Henry Benjamin Wheatley.

How to form a library; online

. (page 4 of 12)
Online LibraryHenry Benjamin WheatleyHow to form a library; → online text (page 4 of 12)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


at the sale of the Sunderland Library. It
is experience only that will give the neces-
sary knowledge to the book buyer, and no
rules laid down in books can be of any real
practical value in this case. Persons who
know nothing of books are too apt to
suppose that what they are inclined to
consider exorbitant prices are matters of
caprice, but this is not so. There is
generally a very good reason for the high
price.

We must remember that year by year old
and curious books become scarcer, and the

1 Rdiquia Htarniana, 1869, vol. ii. p. 158.



72 How to Form a Library.

number of libraries where they are locked
up increase ; thus while the demand is
greater, the supply diminishes, and the price
naturally becomes higher. A unique first
edition of a great author is surely a posses-
sion to be proud of, and it is no ignoble
ambition to wish to obtain it.




CHAPTER III.
PUBLIC LIBRARIES.




may broadly be divided
into Public and Private, and as
private libraries will vary accord-
ing to the special idiosyncrasies of their
owners, so still more will public libraries
vary in character according to the public
they are intended for. The answer there-
fore to the question How to form a Public
Library ? must depend upon the character
of the library which it is proposed to form.
Up to the period when free town libraries
were first formed, collections of books were
usually intended for students ; but when the
Public Libraries' Acts were passed, a great
change took place, and libraries being
formed for general readers, and largely



74 How to Form a Library.

with the object of fostering the habit of
reading, an entirely new idea of libraries
came into existence. The old idea of a
library was that of a place where books
that were wanted could be found, but the
new idea is that of an educational estab-
lishment, where persons who know little or
nothing of books can go to learn what to
read. The new idea has naturally caused
a number of points to be discussed which
were never thought of before.

But even in Town Libraries there will be
great differences. Thus in such places as
Birmingham, Liverpool, and Manchester,
the Free Libraries should be smaller British
Museums, and in this spirit their founders
have worked ; but in smaller and less im-
portant towns a more modest object has to
be kept in view, and the wants of readers,
more than those of consulters of books,
have to be considered.

Mr. Beriah Botfield has given a very full
account of the contents of the libraries
spread about the country and associated
with the different Cathedrals in his Notes on



Public Libraries. 75

the Cathedral Libraries of England, 1849.
These libraries have mostly been formed
upon the same plan, and consist very largely
of the works of the Fathers, and of old
Divinity. Some contain also old editions
of the classics, and others fine early editions
of English authors. In former times these
libraries were much neglected, and many of
the books were lost ; but the worst instance
of injury to a library occurred at Lincoln
at the beginning of the present century,
when a large number of Caxtons, Pynsons,
Wynkyn de Wordes, etc., were sold to Dr.
Dibdin, and modern books purchased for
the library with the proceeds. Dibdin
printed a list of his treasures under the title
of "The Lincolne Nosegay." Mr. Botfield
has reprinted this catalogue in his book.

The first chapter of the United States
Report on Public Libraries is devoted to
Public Libraries a hundred years ago.
Mr. H. E. Scudder there describes some
American libraries which were founded in
the last century. One of these was the
Loganian Library of Philadelphia. Here



76 How to Form a Library.

is an extract from the will of James Logan,
the founder

" In my library, which I have left to the
city of Philadelphia for the advancement
and facilitating of classical learning, are
above one hundred volumes of authors, in
folio, all in Greek, with mostly their versions.
All the Roman classics without exception.
All the Greek mathematicians, viz. Archi-
medes, Euclid, Ptolemy, both his Geography
and Almagest, which I had in Greek (with
Theon's Commentary, in folio, above 700
pages) from my learned friend Fabricius,
who published fourteen volumes of his
Bibliotheque Grecque, in quarto, in which,
after he had finished his account of Ptolemy,
on my inquiring of him at Hamburgh, how
I should find it, having long sought for it
in vain in England, he sent it to me out
of his own library, telling me it was so
scarce that neither prayers nor price could
purchase it ; besides, there are many of the
most valuable Latin authors, and a great
number of modern mathematicians, with
all the three editions of Newton, Dr. Watts,



Public Libraries. jj

Halley, etc." The inscription on the house
of the Philadelphia Library is well worthy
of repetition here. It was prepared by
Franklin, with the exception of the refer-
ence to himself, which was inserted by the
Committee.

Be it remembered,

in honor of the Philadelphia youth

(then chiefly artificers),

that in MDCCXXXI

they cheerfully,
at the instance of BENJAMIN FRANKLIN,

one of their number,
instituted the Philadelphia Library,

which, though small at first,
is become highly valuable and extensively usefal,

and which the walls of this edifice

are now destined to contain and preserve :

the first stone of whose foundation

was here placed
the thirty-first day of August, 1789.

Mr. F. B. Perkins, of the Boston Public
Library, contributed to the Report on Public
Libraries in the United States a useful chapter
on " How to make Town Libraries success-
ful" (pp. 419-430). The two chief points



78 How to Form a Library.

upon which he lays particular stress, and
which may be said to form the texts for
his practical remarks, are: (i) that a Public
Library for popular use must be managed
not only as a literary institution, but also
as a business concern; and (2) that it is a
mistake to choose books of too thoughtful
or solid a character. He says, " It is vain
to go on the principle of collecting books
that people ought to read, and afterwards
trying to coax them to read them. The
only practical method is to begin by supply-
ing books that people already want to read,
and afterwards to do whatever shall be found
possible to elevate their reading tastes and
habits."

A series of articles on " How to Start
Libraries in Small Towns" was published
in the Library Journal (vol. i. pp. 161, 213,
249, 313, 355, 421), and Mr. Axon's Hints
on the Formation of Small Libraries has
already been mentioned. We must not be
too rigid in the use of the term Public
Libraries, and we should certainly include
under this description those institutional



Public Libraries. 79

Libraries which, although primarily intended
for the use of the Members of the Societies
to which they belong, can usually be consulted
by students who are properly introduced.

Of Public Libraries first in order come
the great libraries of a nation, such as
the British Museum. These are supplied
by means of the Copyright Law, but the
librarians are not from this cause ex-
onerated from the troubles attendant on
the formation of a library. There are old
books and privately printed and foreign
books to be bought, and it is necessary
that the most catholic spirit should be dis-
played by the librarians. The same may
be said in a lesser degree of the great
libraries of the more important towns.

In England the Universities have noble
libraries, more especially those of Oxford
and Cambridge, but although some colleges
possess fine collections of books, college
libraries are not as a rule kept up to a very
high standard. The United States Report
contains a full account of the college libraries
in America (pp. 60-126).



8o How to Form a Library.

The libraries of societies are to a large
extent special ones, and my brother, the
late Mr. B. R. Wheatley, in a paper read
before the Conference of Librarians, 1877,
entitled " Hints on Library Management,
so far as relates to the Circulation of
Books," particularly alluded to this fact.
He wrote, " Our library is really a medical
and surgical section of a great Public
Library. Taking the five great classes of
literature, I suppose medicine and its allied
sciences may be considered as forming a
thirtieth of the whole, and, as our books
number 30,000, we are, as it were, a com-
plete section of a Public Library of nearly
a million volumes in extent."

The United States Report contains several
chapters on special libraries, thus chapter 2
is devoted to those of Schools and Asylums;
4, to Theological Libraries; 5, to Law; 6, to
Medical; and 7, to Scientific Libraries. For
the formation of special libraries, special
bibliographies will be required, and for in-
formation on this subject reference should
be made to Chapter VI. of the present work.



Public Libraries. 81

When we come to deal with the Free
Public Libraries, several ethical questions
arise, which do not occur in respect to
other libraries. One of the most pressing
of these questions refers to the amount of
Fiction read by the ordinary frequenters
of these libraries.

This point is alluded to in the United
States Report on Public Libraries. Mr. J;
P. Quincy, in the chapter on Free Libraries
(p. 389), writes, "Surely a state which lays
heavy taxes upon the citizen in order that
children may be taught to read is bound to
take some interest in what they read ; and
its representatives may well take cognizance
of the fact that an increased facility for
obtaining works of sensational fiction is not
the special need of our country at the close
of the first century of its independence."
He mentions a free library in Germanstown,
Pa., sustained by the liberality of a religious
body, and frequented by artisans and work-
ing people of both sexes. It had been
in existence six years in 1876, and then
contained 7000 volumes. No novels are

6



82 How to Form a Library.

admitted into the library. The following
is a passage from the librarian's report of
1874: "In watching the use of our library
as it is more and more resorted to by the
younger readers of our community, I have
been much interested in its influence in
weaning them from a desire for works of
fiction. On first joining the library, the
new comers often ask for such books, but
failing to procure them, and having their
attention turned to works of interest and
instruction, in almost every instance they
settle down to good reading and cease
asking for novels. I am persuaded that
much of this vitiated taste is cultivated by
the purveyors to the reading classes, and
that they are responsible for an appetite
they often profess to deplore, but continue
to cater to, under the plausible excuse that
the public will have such works,"

Mr. Justin Winsor in chapter 20 (Reading
in Popular Libraries) expresses a somewhat
different view. He writes, ' ' Every year many
young readers begin their experiences with
the library. They find all the instructive



Public Libraries. 83

reading they ought to have in their school
books, and frequent the library for story
books. These swell the issues of fiction,
but they prevent the statistics of that better
reading into which you have allured the
older ones, from telling as they should in
the average."

At the London Conference of Librarians
(1877), Mr. P. Cowell, Librarian of the
Liverpool Public Library, read a paper on
the admission of Fiction in Free Public
Libraries, where he discussed the subject
in a very fair manner, and deplored the
high percentage of novel reading in these
libraries. At the Second Annual Meeting
of the Library Association (1879) Mr. J.
Taylor Kay, Librarian of Owens College,
Manchester, in his paper on the Provision
of Novels in Rate-supported Libraries, more
completely condemned this provision. He
concluded his paper with these words :
" Clearly a hard and fast line must be drawn.
A distinct refusal by the library committees
to purchase a single novel or tale would
be appreciated by the rate-payers. The



84 How to Form a Library.

suggestion of a sub-committee to read this
literature would not be tolerated, and no
man whose time is of value would undergo
the infliction. The libraries would attain
their true position, and the donations would
certainly be of a higher class, if the aims
of the committees were known to be higher.
Manchester has already curtailed its issues
of novels. It has been in the vanguard on
the education question : and let us hope it
will be true to its traditions, to its noble
impulses, and lead the van in directing the
educational influence of the free libraries,
and striking out altogether any expenditure
in the dissemination of this literature."

This question probably would not have
come to the front if it were not that the
educational value of Free Libraries, as the
complement of Board Schools, has been
very properly put forward by their promoters.
With this aim in view, it does startle one
somewhat to see the completely dispro-
portionate supply of novels in the Free
Libraries. This often rises to 75 per cent,
of the total supply, and in some libraries



Public Libraries. 85

even a higher percentage has been reached.
There are, however, exceptions At the
Baltimore Peabody Institute Fiction did
not rise to more than one-tenth of the total
reading. The following are some figures
of subjects circulated at that library above
1000:

Belles Lettres 4598

Fiction 3999

Biography 2003

Greek and Latin Classics . . . 1265

History (American) 1137

Law 1051

Natural History 1738

Theology 1168

Periodicals (Literary) .... 4728

Periodicals (Scientific) .... 1466

Mr. Cowell says that during the year
ending 31 st August, 1877, 453,585 volumes
were issued at the reference library alone
(Liverpool Free Public Library) ; of these
170,531 were strictly novels. The high-
percentage of novel reading is not confined
to Free Public Libraries, for we find that in
the Odd Fellows' Library of San Francisco,



86 How to Form a Library.

in 1874, 64,509 volumes of Prose Fiction
were lent out of a total of 78,219. The
other high figures being Essays, 2280;
History, 1823 ; Biography and Travels,
1664. In the College of the City of New
York, of the books taken out by students
between Nov. 1876, and Nov. 1877, 1043
volumes were Novels, the next highest
numbers were Science, 153; Poetry, 133;
History, i3o. 1

In considering this question one naturally
asks if the masterpieces of our great authors,
which every one should read, are to be
mixed up with the worthless novels con-
stantly being published in the condemnation
of Fiction ; but, to some extent, both Mr.
Cowell and Mr. Kay answer this. The first
of these gentlemen writes: "As to the
better class novels, which are so graphic
in their description of places, costumes,
pageantry, men, and events, I regret to say
that they are not the most popular with
those who stand in need of their instructive

1 Library Journal, vol. ii. p. 70.



Public Libraries. 87

descriptions. I could generally find upon
the library shelves ' Harold,' ' The Last of
the Barons,' 'Westward Ho!' * Hypatia,'
' Ivanhoe,' 'Waverley,' 'Lorna Doone,' etc.,
when not a copy of the least popular of
the works of Mrs. Henry Wood, ' Ouida,'
Miss Braddon, or Rhoda Broughton were
to be had." Mr. Kay corroborates this
opinion in his paper.

Mostof us recognize the value of honest fic-
tion for children and the overwrought brains
of busy men, but the reading of novels of
any kind can only be justified as a relaxation,
and it is a sad fact that there is a large class
of persons who will read nothing but novels
and who call all other books dry reading.
Upon the minds of this class fiction has a
most enervating effect, and it is not to be ex-
pected that ratepayers will desire to increase
this class by the indiscriminate supply of
novels to the Free Libraries. Some persons
are so sanguine as to believe that readers
will be gradually led from the lower species
of reading to the higher ; but there is little
confirmation of this hope to be found in



88 How to Form a Library.

the case of the confirmed novel readers we
see around us.

The librarian who, with ample funds for
the purpose, has the duty before him of
forming a Public Library, sets forward on
a pleasant task. He has the catalogues of
all kinds of libraries to guide him, and he
will be able to purchase the groundwork
of his library at a very cheap rate, for
probably at no time could sets of standard
books be bought at so low a price as now.
Many books that are not wanted by private
persons are indispensable for a Public
Library, and there being little demand for
them they can be obtained cheap. When
the groundwork has been carefully laid, then
come some of the difficulties of collecting.
Books specially required will not easily be
obtained, and when they are found, the
price will probably be a high one. Books
of reference will be expensive, and as these
soon get out of date, they will frequently
need renewal.




' u v




CHAPTER IV.
PRIVATE LIBRARIES.

|REATING of private libraries, it
will be necessary to consider their
constitution under two heads,
according as they are required in town or
country. In London, for instance, where
libraries of all kinds are easily accessible,
a man need only possess books on his own
particular hobby, and a good collection of
books of reference ; but in the country,
away from public libraries, a well-selected
collection of standard books will be neces-
sary.

i. Town.

Every one who loves books will be sure
to have some favourite authors on special
subjects of study respecting which he needs



9O How to Form a Library.

no instruction farther than that which is
ready to his hand. Books on these subjects
he will need, both in town and country, if
he possesses two houses. Some collectors
make their town house a sort of gathering-
place for the accessions to their country
libraries. Here a class is completed, bound,
and put in order, and then sent to the
country to find its proper place in the family
library.

This is an age of books of reference, and
as knowledge increases, and the books
which impart it to readers become un-
wieldy from their multitude, there are sure
to be forthcoming those who will reduce
the facts into a handy form. I have gathered
in the following pages the titles of some
of the best books of reference which are to
be obtained. Many, if not all of these, are
to be found in that magnificent library of
reference the Reading Room of the British
Museum. In some cases where the books
are constantly being reprinted, dates have
been omitted. There are, doubtless, many
valuable works which I have overlooked,



Private Libraries. 91

and some Text-books I have had to leave
out owing to the exigencies of space, but I
trust that the present list will be found useful.

Abbreviations. Dictionnaire des Abreviations
Latines et Frar^aises usitees dans les inscriptions
lapidaires et metalliques, les manuscrits et les chartes
du Moyen Age. Par L. Alph. Chassant. Quatrieme
edition. Paris, 1876. Sm. 8vo.

Anthropology. Notes and Queries on Anthropology,
for the use of Travellers and Residents in Uncivilized
Lands. Drawn up by a Committee appointed by the
British Association. London, 1874. Sm. 8vo.

Antiquities. Dictionary of Greek and Roman
Antiquities. Edited by Dr. William Smith. Roy. 8vo.

Dictionnaire des Antiquites Grecques et

Romaines d'apres les textes et les Monuments . .
Ouvrage redige . . sous la direction de Ch. Daremberg
et Edm. Saglio. Paris, 1873. 4to.

The Life of the Greeks and Romans de-
scribed from Antique Monuments, by E. Guhl and
W. Koner, translated from the third German edition
by F. Hueffer. London, 1875. 8vo.

Gallus or Roman Scenes of the Time of

Augustus. By W. A. Becker, translated by F.
Metcalfe. London.

Charicles: Illustrations of the Private Life

of the Ancient Greeks. By W. A. Becker, translated
by F. Metcalfe. London.



92 How to Form a Library*

Antiquities. Archaeological Index to remains of an-
tiquity of the Celtic, Romano-British and Anglo-Saxon
Periods. By John Yonge Akerman. London, 1847. 8vo.

Introduction to English Antiquities. By

James Eccleston. London, 1847. 8vo.

The English Archaeologist's Handbook.

By Henry Godwin. Oxford, 1867. 8vo.

Architecture. A Dictionary of the Architecture
and Archaeology of the Middle Ages. ... By John
Britton. London, 1838.

History of Architecture in all countries,

from the earliest times to the present day. By James
Fergusson. London, 1865-76. 4 vols. 8vo.

Nicholson's Dictionary of the Science and

Practice of Architecture, Building, Carpentry, etc.
New edition, edited by Edward Lomax and Thomas
Gunyon. London. 2 vols. 4to.

An Encyclopaedia of Architecture, historical,

theoretical, and practical. By Joseph Gwilt, revised by
Wyatt Papworth. New edition. London, 1876. 8vo.

The Dictionary of Architecture, issued by

the Architectural Publication Society. A to Oz.
4 vols. Roy. 4to. (In progress.)

A Glossary of Terms used in Grecian,

Roman, Italian, and Gothic Architecture. Fifth
edition, enlarged. Oxford, 1850. 3 vols. 8vo.

An Encyclopaedia of Cottage, Farm, and

Villa Architecture and Furniture. ... By J. C.
Loudon. London, 1833. 8vo.



Private Libraries. 93

Arts, Manufacttires, etc. Ure's Dictionary of Arts,
Manufactures, and Mines, containing a clear exposition
of their Principles and Practice. By Robert Hunt,
assisted by F. W. Rudler. Seventh edition. London,
1875. 3 vols - 8vo.

Spons' Encyclopaedia of the Industrial Arts,

Manufactures, and Commercial Products. London,
1879. 8 vols. Roy. Svo.

Astronomy. History of Physical Astronomy. By
Robert Grant. London [1852]. A most valuable
book, but now out of print and scarce.

An Historical Survey of the Astronomy of

the Ancients. By G. Cornewall Lewis. London,
1862. Svo.

Bible. Dictionary of the Bible, comprising its
Antiquities, Biography, Mythology, and Geography.
By Dr. William Smith. Roy. Svo.

A Biblical Cyclopaedia or Dictionary ol

Eastern Antiquities, Geography, Natural History,
Sacred Annals and Biography, Theology and Biblical
Literature, illustrative of the Old and New Testaments.
Edited by John Eadie, D.D., LL.D. Twelfth edition.
London, 1870. Svo.

The Bible Atlas of Maps and Plans to

illustrate the Geography and Topography of the Old
and New Testaments and the Apocrypha, with Ex-
planatory Notes by Samuel Clark, M.A. Also a
complete Index of the Geographical Names . . by
George Grove. London, 1868. 4to.



94 How to Form a Library.

Bible. See Concordances.

Bibliography. See Chapters V. and VI.

Biography. Mr. Chancellor Christie contributed a
very interesting article to the Quarterly Review (April,
1884) on Biographical Dictionaries, in which he details
the history of the struggle between the publishers of
the Biographic Universelle and Messrs. Didot, whose
Dictionary was eventually entitled Nouvelle Biographis
Generate. The new edition of the Biographie Univer-
selle (45 vols. Imp. 8vo. Paris, 1854) is an invaluable
work. Chalmers's Biographical Dictionary (32 vols.
8vo. 1812-17) is a mine of literary wealth, from
which compilers have freely dug. Rose's (12 vols.
8vo. 1848) was commenced upon a very comprehensive
plan, but the lives were considerably contracted before
the work was completed. It is, however, a very useful
work. L. B. Phillips's " Dictionary of Biographical
Reference" contains 100,000 names, and gives the
dates of birth and death, which in many instances is all
the information the consulter requires, and should
more be required, he is referred to the authority.
This book is quite indispensable for every library.
There are several national Biographical Dictionaries,
and at last a thoroughly satisfactory Biographia
Britannica is in course of publication by Messrs.
Smith & Elder. The "Dictionary of National
Biography, edited by Leslie Stephen," has reached
the fifth volume, and extends to Bottisham.

Robert Chambers's Biographical Dictionary



Private Libraries. 95

of Eminent Scotsmen (Glasgow, 1835-56. 5 vols. 8vo.)
will be found useful.

Biography. Dr. William Allen's " American Bio-
graphical Dictionary" was published at Boston in 1857*

Biographic Nouvelle des Contemporains

. . . Par A. V. Arnault [etc.]. Paris, 1820-25.
20 vols. 8vo. Mr. Edward Smith points this book
out to me as specially valuable for information re-
specting actors in the French Revolution.


1 2 4 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Online LibraryHenry Benjamin WheatleyHow to form a library; → online text (page 4 of 12)