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What I have to say on this subject has reference mainly to the use and utilities of the public library. The object of the public library is to place within the reach of the mass of the people the best books in all the ranges of literature and knowledge, and not only so, but also to exert some influence to induce the people to read these books. That is to say, no one will regard it as an end worthy of the public and private outlay, which has been so lavishly expended on our 1 braries, that they shall hold and safely preserve the treasures of literature, if the community only receive the indirect benefit that may come from the use of the books by their preachers, editors, and teachers, and do not themselves, to any extent, read the books. And yet a little examination into the matter wil bring out rather strikingly two things: 1. That only a small minority of the books are read; and 2. That only a small minority of the people read the library books.

On one hand, we have on the library shelves, practically untouched, rows upon rows of most excel'ent books. On the other, we have scores and hundreds of families whose highest intellectual and social needs those books would supply, remaining quite indifferent to them, and entirely unrepresented among the library's patrons. There is, it must be confessed, a very common apathetic indifference to the library, and to good literature, on the part of the people of our towns and cities, which is an evil as strenuously to be combatted as the evil of the lack of books, where that exists. Certainly, our libraries ought to reach with their influence many more of the people than they do. That they may do so, requires a higher conception of what the value of reading to the community is. If we look upon it as a matter of dilettantism, especially if we share the subtle skepticism, which is so prevalent, as to the capacity of the popular mind for culture, we shall only half-heartedly enter into efforts to bring the books and the people together. That we may have for ourselves, and for others, higher ideals as to the use of books it is worth while to examine this question of the moral value of reading. For, if we recognize in books a power for the moral elevation of the people, and not merely for the promotion of intelligence and of technical skill, we shall be prepared

to enter into efforts for the greater efficiency of this agency with the enthusiasm of a crusade.

A new era is undoubtedly dawning in the management of our libraries; an era of attractive interiors, helpful attendants, freedom in the use of books, abolition of needless and irksome restraints, and, beyond all, the actual carrying of books to the homes of the people, especially through the school, and the familiarizing of school children with good literature. Such an attitude, on the part of the library, as this implies the truly missionary spirit, which must be essentially moral, and recognize the benefits it seeks to confer as moral benefits, and not merely economic or intellectual benefits, though it must be confessed the lines here are hard to draw. Perhaps it is not necessary that they should be drawn very closely.

Let us now inquire wherein lies the moral value of reading,- of general or miscellaneous reading, we must be understood to mean. In the first place, reading furnishes occupation for otherwise idle hours. Speaking before the Boston Mercantile Library Association in 1850, the late George S. Hillard said, "Occupation is the armor of the soul, and the train of Idleness is borne up by all the vices."

Reading tends to elevate and refine conversation and social intercourse. In my boyhood it was, for a time, my lot to work in the fields with young farm-hands, and I always recall with a shudder the talk with which they beguiled the time.

It is difficult for us who live in an atmosphere so charged, as is ours, with intelligence and culture to realize what life is, where it is narrowed down to the immediate interests and happenings of our own lives and those immediately about us. We get a glimpse of the narrowness and degradation of such a life in the accounts of the people of the mountains of Kentucky and Tennessee, to say nothing of the "sweet Auburns" of our New England hills.

Carlyle said, "Do not books accomplish miracles, as runes were fabled to do? They persuade men. Not the wretchedest circulatinglibrary novel, which foolish girls thumb and con in remote villages, but will help to regulate the actual practical weddings and households of those foolish girls." So, let us not fail to recognize the moral value of romance reading in humanizing and refining the lives and homes of our people, and preparing a soil for the seed of a better life.

And it has been remarked by some of our most experienced librarians, among them the late Dr. Poole of Boston and Chicago, that most readers, having formed a habit of reading, proceed to read a better class of books than those which first allure and please them,

and that, in fact, they generally read books that are superior in their general tone to their daily life and thought, and so are led on from one stage to another. Certainly, this seems likely, for it would be a poor sort of romance which did not present some ideals of heroism, of devotion, of unselfishness, above the sordid lives which many lead.

However much force there may be in these observations, it is when we pass to social and political developments under democracy that the moral value of reading in the community becomes most strikingly evident. The world over, the people are rapidly assuming the direction of affairs. In Russia, the power of czars and bureaus to suppress them seems steadily weakening. In Germany, the popular element in the government constantly gains in power.

Let us observe some of the ways in which reading may prepare the people for the responsibility, thrown upon them by democracy. The reading of history goes far to teach the hollowness of demagogic pretensions, and to expose the falsity of the claims of novelty advanced by this or that political creed or programme. The well-read citizen knows that the same experiments have been tried before, and takes a warning from the page of history. And in biography, which is history, plus personality, the citizen has the stimulus to virtuous conduct in public life of the example of living men. Who can estimate what has been done for the political education of our young voters by the biographies of Booker Washington, Jacob A. Riis, Robert E. Lee, John A. Andrew, Roger Wolcott, and others of these most recent, to say nothing of those of Washington and Lincoln.

The reading of books of travels sober one's judgments by exhibiting the effects upon character of environment, in climate, in geographic conditions, in forms of government, and teaches how to make due allowances in behalf of the strangers who come to us from other shores; while travels in unexplored regions, towards the north or south pole, or into the heart of Africa, by their display of heroic qualities on the part of the explorer, kindle the latent heroism of the reader, and prepare him to stand unflinchingly by a good cause, through thick and thin. Can we tell what the world would be without the example of a Sir John Franklin, a Dr. Kane, a Livingstone, a Stanley? names whose very mention makes our blood run quick, and stirs us to emulate their heroism and fortitude.

Again, the books which make the mysteries and the marvels of modern science the common property of all who read, who can measure their influence in the molding of character? Not only the astronomer, if sane, must be devout and reverent, but he who catches a

glimpse of the heights and depths which are opened by any of the sciences. The non-Euclidean geometry admitting that parallel lines may meet somewhere, the physics which avers that objects never really come into contact with one another, the astronomy which handles universes as the very small dust of the balance, these sciences are making their way down among the people, challenging the pride and conceit of hard-and-fast knowledge, and making men ready to abandon preconceived notions and cherished prejudices. And the science which, by patient and sympathetic observation, is slowly winning the secrets of our humble companions, the dumb animals, the little folks in feathers and fur, and the larger folk who inhabit the woods or our farms, is broadening our humanity and softening our hearts.

Such are some of the moral effects of reading. When we dwell upon them we see in them the promise and potency of nearly all that we can desire for mankind. Intelligence, good taste, good manners, reasonable and sane political action, gentleness and kindliness in household and social life, honesty and square dealing in business,—all these, we feel, are fostered by good reading. A very large question that must be met is that of newspaper-reading. Very different, and even conflicting, opinions are held by those of good judgment and intelligence. Undoubtedly, the substitution of newspaper-reading, especially of the yellow type, for the reading of good books would be a calamity. But no such substitution takes place. It is rather a case of the newspaper or nothing. And so viewed, the newspaper is infinitely the better. Those who have observed the almost universal use of the cheap newspaper by the mass of the people in the cities, while they may deplore the comparatively low grade of culture thus indicated, must and do recognize that it means essentially the education of these people. It broadens horizons and quickens sympathies. It brings the ends of the earth together, and puts the reader in touch with all that is going on, thus making him feel with a thrill that he is a "citizen of the world." And the newspaper is always championing some good cause-fresh air, better tenements, better fire-protection, freer government in some form; a constant school of politics. Granted that the form is often sensational in the extreme, it is the form that it must take to secure patronage, and it always tends to improve. What we have said about the reading of a low order of novels applies equally to this.






In the 1893 edition of the American Library Association catalogue, 220 out of 5,230 titles fell under the group of religion and theology, or 4 per cent of the whole number; in the 1904 edition, 319 out of 7,520 titles, or 4.2 per cent, were included in this group. Taking into consideration the great variety of subjects upon which books are written, and the enormous yearly output of books in the classes of such popular interest as fiction, biography, travel, history, fine arts, useful arts, and general literature, this 4 per cent is perhaps a fair conservative estimate of what is due religious literature. It would seem, however, that public interest in religious and theological subjects might easily justify a larger percentage, even allowing for the fact that with so many persons the spoken sermon seems almost entirely to preclude the necessity of the religious book. Broadly speaking, the department of religion and theology in a public library should be as well equipped as any other departments, and only the reasons which operate to restrict the collections in other departments should be valid in the religious department, namely, paucity of funds, and, in some cases, lack of use.

With the adoption of a principle of proportion, the question of choice of books arises. In general, it may be said that the same rules of choice should be adopted that apply to books in other classes, and thus, in theory, the question raised by the title of this paper is disposed of. But, in practice, difficulties often arise in choosing for purchase religious, and especially theological, books, or, in deciding concerning their acceptance as gifts,-difficulties which do not arise in connection with books of other classes. In my own case, I have often found it necessary to give the matter some thought, because of objections which were raised by prominent and educated users of the library, and in several cases by trustees, to the presence of certain books in the library, and more rarely to the absence of others from its shelves. Numbers of individual cases which have come up for decision have led to the adoption of a rather general policy governing the subject. In the first place, the standpoint of the public library in judging of

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