Obrázky stránek
[graphic][merged small]


comer Irwin, for instance. He was 62, would rather do without beefsteak than without means to buy books or periodicals, books. He had not lived long in New York sometimes obliged to deny himself the and did not understand its library system, penny expenditure for a morning paper. when chance took him into a branch. He had been a book-worm all his life, and He was a perceptive visitor, and the

[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed]


first thing that struck him was the per- zines of the current month, and a week sonal note, the home atmosphere, in limit upon the newest novels, he had two contradistinction to an institutional air. weeks' use of every volume with the (He would have found the same atmos- privilege of renewing for another two phere in every one of the other forty weeks. Other periodicals, not for home buildings.) His eyes roved over the warm, use, were spread about for readers in the light room with its substantial tables and

cozy reading room which he soon learned chairs; the inexpensive but good copies to frequent. The daily papers, too, were of precious pictures on the walls; the grow- there, so his pennies accumulated. ing plants in sunny windows; the decora- At first he felt the restrictions of a not tive brasses containing autumn leaves. very large collection of books in that " It looks like a home library, not a ma- branch. He had not learned the system chine to dole out volumes," he observed. of interbranch loans. Difficulties cleared

The librarian's face lighted. “Do you up when he found out. He wanted feel it?" she said. “That's just what we're "The Changing Chinese," and it was not all after!”

catalogued. That particular librarian had pocketed "We'll get it for you," the librarian the modest sum appropriated for decora- said. Immediately she investigated to tion, had carried it to the Russian brass find which branch had the book, and the shops in the Ghetto, bargained shrewdly, large and expensive messenger system did and returned with three splendid old the rest. Last year interbranch loans metal pots, originally used for serving amounted to 59,697 volumes, which was stews. Next she had tramped the Pali- 82 per cent. of the number requested. sades for bittersweet and red leaves to The 18 per cent. of vain requests were, fill the pots.

for the most part, for the thrillingest tales So, by every available means, the still smelling of printer's ink, which everybranch libraries are made attractive so body else wanted at the same moment. that the stranger once entering may enter "I don't know how to kill time on Sunagain. The attitude of most of the days and holidays,” John Newcomer Irwin librarians is that of a host toward guests. complained one day. People who do not know the system some- 'Come here," said the librarian. times say, “You can't get what you want " You don't mean you keep open?" at the public libraries.” There are 343,641 "Every Carnegie branch in the city is persons who know better. They are the open for circulation full hours on all legal persons who own library cards and who holidays. So is the central circulation take full advantage of their privileges. branch. And we are of the six that open

Gradually Mr. John Newcomer Irwin be- Sunday afternoons for reading, though not came one of the regular patrons of that for circulation.” branch, and he can tell you what it did So John Irwin became one of the people for him. The librarian in the first place who spend the idle, lonesome days in the asked him to fill out an application blank genial company of books. and get a sponsor to guarantee him. The librarians found that many a would“But I don't know anybody!" was his be reader fell away because he could not first anxiety. "Anybody whose name make his wants known in English. Baffled appears in the city directory will do,” librarians, willing but impotent, stood he was told. He thought of the grocer; silent before untranslatable requests from the grocer gladly signed the slip, for John long-bearded old men of the Ghetto, from Irwin always paid cash for his cereal and old women with shawls upon their heads. sugar and tea.

One such old woman wept when the He found that the card permitted him librarians gave up in dispair, after she had to take from the library any of its fiction pleaded for a quarter of an hour. A and non-fiction books, also current period- youngster, a Pole, called in to interpret icals in stout binders. Except for a at last, reported, “Aw, she wants a cook three-day limitation upon the use of maga- book so she kin make some good grub fr

her boy wot was sent up. She says she interest in it is aroused. The number of kin keep him straight if she kin give him readers steadily increases. a good time to home.” And the libra- The assembly rooms of twenty-two rian put in time after hours finding a girl branches are used by educational and welwho was willing to translate to the old fare societies, including such organizations woman from an American cook book, the as the Little Mothers' League, a debating only one that was available.

society, boys' and girls' clubs, classes in The number of such instances led the English for foreigners, boy scouts, city library authorities to give attention to the history clubs, dramatic clubs — a trestranger tongues. Little by little foreign mendous list. The city board of education books were installed in the districts where gave last year 158 of its free evening they were especially needed, until now the lectures in library buildings, bringing circulation department contains, in lan- forth 22,686 people to listen. They guages other than English, 92,241 volumes traveled over Cuba, Mexico, and the with a circulation for 1912 of 499,350 in Canadian Rockies at the tip of the lec26 foreign languages. The largest circu- turer's pointer. They learned "first aid lation was of books in German, 207,906. to the injured.” They were initiated Other languages going past the five- into the musical mysteries of the Ring thousand mark were Hebrew, Hungarian, series of grand opera. And all the time Italian, Polish, Russian, Yiddish, French, that this work was going on, the library and Bohemian. Besides these, small col- was being “discovered.” By the force of lections have been made or books in such habit, feet once following the path to these unfamiliar tongues as Chinese, Flemish, buildings are going that way again. Slovak, and modern Greek, and a collection One simmering summer the libraries of Ruthenian volumes is under way. observed that readers grew unusually

Merely possessing the books was not languid. They dropped in for a book, enough, however. The readers are of found reading rooms. like Turkish baths, the sort who need help. Therefore it has and wandered forth again. The librarians been customary to install, in every branch racked their brains.

racked their brains. Perfectly good readin a distinctly foreign district, one librarian ers must not be lost this way. “Let's who can use the language of that district. try a roof reading room,” somebody For example, a speaker of Hungarian can suggested. solve many problems at Tompkins Square The plan was an instant success. Awnand a Bohemian simplifies matters at ings were spread to screen off the glare the Webster Branch.

from flat roofs — plenty of space left for So eager has been the response of home- high, clean breezes to sweep across. sick foreigners to these efforts that the Tables and chairs and books were carried library finds it cannot stop its work of up, up flocked the crowd, and the roof extending this service. The branches are reading room became a regularly estabopening their assembly rooms to foreign lished institution of three branches on the educational societies. That “Oswiata- lower East Side. The attendance at Bialy Orzel” meets regularly at the Tomp- these three roofs last summer was 48,462, kins Square Branch may not mean much to which was about one half the total reading most readers, but it means a great deal room attendance of the three buildings to the earnest Poles who comprise the during that period. society. Six Hungarian societies met in Of all the picturesque phases which three libraries last year; there was Hun- this zealous work takes on, not one is as garian music, discussion of “The Pro- picturesque as the work with children. tection and Education of Immigrants," It has been under active supervision “The Great White Plague," and so on. only a half-dozen years, since Miss Annie Such meetings serve to draw the ties of Carroll Moore took charge of it; but it the old land and the new very close. They

They grows at a gallop. More than one third also serve to prove to our aliens that the of the total circulation goes forth from library is their friend, and thus their the children's rooms.

"Say Mikey, dat place is all right! hour's lesson in the use of reference books, Let's go again!"

to a whole class; again, it invites a class That was what a telegraph messenger to hear a story. It provides instructive boy said to a boy who was delivering and interesting exhibitions, such as the orchids for a Fifth Avenue florist. It was Philippine collection, a loan from the the day that the children's room opened American Museum of Natural History. in the new building. Mikey did go again. So go on the various forms of luring-in So did many another boy and girl. Those to those forty-one delightful traps in which at work have learned to snatch a few min- it is such a pleasure to be caught. But utes from their noon hour; school children for those who either cannot or will not arrive as soon as school is dismissed every come, the traveling library is provided. afternoon.

From its headquarters by way of a little All over the city, the children's rooms backdoor near Fortieth Street, where are crowded. In some libraries the crowd Miss A. E. Brown holds sway, 894 stations is so heavy that it has to be handled as in are served. the public schools — admitted in a file Who are the patrons? That's the inat three o'clock. Youngsters of every teresting part of the traveling library's · nationality, fat and cared-for youngsters, story. Policemen, for instance. To the thin and under-nourished youngsters, the police department of New York City, well-clad and the ragged, little girls lead- 3,440 volumes were supplied last year ing still littler ones whom they must in 47 precinct stations. This work was tend; it is the terrible, beautiful panorama begun in the latter part of 1911.' It is of New York's childhood, to watch that not likely to lapse for want of appreciation. line waiting at the desk while cards are It was probably suggested by the fire degiven out! Proudly they show two partment work, begun a year earlier. scrubbed palms, as per requirement before Four times during 1912 every one of 144 handling books.

engine houses received a fresh collection There are gangs. Young toughs have of books — in all, 12,800 volumes being driven many a librarian to distraction. supplied. Even a fireboat came in once What was to be done with boys who for its turn

for its turn at literature. The chief threw cans and bottles in at windows, and demands are for "live stories, and for mobbed reading rooms? Such boys can't technical works on fireproof construction be fought.

and the like. "Don't fight 'em, utilize 'em!” was sug- The list of places where cases of books gested. “Utilize the gang!" is a watch- are carried by the expressman, or by one word now. It is being drawn in, little of the great motor vans, marked “New by little, to hear the story-telling which York Public Library,” that constantly goes on in many branches under the pro- trundle literature over the city, is a list fessional supervision of Miss Anna C.Tyler. which includes every sort of human gatherShe understands boys. She knows how ing from a Chinese mission to a biscuit to band them into clubs, to give them factory. Scores of schools take advantage adventure stories, ghost stories, stereop- of the privilege of having collections of ticon talks. They like it. After all, it's books delivered at their door. Several a lot better than staying on the outside factories, such as the biscuit factory, an and throwing stones at windows!

envelope factory, and a cloak shop, keep The total attendance, boys and girls, the books in their rest rooms for workers. little and big, from fairy story babies up Several department stores do likewise, to the big ones who want "Captains Cour- and the saleswomen haunt the book ageous” and “The Taming of the Shrew," shelf at noon. was 38,147 at last year's story hours. When an embossed copy of “Little

More and more tightly the public Women" found its way to a blind child library, working through Mr. E. W. who lived ten miles from a post office, it Gaillard, tries to draw the public schools told very concretely the tale of the library's into coöperation. Sometimes it gives an work with the blind. This is, on the

surface, a most unimportant item in human days waiting for the seventh, on which history; as unimportant as the sending the teacher will come again. She is a of a box of embossed books in her own teacher of fingers, leading them over language to a Dutch woman in the Middle embossed pages until wonderful light West. But both items are immensely dawns. The city library sends her with significant. The “blind library” is one its books. By means of her teachings of the tentacles of the great system; it, these dreary old people are enabled to use in turn, has tentacles that reach from the embossed books which the library Massachusetts to California. With its liberally furnishes. Nor does her work 5,875 books and 4,197 music scores, in stop with the great institution. She American Braille, New York Point, Moon goes to little homes as well, in tenements type, European Braille, and several other and in prosperous apartments, teaching, embossings, it hunted out lonesome blind encouraging — she paid 584 visits last folks in almost every state, for most of year, giving 287 lessons and exchanging the states are not so fortunate in their own collections. The circulation went up Thus, through many channels which to almost 22,000 during the year, being the librarians themselves establish, the more than 8,000 in Greater New York. books go out to solace and instruct and

On Blackwell's Island the sightless give pleasure to all who can be persuaded ones among the city's poor count six to read of 3 million people.

559 books.







[ocr errors]

WENT down into the Wall Street ness that I had acquired from repeated district one day, when my store at practice during the last two days — “Mr. Junction Square was two years old, Fillmore, I need money. I wish to borrow and climbed the granite steps of a twenty thousand dollars for sixty days."

bank building. There is something Fillmore sat tapping on the polished about a bank that makes one feel solemn surface of his great mahogany desk. - perhaps a bit gloomy. I did feel “You are not the only merchant from gloomy that day.

Junction Square who has been here on I was received in the private office of the same errand, Mr. Broadhurst,” he the president, Mr. Ashton Fillmore. He returned. “To all of them I have given was a tall, portly old man, well-fed, and the same answer. Money is not to be had groomed like a Chesterfield.

at any price. In all my experience as a "I am Addison Broadhurst, the Junc- banker, I have never before-seen a time tion Square merchant," I said, introdu- when money was practically a retired cing myself without preamble. I had commodity, so far as loans are never met Banker Fillmore.

cerned.” “Be seated, sir,” said he.

“I have a rapidly growing business," I sat down in a cavernous leather chair. said I. “Up to the time the panic set in “Mr. Fillmore," I began, with a direct- my sales were increasing 50 per cent. or


« PředchozíPokračovat »