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FIRST SESSION.- THURSDAY, JULY 13, 1899 The department was called to order at 3 P. M. in the council chamber by President L. D. Harvey, Madison, Wis.
In the absence of the secretary, Miss Avery, of New York, Miss Elizabeth Skinner, Denver, Colo., was appointed acting secretary.
The president introduced Mr. Alfred Bayliss, pringfield, Ill., who read á paper on the subject, “ The Function of School Superintendents in Procuring Libraries for, and Their Proper Use in, the Public Schools.” Discussion was opened by S. P. McCrea, of Arizona, followed by President L. D. Harvey.
The president spoke on the report of the Committee on the Relation of Public Libraries to Public Schools, and suggested means for the distribution of the report.
Mrs. Grenfell, superintendent of public instruction of Colorado, recommended the reading of it by superintendents and principals, as it seemed impossible to put it into the hands of all teachers.
Comments and suggestions were made by Miss Dunn, Los Angeles, Cal.; Miss Casson, Mrs. Wadleigh, Mr. Kimball, Mr. Young, and Mrs. Eames.
Announcements by the president.
SECOND SESSION.- FRIDAY, JULY 14
The second session was called to order in the council chamber at 3 P. M., President Harvey in the chair. Resolutions were presented by J. H. Van Sickle, Denver, Colo., on making the report of the Library Committee effective, as follows:
WHEREAS, The widespread interest among library managers and educational leaders in the extension of library work, thru the intelligent co-operation of the teachers in the public schools, renders the report of the Committee on the Relation of Public Libraries to Public Schools exceedingly valuable at this time; and
Whereas, The wide dissemination of this report among the teachers of the country cannot fail to be of value in awakening additional interest, and in giving useful information concerning the extension of library work in the public schools ; therefore be it
Resolved, by the Library Department of the National Educational Association, That the Executive Committee of the National Educational Association be urgently requested, in the exercise of the discretion allowed them by recent action of the Board of Directors, to have not less than 10,000 copies of the report of the Library Committee printed for free distribution thru the Secretary's office, so as to reach the largest num. ber of teachers possible; and that an edition be printed and offered for sale at cost and in such quantity as to supply whatever demand may arise.
Resolved, That the officers of the Library Department of the National Educational Association be, and are hereby, constituted a committee representing the department, and are instructed to prepare a circular letter to state superintendents calling attention to the report of the Committee on the Relation of Public Libraries to Public Schools, and inviting their co-operation in securing and distributing the report among the teachers of the several states. And be it further
Resolved, That such circular letter should set forth the importance of arousing an intelligent interest among teachers and library managers in the work of extending the usefulness of the library, and also should present some suggestive plan for the organization of the work in each state.
The resolutions were unanimously adopted.
A committee on nominations was appointed, consisting of J. H. V an Sickle, Denver, Colo.; Miss Willard, Carnegie Library; Miss Mary L. Jones, Los Angeles, Cal.
Miss Mary L. Jones, of Los Angeles, read a paper on School Reading thru the Public Library.”
A paper entitled, “How to Acquire a Taste for Good Reading,” was read by Elizabeth Skinner, Denver.
“The Use of the Library” was the subject of an address by C. C. Young, San Francisco, Cal.
Discussion followed the reading of the papers.
Secretary pro tempore.
PAPERS AND DISCUSSIONS
THE FUNCTION OF SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS IN PRO.
CURING LIBRARIES FOR, AND THEIR PROPER USE IN,
BY ALFRED BAYLISS, STATE SUPERINTENDENT
For the purpose of this discussion, superintendents may be grouped in three classes : (1) superintendents of schools in cities having good and growing public libraries; (2) superintendents and supervising principals in towns and villages without public libraries ; (3) county superintendents, whose work and interests are nearly or quite altogether with the rural schools.
In general, office-seeking does not correlate closely with the supervision of education ; but if a school superintendent knows that the office of director of the public library is chasing him, he ought not to run away from it; if he even surmises that the said office is seeking a man, he ought to put himself, or a conscript in the person of his best-adapted principal, in a position to be very easily found.
In the beautiful and progressive city of Rockford, Ill., there is a most excellent public library. The population of Rockford is nearly 30,000, and the library contains over 30,000 volumes. The president of the library board is principal of one of the schools. For years teachers have enjoyed the special privilege of drawing from the library as many as ten books at one time. During the past year, at the instigation and under the immediate supervision of the principal-president, and, it is needless to say, with the co-operation of the superintendent, convenient cases of carefully selected books have been prepared, and teachers of any grade, from the fourth to the eighth inclusive, can now draw a whole library at a time, and when that has served its purpose, exchange it for another.
Mr. Barbour, who is the soul of this plan at Rockford, gave me the following notes, which he said had been handed to him by teachers before the little libraries had been in use three months :
1. One boy who has been in the habit of spending several evenings each week down town on the streets became very much interested in the books that he had drawn from the library sent to his room. Two or three weeks after the books had been put into the school he told his teacher that these library books were better than a curfew law for him, for he had not been down town an evening since the library came into his room.
2. In another school a little colored boy, by his almost utter disregard for the rules of good order and the neglect of his work, had become a disturbing element in the school, and his teacher was getting not a little discouraged with him. One day the subject of “ heroes” was being considered. Several pupils had told of heroes they had read about among them Grant, Sheridan, and Dewey. Soon the teacher noticed this boy's hand raised. She called upon him. He said: “I can tell you of a hero.” Given permission, he stood, with eyes sparkling, and told the story of one of the old Greek heroes, which he had read in one of the library books. Since then he has been much more interested in his work, and his conduct is very much improved.
3. Many of the parents and older brothers and sisters of the pupils, who were not patrons of the public library proper, have become interested in these books. Pupils frequently ask their teachers for an extension of time on their books, so that other members of the family at home may read them.
So much for the first class. This example indicates the least the city superintendent should do, or cause to be done, as well as at least one use of the library in the school. The library, rightly used, will certainly reinforce the school in that part of its work which counts most toward the “conduct which is three-fourths of life.”
But in all Illinois there are not half a hundred libraries equipped to thus reinforce the school. What state has a growing library and a live librarian within reach of every graded school ? May I cite another concrete example from Illinois in illustration of what may be done under other conditions ?
Yates City, Ill., is not a city at all. It is a beautiful little village of fewer than eight hundred people. The school has four teachers, counting the principal but once. Twenty years ago the school took the premium for something or other at the county fair — ten volumes of Rolfe's classics. These books suggested more books. So then the principal proposed that each pupil give to the school, to form a library, one book which he or she had read and found interesting, and added that the name of the donor would be written on a label and pasted in the book; result, fifty volumes, all readable. Then followed some talk to the citizens about a village library, some of whom discouraged the project ; they had seen it tried and fail ; rent of a suitable room, fuel, janitor's work, and librarian's services would cost so much there would be a deficit long before books could be bought. But the principal was young, and in his lexicon “fail” had not yet been written. There was that vacant recitation-room. The board said he might have it. That canceled three items, and he elected himself librarian, without salary, and thus canceled the fourth. In this way every dollar raised became available for the purchase of books. He named it the "School and Public Library," and it proceeded to thrive. There was a Thanksgiving festival, and everybody who bought two tickets to the festival was given one library card, good for a year. There was a literary and musical entertainment connected with the festival, but - and this indicates the business sagacity of the young man — there were no free tickets to anybody, not even to the manager. All work was done from a motive of loyalty to the school and the village. “This," he said to me, “brought in only the capable, energetic, and generous workers, and the public, knowing this fact, I think, were much more willing to contribute when they knew nobody was dead-headed. Those who did the work donated it, and paid for admission the same as those who did nothing." Ten days after the festival the books were selected, purchased, and in circulation. There were books of biography, history, travel, and standard fiction, and everybody wanted to read. Moreover, there were Izaak Walton, Sports Afield, The Still Hunter, and The Game Birds of America, all classics, but put there chiefly as “bait” for two or three influential men of means who had certain tastes of their own; and it landed them, for that type is usually generous, and the library thus made fast friends of them. That Thanksgiving festival has been repeated twenty times. It wears well, for it remains the event of the year in that little community:
The library has grown from ten to two thousand volumes. It is open to the school every day and to the community every Saturday from 2 to 4 P. M.
The principal continues to act as librarian without salary, and the present principal has indulged in a “card catalog under a somewhat modified form of the expansion system." He issued last year, on Saturday afternoons, nearly two thousand books.
As to their use in the school, the founder of the library says: “We made daily use of the library in connection with almost every subject, but especially geography and history, and many a day I have helped put back upon the shelves more than fifty volumes that had been consulted by the pupils of my room.” If geography is the story of man's effort to realize himself thru his environment, and history the same thru institutions -- instead of bounding states and memorizing dates - who shall estimate the value of that little library, with its 300 histories, 254 biographies, and 141 books of travel, for the purpose of adding flesh and blood and color to the dry bones of the text-book ?
1 Superintendent W. L. Steele, now of Galesburg, III.
In the rural districts of Illinois there is just now unusual activity in procuring school libraries. This is justly attributable, I think, to the current set in motion by this department at Buffalo, three years ago. Nearly every county superintendent is earnestly pushing some plan or project for a library in every school. Every conceivable plan for raising money which the enthusiasm and ingenuity of teachers and pupils have been able to devise, with variations, has been tried somewhere : literary, musical, social, and “mixed” entertainments; box, basket, pie, oyster, and plain socials and suppers; subscriptions of money from a penny up; book receptions, spelling matches, auctions, and scrubbing bees ---that is, in a number of cases, the pupils scrub the schoolroom floors and wash the windows, for the benefit of the book fund. In one county an enterprising young teacher went to a merchant out Christmas time, got a supply of Bibles, photograph albums, and other " holiday goods," and at the close of a short concert, or something, auctioned them off to the highest bidders, and realized $8 in commissions for the benefit of her school library.
Some superintendents are of the opinion that these devices are detrimental to the school, tending, as they easily may when overdone or mismanaged, to interfere with the regular business, and that, therefore, books should be purchased with money appropriated for that purpose by the board. Others think that the educational value of the idea of selfhelp more than compensates for all necessary interference with the stated program. Each superintendent or teacher must work that problem out for himself. For my own part, I remember reading in my home paper, not long ago, the following item :
An entertainment was given in the town hall at Kangley last night by the pupils of Lloyd Painter's school, and the net receipts were $38. This sum will be used to purchase new books for the school library recently started by Mr. Painter. The hall was packed to its utmost capacity, and the program was an excellent one throughout. Until this library was started many of the pupils had never read a book through except their schoolbooks.
Lloyd Painter is but a boy schoolmaster and Kangley but a little mining village. The children are, many of them, foreign-born, and nearly all of foreign-born parents, mostly Slavs. The entertainment may have interrupted the routine of the school, but the interruption might easily be justified on other grounds than the need of money to buy books. But if the $38 worth of books to read, and that solely for the mere pleasure of the reading, were all, the justification is ample.
The Illinois county superintendents are almost a unit in certifying to the value of a sufficient number of good books in their schools. I quote the language of two. The superintendent of Peoria county says: “I think that no other one thing has advanced and helped the schools of the county as much as the introduction of the ‘Pupils' Reading Circle' into our schools.” The superintendent of La Salle county says that