Sunday, January 2, 2011

PL 2/11: More than instruction

Filed under: Uncategorized — plinius @ 10:04 am


Library Journal, Volume 1

“Popular libraries are not established merely for instruction.

It is meant that they should give entertainment also. They are regarded as a means of keeping order in the community by giving people a harmless source of recreation. The introduction of novels into a library is eminently a case for discrimination. In my own library we do not leave any places on the shelves for the writings of Mrs. Southworth and Mrs. Stephens. That is to say, we keep the supply of this class of books as low as will be tolerated by the supporters of the library. We follow this course too in regard to light literature of an exciting nature for boys and girls. There must be some sensational books in a public library. Citizens own the libraries, and they demand their presence.”


Bulletin of the American Library Association, Volume 2

“Public library funds are a trust confided to library boards by the property owners of a city

for two principal purposes, viz: 1. To diffuse general intelligence and furnish wholesome entertainment for the present generation. 2. And, no less important, to gather and preserve the accumulated experience of our race for the use not only of the present generation but of future generations also.

Formerly this second object -— collecting and safely guarding for a select few -— was the main thing. The great libraries of the old world were built up on this plan. The diffusion of general intelligence, providing of wholesome entertainment, is the modern free public library idea. In the administration of

library funds neither of these objects should be slighted -— they are both good -— neither should be made to suffer at the expense of the other.

The Maine Library Association, met on March 12, 1896, among others issues, “To decide wisely and fairly how far any library should go in furnishing entertainment, distinct from instructive reading.”


Collections of the Kansas State Historical Society, Volume 13,

“A public library is truly a part of the educational system of the town.

Some folks think it will be your duty to accommodate the public. No! not unless you are doing the public some good! You need to be careful of a book. Kingsley says, ‘Except a living man there is nothing more wonderful than a book.’

But it must be a good book. The world today is full of trashy books, many of them suggestive only of meanness and absolute immorality. There are plenty of high-standard books for the entertainment of people of leisure, without furnishing the debasing dime novel, the lurid and sensational story of the reckless or the lawless.

Beware what you put in the hands of boys and girls. There is a general complaint that public libraries are too much given to that which is trifling in the realm of reading — to the time-killing novel, an aid to people who have not much to do -— while the busy man, who wants to know a fact in the least possible time, complains that the public library is not as useful as it might be.

I find, however, that in many libraries in different sections of the country, there is a tendency to press down the per cent of fiction, good, bad and indifferent, and make the library an important instrument of public education rather than merely a source of entertainment.”



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