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Josiah H. (Josiah Henry) Benton.

Address of J.H. Benton, Jr., at the dedication of the Bradford Public Library building, Bradford, Vermont, July 4, 1895 online

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Online LibraryJosiah H. (Josiah Henry) BentonAddress of J.H. Benton, Jr., at the dedication of the Bradford Public Library building, Bradford, Vermont, July 4, 1895 → online text (page 3 of 5)
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It was not until 1849 ^ iat New Hampshire authorized
towns to levy taxes to support and maintain public libraries.
Massachusetts did the same in 185 1 ; Maine in 1854; Ver-
mont in 1865 ; Rhode Island in 1867 ; Connecticut in
1869.*

These statutes, however, were permissive, and the towns
used the power given by them very slowly. They all con-
tained provisions authorizing towns to hold library property
which might be given them, and the growth of town libra-
ries in New England has been mainly by the transfer by
library corporations and associations of their libraries to
towns.

Public libraries have also, until within a very recent

* See Chapter 861, Laws New Hampshire, 1S49.
Chapter 305, Laws Massachusetts, 1S51.
Chapter 106, Laws of Maine, 1854.
Chapter 48, Laws of Vermont, 1S65.
Chapter 668, Laws Rhode Island, 1867.
Chapter 65, Laws Connecticut, 1S69.



13



period, been treated in New England as independent insti-
tutions having no necessary connection with popular edu-
cation.

It is true that some of the states have had special pro-
visions for the establishment of school libraries by school
districts, and by towns in connection with schools where
the district system has been abolished.*

But it is only within a very few years that the true pur-
pose of the free public library as an adjunct of the free-
school system has been recognized to any marked degree.

In 1875 Rhode Island provided that the board of educa-
tion might cause money to be paid to free public libraries
which should accept rules prescribed by the board as to the
character of books and the manner of their management, f

In 1890 Massachusetts provided for the appointment of
a board of state library commissioners to aid the librarian
or trustees of any free public library, and with authority to
expend from the state treasury a sum not exceeding one
hundred dollars a year for books for any town having no
free public library 4

In 1892 this provision for state aid was extended to all
towns which maintained a free library before the passage
of the act of 1890.

In 1891 New Hampshire provided for the appointment
of a state board of library commissioners, with powers simi-
lar to those given the commissioners under the Massachu-

* Sections 2155, 2218, Gen. Sts. Conn. iSSS.

t Chapter 464, Public Laws of Rhode Island, 1S75.

Chapter 47, Public Statutes of Rhode Island, 18SS.
J Chapter 347, Massachusetts Laws, 1890.
Chapter 254, Massachusetts Laws, 1892.



34

setts act. The New Hampshire act is substantially a copy
of the Massachusetts act.*

In 1893 the state of Connecticut provided that the state
board of education should annually appoint five persons as
a public library commission, upon whose recommendation
state aid should be given to free public libraries under cer-
tain conditions. It should be noted that this act specifically
provides that no person shall be ineligible as trustee of a
free public library or as a state commissioner on accoun
of sex.

In 1894 Vermont provided for the appointment of a state
board of library commissioners, and for limited appropria-
tions to towns for free public libraries. f

In 1895 Maine provided for payments by the state treas-
urer to towns of ten per cent of the amount expended by
them in the maintenance of free public libraries each year,
the amount expended to be certified to the state treasurer
by the town officers .$

New Hampshire was the first, and thus far is the only
state to require towns to levy taxes to establish and main-
tain free public libraries.

On March 29, 1895, the legislature of that state passed
an act which provided that each town should assess annu-
ally a sum to be computed at the rate of thirty dollars for
every dollar of the public taxes apportioned to such town,
which sum so assessed should be appropriated to the sole
purpose of establishing and maintaining a free public li-
brary.

* Chapter 62, New Hampshire Laws, 1S91.

See Chapter S, Public Statutes New Hampshire, 1891.
+ No. 37, Vermont Laws, 1894.
X Chapter 45, Laws of Maine, 1895.



35

The word "library" is defined to include reference and
circulating libraries, reading rooms, and museums.

Each town is required to elect a number of library trus-
tees consisting of some number divisible by three, to be
elected in classes, one third each year.

No person is ineligible as a trustee by reason of sex.

The trustees thus elected have the entire custody and
management of the free public library and of the expend-
iture of the money raised by taxation, or of any money
which may be given or otherwise received for the support
thereof.*

This legislation shows how the people are slowly rec-
ognizing that public libraries are only means of public
education, and that their true use is as a part of the system
of popular education.

I believe the greatest future usefulness of the public
library will be as an adjunct of the public schools.

A public library will come to be regarded as much a
necessary part of the equipment of every town or city as
schoolhouses and highways.

Books are valuable only as intelligently used, and the
intelligent use of books is as much a matter of education
as reading itself.

It is not enough to teach how to read. The child should
also be taught what to read. This can be done, and in a
community like this is done to a great extent, in the home.
But it should also be done, and in many cases can only be
done, in the schools.

One of the most competent and experienced educators in
New England recently said to me that the chief value of
the public library is in counteracting that specializing tend-
ency of our time which makes every person a mere bit in
* Laws of New Hampshire, 1895, c. 11S.



36

a huge mechanism, and that books are a school in which,
freed from the direction of others, the young themselves
choose what they need for their individual development.

And the librarian of our largest free public library
recently said in a public address that he would trust the
good book to make its way with readers against the bad
book.

This is true if the reader has been educated to a knowl-
edge of good and evil, to prefer the good book to the bad
book. But without this it is not true. As soon trust the
young to choose good companions instead of bad ones as
to choose good books instead of bad ones.

I think it is within bounds to say that there are more
books printed each year that ought to be burned than there
are that ought to be read. It is not so difficult, however,
to select those which ought to be read, as to induce readers
to prefer them to those which ought to be burned.

The great library problem to-day is not how to select
proper books, but how to induce people to read them. This
can be done, I believe, only by teaching young people to
read good books while they are in a teachable condition,
at home, in the schools, under the control and guidance
of others.

Every public library should have such relation to the
public schools that teachers may, through the use of the
library, train their scholars to the knowledge and the use
of good books, so that when they come to the independent
use of the library they may know how to use it as a school
in which each scholar does develop his individuality in the
right and not in the wrong direction.

Reading is often only a form of idleness. To be of value,
reading should be with a purpose, and not as a pastime.
Without instruction in the choice and use of books the



37

child is inclined to treat them only as means of amusement,
and this habit once formed is rarely broken.

There is no object for which the power of taxation can
be more properly exercised than the public library. It is
a benefit to all. The high school can be used by only a
portion of those who enjoy the primary schools. But the
library is for all who can read, and in our state all may
read. The schools reach the citizen only in youth and
during a short period of life, but the library extends its
benefits throughout life.

No public money is more wisely spent than that which
educates all to the proper use of good books, and furnishes
all with good books for use.

The town library supported by taxation has many advan-
tages over the private society library. The fact that all
are required to contribute to its support according to their
respective abilities gives all an interest in it. It is the prop-
erty of all, and its success is a matter of local municipal
pride. Even those who do not use it feel a pride in it as a
town institution. The fact that it is a part of the munici-
pal equipment makes it permanent. Libraries depending
upon private contributions grow old and die like other busi-
ness enterprises, but the town library no more grows old
than the town itself. Its administration may not be at all
times excellent, but it will recover from a poor manage-
ment better than the private library. It cannot disappear,
because it is a part of the town itself, and its administra-
tion will on the whole improve as the administration of the
town improves with the intelligence of the inhabitants,
which the library itself tends so much to increase.

Again, the town library is an object of the beneficence
of those who wish to contribute to a permanent institution,
to do something for the town. The experience in the



38

growth of libraries in New England has been that after
they became town or city libraries they received far greater
contributions of books and of money than before. A man
will give to the town library of his native town because it
is a town institution, when he would not think of giving to
a private library of the same character in the town. Citi-
zens of the town will labor for the town library, and will
give to it when they would not labor for and give to a
purely private enterprise.

The town library, if made a part of the common-school
system of popular education, enters into and becomes a part
of the educational life of every child in the town, and it is
remembered in after life as the most pleasant part of early
education.

In short, the town library properly administered in con-
nection with the schools of the town becomes the most im-
portant educational and social factor in the life of the
young people of the town, and as such is most likely to be
the object of their support and of their contributions in after
life.

The town library can fulfil a most important part in the
preservation of local history. We are always making his-
tory, but we do not understand the importance of what is
happening day by day. Local events are treated as of
little importance at the time, and subsequently it is almost
impossible to ascertain them accurately. A town library
can gather and preserve the local history as it can be done
in no other way. Suppose, for instance, that during the
war for the suppression of the rebellion there had been a
town library in this town, where everything relating to the
history of the companies that went to the army from Brad-
ford had been collected and preserved, to which the boys
at the front would have been glad to send objects of inter-



39

est to be preserved, what an invaluable collection of local
historical matter and of objects of interest to the present
generation would have been naturally and easily gathered.

You have or can have all these advantages.

And you have the advantage over the large libraries in
that you are not too large for the best use.

The small library is vastly more useful in proportion
than the large library, not only because it can be more
carefully selected, but principally because those who use it
can have more actual contact with it. The use of a library
through a catalogue is never quite satisfactory. The real
use of books is in personal contact with them, and the ideal
use of a public library is precisely the same as the use of
the private library, where the reader comes in direct con-
tact with the books, taking them from the shelves as he
desires. This can be permitted only to a limited extent in
the large library. For instance, it has so far been found
possible in the Boston Public Library to permit personal
access to only about ten thousand volumes of its collection
of over six hundred thousand ; but in the small town lib-
rary there is no real reason why, under suitable restrictions
and supervision, access may not be permitted to substan-
tially all the books. I know this is an innovation, and it
will be said that the public cannot be trusted thus far. But
I am confident that if people are put upon their honor they
may safely be trusted to handle and use their own books.
Once make the people of a town understand that the books
are theirs, and permit them to treat them as theirs, and you
can insure the loss from their ill treatment of them for a
small part of what it will cost for an attendant to handle
the books for them.

I believe that, if you trust the people and make the
library theirs, it will be as permanent as the state, and will



40

be the most effective safeguard of the integrity and perma-
nence of the state itself.

May the building we this day dedicate, long stand as a
memorial of him who gave it, and of all who have aided
in its construction.

May it become the centre of your educational and social
life.

May the people of this town ever hold it high above sec-
tarian difference or party strife.

May youth learn its lessons at the portals of this build-
ing, mature life find here instruction and help for its duties,
and old age seek constant comfort within its quiet walls.



APPENDIX i.

John L. Woods, late of Cleveland, Ohio, by the twenty-fifth
item of his last will and testament, made the following provi-
sion :

'* Twenty- fifth. I give and bequeath to the Trustees of
the Bradford Public Library, of Bradford, Vermont, Fif-
teen Thousand Dollars ($15,000) upon the following con-
ditions, namely :

" That said Trustees procure in fee simple and free from
debt a large and suitable lot of land centrally located to ac-
commodate the whole village for a library building and
grounds, and shall proceed to construct thereon a good and
suitable library building, said building to have two floors,
the lower floor to have liberal room for the accommodation
of the library and a reading room connected, the latter to
be supplied with the best papers and periodicals in suffi-
cient quantities to fully accommodate the patrons. These
rooms to be open every afternoon and evening, including
Sunday ; a capable man to be at all times employed to at-
tend to the wants of the patrons and take charge of the
building and contents. On the second floor a good conven-
ient hall to be finished and furnished for the accommoda-
tion of entertainments, such as lectures, concerts, public
meetings, and such other amusements as the trustees may
deem best for the general interest and welfare of the com-
munity ; a rental to be charged for the use of the hall, rang-
ing according to the character of the entertainment for
which it is used ; the rents to be applied to the support of
the building, library and reading room. Then not more
than Seven Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($7,500) of
the Fifteen Thousand Dollars ($15,000) above named may
be applied towards the cost of said building, the same to be
paid by me or my executors as the work progresses.



4^

" I further direct that upon the full completion of said
buildings, as above provided, the balance of said Fifteen
Thousand Dollars ($15,000) shall be paid to said Trustees,
and shall be by them invested and re-invested as a perma-
nent endowment fund, to be known as the "John L. Woods
Endowment Fund ; " and the income thereof applied by said
Trustees to the purchase of books and the expenses of the
library and reading room."

Subsequent to the execution of said will he wrote the fol-
lowing letter :

Cleveland, Ohio, March 18, 1S93.

" To the Trustees of The Bradford Public Library.

" Gentlemen : Finding that some of the provisions in my
will for the proposed new building for the public library
would have been different had I been fully informed as to
the situation, and not desiring to change my will, I make
this declaration, that, in consideration of the Trustees assent-
ing to the proposals made by me herein, and undertaking on
their part to execute the same, I hereby agree, in lieu of the
provisions in that regard made in my will, as follows :

" I give and will pay to the Trustees of the Bradford
Public Library Fifteen Thousand Dollars ($15,000) upon
the following conditions, to wit : That said Trustees procure
in fee simple and free fi-om debt a large and suitable lot of
ground centrally located to accommodate the whole village,
for a library building and grounds, and shall proceed to con-
struct thereon a good and suitable library building. Said
building to have liberal room for the accommodation of
the library and a reading room connected, the latter to be
supplied with the best papers and periodicals in sufficient
quantities to fully accommodate the patrons, these rooms
to be open every afternoon and evening, including Sunday,
and a capable man to be at all times employed to attend
to the wants of the patrons, and take charge of the building



43

and contents. Then not more than Ten Thousand Dollars
($10,000) of the Fifteen Thousand Dollars ($15,000)
above mentioned may be applied towards the cost of said
building, to be paid by me or my executors during the
summer of 1894 and winter following, or at an earlier
date, if found necessary, subject to the convenience of my
estate ; and I direct my executors to execute this agree-
ment in place of the provisions in my last will in that re-
gard.

"And I further agree that, upon the full completion of
said building as above provided for, the balance of said
Fifteen Thousand Dollars ($15,000) shall be paid to said
Trustees, and shall be by them invested and re-invested as
a permanent endowment fund to be known as the ' John
L. Woods Endowment Fund,' the income thereof to be
applied to the purchase of books, papers and expenses of

the library and reading room.

"JOHN L. WOODS."



APPENDIX 2.

Names of the Members of " The Ladies' Library Associatio?i of

Bradford, Vermont" established in January, 1S75.

Mrs. G. R. Andross. Mrs. J. H. Howe.

Mrs. James Armstrong. Mrs. Charles Jones.

Mrs. Albert Bailey. Mrs. L. F. Jones.

Mrs. Eliza A. Barrett. Miss Abby Johnson.

Mrs. George L. Butler. Miss Julia Johnson.

Mrs. Victor Bagley. Mrs. Will Johnson.

Miss Marian Corliss. Mrs. Stillman Jenne.

Mrs. C. H. Curtis. Miss Corinne Leavitt.

Mrs. Caroline Chandler. Mrs. L. D. Livingston.

Mrs. D. W. Cobb. Mrs. H. C. McDuffee.

Mrs. John Craig. Mrs. George F. Morris.

Mrs. H. G. Day. Miss Ellen Morse.



44



Mrs. William Eastman.
Mrs. Edwin Fuller.
Mrs. W. E. Gage.
Mrs. Orrin Gambell.
Mrs. Henry Grey.
Mrs. Zeeb Gilman.
Mrs. L. F. Hale.
Mrs. C. H. Harding.
Miss Hattie Horner.
Mrs. George Hardy.
Mrs. John Hardy.
Mrs. Asa Howard.
Mrs. Lucy H. Smith.
Mrs. John C. Stearns.
Mrs. Alden Stevens.
Mrs. Anson Stevens.
Mrs. Harry B. Stevens.
Mrs. Charles S. Stevens.
Mrs. William B. Stevens.

Mrs. Elsie L.



Miss Lucy Nelson.
Mrs. A. Osborne.
Mrs. Lucia Peaslee.
Mrs. Mary S. Prichard.
Mrs. Edgar Rowell.
Mrs. E. C. Redington.
Miss Lucia B. Rodgers.
Mrs. Emma Rogers.
Mrs. John Sanborn.
Miss Sarah J. Shaw.
Miss Marcella Shepardson.
Mrs. J. E. Sleeper.
Mrs. Joseph Tibbetts.
Mrs. Bert Underwood.
Miss Lydia E. White.
Mrs. Alfred E. Winship.
Mrs. K. K. Wilson.
Miss Fannie Woodward.
Miss Sophia B. Woodward.
Young.



APPENDIX 3.

Constitution of "Ladies' Library Association" adopted January

3, 1SS0.

Art. 1. Name. This society shall be known as the " Ladies' Library

Amended

Mch. s, 1SS1. Association."

Any person may become a member of this Association by

Art 2 signing the constitution and paying an annual fee of

Members. one dollar, but only those who have reached the age

of majority shall have a right to vote on any business questions.

The officers of this Association shall be a President, a Secre-

Art tary, a Treasurer, a Librarian and an Executive Com-

Officers. m ittee of three, all to be chosen at the annual meet-



45

ing and to hold their office for one year or until their successors

are chosen. All members of the society who have reached the

Amended Tan a S e f majority shall be eligible to office. No person

17, 1880. s h a u hold more than two offices at one time.

It shall be the duty of the President to preside at all of the

meetings of the society, to have a general oversight

Duties of of its affairs, and in connection with the executive

President.

committee to provide lectures and other entertain-
ments for the purpose of raising funds, and to perform such
other duties as usually belong to the President to perform.

It shall be the duty of the Secretary to keep a full record of the

proceedings of the Association at all of its business
Art. 5. . .

Duties of meetings ; to preside over such meetings in the absence

Secretary.

of the President and to give notice of meetings.
It shall be the duty of the Treasurer to invest in the name of
the society the Pearson fund, and such other funds as
Duties of may come to the Association, by the advice of the

Treasurer. ' .

Amended Jan. Executive Committee, m a manner that shall be per-

17, 1SS0. < r

fectly safe and yield the largest annual income. The
Treasurer shall collect all annual fees, fines and other dues from
the members of the society, and collect and have charge of all
money belonging to the society, and shall pay all bills on the
written order of the Executive Committee. The Treasurer shall
keep in a book for that purpose, a full and accurate account of all
her doings and make full report thereof at the annual meeting,
or oftener as called upon by the society.

It shall be the duty of the Librarian to have the care of all
. the books of the society and the room in which they

Librarian. are l^gpf- . f- i e t- them out to its members and others

under the rules of the society ; to keep an accurate record in a
book for that purpose of all the books loanedand of their return ;
to make an annual report in writing of the condition of the
library, the number of books missing, etc., and from time to
time, to give to the treasurer a list of the fines to be collected.
It shall be the duty of the Executive Committee to make se-



46

lections of books to be purchased for the library ; to

Ail. 5. x

Duties of Ex. act m conn ection with the President in procuring lee-

Am'-nd^Feb. tures and other entertainments ; to issue orders to the

i 4 , isso. Treasurer for the payment of bills and to do all ex-

ex^ungeTTan traordinary business not devolving on the other offi-

s, issV.
' * cers.

The annual meeting of the society shall be held on the first
Saturday in each year at 3 o'clock p.m. at the library
Annual meet. room f tne SO ciety, unless some other place is des-
ignated by the Executive Committee. And in case

Amended Jan. J

1, 1881. tne annual meeting is omitted by any accident on the

Hour of meet-



lnsr.



day named the Executive Committee may direct the
Secretary to call a meeting at any time in the month of January
but not after.

Special meetings may be called at any time on the request of

three members in writing to the President or Secre.



Art. 10.
Special meet

ings. tary



Notices of meetings shall be published in the Bradford paper
if there is one, once at least within ten days prior to

Art. 11.

Notices. tne m eeting or be posted five clays before the meeting

in at least three public places in Bradford Village.

This constitution may be amended by a two-thirds vote at any

annual meeting, or upon notice at any special meet-
Art. 12.

Amendments. I^g-

Amendments.

1

The officers of the Association shall be a President, a Secre-
tary, a Treasurer, a Librarian and an Executive
Amendedjan. Committee of three, all to be chosen at the annual
meeting and to hold their office for one year or until
their successors are appointed. All members of the society who
have reached the age of majority shall be eligible to office, the
balance of the offices always being in the hands of the ladies. No
person to hold more than two offices at one time.

It shall be the duty of the Treasurer to invest in the name of



47

the society any funds that may come to the Associa-
Amendedjan. tion by the advice of the Executive Committee in a

17, 1SS0. J

manner that shall be perfectly safe and yield the


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Online LibraryJosiah H. (Josiah Henry) BentonAddress of J.H. Benton, Jr., at the dedication of the Bradford Public Library building, Bradford, Vermont, July 4, 1895 → online text (page 3 of 5)