest problem for educators and statesmen is to develop in youth a taste for the best reading and to supply it free through life. Hence, development of a children's department in public libraries and fostering of school libraries.

Reading has three great functions: (1) To inform, so that one may stand on the shoulders of all his predecessors and utilize their labors and experience in any subject. This cumulative wisdom of the race passed on in books makes possible the marvels of civilization. Books give this information which builds material prosperity. Increasing interest in vocational books and development of business and other special libraries powerfully stimulate this function. (2) A still more vital function, but less tangible, is the inspiration which lifts up and builds character, the work of the books of power, the books of all time. (3) The last great function is to afford rest and recreation for the tired and overworked to fit them better to carry life's burdens. The free public library is the only practicable method for shaping this reading, which in its threefold form of information, inspiration and recreation is the greatest influence in modern life.

Children's Department. — This aims to interest children in books, to develop taste for good reading, to establish the “library habit,” to co-operate with schools, and, incidentally, to teach how to use reference books, indexes, catalogs and other bibliographic tools. It ranges from a few separate shelves or an alcove in the general reading-room to one or more separate rooms in charge of a specially qualified children's librarian. Users may include children of all ages up to those beginning to appreciate adult literature. Besides an attractive collection of carefully selected books, there should be tables, chairs and other furnishings adapted to users of various sizes. Specially effective is the story hour, conducted bv the children's librarian or some other childlover skilful in rousing interest in reading among those not naturally so inclined and in selecting from the great classics what appeals to children and also in interesting them in the daily events of world importance.

Work with Foreigners. — The public library should be a strong Americanizing factor where there is a considerable foreign population, often largely of those who can read only their own languages. Among many means are: (1) Books in their own languages and in simple English to which access is made easy by: (2) branches and deliveries in immigrant districts; (3) lectures and story telling; (4) classes in English and elementary civics.

It is in leading foreigners to read books in English that librarians meet their greatest obstacle. Spoken English is easily learned, but in print appears a new language, with words not spelled but made up of arbitrary combinations of letters incapable of being explained or reduced to rule, and condemned by English lexicographers and philologists as unetymologic, unphonetic and altogether indefensible. Simplifying English spelling is vital to the librarian's highest success, for his treasures are useless to foreigners till they take the meaning readily from the printed page.

Spelling Reform.

School Libraries. — These are in school buildings to provide, close at hand, reference and other books supplementing school textbooks and aiming to stimulate interest in curriculum or, like children's departments, to develop taste for good reading. These are sometimes a public library branch or deposit station, sometimes managed jointly by the school and the public library and sometimes owned and managed by the school. For lower schools the branch system works best, while high schools tend to have their own libraries, with trained librarian specially qualified to influence students' reading habits and to teach them how to use the library. Among States leading in development of school libraries are New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, California and Oregon.

Administration. — Books and other suitable material are no more a library than a pile of bricks is a building, or a mob of men is an army. To be effective there must be such arrangement and organization that its great functions can be performed promptly and efficiently without undue cost. Experience proves that to make books into a successful library the chief factors are in order of importance: (1) Librarian; (2) methods; (3) building. Because it is most prominent and readily understood by the inexperienced, the least important is usually thought of first.

Library Buildings. — To compete successfully with places of amusement the library should be as accessible as possible, but preferably a few steps off the main street for greater quiet. Books increase in a ratio beyond the plans of architects and librarians, and few libraries provide adequately for growth, either for books, readers or administration. Good natural light and ample room for growth are essential. Steel, glass, brick, stone, concrete and tile are the best materials for large libraries, but fireproof construction is important only for central libraries which preserve rare books not readily obtainable in open market. The most needed best books should be housed within easy walking distance of every citizen. This requires in larger towns branches or deliveries at convenient points. The most used books should be freely accessible in reading-rooms, but economy and convenience both demand that the main supply should be kept in stacks. In a standard storage stack the cases are double-faced and only 75 centimeters apart; but in small libraries cases may be 120 centimeters (4 feet), apart, to invite public access. Each case is 8 or 7 shelves high and 5 tiers long, thus giving 80 or 70 shelves on its two faces. Each foot, shelves about 7 books, so each foot of wall, 7 shelves high, holds about 50 books. Each foot of double-faced case holds 100. Each shelf is better 75 centimeters long, rather than 36 inches; 20 centimeters (8 inches) deep, and 25.5 centimeters (10 inches) high, thus taking all books up to the largest standard (8vo.) which by library rules is limited to 25 centimeters. These cases make a one-story stack, with every book within reach without ladders. Steel is better than wood for tall stacks (sometimes 10 stories) and grows steadily in favor because it is strong, compact, clean, fireproof and more open for light. An atmospheric steam heat is best as it can be regulated as closely as hot water and does not annoy readers by cracking or hammering. Electric light should be provided on all reading-tables. Indirect lighting has removed the most serious objections to high lights, but for greatest comfort a reader should have a light under his control and near his book. When the stack section can have abundant daylight, it should be of glass with only steel or masonry enough for support, with glass always opposite aisles; but if it has only electric light, it should be well and draftlessly ventilated both for welfare of books and of persons working in it.

Spiral stairs are costly, wasteful and inconvenient. Straight stairs under which space can be used for shelves take less space. Doors to bookcases are worse than useless and have been abandoned except for rare, costly or restricted books. Tables and desks should be 78 centimeters high, not 75 centimeters as usual; for short people can use higher chairs, but tall people cannot shorten their legs. Skilful arrangement of rooms will greatly reduce cost of administration. Permanent partitions should be used only where necessary for support. Temporary partitions, usually glass, can be readily moved as growth requires. These allow better light and supervision from another room, while shutting off noise, and give a more spacious look. In small libraries, departments for adults, for children and for selection and delivery of books may be included in a single open room, separation being marked by bookcases not more than four feet high, the whole under direct central desk supervision. Consult ‘Carnegie Corporation Notes’ for valuable suggestions.

Most important after the central rooms are first a quiet study-room, then a children's room. Even small libraries need one or more class, or lecture rooms for clubs, classes and meetings which find their natural home at the library. Larger libraries require a growing number of special rooms for newspapers, art, patents and various other needs of the staff and public.

Acquisition. — Bookbuying for a small library is simple, requiring mainly selecting an agent and arranging for discounts. A large library, buying thousands of volumes yearly, has often several agents for home and foreign buying, including auction sales, and requires accurate financial and order records with carefully elaborated routine to prevent confusion, error and waste of time. Large libraries often add by exchanging their own publications and duplicates with other institutions. In libraries of every size, gifts from individuals as well as from societies, institutions and government departments, if tactfully sought and appreciatively acknowledged, are a large and valuable annual increase.

Book Selection. — In selecting from the vast flood of books, pamphlets and periodicals constantly printed the chief considerations are: (1) Needs, interest and tastes of the community; (2) funds available; (3) merits of individual books. While every general library must have general cyclopedias, dictionaries, atlases, etc., and some books on the most important subjects, many communities have distinct interests, industrial, sociologic or cultural, which should be specially fostered. Funds available should be apportioned among various subjects and must often determine whether to buy a special work. Deciding on a particular book depends on: (1) Importance of its subject; (2) its interest to the community; (3) its trustworthiness; (4) its probable influence on character and taste; (5) its style (whether interesting or dull); (6) for fiction, the interest of the plot or theme; and (7) its physical make-up, specially type and quality of paper. Some of these factors the librarian must decide, but his knowledge of reliability and probable influence of the books usually depends on outside aid, personal or printed.

Need of printed guides has been partly met by bibliographies, catalogs and lists to help determine quickly what is best to buy, its cost, where and by whom published and perhaps to track it through auctions and stores. Many think of these bibliographies as a dozen or so reference books, but their growing numbers run into many thousands. It is one great factor in the professional training of a librarian to learn how to use this extensive apparatus effectively. Of the preceding essential items, 3-7 are covered by the notes forming a regular feature of most of the following very helpful printed aids. They embody the best from leading English and American reviews, besides much expert individual judgment. (A. L. A. means American Library Association, 78 E. Washington street, Chicago).

On the selection of books consult A. L. A. Catalog, 1904, and Supplement, 1911 (United States Superintendent of Documents); ‘Book Review Digest’ (Monthly, with semi-annual and annual cumulations); ‘Booklist’ (10 numbers yearly, A. L. A.); Kroeger, A. B., ‘Guide to the Study and Use of Reference Books’ (3d ed., 1917); New York State-Library, ‘Best Books’ (annual); Pratt Institute Free Library, ‘Technical Books’ (annual); Sonnenschein, W. S., ‘Best Books’ (3d ed., in press, 1910-19); Walter, F. K., ‘Periodicals for the Small Library’ (A. L. A.); Wilson, H. W., Company, ‘Standard Catalog Series’; Wyer, J. I., ‘Government Documents in Small Libraries’ (A. L. A.); ‘Government Documents in State and City’ (A. L. A.).

Accessions. — After a book is received it must be made part of the completely organized library which has as its ideal the choice and delivery to each inquirer, with the least possible delay, of the book, pamphlet, article, essay or other item which then and there to him will be most useful.

This is most difficult even in a small library, and in large ones with a million or more items from which to choose, no satisfactory results can be reached without an elaborately organized system, administered as carefully as the details of a great factory or railway, where mistakes and carelessness are intolerable. There are 30 distinct steps in accession department routine alone in a large library before a book is ready to be classified or cataloged. Economists have repeatedly tried to shorten the processes, but after several years' experience usually incur the extra cost of going back and supplying omissions as the only way to avoid the more serious expense of resulting delays and confusion. Ownership is marked by a bookplate inside the front cover with name of library and official marks. The name is also repeated (stamped, embossed or preferably perforated on the titlepage so that it cannot be removed by book thieves, and private marks at some special page, to be found only by one knowing the key, serve to identify lost or stolen books. Call numbers on the back ensure quick finding and replacing on shelves, and most lending libraries put a manila pocket inside the back cover to carry book or reader's card. The accession book is the business record, in which every volume in the library has a numbered line as its pigeonhole for its complete history. The number of this line, the accession number, is stamped on first recto after title, on shelflist and cards, and exactly identifies that particular volume. In trying to escape making accession entries, some librarians use bills, order slips for orders filled or shelf-list; but while these substitutes require less time at the start they lack the accuracy, uniformity, permanence and convenience of the properly kept accession book.

Shelf-list. — As its name implies, this is a list of the books in the order in which they stand on the shelves, and so serves for taking inventory. Since the usual arrangement of books is by subject, the shelf-list serves also as a subject catalog for the main subject of books, though strictly as a shelf-list it contains no references to material in books shelved under other subjects. Such references may, however, be added to the shelf-list in any library where this double use warrants it. A third important use of the shelf-list is as the record of book numbers in each class. Books on the same subject group under the same class symbol are distinguished from each other by a separate book number. This is generally assigned from the author's name, but in some cases, e.g., individual biography, from the subject. Class and book (with sometimes volume or copy) number, together form the “call number,” distinguishing each book from every other in the collection. The shelf-list, by showing immediately what book numbers have been assigned in any group, prevents duplication and consequent confusion.

While the present tendency is toward shelf-lists on cards because they allow exact intercalation and save rewriting, these advantages are counterbalanced by danger of having so vital a record as the library inventory in such form that an entry may be removed without detection and by inconvenience of seeing only one entry at a time in shelf reading. Useful as cards are, they should not be used where business safety, efficiency or ease of reference require sheets or bound books. Rewriting is infrequent when the New York shelf sheet (10 by 25 centimetres, about 4 by 10 inches) is used and when in large classes separate sheets are used for each initial, so that, e.g., if entries in C become too disarranged, as many C sheets can be rewritten as are necessary to restore order without touching B or D. When the shelf-list is on cards and printed cards are used in the catalog, an extra copy may be used for a card shelf-list, thereby duplicating in full the catalog entry; otherwise the shelf-list entry, whether for card or sheet shelf-list, is very brief, including merely class number, book number, author, short title, some distinguishing detail when the library has more than one edition, accession number and volume or copy number.

Classification. — Shelf arrangement of books is now almost universal by subject. A few of the oldest and largest libraries follow their old systems, but most libraries are arranged according to some widely used printed scheme of classification which brings together related subjects, first broadly and second under more or less minute divisions according to amount of material. Adoption of such a generally accepted scheme not only saves the librarian the enormous labor of developing one of his own, but also brings his library into harmony with many others, thereby facilitating both the use of various libraries by the same reader and also co-operative work among libraries themselves. As the same book bears the same class number in each of many libraries using this system there is an immense saving possible by utilizing the work of others. The decimal classification, now most widely used by libraries, has over 20,000 subject headings and many new ones are added yearly. By means of its very full and simple index a book may readily be classed minutely; and may be found with equal ease by one knowing clearly what subject he seeks. The classifier's work involves not only familiarity with the system used, but often also careful examination of the book in hand and acquaintance with scope, relations and terminology of the subject treated.

Author Catalog. — This like all other catalogs and indexes is kept on cards 7.5 centimetres high and 12.5 centimetres long, the size adopted for national and international use and rapidly displacing all other sizes except for peculiar uses. (See Office Labor Savers, Card Index System). The author catalog gives under each name all of any author's work which the library has. It is often expanded to include titles of anonymous books, striking titles of other books, biographies, criticisms and reviews, or any topic for which subject entry would be name of person or place. It is then a “name” catalog as it includes more than authors.

Subject Catalog. — This shows what the library has on any given subject. For lack of time or money it records in many libraries only books, but a complete catalog adds pamphlets, articles in periodicals, papers, transactions, essays and collected works, maps and whatever material one studying that topic might want. Subject catalogs arranged by the usual systems of classification are partly indext by the alphabetic index to the classification tables, but continual advance of knowledge outruns possibilities of corresponding printed records, so a printed index needs to be constantly supplemented by new topics, either interlined or separately listed on cards or sheets. It does not matter that a printed index refers to heads lacking in the catalog, for it often leads to valuable related material that might otherwise be overlooked.

Dictionary Catalogs. — The separate logically arranged subject catalog, with its corresponding name catalog, best meets scholarly or technical library needs, but for general public use the dictionary catalog is almost universally accepted. It has all entries (author, title, subject, etc., with references from synonymous and related terms) in a single alphabet like the words in a dictionary.

The author catalog corresponds to personal names in a directory; the classified catalog to the business section showing all engaged in each specific line of business. A dictionary catalog requires least explanation and is most popular, but it is more difficult to make well, and except at prohibitive cost cannot give intelligent investigators as clear and methodic exhibits of a library's resources as a classified catalog. Large libraries have many special catalogs, bibliographies and indexes as keys to their own special collections.

Annotation or evaluation is a most important factor in modern cataloging. Its purpose is to tell in fewest words what readers ought to know about a book's scope, treatment and value; but for such guidance we still depend mostly on printed bibliographies. See list a end of Book Selection.

Printed Cards. — There is a great saving by utilizing cataloging done by large libraries which print their cards and make them readily available for others. The Library of Congress prints, with minute bibliographic detail, cards for its own books, which include practically all current American publications through copyright provision, and also many foreign works. Any library may buy these cards (35,000 to 40,000 titles a year) for little more than blank cards. They are author entries, with suggestions for subject and title entries, etc. Libraries adapt them to their own catalogs by any necessary changes in detail and by adding subject or title headings and their own call numbers. Full information is given in the Library of Congress Handbook of card distribution.

Lending. — A loan system must give the quickest service consistent with accurate and complete records. The card system is best. The librarian must know where every book is, when it should be returned and must find delinquents daily. Extra privileges in number of books or time retainable are given during vacations and to scholars having special claim. Many libraries allow more than one book if only one is fiction. Inter-library loans are frequent so that a reader may, when necessary, secure from another library a book not in his own.

For readers impatient of waiting their turn for a free copy some libraries have duplicates of the newest and most popular books to rent for a small fee. Branches, deposit and delivery stations scattered through a city greatly increase library use by those to whom distance from the main collection would be prohibitive. Parcel post and rural free delivery carry the library to the doors of more remote readers, while traveling libraries serve groups such as schools and clubs, or isolated students requiring an unusual number of books for longer time.

Reference. — Libraries grow more liberal in privileges to readers who now find on open shelves books most used instead of having to ask for each book consulted. In many libraries not only so called reference books but thousands of others are thus thrown open. Losses are small compared with benefits, and the practice has become very general, its extent depending mainly on size of library and space available. An information bureau or reference desk in charge of an expert whose sole function is to answer readers' questions is common, while large libraries have a library faculty, each taking some special subject on which he will be a recognized authority. Besides aiding readers at the library, a reference librarian utilizes mail and telephone both for giving and getting information. His department is the clearing-house for information from all available sources. There are special rooms for important subjects, each in charge of a specialist. Rooms for women's exclusive use are little used, women apparently seeing no more need of separation than in churches, lecture halls or theatres. The children's room becomes the best possible training school for supplying readers who will use the library properly. (See Children's Department). Special libraries belonging to factories, business or public offices, are increasingly available to all either through co-operation with public libraries or by operation as public library branches.

Paid Help. — A highly appreciated accommodation in some libraries is assistance of an extent or nature not properly provided at public charge, for mere cost of time spent, estimated at rate of annual salary. This saves costly journeys, because an expert trained in a given library can often find as much in an hour as a reader himself would find in a day. Telegraph and telephone make central cyclopedic libraries quickly available for large areas, and editors, lawyers and others whose time is specially valuable may quickly get needed information, and if wished translations, verified or photostat copies or other library service at the trifling cost of the time of the lowest salaried assistant competent to do the work.

Legislative Reference Libraries. — Progressive States have followed New York (in 1890) by establishing a bureau specially for its lawmakers. A librarian versed in political and legal science keeps at his fingers' ends laws and pending legislation of other States and counties, with available discussions, to enable legislators of his State to stand on the shoulders of those dealing with similar problems elsewhere.

Municipal Reference Libraries. — These are essential to intelligently conducted city governments. Through them city officers and public-spirited citizens keep in touch with each other's actual or proposed measures or projects, and the pros and cons of civic questions.

County Libraries. — These provide for scattered rural communities too small to support separate efficient libraries, and bridge the gap between state and city or town libraries. Instead of setting up an independent library some counties contract with a city public library for service throughout its county. Some county libraries absorb weak local libraries as branches or delivery stations. Though most of these libraries are in the West, California leading, they are spreading rapidly.

People's University. — Support of libraries by fees has largely given way to support by taxation. A fee is prohibitive to many, and communities recognize that it is as much for their interests to have the “people's university” as the public schools free to all. Hours of opening have been lengthened from 2 to 3 a day till the larger libraries usually open from 8 or 9 A.M. to 9 or 10 P.M. and no longer close for evenings, holidays, vacations or annual inventory. Sunday opening, for at least reading and reference, is common in all but the smallest libraries. The modern library is available to readers at any time when they are inclined to use it.

Bibliography. — Including only recent general books (or those not superseded), in many of which are more extensive and specific lists of references, as well as in the following indexes to periodical literature: Cannons, H. G. T., ‘Bibliography of Library Economy’ (1876-1909) and ‘Library Work Cumulated’ (1905-11), supplemented by monthly lists in Library Journal, 1914-date, under the section ‘Library Work’; A. L. A., ‘Manual of Library Economy’ (ed. by J. I. Wyer, Jr.; being issued in parts, 1919; consists of over 30 chapters, each dealing with a special phase of library work); Bostwick, A. E., ‘American Public Library’ (new ed., 1917); Dana, J. C, ‘Library Primer’ (5th ed., 1910); id., ‘Modern American Library Economy, as Illustrated by the Newark, N. J., Free Public Library’ (being issued in parts; 1919); Dewey, Melvil, ‘Simplified Library School Rules’ (1898); Fay, L. E., and Eaton, A. T., ‘Instruction in the Use of Books and Libraries’ (1915). Binding: Bailey, A. L., ‘Library Bookbinding’ (1916). Buildings: Koch, T. W., ‘A Book of Carnegie Libraries’ (1917); Snead & Company Iron Works, ‘Library Planning, Bookstacks and Shelving’ (1915); Soule, C. C., ‘How to Plan a Library Building for Library Work’ (1912). Cataloging: American Library Association. ‘List of Subject Headings for Use in Dictionary Catalogs’ (3d ed., 1911); Bishop, W. W., ‘Practical Handbook of Modern Library Cataloging’ (1914); Catalog Rules: Author and title entries; compiled by committees of the American Library Association and the (British) Library Association (1908); Cutter, C. A., ‘Rules for a Dictionary Catalog’ (4th ed., 1904); Fellows, J. D., ‘Cataloging Rules’ (1914); Hitchler, Theresa, ‘Cataloging for Small Libraries’ (revised ed., 1915); United States Library of Congress, ‘Preliminary List of Subject Headings.’ Children's Work: Hazeltine, A. I., ed., ‘Library Work with Children’ (1917). Classification: Cutter, C. A., ‘Expansive Classification’ (1891—); Dewey, Melvil, ‘Decimal Classification and Relative Index’ (10th ed., 1919); Richardson, E. C., ‘Classification, Theoretical and Practical’ (enlarged ed., 1912); Savers, W. C. B., ‘Canons of Classification, Applied to “the Subject,” “the Expansive,” “the Decimal” and “the Library of Congress” Classifications’ (1915); id., ‘Short Course in Practical Classification, with Special Reference to the Decimal and Subject Schemes’ (1913); United States Library of Congress, ‘Classification’ (being issued in parts, 1919). School Work: Bostwick, A. E., ed., ‘Relationship between the Library and the Public Schools’ (1914). Special Libraries: Kaiser, J. B., ‘Law, Legislative and Municipal Reference Libraries’ (1914). Periodicals: American Library Association Bulletin (Chicago; bimonthly); Library Journal (New York; monthly); Public Libraries (Chicago; monthly); Special Libraries (New York; monthly); Bulletins of the various library commissions.

Melvil Dewey.