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The John Crerar Library 

• A Free Public Reference Library 
of Scientific Literature 

1 894-1 905 


Clement W. Andrews, A.M. 




Clement W. Andrews, 

Charles J. Barr, 

Assistant Librarian 

r.hira^n , May I'g, 1Q06 

G. W.. Harris., Esq., 

Librarian, Cornell University Library, 
Itjiaea, H.y. 
Dear Mr«. Harris: - 

Yours^ of May 16 has been racaived. A copy 
of the Sketch was supposed to have been^to your 
Library, as it, was to all on our. SKohan^e' list, 
tjiough not tp those on our general mailing list. 
I send, however, wit.h this mail another copy? If 
you find the' first, copy was iuly received, I will 
ask you tp accept, this personally.. 

Wit^ thanks for. your congratulations, and 
the< hope' that your Library is also progressing to 
your satisfaction, 1 semain, 

Yours trulj 



The John Crerar Library 

A Free Public Reference Library 
of Scientific Literature 

1 894-1905 


Clement W. Andrews, A.M. 





/\, 2.0 bO-^ b" 
[Reprint from Libraries of Chicago] 



Foundation. — The John Crerar Library, the latest estab- 
lished of the free public libraries of Chicago, owes its exist- 
ence to the bequest of the late John Crerar. 

Mr. Crerar, for many years a prominent citizen of 
Chicago, was of Scotch ancestry, the son of John and Agnes 
(Smeallie) Crerar. Born in New York in 1827, he was 
educated in the schools of that city, and entered into busi- 
ness there, becoming a member of the firm of Jessup, Ken- 
nedy & Co. Coming to Chicago in 1862, he established the 
firm of Crerar, Adams & Co., dealers in railroad supplies, 
and accumulated a large fortune. At the time of his death 
he was a director of the Pullman Palace Car Co., of the 
Chicago and Alton Railroad Co., of the Illinois Trust and 
Savings Bank, and president of the Chicago and Joliet Rail- 
road Co. He was a member and trustee of the Second 
Presbyterian Church, and gave liberally of his time and 
money to the work of his church. He was greatly interested 
in the charitable institutions of the city, being a director of 
the Chicago Relief and Aid Society and of the Presbyterian 
Hospital, and vice-president of the Chicago Orphan Asylum. 
All of these and many others were remembered liberally in 
his will. He was equally prominent socially, and was a 
member of the Chicago, Calumet, Union, Commercial, and 
Literary clubs. 

Mr. Crerar died October 19, 1889. His will, dated 
August 5, 1886, was admitted to probate November 14, 
1889, and its validity was finally established by a decision of 
the Supreme Court of Illinois, rendered June 19, 1893. 


Chicago Libraries 

Specific bequests of more than $600,000 were made to rela- 
tives and friends, and of nearly $1,000,000 to charitable in- 
stitutions and public purposes. The fiftieth section of the will 
disposed of the remainder of the estate in the following words: 

Recognizing the fact that I have been a resident of Chicago 
since 1862, and that the greater part of my fortune has been accumu- 
lated here, and acknowledging with hearty gratitude the kindness 
that has always been extended to me by my many friends, and by my 
business and social acquaintances and associates, I give, devise, and 
bequeath all the rest, remainder, and residue of my estate, both real 
and personal, for the erection, creation, maintenance, and endowment 
of a free public library, to be called "The John Crerar Library," and 
to be located in the city of Chicago, Illinois, a preference being 
given to the South Division of the city, in as much as the Newberry 
Library wUl be located in the North Division. I direct that my 
executors and trustees cause an act of incorporation under the laws 
of Illinois, to be procured to carry out the purpose of this bequest; 
and I request that Norman WUliaras be made the first President 
thereof; and that, in addition to my executors and trustees, the 
following named friends of mine will act as the first Board of Direc- 
tors in such corporation, and aid and assist my executors and trustees 
therein, namely: Marshall Field, E. W. Blatchford, T. B. Blackstone, 
Robert T. Lincoln, Henry W. Bishop, Edward G. Mason, Albert 
Keep, Edson Keith, Simon J. McPherson, John M. Clark, and 
George A. Armour, or their survivors. I desire the building to be 
tasteful, substantial, and fire-proof, and that a sufficient fund be 
reserved over and above the cost of its construction to provide, main- 
tain, and support a library for all time. I desire the books and 
periodicals selected with a view to create and sustain a healthy moral 
and Christian sentiment in the community, and that all nastiness 
and immorality be excluded. I do not mean by this that there shall 
not be an3rthing but hymn books and sermons, but I mean that dirty 
French novels and all skeptical trash and works of questionable 
moral tone shall never be found in this. Library. 

I want its atmosphere that of Christian refinement, and its aim 
and object the building up of character, and I rest content that the 
friends I have named will carry out my wishes in these particulars. 

The John Crerar Library 

The amount thus bequeathed was estimated at the time 
to be about $2,500,000, but it was hoped that improvement 
in the business conditions of the country would materially 
increase this sum. These hopes have been realized, and the 
total endowment, on a most conservative estimate, is now 

Development. — The administration of the estate in the 
Probate Court was closed July 13, 1894. Meanwhile the 
trustees of the estate had co-operated with the trustees of 
the Newberry estate in securing legislation which seemed 
needed for the better organization and administration of 
endowed libraries, embodied in "An act to encourage and 
promote the establishment of free public libraries," approved 
June 17, 1 89 1. Under this act the John Crerar Library was 
incorporated on October 12, 1894, and duly organized Janu- 
ary 12, 1895. All of the directors named by Mr. Crerar 
nine years before were living and present, and Norman 
Williams was elected the first president, as Mr. Crerar 

Mr. Williams gave much time and thought to the devel- 
opment of the Library, and retained the presidency until his 
death, in 1899. He was succeeded by Huntington W. Jack- 
son, who, both as trustee of the estate and as chairman of the 
committee on administration, had already proved his interest 
in the Library, which was further manifested by a bequest of 
$1,000, notable as the first bequest received by the institution 
other than the one by which it was founded. His death 
followed .too soon, in January, 1901, and he was succeeded 
by Honorable Peter Stenger Grosscup. Other deaths and 
removals from the city have changed materially the consti- 
tution of the Board of Directors, which in April, 1905, 
consisted of the following gentlemen: Marshall Field, E. 

Chicago Libraries 

W. Blatchford, Robert T. Lincoln, Henry W. Bishop, 
Albert Keep, John M. Clark, Frank S. Johnson, Peter 
Stenger Grosscup, Marvin Hughitt, Thomas D. Jones, 
John J. Mitchell, Leonard A. Busby, Robert Forsyth, and 
the mayor and comptroller of Chicago, ex officiis. The 
Treasurer, William J. Louderback, and the Librarian, Clem- 
ent W. Andrews, were appointed in 1895, and have served 
to the present time. 

The first act of the Directors, after organization, was to 
declare that the whole amount of the bequest was not too 
large for the sufficient fund which they were required to 
reserve in order to provide, maintain, and support the library 
for all time, and that therefore the endowment should not 
be encroached upon either for land, building, or books, but 
that a building fund should be accumulated from the income. 
This fund in January, 1905, amounted to nearly $600,000. 

Scope. — The second act of the Directors was to deter- 
mine the character and scope of the Library. The trustees 
of the estate had prepared a list of the public libraries of the 
city, giving their character and size. The actual and pros- 
pective development of the Chicago Public Library as a great 
lending library, and of the Newberry Library as a great 
reference library in certain fields, largely influenced the trus- 
tees to suggest that the John Crerar Library be made a refer- 
ence library, embracing such departments as were not fully 
occupied by any other existing library in Chicago, and that 
the number of departments be limited to such as the funds 
of the Library could render complete and unique. 

After a careful consideration of the whole subject the 
directors unanimously decided to establish a free public 
reference library of scientific and technical literature. This 
decision seemed to them to accord with the particular busi- 

The John Crerar Library 

ness activities by which the greater part of Mr. Crerar's 
fortune had been accumulated, to exclude naturally certain 
questionable classes of books which his will distinctly pro- 
hibits, and to favor the aim and object which it expressly 
points out. As personal friends, who had been acquainted 
with his wise and generous purposes, and with his civic 
patriotism and gratitude, they beheved that he would surely 
have wished his gift to supplement, in the most effective 
way, the existing and prospective library collections of 
Chicago, and to be of the greatest possible value to the 
whole city. 

Accordingly, a series of conferences with the trustees of 
the Chicago Public Library and the Newberry Library was 
held, and an elastic scheme for the division of the field 
was adopted. The special field of the John Crerar Library- 
may be defined as that of the natural, physical, and social 
sciences, and their applications. 

The administration of the Library is not organized- into 
departments, nor is there any difference of treatment of the 
various subjects, but for convenience in dealing with appro- 
priations, statistics, etc., the books are divided in five 
classes. General Works, Social Sciences, Physical Sciences, 
Natural Sciences, and Applied Sciences. The last named 
class includes the applied fine arts, but not music, sculpture, 
or painting. With four exceptions, theology, philology, 
law, and medicine, all the subjects comprehended by a broad 
interpretation of its field as already defined, are to be found 
in the Library. All these exceptions are well provided for 
in other libraries in the city, but the omission of medicine 
has always been regarded as anomalous, and has caused 
much otherwise unnecessary duplication. It is hoped that 
the erection of the permanent building will offer an oppor- 

Chicago Libraries 

tunity of correcting this, and of making the valuable collec- 
tion of the Newberry Library, by a more central location, 
even more useful to the medical profession. 

While it is the purpose of the Directors to develop the 
Library as symmetrically as possible within these limits, 
they have not hesitated to take advantage of exceptional 
opportunities, and have made several purchases which make 
it notably strong in certain subjects. Unusual attention, 
also, has been given to the collection of files of scientific and 
technical periodicals, both American and foreign. 

The years 1895 and 1896 were spent in the preliminary 
work of organization. A Librarian was appointed, a staff 
selected, and temporary quarters secured. The purchase of 
books was begun, and when, on April i, 1897, the Library 
was opened to the public, without formalities, there were 
15,000 volumes ready for use and 7,000 more in the hands 
of the cataloguers. 

Administratioil. — The management of the Library is 
controlled by a board of fifteen directors. Two, the mayor 
and comptroller of Chicago, are ex officio members, the 
others were appointed by Mr. Crerar or have been elected 
by the Board to fill vacancies, such elections being subject, 
by the act under which the Library is incorporated, to the 
approval of the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Illinois. 
The Directors hold quarterly meetings and usually act only 
upon the recommendation of the standing committees, of 
which there are four — on Finance, Administration, Buildings 
and Grounds, and Books. The President and the Chairmen 
of these committees form an Executive Committee. A care- 
fully considered succession to the powers of President and 
Chairman makes further provision for action in emergencies. 

Besides the President, Vice-Presidents, and Secretary, 

The John Crerar Library 

who must be members of the Board, the Directors elect a 
Treasurer and a Librarian, who may or may not be mem- 
bers. They are the executive officers of the corporation, 
and are entirely independent of each other. The Treas- 
urer, under the supervision of the Committee on Finance, 
has charge of the receipts and payments of the Library and 
the investment of its funds. The Librarian, under the 
supervision of the Committee on Administration, has charge 
of the general management of the Library, and, under the 
supervision of the Committee on Books, of the selection and 
purchase of books. In the latter work he has the assistance 
of several of the staff, who systematically read and summar- 
ize book reviews. Suggestions from readers are welcomed 
and given careful consideration. 

Staff. — The work of the Library is carried on by a staff 
of forty-three persons, consisting of a librarian, assistant 
librarian, cataloguer, reference librarian, classifier, assistant 
cataloguer, assistant reference librarian, six senior assistants, 
fifteen junior assistants, six attendants, four pages, janitor, 
assistant janitor, and three charwomen. Of the forty-three, 
twenty-one are women. Appointments are made by the 
Committee on Administration, subject to the approval of the 
Directors. All applications are referred to the Librarian, 
and the Committee act only upon report from him. On 
account of the peculiar demands of a scientific library, they 
will not consider applications for positions above the grade 
of attendant from persons not having a reading knowledge of 
French and German. The Committee also place great 
weight on library training and experience, so that nearly all 
the employees above the grade mentioned are graduates of 
library schools or have entered the service from other 
libraries. Of the attendants almost all in the evening ser- 

Chicago Libraries 

vice have been students at one or another of the educational 
institutions of the city or vicinity. 

Rooms. — Temporary quarters, pending the accumulation 
of a building fund and the erection of a permanent building, 
were obtained by leasing, in July, 1895, the sixth floor of 
the Marshall Field & Co. Building, No. 87 Wabash Avenue. 
In May, 1900, one half of the fifth floor was added, and in 
January, 1906, the rest of that floor will be occupied. 

The Reading Room, furnished in dark oak, is on the sixth 
floor, and accommodates about one hundred readers. The 
Society Room is on the flfth floor, with separate entrance. 
It seats about fifty, and its use is granted by the Committee 
on Administration without charge to meetings for scientific 
and educational purposes, and caa be secured for the stated 
meetings of societies. The Stack Rooms are on both floors, 
and have at present seats for about twenty readers engaged 
in special research, an.d shelf room for one hundred thou- 
sand volumes. The remainder of the collection has been 
placed temporarily in a room kindly offered by the New- 
berry Library. The Directors' Room, on the sixth floor, 
contains life-size portraits of Mr. Crerar and of the Due 
d'Aumale by the late G. P. A. Healy. Besides these the 
suite contains several other rooms needed for the administra- 
tion of the Library. 

Collections. — On June i, 1905, the Library had entered 
upon its books of record 134,194 volumes, and there were 
still unrecorded, from recent purchases, some 10,000 vol- 
umes and 20,000 pamphlets. It is a a'ood working col- 
lection in most of the subjects within its scope, and, through 
certain special purchases, much more than this in some. The 
special purchases include about 8,000 volumes on science 
and technology, bought of the Newberry Library in 1896; 








The John Crerar Library 

some 300 volumes on ornithology, bought of the same 
library in 1898; the private library of Professor R. T. Ely, 
consisting of 6,000 volumes and 4,000 pamphlets, mostly 
on American labor and social movements; the private library 
of Mr. C. V. Gerritsen of Amsterdam; and considerable 
purchases at auction of mathematical books from the libraries 
of Boncompagni and Bierens de Haan, and of zoological 
books from that of Milne-Edwards. 

The Gerritsen collection is the largest and most important 
of these special purchases. It consists of some 18, 000 
volumes and 15,000 pamphlets on social and economic sub- 
jects, being especially full on finance, banking, labor, and 
socialism. It includes a distinct collection of nearly 6,000 
volumes and pamphlets on the social, political, and legal 
status of woman. 

Besides 2,000 current periodicals which are kept in the 
Periodical Alcove of the Reading Room, the Library re- 
ceives 4,000 other continuations, such as annual reports and 
parts of books issued serially, which are placed on the reg- 
ular shelves as soon as received. 

In public documents the Library is rather stronger than 
might be expected, considering the short time it has been 
established. It is a "designated depository" of the Con- 
gressional Documents, a special depository of the publi- 
cations of the United States Geological Survey, and a deposi- 
tory of all bills, resolves, and acts of Congress since 1901. 
Many state and some city documents have been acquired. 
Of foreign documents it has all the Parliamentary Papers of 
Great Britain since 1896, and many earlier ones on economic 
subjects; a nearly complete set of the Parliamentary Papers- 
of Canada; a very full set of those of the Netherlands; an 
unusual collection of French documents of the fifteenth to 

Chicago Libraries 

the eighteenth centuries on economic subjects; and many 
serial official publications of Austria, France, and Germany. 
Catalogues. — IVluch time and care are given to the devel- 
opment of the card catalogues, both public and official. 
Nearly 6o per cent of the titles are printed especially for 
the Library, and almost all the remainder are obtained from 
the Library of Congress. The public card catalogue is in 
three divisions: author, classed subject, and alphabetical 
subject index. The author catalogue is the usual one, con- 
taining besides the names of authors those of editors, trans- 
lators, and the subjects of biographies, and also striking 
titles. The classed subject catalogue is the one most con- 
sulted and has been made as full as possible. It is arranged 
according to the Decimal Classification with few alterations 
but many expansions. Under each final subdivision the 
arrangement of the titles is chronological, the latest being 
put first. An unusual and important development has been 
made in that part of the classification treating of history and 
geography. Under each political unit (country, province or 
state, and town) are given the titles of all works dealing 
directly or chiefly with the place. These are subdivided 
systematically in accordance with the first three figures of 
the main classification. The result is not only that works 
on adjacent places are brought together, for example, Illinois 
next to Michigan; and works on part of a country immedi- 
ately follow those on the whole country, for example, works 
on Chicago following those on Illinois; but also under each 
place related subjects are brought together, for example, 
977-3 (570) Natural History of IHinois, 977.3 (581) Flora 
of Illinois, 977.3 (591) Fauna of Illinois. The alphabetical 
subject index is primarily an index to the classed catalogue, 
and no entries are made in it which would duplicate exactly 

The John Crerar Library 13. 

any collection in the latter, when a single reference gives 
all the titles, and no others, on a specific subject. On the 
other hand, entries are made under headings which collect 
material separated in the classed catalogue because of its 
relations to broader subjects and also under those which 
separate material collected in the classed catalogue. It is 
therefore an alphabetical subject catalogue of all material 
more conveniently consulted through such a catalogue. 

This triple catalogue is supplemented by a card catalogue 
of serials, a printed list of current periodicals, printed lists of 
dictionaries and biliographies, several card indexes on special 
subjects, a considerable collection of bibliographies, and an 
author catalogue of all books, so far as recatalogued, in the 
Library of Congress. 

The public catalogue contains the titles of all books in 
the Library, and in addition the titles of articles in some 
300 periodicals. Part of these latter are obtained by co- 
operation with four other American libraries, part from the 
Library of Congress, and part by the independent work 
of The John Crerar Library. So far as the selection has 
been made by the latter preference has been given to those 
containing long articles likely to be reprinted and referred 
to as independent works and to those with which a specialist 
is not so apt to be familiar because of their general character. 

Use. — The Library is open to readers from 9 a.m. to 10 
P.M. every day in the year, excepting Sundays, but including 
all holidays. A Cloak Room is provided where outer gar- 
ments may be checked without charge, but its use is not 
insisted upon, except in wet weather and when the Reading 
Room is crowded. The Library, however, will not hold 
itself responsible for articles taken into the Reading Room 
or left in the Cloak Room over night. 

14 Chicago Libraries 

In the Reading Room is shelved a collection of four thou- 
sand volumes, intended to include, besides general works of 
reference, the best books, both advanced and popular, on 
each important subject within the scope of the Library, and 
a selection of other works either especially interesting or 
much in demand. It is constantly revised and kept up to 
date. This collection may be consulted without formality, 
as also may the periodicals within the Periodical Alcove. 
Books may be drawn from the Stack, and periodicals from 
the Periodical Alcove, for use in the Reading Room, upon 
presentation of call slips properly filled out. A few books, 
on account of their character, may be consulted only upon 
registration and statement of satisfactory reasons, and some 
of great value or rarity only in the presence of an attendant. 

As the Library is for reference use only, no book is 
allowed to leave the Library except for special reasons other 
than the convenience of the reader, and then only if it is one 
not likely to be called for. Such loans are for a short time 
and must be covered by a money deposit or satisfactory guar- 
antee from another library. Persons making special 
researches may be admitted to the Stacks at the discretion 
of the Librarian upon registration with the Reference 
Librarian, and passes admitting without registration may be 
granted to those likely to make a prolonged use of the privi- 
lege if they are personally known to the Directors or the 
Librarian. The unauthorized removal, mutilation, or mark- 
ing in any way of the property of the Library is absolutely 
prohibited. The officials are authorized to exclude any per- 
son of unseemly behavior or appearance, and any one who 
wilfully violates the regulations. 

The use of the Library by the public has fully justified 
the decisions of the Directors as to its scope and character, 

The John Ceeear Library 15 

Beginning with eighty, the average daily attendance has 
increased to 279 in 1904, in spite of the fact that the 
Library is so situated as to escape the notice of one seeking 
it, rather than to attract the attention of the passer-by. 
The recorded use, which does not include books from the 
shelves in the Reading Room, those read in the Stack 
Rooms, or periodicals read in the Periodical Alcove, has in- 
creased even more rapidly, and for 1904 was 75,000 vol- 
umes and periodicals. The total use is about three times 
that number. 

Publications, — The Library issues, usually in May, an 
Annual Report covering the previous calendar year. Copies 
are sent free. The bibliographical publications are in- 
tended primarily for the readers, but it is hoped that as the 
size of the Library increases they may become of use to 
scholars and libraries elsewhere. They are not distributed 
gratuitously, but in exchange or upon receipt of a nominal 
price of about one-quarter the cost of paper and press work, 
and the postage if sent by mail. A price-list will be sent 
upon application. 

Permanent Building In 1901 the Directors took up 

the question of a permanent site, and decided that the 
greatest usefulness of the Library could be secured only by 
a central location. They therefore appealed to the state 
legislature and to the city council for permission to erect a 
building on what is commonly known as the Lake Front. 
This permission was granted by the legislature in "An act 
to authorize The John Crerar Library to erect and maintain 
a free public library on Grant Park," approved March 29, 
1901, and by the city council in an ordinance passed March 
18, 1901. The act provided that the Library should procure 
the consent of such abutting property owners as might have 

i6 Chicago Libraries 

the right to object. Most of these gave their consent 
readily, but a few refused through fear of losing their right 
to object to the erection of other buildings in the park. 

In January, 1904, the Directors, under the provisions of 
"An Act concerning free public libraries in public parks," 
approved May 14, 1903, requested permission of the South 
Park Commissioners to erect and maintain a monumental 
building in the classical style upon that part of Grant Park 
between the Illinois Central Railroad and Michigan Avenue 
and between Madison and Monroe streets, extended. The 
question of granting the request was submitted to the voters 
of the South Park District at the election of April 5, 1904, 
and was favored by a vote of 50,960 to 9,329. An ordi- 
nance passed by the Commissioners February 15, 1905, was 
accepted by the Directors on February 23, 1905. They 
propose to proceed with the construction of the building as 
soon as possible. The site is about 400 by 310 feet, and the 
length of the building will be about 300 feet. The sketch 
plans provide for the storage of 1,000,000 volumes and the 
accommodation of 600 readers, and for future extensions 
doubling this capacity. 

Clement W. Andrews, Librarian. 

>^Sl"""^' Un..e™«y ub«,y