Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/719

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699
EDITOR'S TABLE.

probably one third of the whole number have no contemporaneous value, and are rarely used by the patrons of the library. It is nevertheless found that the whole Dumber of volumes circulated during the year is 69,230; and, assuming that the number of available books in the library is 4,000, these figures would show that each volume has been circulated over seventeen times. This percentage of usage is most gratifying, and, when compared with the returns from other libraries, may justly be pronounced extraordinary. It also appears that but sixty-four per cent of the circulation is of works of fiction—a much smaller percentage than in other libraries; while out of the whole number of books circulated during the year but six volumes have been lost.

The reading-room is also a demonstrated success. The total number of readers was 9,605, and they are found chiefly to belong, together with the great majority of the patrons of the Library, to that very class in the community which it is most desirable to furnish with wholesome intellectual food, and which it was hoped might be reached by this library, namely, young persons of both sexes between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one years. The publication of bulletins—that is, lists of works, or newspaper and magazine articles, upon the more important subjects which from time to time come before the public—has been continued, and the suggestions made in them are found to be quickly and generally used.

So unexpected and so encouraging are these results that they have naturally created a desire to extend the benefits of the undertaking, and it has accordingly been proposed to carry out the plan systematically by the establishment of free circulating libraries in various parts of the city, so as to make them readily accessible to all the population. In regard to this project, it is further remarked in the report:

The trustees have carefully considered what has seemed to them as the best means of conducting the work of the society, and have decided upon a general system by which the most good should result to those requiring then-aid. It is proposed to establish small libraries, located in the centers of the poorest and most thickly-settled districts of the city. The books are to be selected with special reference to the wants of each community, carefully excluding all works of doubtful influence for good. Reading-rooms would be attached to each circulating library; and, as the libraries are to be small, readers will be able to receive more than the usual attention at the hands of the librarians.

In furtherance of this idea, a public meeting was recently held in the ball of the Union League Club, presided over by the mayor, in which several of our most eminent public men made interesting addresses upon the subject. Dr. Hall gave the project his cordial approbation, and spoke ably and impressively of the need there is to carry out, on a liberal scale, an enterprise that will be productive of great good and of good alone. He referred to the discontent and agitation among the poorer and laboring classes which are liable to take a dangerous form under the misguiding influence of visionary social theorists, and for which the only remedy is the wider diffusion of sound information among the people. Mr. Joseph Choate also spoke effectively in behalf of the enterprise. He called emphatic attention to the destitution of wholesome reading-matter on the part of the great mass of the city population, and which is but very partially realized by people who have been brought up in the midst of a superfluous abundance of books. He showed how inadequate, and impracticable for popular use, are our present library facilities, and he made a vigorous appeal for the opening of the free circulating libraries on Sunday—the only leisure day of the working-classes, and the day on which they are most exposed to the temptation of questionable places of resort. Other speakers followed, urging the claims of this popular library system upon the attention of men of wealth, and asking for it so generous a support that the trustees will be able to carry out their plan promptly and effectively.