Mass.) Free Public Library (New Bedford.

Exercises at the opening of the new library building of the Free public library, New Bedford, Massachusetts, December first, 1910 online

. (page 1 of 4)
Online LibraryMass.) Free Public Library (New BedfordExercises at the opening of the new library building of the Free public library, New Bedford, Massachusetts, December first, 1910 → online text (page 1 of 4)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook



B H EOT 030




^xntmB at tlj^ (§ptnm^

of tlie

^tm ICtfararg Imlhittg

of the

3^t?]? fit Wtr Htbrarg

^xntxBi^B at tlf^ ©pining

of tllP

^tm ICtbrarg Imlbtttg

of tlie

^vu Publtr ICtbrarg

Sprpmbrr 3fftrat









Rev. Matthew C. Julien.

Introductory Remarks.

Hon. Charles S. Ashley.

Address — The Public Library and the Community.
Frank P. Hill, Litt. D.

Address — The Public Library- and the Public School.
Prof. William MacDonald.

Address — A Historical Sketch of the New Bedford Library.
George H. Tripp.

Address — What the Public Library Means to New Bedford.
Horace G. Wadlin, Litt. D.

Music by Sullivan's Orchestra.


Following the prayer by Rev. Mr. Julien, in opening the
dedication exercises. Mayor Ashley addressed the company.


It is my privilege to declare this edifice now open to the
City of New Bedford.

From this hour forward, these halls shall be a capable
depository for our priceless volumes, and a fitting place for
research and instruction. Here ends a situation whereby a
library collection made up of a wealth of material has never-
theless been limited in its usefulness, because of the inade-
quacy of the structure containing it. Both the building and
the books are now worthy of each other, and the public
welfare will be distinctly promoted by the change that has
been made.

For myself, I am conscious of a pardonable sense of
pride in the consummation of this undertaking I had the
honor to recommend. The end sought to be accomplished has
been brought about in a most satisfactory way. I view the
finished work with gratification; I am sure public opinion
will give enthusiastic approval. All that is here is the re-
sult of a union of labors well qualified to produce a library
to meet all the requirements that may be exacted of it;
that success has crowned those efforts I make no question;
pleasurable surprise is the attitude I have noted in most
observers and expressions of genuine appreciation reach my
ears from every side.

A creditable public sentiment demanded that the archi-
tectural excellence of our former City Hall should be pre-
served; that extensions and enlargements should not mar
the harmony of its dignified proportions; and that consid-
erations reflecting the refinement of art should govern in
everything incorporated in this honorable building. It was
a marked instance of civic pride and reverence for local
history and tradition. As a City Hall, long before the time

of the fire, it had failed to meet the requirements of a muni-
cipal business place. Very few departments had quarters
in it; the general uses to which it was put were inconsistent
with its splendid appearance. Its general arrangements,
appropriate for a town, were never, even in a small degree,
suitable for a city's uses.

The old library building, long outgrown in the quarters
from which it took its name, has always been devoted in a
great part to city offices. Neither building filled its intended
mission and questions of convenience were straightway in
evidence when we were confronted with the necessity of
treating this interior, ruined by fire, with its noble walls
standing and resisting destruction.

That it was possible to secure a grand library became
apparent, — that no mistake should be made was imperative.
Respect for sentiment, judgment in preparation and fidelity
in execution, then became the essentials to be ever kept in
mind, and my congratulation goes forward to you that there
has been no departure from those obligations. That this
structure, within and without, is a combination embracing
art, luxury, and utility in degrees not often attained is my
sincere belief and fixed conviction.

I purposely refrain from addressing you upon the his-
tory, function, and destiny of libraries in general, but rather
content myself with such few words as seem to me to be
appropriate to this one in particular. It is eminently proper
that these dedication exercises should direct your attention
to the thoughts to be expressed by others well qualified to
speak from the depth of their knowledge and experience.
Of the importance of the work we now engage to continue,
it can surely be said that it is as present and pressing as
when first entered upon by our pioneer library of eminent
fame and fruitful history. I bespeak for it a growing and
increasing place in our municipal progress and advancement.

Following his own address, Mayor Ashley introduced
Dr. Hill.


A long, long time ago, at least it seems so to me, my good
friend and fellow classmate, and your efiieient and successful
librarian, George H. Tripp, exacted from me a promise to be
present at the opening of the new building of the New Bed-
ford Public Library. The event seemed so far in the future
that I readily agreed. But when he wrote me a few days
ago that the date was set for December 1st, I was inclined
to make excuses. It then occurred to me that if I did "back
out" my good friend would no longer be a friend, and that
risk I could not afford to take.

It has been my privilege from time to time to assist in
meetings called to arouse an interest in the establishment of
a free public library and to participate in the inauguration
of public libraries in new fields. On this occasion, however,
it is not necessary to attempt to arouse interest in the library
movement or to impress upon you the value of a public
library to the community.

Your library is already ripe with age, and the people
of New Bedford have long appreciated its advantages. It is
not a new enterprise. The foundation was firmly laid many
years ago by those who constituted the early boards of
trustees. Indeed, I cannot congratulate you too highly upon
your good fortune in having as sponsors at the very begin-
ning such liberal and clear-visioned men. The early reports
of the library plainly indicate that not only was New Bed-
ford the first municipality to take advantage of the Massa-
chusetts law providing for the establishment of a free public
library, but they record the earnest efforts of the trustees to
make the library a source of pleasure and profit to a very
large portion of the citizens.

I congratulate you, too, because looking back over your
history it is evident that the public library in New Bedford

has had a normal and gradual growth. There have been no
radical changes in either methods or management, the plan
upon which the original work was inaugurated being prac-
tically identical with the present ideal of what a public li-
brary should be. The library has grown in size, to be sure !
It has put out new branches, it has brought forth many
blossoms and much fruit ; but the character of the plant has
not changed. This library has not been transformed
from a mercantile or subscription library; it always has been
free to the public.

You are therefore fortunate in having been able to
develop your resources without being obliged to expend your
energies in reorganization. Furthermore the community is
exceptionally favored in having had in the 58 years of its
library history only two librarians. Those who are in touch
with library work in this country can heartily concur in the
acknowledgment made by the trustees of their indebted-
ness to the ability and devotion of your first librarian,
Robert C. Ingraham. The work so well begun and so ad-
mirably conducted by him for half a century has fallen into
the strong hands of your present librarian and by him been
carried forward.

So well have the trustees and librarians conducted the
affairs of the library that today a new and larger edifice
is dedicated to public library uses.

You may well be proud of it for you have not depended
upon the generosity of any single person but have willingly
taxed yourselves to provide money for its erection. It does
not bear the name of an individual but will be known for
all time as the New Bedford Free Public Library. Architec-
turally beautiful it will serve as a landmark for years to

But this building is only a storehouse. The treasures in
it must be accessible to all. In this age we demand of aU
our institutions definite and practical results, and the library
is not an exception to this general rule. Is the library
living up to expectations?


During the month of October last an exhibition was held
in New York city which was known as the Budget Exhibit.
It was planned by the board of estimate and apportionment
of the city and was prepared by the heads of departments
and institutions receiving money from the city.

Its purpose was threefold:

(a) — To show how the money provided by the city is
spent and to submit for examination the various pleas for
increased appropriations.

(b) — To afford the citizens of Greater New York the
opportunity of making a comparative study of the use of
appropriations made to the various departments.

(c) — To enable the people to form an opinion of the
effectiveness of departmental work.

As a participant in this exhibit the public libraries of
the city were called upon to show the results of their work.
This was done by means of charts, maps, statistics, and
photographs showing the increase and improvement in quar-
ters, equipment, resources, and use.

During the exhibit the library committee realized more
forcibly than ever the fact that the work of the library,
owing to its intangibility, could not be satisfactorily
shown by charts, diagrams, or by any standard yet devised.

Through the library's influence the lives of the people
are made richer, the conditions under which they live im-
proved, and their characters strengthened. Such work can-
not be presented in figures.

The library also serves the needs of the work-a-day
world, enabling the artisan to become more skillful, the me-
chanic more proficient, the housewife more capable, and the
professional man broader-minded.

The practical resources of our libraries are only begin-
ning to be appreciated.

This was evidenced at the exhibit. Here a small collec-
tion of books was placed on shelves as an index to the
larger collections which the libraries contained. The list
included such books as :

Gebhardt's Steam Power Plant Engineering,

Hatfield's Modern Accounting,

Lowe's Electric Railway Troubles and How to Find

Deland's Imagination in Business.

The interest shown in the books by the thousands of
business men — young and old — who dropped into the exhibit,
as well as the surprise many of them expressed when they
learned that such books could be procured from a public
library made the committee feel the need of a wider adver-
tisement of our resources. Most of those men probably con-
sidered a library a desirable asset in any community. Many
of them undoubtedly thought it of some service to those
who had time to enjoy it. Others perhaps looked forward
to a time when they would have the leisure to avail them-
selves of its treasures ; but none of them had before thought
of it as containing anything of practical use.

The Budget Exhibit gave us the opportunity of show-
ing such men that the library is in a real sense "the people's
university," and that hundreds had bettered their condition
in life and fitted themselves for higher responsibilities by
using the books furnished freely by the library.

As an evidence of how the library had helped people a
circular entitled "Results not shown by statistics" was pre-
pared and distributed. This contained expressions of appre-
ciation made by borrowers who had obtained assistance
from books in the libraries.

One example will serve as an illustration: "It is the
greatest place on earth for a poor man to get a good educa-
tion." The man who said this had been obliged to leave
school early in order to support his family, but he always
wanted to be a first class engineer. He studied at Cooper
Institute, but did not gain the knowledge he desired. One
day at one of our branches he found some easy books on the
subject of engineering. After one year's study he returned
to Cooper Institute and passed the examinations in which he
had failed the year before. He gave it as his opinion that
"a lot of fellows failed because they didn't know all the


good they could get from the library." Such work is worth

To be able to help those who earnestly desire to educate
themselves and have not the means to buy books is no un-
worthy problem, and this is the work our public libraries
are trying to solve.

No one now need to voice the sentiment contained in
Lang's ''Ballad of the Unattainable:"

"Prince, hear a hopeless bard's appeal;
Reverse the rule of mine and thine ;
Make it legitimate to steal

The books that never can be mine."

The generous bequests which from time to time the New
Bedford library has received have placed it in a somewhat
unusual position. Here the interest received from endow-
ment funds is large enough to purchase such new books and
replacements as are added to the library each year.
Whether this income is large enough for the purchase of all
the books which could be used to advantage in New Bedford
is for your trustees and librarian to decide. But from my
experience I would say that while the book fund is always
the one which can be increased with the greatest benefit to
those who use the library, it is almost always the first item
to be cut if a reduction is to be made in the appropriation.

There are some libraries that have an adequate fund
for the purchase of books and little enough for maintenance
and salaries, and there are libraries moving from old to new
quarters that are skimped in appropriation and have not
enough money to pay actual expenses. I trust that New
Bedford is not in either class.

The question of support is always a vital one to every
institution, public or private, and the appropriation of money
sufficient for the actual needs of any branch of the city's
work depends too frequently upon other things than the
real merits of the case. The time should come in the admin-
istration of our municipal affairs when the board charged
with appropriating money for conducting city business will
consider each department in the city government as a defi-


nite part of a whole, and will apportion appropriations
according to the importance of each department, and for its
proper development.

In spite of the long and meritorious past of your library,
I think I may venture the opinion that not even in this com-
munity, which so early realized the importance and possi-
bilities of a free public library, is the function of the library
in its relation to other branches of the city's activities fully
understood, nor is the appropriation granted the library each
year made according to the importance of the work. In
New York I am sure this is not the case. As compared with
the incomes of other libraries, the financial support in
Greater New York may be said to be generous, but when the
library appropriation of any city is compared with that
made other departments or institutions supported by city
money it will be found that the library suffers by com-

Some of us may remember the agitation caused by the
introduction of "free" schools supported by taxation.
Many conscientious men questioned any responsibility for
the education and training of their neighbor's child; and
those who had no children felt it unjust that they should
be obliged to share the cost of the instruction of the children
in the community. But when the idea was finally adopted
it received such hearty support that the development of the
public school system throughout the country was rapid and
progressive. The idea of the "public" maintenance of li-
braries was introduced later and met with the same opposi-
tion in many communities that had manifested itself in the
effort to secure money for schools.

In the case of the schools the opposition has almost
entirely disappeared, and liberal appropriations pass annu-
ally without objection, but there is still some objection to
library appropriations. There should be no difference of
feeling, as both are educational in character, the library con-
tinuing the work of the schools with those who have com-
pleted its course, and aft'ording opportunity for study to
those who have been obliged to leave school at an early age.


In the support of our schools each taxpayer must share
the expense whether or no he can benefit directly from the
school system. In the support of the library each person
contributing can receive a direct return. Although the
amount contributed by each individual may be insignificant,
in the aggregate it makes possible the purchase, care, and
preservation of a collection of books larger than any one
would find it practicable or possible to accumulate for his
own use.

What does each person's share of the expense of the
library amount to? In New York the cost of maintaining
the public libraries in the greater city is slightly under 25
cents per capita, in New Bedford it is 15.7 per capita. For
this small expenditure in New Bedford there is placed at
your disposal the entire resources of the library, including
books, pictures, and the services of the librarian and his

You will readily see that this small amount would not
go far in providing the books, magazines, or even news-
papers which you personally read during the year.

I do not know the facts in New Bedford but I do know
that in New York we appropriate 24 times as much for our
schools as we do for our libraries, 12 times as much for our
police protection, 7 times as much for protection against
fire, and more than twice as much for public charities.

I do not wish to suggest that any department of the
city should receive less than at present, but I do earnestly
urge that in this and every community the public library
should receive such financial support from the city govern-
ment as will enable it to become an efficient part of the edu-
cational system of the municipality ; that the services of
librarians and assistants should be adequately compensated ;
that the book collections inherited from the past should be
preserved, enriched, and enlarged for future generations as
well as for present use ; that the library being well housed
should be adequately maintained, and that the building itself
should be kept in good repair.


If the city government and the people of New Bedford,
having erected this beautiful and spacious building, will con-
tinue to provide adequately for its maintenance, this library
will always stand in the front rank of library achievement,
and those whose duty it is to administer it for your benefit
will be encouraged to increase its effectiveness and extend
its usefulness.



Of all the many changes which have come about in the
theory and practice of library administration in this country^
none is of more far-reaching significance, or likely, appar-
ently, to undergo more helpful development, than that by
which the public library has come to be regarded as one of
the educational agencies of the community. Thanks to the
growth of popular education, the demand for intelligence
as well as skill in trades and business, and the zeal and self-
sacrifice of public-spirited librarians, the library has ceased
to be looked upon as a storehouse for books accumulated
but not read, or a place to pass an idle hour in desultory
reading, or a haven of refuge for benevolent old people with
superabundant leisure. On the contrary, it has become, to a
remarkable degree, one of the great educational forces of the
modern world, employing a staff of trained experts, minis-
tering to the needs of all classes and all occupations, and
co-operating closely and heartily with every agency, public
or private, which has for its object the better education of
the whole people. I cannot better use the time which has
been allotted to me in the programme of this your day of
rejoicing, than by calling briefly to your mind the indis-
pensable relation between the public library and the public

We are undertaking in this country the tremendous ex-
periment of educating, at public expense, the entire popu-
lation. From the kindergarten to the university, in the ma-
jority of our states, and through the high school or technical
school in all of them, we offer graded courses of instruction
either entirely free of cost to the individual student, or at
merely nominal expense. Year by year we build more and
better schoolhouses, yet even so can hardly keep pace with
the numbers who seek admission to them. We are forever


overhauling our courses of study to make them more prac-
tical and sensible, more genuinely educational and useful.
Tn the range of its studies, the skilled preparation of its
teachers, the beauty, convenience and healthfulness of its
building, the efficiency of its teaching, and the substantial
results in the lives of its pupils, the American public school
of today is infinitely superior to the school of a generation
ago ; and the end of its improvement is not yet.

What has really happened, of course, is that our concep-
tion of the nature of the school has changed. Instead of the
perfunctory learning of lessons out of a book, stimulated by
liberal use of the rod and the dunce cap, we have found a
better way. Public school pupils today are encouraged to
read books, magazines and newspapers, to collect plants and
minerals, to study pictures and take photographs, to draw
maps and construct diagrams and charts. The drill in
grammar is constantly supplemented by the use of litera-
ture; mathematical principles are early given some practical
application; the chemical laboratory directs attention to
problems of good food and proper sanitation ; modern history
and current events take their place in the curriculum along
with the history of Greece, or Rome, or early England. There
are excursions to historic sites, or public buildings, or the
homes of famous men; dramatic representations of plays
studied in the classrooms ; concerts and memorial exercises ;
and moot courts, parliaments, and city councils to illustrate
the course in civil government. All of our best schools
todaj^ are doing these things, and doing them increasingly;
and it is through the doing of them that our schools are
being vitalized, and transformed, not into gloomy prisons
where tasks are set, but into social centres where children
spend their happiest hours. And we are doing this, remem-
ber, for everybody at public expense, because popular edu-
cation means for us not only social well being, but social
safety as well.

It is at this point that the public library comes to the
aid of the school. While the school must always concern
itself chiefly with systematic instruction along certain es-


sential lines, the library can supplement and enrich that in-
struction and show its wider application and relationship.
Its collection of books, for example, will always be many
times greater than that of any high or grammar school.
We are, to be sure, slowly coming to realize the need of
better school libraries, provided with at least the best and
newest cyclopedias, dictionaries, reference manuals and
standard works of history, biography, and literature ; but the
public library, serving as it does the needs of the whole
community, will always have the greater number and wider
range of books. By loans to the schools, however, by pur-
chase of duplicate copies of books much in demand, by the
reservation of books specially wanted by particular classes,
as well as by systematic purchases in fields where the demand
is greatest, it has in its power to supplement and strengthen
the work of every teacher, and enhance the interest and
value of every study.

In its provision of certain classes of books, too, the
library can help the school greatly. Such things as atlases,
indispensable for the study of geography ; illustrated works
in science, or the choice illustrated editions of standard
authors ; books of travel and adventure, and accounts of the
most recent scientific discoveries or political occurrences,
must as a rule be looked for in the public library. The
same is true of maps and charts, pictures, and statistical
works of all sorts. A modern high school uses all of this

1 3 4

Online LibraryMass.) Free Public Library (New BedfordExercises at the opening of the new library building of the Free public library, New Bedford, Massachusetts, December first, 1910 → online text (page 1 of 4)