Skip to main content

Full text of "The working of the Boston Public Library : an address"

See other formats



Public li 



, \ 










JANUARY 2, 1909 







The substance of this pamphlet ivas recently delivered before 
the Beacon Society of Boston. I print and circulate it with the 
hope that those who receive it will read it, or pass it to some one 
who may wish to read it. It deals with the working of an Educa- 
tional institution of great value to all the people of the City and 
of the Commomvealth, and as to which they ought to have the most 
full information possible. 


Ames Building, Boston. 














JANUARY 2, 1909 




752 B V 

1 ' The true university of these days is a, 

collection of Books. 1 ' 



r ~T'HE people of Boston have always been fond of 
1 reading. One of the purposes of the original 
Boston Town House, built in 1657 on the present site 
of the old State House, was a free circulating public 
library. Such a library, the first of its kind in Amer- 
ica, was maintained in the building until its destruction 
by fire in 1711, and attempts appear to have been 
made to continue the maintenance of a library in the 
old State House until its substantial destruction by 
fire in 1747. From that time, however, there was no 
free public circulating library in Boston until the 
present Public Library was opened on May 2, 1854, 
in two small rooms, also used for other municipal 
purpose, on Mason street. 

The Library then had Jess than ten thousand vol- 
umes, mostly acquired by gift, and its entire expense 
for the first year was $13,838.07, of which $6,247.30 
was for books. It has grown to its present condition 
mainly by taxes willingly paid by the people, and is 
therefore peculiarly a Library made and maintained by 
the people for the people. 

The Library has developed into a library system 


which is not only a collection of books, maps, manu- 
scripts, and other literary material unequalled, in some 
respects at least, by any of the great Libraries of the 
world, but is also a large, complicated, and delicate 
business machine. Its proper management not only 
requires wide literary knowledge and sound scholar- 
ship, but also excellent executive, business, and admin- 
istrative ability. The conduct of its business involves 
the disbursement for books, supplies, transportation, 
salaries and other expenses, many very small in amount, 
of over $30,000 every thirty days. 

It is in charge of five Trustees appointed by the 
Mayor and confirmed by the Board of Aldermen to 
serve without compensation for terms of five years. 

A special statute law of the Commonwealth con- 
stitutes the Trustees a corporation, with authority to 
take and hold real and personal estate which may be 
given to it and accepted by the Trustees for the benefit 
of the Library or any branch thereof, or for any pur- 
pose connected therewith. This law also requires the 
Trustees to have the general care and control of the 
Central Public Library and of all its branches, and of 
all the expenditures of money appropriated therefor, 
and authorizes them to appoint a librarian and other 
officers and employees and to fix their compensation. 

I desire to speak about the working of the Library 
system, and to do this I must explain what the system 
is. What is it as a physical thing, simply as real and 
personal property? 



As real estate the Library consists of twenty-nine 
pieces of land and buildings or parts of buildings in 
different parts of the City, of an aggregate value of 
about four and a half million dollars. The Central 
Library building has cost up to the present time, ex- 
clusive of the land upon which it stands, $2,743,284.56. 

The City also owns nine other pieces of real estate 
occupied for library purposes, and the other build- 
ings or parts of buildings occupied for library pur- 
poses are leased at an annual rental of $16,933. In 
addition to rental paid for these leased premises, sums 
which in the aggregate are large have been paid for 
the necessary and proper adaptation of the premises to 
library uses. 

The floor area in daily use in these premises amounts 
to 260,000 square feet, or nearly six acres. All these 
different buildings and premises must be kept in repair, 
cleaned, policed, heated, lighted and maintained in 
proper condition for library use. The care of the 
Central Library building alone comprises the protec- 
tion, repair, cleaning, lighting, heating and mainte- 
nance of a building which covers 65,000 square feet of 
land, and has a floor area in daily use of 150,000 
square feet. 

This building is also a beautiful architectural monu- 
ment, and as such has given distinction to the City, and 
attracts visitors from every part of the world. It con- 
tains fine statuary, valuable marbles, expensive wood- 


work, and elaborate and unique decorations, all of 
which must be at all times carefully guarded and pro- 
tected and suitably maintained. It contains among 
other machinery and appliances a heating, lighting, 
ventilating and electric power plant with three 100- 
horse-power boilers and two tandem compound engines 
of 150-horse-power each; also two dynamos with 
capacity for 3,600 sixteen candle-power, 110 volt elec- 
tric lamps; eight pumps; four ventilating fans; eight 
electric motors with capacity of from 2 to 20-horse- 
powereach; two passenger elevators; ten electric book- 
lifts; a vacuum cleaning apparatus with piping so 
arranged that all the books on any floor can be cleaned 
by the use of it. 

The building is also equipped with a pneumatic tube 
and electric carrier system for the transmission of call 
slips for books between the different departments and 
the book stacks, and of books between the stacks and 
the different departments. It has seating capacity for 
about 900 readers and a lecture room which will seat 
500 persons. 

The operation of this building alone requires about 
sixteen hundred tons of coal annually, and current is 
supplied by its dynamos for nearly 4,000 electric lamps. 

Its care and operation require the constant service of 
a force of engineers and firemen, janitors, and watch- 
men, and a carpenter, painter, expert electrician, and a 
marble cleaner. 

The ordinary daily cleaning of the building requires 
a force of twenty scrub-women, whose work must be 

done at hours which will not interfere with the use of 
the building by the public. They work from six until 
nine in the morning and on Saturday evenings from 
five o'clock until eleven, and render an annual service 
in this work of about 20,000 hours. 

Such is the library system considered only as real 


As personal property the Library is primarily a col- 
lection of nearly one million volumes of books, accu- 
rately speaking 963,090, of which 746,514 are in the 
Central Library and 216,576 are in the various Branches 
and Reading-rooms. The principal Branches are con- 
siderable libraries in themselves, the nine largest 
Branches having an average of over 20,000 volumes 

There are also in the Central Library about 35,000 
separate manuscripts and about 150 volumes of manu- 
script books, over 200 atlases, about ten thousand maps, 
and nearly thirty thousand photographs, prints, engrav- 
ings and other pictures. 

Each branch has also its own collection of photo- 
graphs and pictures varying in number from 1,000 to 
2,000, in all about 13,000. 

The catalogues of this collection comprise 3,436,490 
separate cards, and the cases containing them would 
extend about five-sixths of a mile. 

Nineteen different card catalogues, containing 2,977,- 
790 cards are necessary for the working of the material 


of the Central Library, and fifteen separate card cata- 
logues, containing 434,400 cards are employed in 
working the collections in the different Branches and 
Reading Rooms. The shelves required for the books 
in the Central Library and Branches would extend a 
distance of about twenty miles. 

The Library also has a printing office, employing 
seven persons, where an average of over 200,000 cata- 
logue cards, half a million forms, nearly two million 
call slips for the use of books, and the various weekly 
lists of new books, quarterly bulletins, finding lists, 
and other publications, amounting annually to about 
70,000 copies are printed, for distribution among the 
people; and a bindery employing twenty-nine persons, 
where photographs and engravings are mounted, vol- 
umes repaired, periodicals stitched, library publications 
prepared for use, and about 30,000 volumes annually 

There are also about 375 different newspapers and 
nearly 1,700 different periodicals in daily use in the 
Central Library and the Branches. There are many 
valuable paintings, photographs, busts of distinguished 
persons, and statuary, mainly, but not entirely, con- 
tained in the Central building. 

The aggregate commercial value of this personal 
property is probably not less than three million dollars, 
and much of it is unique, so that if destroyed or sold it 
could not possibly be replaced. Much of the most 
valuable of this personal property has been freely given 
to the Library. 

In 1873 the Library had 209,466 volumes, of which 
92,333 had been given to it, and although the gifts 
since that time have not been proportionately as large, 
they have been constant, and in many cases large in 
amount and of great value. 

There are 23 different special collections of books, 
manuscripts, and engravings, varying in number from 
129 to 14,888 titles, substantially all of which have been 
given to the Library with varying conditions as to 
their care and use. It is, perhaps, not invidious to 
mention among them the almost priceless collection of 
Shakespeariana, the famous Prince collection of rare 
early Americana, the unique Chamberlain collection of 
manuscripts, and the Theodore Parker library contain- 
ing rare and valuable books in forty different languages 
and dialects. 

One of the Chamberlain manuscripts is in the hand- 
writing of Governor Bradford and is signed by him 
and by four other persons who came over in the May- 
flower, including John Alden and Miles Standish. 


The aggregate commercial value of the real and per- 
sonal property devoted to free public library purposes 
in the City of Boston is not less than seven and a 
half million dollars, and in addition to this, gifts have 
been made by thirty-three different persons or societies, 
in sums varying from $100 to $100,000 for the benefit 
of the Library and its Branches to the amount of 


$450,000, making an aggregate amount of property of 
not less than $8,000,000 employed in the library work 
of the City. 


Boston, with less than one-half the population of all 
the other 32 cities in the Commonwealth combined, has 
approximately twice as much money invested in public 
library property as all the other cities combined. It 
has 29 3/10 per cent of the population of the 33 cities, 
and the other 32 cities have 70 7/10 per cent, that is, 
there are about seven persons in the other 32 cities 
combined as against about three persons in Boston. 
But Boston has about $60.43 invested in its public 
library property as against about $39.57 invested in 
similar property in all the other 32 cities combined. 

Stated in another form, the comparison is this: Bos- 
ton has 41 5/10 per cent of the entire population in all 
the other 32 cities, while the amount invested in public 
library property in these 32 cities is only 65 5/10 per 
cent of the amount invested in public library property 
in Boston alone. That is, with a population only four- 
tenths as large as the combined population of the other 
32 cities, Boston puts to the use of its public library 
system property nearly 4/10 greater in value than all 
property put to similar uses in the other 32 cities com- 

If we compare the value of the public library prop- 
erty of Boston with the value of such property in all 
the other cities and towns in the Commonwealth, we 


find that with a population of 19 8/10 per cent of the 
entire population of all the other cities and towns, Bos- 
ton has public library property of 71 1/10 per cent of 
the value of all such property in all the other cities and 
towns in the Commonwealth. 


From 35,000 to 40,000 volumes are added to the 
Library collection each year. During- the last year, 
1907-1908, the number was 40,742. Of this 27,457 
were purchased, and 9,347 were given to the Library, 
and the remainder were received by exchange, binding 
of periodicals into volumes, etc.; 13,417 volumes were 
purchased for the Central Library, and 14,040 for the 
Branch Libraries and Reading Rooms. 

The total amount expended for books, including 
$6,916.96 for periodicals and $2,067 for newspapers, 
was $45,614.82, or 13 per cent of the entire expenses 
of the Library for all purposes. 

The average cost of all books purchased was $1.30 
per volume. Of these 24,670 were bought from money 
appropriated by the City at an average cost of $1.03 a 
volume, and 2,430 were bought with the income of 
Trust funds at an average cost of $4.58 a volume. 
The most expensive book purchased was a perfect 
copy of the rare Santarem's Atlas, which was pur- 
chased, from the income of a Trust fund applicable to 
the purchase of such books, for $324, a low commercial 
value for the book. 

The most expensive books increase in value with the 


lapse of time, and most of the less expensive rapidly 
wear out with use or become of less value from the 
issue of other books on the same subjects. It is esti- 
mated that about 150,000 of the books in the Library 
are not worth commercially more than ten cents 

Books are purchased only by vote of the Trustees, 
and at prices fixed by the vote. The titles of the 
books recommended for purchase by the Librarian are 
put upon cards and submitted to a Committee of two 
of the Trustees weekly. A list of the titles and prices 
of books which that Committee recommend for pur- 
chase is then made, and copies of it sent to each of the 
Trustees at least two days before their weekly meeting. 
This list as revised and voted by the Trustees is sent to 
the Ordering Department as authority for the purchase 
of the books. Duplicate bills of the books are required 
to be sent to that department with the books; one bill 
is filed at the City Hall, as required by law, and the 
other entered alphabetically by the Ordering Depart- 
ment in its bill book with the entry date and alphabeti- 
cal designation recorded on the bill and on the reverse 
of the title-page of each book charged in the bill, by 
which the book can always be traced from the bill and 
the bill from the book. The book is then examined, 
page by page and plate by plate, to see if it is perfect, 
the book-plate of the Library pasted in and the original 
card upon which its title was written placed in the 
book, and it is sent to the Catalogue Department. 
This bill is certified by the Ordering Department as 


correct and sent to the Library Auditor, by whom it is 
compared with the list and price voted by the Trustees, 
entered and audited for payment, and finally returned 
to the Ordering Department, where it receives a file 
number and remains on file. 


Such is the property and plant of the Library system. 
But it is of value only as it is worked. The books, 
manuscripts, and other material are useless except 
when they are being read and examined. And the 
Public Library plant, like every other, should be 
worked, if it is worth working at all, to the limit of its 
capacity. It would be as absurd to work the Public 
Library plant to half its capacity for profitable use as to 
work only half the spindles in a mill, or half the loco- 
motives upon a railroad. The problem of working the 
Public Library, therefore, is the problem of bringing 
its books and other material into the most general and 
extensive public use within the limit of the amount of 
money which the taxpayers are willing to pay for that 

The system is worked, as you see from what I have 
said and from the map before you, through the Central 
Library and a large number of Branches and Reading 
Rooms scattered over the entire 43 square miles of 
the territory of the City. How can such a collection 
be efficiently worked? 


In the first place it is obvious that it cannot be 
worked at all without suitable catalogues, and the 
making of suitable catalogues for such a system is a 
most complex, delicate, and difficult task. The cata- 
logues of the Library are the eyes through which 
people who use it can see what there is in it, and find 
what they want. Its. system is the card catalogue 
system, which is the most easily used, and within the 
limits of a library of its size is the best.* 

The making of a card catalogue seems a very simple 
thing until you try to make it. The simplest form of 
cataloguing, however, requires at least two cards for 
each book, one with the name of the book, the date 
of printing, number of pages, edition, size, etc., the 
other with the name of the author and the other 
information which is noted upon the first card. This 
applies to the ordinary book of fiction, but if the book 
of fiction be historical, its scene laid in some partic- 
ular country, a third card is desirable containing the 
name of the country and the other information upon 
the other two cards. 

If the book, however, relates to some department of 
human knowledge, as for instance, botany, there 
must be a card with the name of the book, its subject 
matter, botany date of publication, size, pages, etc., 
and a similar card with the name of the author, and a 

* The British Museum catalogue in printed volumes contains 2,738,745 titles, 
which it is estimated would require about 5,477,490 cards in a card catalogue. 


third card with the title, Botany, at the head, and if 
the book relate to the botany of a particular part of the 
world, for instance, Massachusetts, -- a fourth card 
is required under the title Massachusetts. 

And if a book is upon a general subject which 
embraces several subordinate subjects in the book, 
further cards are desirable with the title of each of the 
several subjects. So you see the cataloguing of a book 
may be simple, or it may be very complex, according to 
the character of the information which a person might 
obtain if they were looking over the catalogue to find 
information as to any particular subject or person. 

If the book is printed in English it may be cata- 
logued by a person trained in cataloguing who knows 
only the English language, but if it is in German, Rus- 
sian, Greek, Latin, Spanish or any other foreign or 
dead language, the person who is to catalogue it must 
be an accurate scholar in the language in which the 
book is printed. The Chief of our Catalogue Depart- 
ment has a working knowledge, I believe, of about 
eleven foreign languages, and one assistant in that 
department, who works at a salary of $22 a week, is 
not only an accomplished general scholar but has a 
working knowledge of eight foreign languages. 

But when all this is done, the cards are of no use 
until there is put upon them numbers indicating where 
in the library the book is to be found. To enable this 
to be done the departments of human knowledge are 
arbitrarily designated by numbers, differing somewhat 
in different systems of cataloguing. For instance, 


Botany might be represented by the number 16, indi- 
cating that under the number 16 in the library stacks 
books on botany are to be found. To this class 
number are added other numbers indicating the shelf 
in that portion of the stacks where the book is to be 
placed, and the position of the book on that shelf. 
These three numbers enable the person knowing their 
significance to go to the place in the Library where the 
book is to be found. 

When these numbers are put upon all the cards rep- 
resenting the book, the cards must be printed in the 
Printing Department, the proof of the cards must be 
read in the Catalogue Department, and the proof again 
read in what is called the Shelf Department, that is, 
the department having charge of the shelves where the 
books are placed. All this must be done with absolute 
accuracy. There is no room for mistakes in the 
Catalogue Department, because if a book is improperly 
catalogued, or improperly numbered, it may as well be 
lost, for nobody can find it to use it. 

But after this is done the book is not ready for use. 
The book-plate of the Library must be pasted in, the 
plates, if there be any in the book, must all be stamped 
with indelible ink to show that they belong to the 
Public Library, the title-page must be stamped, 
" Boston Public Library," with a perforated stamp, and 
then a slip must be pasted into the book upon which 
when it is issued for use the date and the fact of issue 
can be noted. 

All these things must be done in a more or less 


simple or complex form before any book can be placed 
in the library in a condition and position to be used. 
Each of the three million catalogue cards in the 
Library system has required these various processes of 
work. In addition to all these, there are notes as to 
different editions, as to the real name of the author, 
where the book is written under a fictitious name, cross- 
references to other books relating to the same subject, 
and an amount of information more or less extensive, 
according to the importance of the book and of the 
subject to which it relates, which it is desirable and 
often necessary to place upon the cards to enable them 
to be conveniently and efficiently used. 

Of course, catalogues of engravings, pictures, photo- 
graphs, newspapers, and other material, do not require 
the same elaborate treatment as cards for books, but 
they do require equal accuracy, and in many cases 
details quite as extensive as those required upon the 
cards for books. 

In 1896, the Examining Committee, of which the late 
John E. Hudson was Chairman, spoke in their report 
of this part of the Library work as follows: 

"Few people probably realize the vast amount of work 
which is accomplished by the Cataloguing Department, 
and it is possible that still fewer fully realize how 
comparatively useless a large Library would speedily 
become if this department were not maintained with the 
highest degree of promptness and efficiency. This 
demands the highest ability, the ripest experience, and 
most discriminating judgment, a quick sense of the 

scientific relations and the relative values of every 
department of human knowledge, and the most alert 
and efficient executive administration." 


To keep track of the contents of the Library after 
they are thus catalogued, it is necessary to keep a list 
called a shelf list, showing the number of books that 
belong on each shelf, and by this list the shelves are 
read each year, so that if a book is not on the shelf 
and is not properly charged out, as being in use, its 
absence is detected. This process requires the service 
of six competent persons working each forenoon of 
each working day throughout the year in the Central 
Library alone. The same process of reading is applied 
also to the shelves in the Branch Libraries. 

About 200,000 volumes in the Central building are 
on shelves where they can be taken down and con- 
sulted, without the service of an attendant, as in Bates 
Hall, or with the service of an attendant, as in the 
special collections and in the Fine Arts, Patent and 
Music Departments. 

There are certain portions of the Library collection, 
however, which for proper convenience of use must be 
separated into specific departments. An illustration 
of this is found in the Patent Department. There the 
books and specifications, of which the Library has an 
exceptionally large and complete collection, can only 
be conveniently consulted where they can be examined 

together, and one specification or drawing compared 
with another. And this requires a specially fitted up 
room, shelving, tables, etc., and the services of an 
attendant. This is also true of the Special Libraries, 
and of those collections of books which are not issued 
for use outside the Library, and are so valuable that 
examination of them can only be permitted in the pres- 
ence of an attendant. This includes the Shakespeare 
collection and many other exceedingly rare and valuable 


The regular Library staff, so-called, that is, the 
persons employed in working the books, maps, manu- 
scripts, and other material in the Library, consists of 
two hundred and nineteen persons, of whom forty-six 
are employed in the Ordering, Cataloguing, and Shelf 
Departments, thirty-one in the Issue Department of the 
Central Library, nine in Bates Hall, twelve in the 
department of Special Libraries, Fine Arts, Music, etc., 
twelve in the Branch Department at the Central build- 
ing, and seventy-seven in the Branches and Reading 
Rooms. The remaining twenty-one are employed in 
the Children's, the Registration, Statistical, and Ex- 
ecutive Departments, and in the Patent, Newspaper, 
and Periodical Rooms. 

Three grades of educational qualifications are 
required of these persons and determined by competi- 
tive examinations. The lowest grade, which includes 
a comparatively small number of pages, sub-assistants, 


etc., requires a training equivalent to a grammar school 
course. The middle grade requires qualifications 
equivalent to a high school training and familiarity 
with one foreign language. The third grade, including 
seventy-seven of these persons, requires qualifications 
equivalent to those obtained by a college course, and 
familiarity with two foreign languages. 

The proper cataloguing and classifying of books and 
the reference work necessary to aid those using the 
Library, also requires in many positions much higher 
qualifications than those which could be obtained by 
the ordinary college course. 

For the Sunday and evening service forty-four 
places must now be filled in the Central Library, and 
thirty-eight places in the Branches, requiring the em- 
ployment of one hundred seventy-one persons. Much 
of this service is performed by persons employed from 
outside the regular library force, and paid by the hour 
for actual service according to a schedule of the 
positions and rate per hour to be paid authorized by 
the Trustees. 


The Central Library and the Branches open and 
their work begins at 9 o'clock in the morning. The 
Reading Rooms open in the afternoon at varying 
hours. The service continues until 10 o'clock at night 
at the Central Library building and at the West End 
Branch, and until 9 at the other Branches and Reading 
Rooms, except during the summer months. During 


June, July, August and September the Central 
Library and West End Branch are closed at 9 o'clock. 
The other Branches and Reading Rooms during a 
shorter period close earlier than in winter, but at vary- 
ing hours. The Central Library is in operation one 
hundred nineteen days of twelve hours each, and two 
hundred forty days of thirteen hours each, making an 
aggregate of 359 days, and 4,548 hours during each 
twelve months. 


The persons employed in working the Library 
are organized under the following heads: Executive 
Department, including the Librarian, Assistant Libra- 
rian, Auditor, Clerk, Custodian of the Stock-room, etc.; 
Catalogue Department including the Chief Cataloguer 
and assistants; Ordering Department; Shelf Depart- 
ment; Bates Hall, including the Custodian and assist- 
ants; the Special Libraries, including also all persons 
employed in the Departments of Music and Fine Arts; 
Statistical Department, including documents and manu- 
scripts; Periodical and Newspaper Rooms; Patent 
Department; Issue Department; Children's Room; and 
the Registration Department, which registers card 
holders entitled to take out books for home use. All 
these are in the Central Library. 

In each department a Time-book is kept, in which all 
employees are required to enter the exact time that they 
arrive on duty each day, and their absence from duty 
during regular hours is also noted thereon. 


In addition to these there is in the Central Library 
building the Branch Department, in charge of the 
Supervisor of Branches and Reading Rooms, who has 
supervision of the entire machinery of working the 
Branches and Reading Rooms individually and in con- 

O / 

nection with the Central Library. 

Each of the twelve Branches has a Custodian in 
charge of the work of that Branch, with necessary 
assistants, and in most cases a janitor to care for the 
premises. And each of the seventeen Reading Rooms 
has a Custodian in charge of its work. 


Through this organization the general work of the 
Library is carried on, and there are annually issued for 
direct home use nearly 300,000 volumes at the Central 
Library, and from the Central Library through the 
Branches about 85,000 more, while the Branches and 
Reading Rooms also issue more than a million volumes 
for home use, making the entire issue for home use 
nearly 1,500,000 annually. 

The use of the Library for general reference and 
study is so unrestricted that no accurate statistics of it 
can be given. Its extent, however, is shown by the 
fact that during one year about half a million call slips 
for the table use of books in Bates Hall alone were 
necessary. The daily use of books and other library 
material in the Central Library and in the Branches is 
doubtless many times greater than the home use of 


books drawn out upon cards and requires constant and 
accurate service by a large force of employees. 

The mere obtaining 1 and delivering of a book to a 
reader in the Bates Hall Reading Room of the Central 
Library requires the intelligent and accurate service of 
six different persons, if the book is in its proper place 
in the stacks. The return of the book to its place 
requires the service of four persons. 

The obtaining and delivering to a card holder of a 
book for home use requires the services of four persons, 
and the return of the book to its place requires also the 
services of four persons, none of whom must make any 
mistakes, and all of these services require the accurate 
and efficient working of the book carrier system. 

Most of these persons who perform this service 
receive only $7.00 a week, and the highest paid to any 
of them is f 14.00 a week. 


The great problem in working the Library is to 
handle and work its collections in the Central Library 
and the Branches and Reading Rooms as a whole. If 
each Branch was worked as an independent Library, its 
work, though important, would be of very much less 
public benefit than it is when worked with the Central 
Library. This is done to a large and increasing extent. 
If a person using any one of the Branches desires a 
book which is not in the Branch collection but is in the 
Central collection, application is made by the Branch 


Library to the Central and the book is sent to the 
Branch. The same is true of applications at Reading 

This requires transportation, and the Library hires 
two automobile wagons at a cost of over $5,000 a 
year, and also uses local expresses somewhat in addi- 
tion, to transport books between the Branches and 
Reading Rooms and the Central Library, and to engine 
houses, public institutions and public and parochial 
schools. In the month of March last, nearly 11,000 
books were sent to the Branches from the Central 
Library upon such individual applications, and over 
3,000 volumes were sent on deposit to the various Read- 
ing Rooms. During the same month over 18,000 books 
were carried by these wagons from the Branches and 
Reading Rooms to the Central Library. The State 
law which is construed as limiting the hours the drivers 
of these wagons can work to eight hours a day and 
not to exceed forty-eight hours a week, limits this 
method of transportation and makes the service some- 
what more expensive than formerly. 


During the past year the Library has been daily sup- 
plying with books 28 Branches and Reading Rooms, 46 
engine houses, 31 institutions, and 108 public and 
parochial schools, and sending out an average of about 
400 volumes every day by its delivery wagons. In 
addition to this the Branches themselves and two of 


the largest Reading Rooms are sending out books on 
deposit distributed among 124 places and amounting to 
over 16,000 volumes annually, of which over 12,000 are 
sent to schools. That is to say, not only is the col- 
lection of the Central Library used as a reservoir from 
which books may be drawn for use in the Branches 
and Reading Rooms, but each of the Branches and 
Reading Rooms is in itself a reservoir from which 
books are drawn for use by teachers in schools in its 
immediate vicinity. 

This applies not only to books, but to photographs 
and pictures of different kinds mainly for use in schools 
in connection with the work of the teachers. These 
are sent out from the Central Library to the Branches, 
and also from the Branches to the teachers in their 
vicinity in portfolios each containing about 25 pictures, 
which when used by the teachers are returned. These 
collections consist of illustrations of Fine Arts, Physi- 
cal and Commercial Geography, colored views of all 
countries, types of peoples, industries, transportation, 
etc. In November last one Branch issued 200 pictures 
in this way, another 350, and another 822. About 
10,000 pictures from the Branch collections are annu- 
ally lent to reading-rooms, schools and study clubs, 
and the Fine Arts Department of the Central Library 
also sends out nearly 700 portfolios of pictures to 85 
schools. From the Branches and Reading Rooms 
about 3(30 teachers are supplied with books for use in 
their work, and the school circulation from the 

C 24 ] , 

Branches and Reading Rooms is over 80,000 volumes 
a year. 

In addition to this cooperation in the work of the 
schools, there is also the work which is done by the 
Library employees in providing selected lists of books 
asked for by teachers to aid them in their work. 
In October last, 30 requests by teachers for books were 
received at the Central Library, accompanied by lists of 
books desired, varying in number from four volumes to 
239 volumes, and 29 similar requests were received 
where the teacher gave only the subject upon which 
books were desired. Some of these requests may 
interest you: u Moths, butterflies and insects. King 
Arthur and his Knights. Fifty books pertaining to 
geography and American history. A set of books on 
Mohammed, the Koran, Ottoman Empire and Sultans. 
Works of American poets as many as possible; 
Works of English poets a few. A set of books on 
Africa or United States history. Books on Indians, 
transportation, days of the ' Forty-niners,' Great Lakes, 
Mississippi River, homes of people of different nation- 
alities, Hudson Liiiy Co. A set of books on the 
colonization and development of the country. Two 
hundred books, if possible, on Greek history, Greek 
literature, Greek plays, travel and social life in Greece, 
Greek art, and English and American fiction, myths 
of all lands, American literature, nature books. 
American history from the close of the Revolution to 
the end of the Civil War." 

The following books were recently sent to a teacher 


of a grammar school upon an application which stated 
only the subjects upon which books were required : 

Betty Alden. 

Standish of Standish. 

Little women. 

Little men. 

Historic boys. 

Godson of Lafayette. 

In Leisler's time. 

Century book of American colonies. 

Historic Americans. 

Discovery of the old Northwest. 

Stories of the Old Bay State. 

Benjamin Franklin. 

Christopher Columbus. 

Heroes of the Middle West. 

Modern Europe. 

Cable story book. 

Story of the Iliad. 

Hans Bi-inker. 

Wonder book of old romance. 

Making of New England. 

Our first century. 

Peeps at many lands. 

Story of the thirteen colonies. 

American leaders and heroes. 

In Eastern wonderlands. 

Arabian nights. 

Wanderings of 2Eneas. 

Colonial children. 

The heroes. 

Northern Europe. 

True story book. 

Animal story book. 

Book of ballad stories. 

Heroines every child should know. 

Old Greek folk stories. 


King Arthur. 

George Washington. 

American Indians. 

Strange peoples. 

Lobo, Rag, and Vixen. 

Hans the Eskimo. 

Every day life in the colonies. 

The colonies. 

Life in Asia. 

Toward the rising sun. 

Biography of a grizzly. 

Under sunny skies. 

Story of Japan. 

Children's stories in American literature. 


There is also the constant service of the Library to 
children and others who come to find books upon 
subjects which they wish to study or write about. On 
a single day in December 158 children by actual count 
came into the rooms of a single Branch Library between 
three and five o'clock in the afternoon, and this was 
not regarded as an unusual number. 

The following are some of the inquiries recently 
made for information at one Branch during three days: 

" Please tell me the author " of Ken il worth ? 

" " " " Tom Brown at Rugby ? 
" " " " " " Birds' Christmas Carol ? 
" " " ' Tom Sawyer? 

In connection with literature: 

Something on the life of Socrates. 
" " " " " Coleridge. 

about William Tel). 
" " Robin Hood. 

' on Burns's love of nature. 


In connection with geography : 
Something on Asia. 

" " Africa, rivers, etc. 

" about the boys of different countries. 

In connection with science : 

" Can you give me a book explaining the causes of moisture in the 

atmosphere ? " 
The origin of the tides? 
The dragon fly ? 

In connection with the study of history : 
Something on Draco. 

" " the Persian Wars. 

" " " Holy Crusades." 
"Sir Walter Raleigh. 
" " George Washington. 

" General Custer. 

" " any American leaders or heroes. 

" " Pequot War. 

" " the English settlers in America. 

" " Salem witchcraft. 

" about the Lewis and Clark expedition. 

" " Barbara Frietchie. 

" A book about the Civil War, for a man." 

General requests : 

Christmas stories, poems, the story of the first Christmas. (Many 


Life of Christ. 
New Year's poems. 
Lives of the Saints. (Many.) 
St. Nicholas. 

Life and work of Jean Frangois Millet. 
" Who was the best author of the life of Napoleon ? What a pity 

Carlyle did not write his life." 
" Please find " : My hunt after " the Captain." 

Breathes there the man, etc. 

The discontented pendulum. 
' Have you the Speeches of Henry Grattan ? " 
" Can you give me a Polish book ? " 


" Have you something on Phonics ?" 
" Have you something on Whitney's cotton-gin ? " 
" Have you the Directory for 1907 ? " 
" Do you have the daily papers ? " 

A young lady having an old violin asked for some book giving the 
name and history of the old makers, violin being dated 1524. 

At the Reading Room, 13 Broadway Extension, 
among other inquiries for information during two days 
recently were the following : 

John Law. His method of finance. 

Nationality of Cooper's mother. 

Enough about the Star Spangled banner for a composition. 

How does the number of words in Greek compare with the number 

in English? 

What does Good-bye really mean ? 
All about the Lion of St. Marks. 
Story of Daniel Boone, for 4th Grade. 
Book on initial letters. 
Story of Thor. 
What books beside stories for a mother to read ? Anything on the 

training of children. 
Book on the Desolation Islands. 

Some of the subjects asked for by readers at Bates 
Hall during a few weeks of last year were : 

Treatment of the Indians by the United States government. 

Theocratic government of New England. 

Emulsions in three color photography. 

A dream book to tell the meaning of dreams. 

Picture of a pallium. 

The habitat of the razor fish. 

Illustrations of flying machines. 

Effects of the District Option law. 

Rate of insurance on a building containing a paint shop. 


Chi'istrnas in Spain. 

Identification of a religious order from the dress on a doll. 

The canon of Ptolemy. 

" Some nice book. 1 ' 

Shakespeare's Taming of the " Crew." 

" Casero's Essays on senility and friendship " for 

Cicero's Essays on old age and friendship. 
Mark Antony's Meditations, i.e., Marcus Aurelius Antoninus's 


Picture of an apricot for a grocer's label. 
The Grub Street Journal. 
Coloring of metals. 
Silvering of mirrors. 
An automobile road book for England. 

A medical book for a young man studying to be an undertaker. 
The mail-order business. 

An occupation adapted to a nervously prostrated man. 
King Leopold and the Congo. 
San ctifi cation. 

Tara and its harp. 
Etiquette of mourning. 
Effect of colors on human conduct. 
The saloon. 
Wall street terms. 
History of pantomime. 
Education of the nervous system. 

On one day in the last month readers in Bates Hall 
asked information on the following subjects: 

Polish books. 

Who predicted the greatness of New York City ? 

History of the United States. 

Martin's History of Franklin County, O. 

Express 4 962 000 in Roman characters. 


Shakespeare's songs. 

Vocational schools in Boston. 

Commercial law. 

Walt Whitman's works. 

Dead Sea. 

Lassalle, the socialist. 

Notable Americans. 

Use of egg albumen. 

Home gymnastics. 

Lowell Institute lectures. 

United States fisheries. 

Poem of Singing Leaves. 

Glaucoma of the eye. 

Shakespeare's Henry VIII. 

Emma Marshall's novels. 

French and German indexes of magazines. 

Russian books. 

German socialism. 

Electric meters. 

Heads of families in First Census of United States. 

Morse's telegraphic code. 

Bunyan bibliography. 

Lieutenant Totten's works. 

Livery companies of London. 

Scarf's history of Texas. 

Wool waste. 

Water gas. 

Class mottoes. 

Stories for Junior Christian Endeavor work. 

Poetry of the American Revolution. 

A portrait of Sir Francis Bernai-d. 

Milton books. 

List of public schools in Boston. 

City of Seattle, Washington. 

Philippine Islands. 

Life of Nero and newest fiction. 

Foreign menus for Christmas dinners. 

Boys' clubs. 

Climate of Para, Brazil. 


Statistics of deaths in Boston, London, Dresden, and Munich. 
Boston city government. 
Bigelow genealogy. 
Pictures of wood nymphs. 
Biographies of prominent men of to-day. 
Who was Gassendi ? 
Open shelf system in libraries. 
Electrical apparatus. 
Bible stories. 
Bible characters. 
" New Thought " books. 
Forestry bill in last session of Congress. 

Greek architecture. 
Psychic treatment of nervous diseases. 

American Book prices current. 
East India Company. 
English heraldry. 
Greek drama. 

Municipal elections in Boston. 
United States consular service. 
Signs of the Zodiac. 
English composition. 
Text-book on Zoology. 
Hypnotic therapeutics. 
United States War Department reports. 

Many books were asked for by name, and numerous routine 
questions were also asked and answered. 


The newspaper room at the Central Library, the 
papers for which are mainly purchased from the 


income of a bequest of the late William C. Todd for 
that purpose, has 355 different papers filed for current 
reading of which 267 are in the English language, 1(5 
French, 16 German, 7 Italian, 7 Spanish, 7 Swedish, 
and the rest in 14 other languages, including one in 
Old Hebrew, published in Jerusalem, and one in 
Tagalese and English, published in the Philippines, 
also Greek, Russian, Armenian, Polish, Welsh, Hun- 
garian, etc. 

One paper at least, from every civilized nation, when 
obtainable, and at least two papers from every State in 
the Union, are taken. Among them are papers from 
Buenos Ayres, Rio de Janeiro, Valparaiso, Melbourne, 
Sydney, Auckland, Cape Town, Alexandria, Yoko- 
hama, Shanghai, Bombay, Calcutta, Hawaii, the Philip- 
pines, Cuba, and Porto Rico. Fourteen papers are 
taken from Canada and sixty from Massachusetts. The 
papers from Boston comprise one in Lettish, three in 
German, one in Italian, one in Swedish, and all the 
English dailies and weeklies. 

The mere opening, filing, and caring for the use of 
these papers and selecting from them those which are 
to be bound into files, is no inconsiderable task. The 
Boston papers and also the leading papers from other 
places are bound and preserved in newspaper files 
which now include 6,514 bound volumes which are 
much used. During the last year about 32,000 news- 
paper volumes were consulted by readers. 

One thousand four hundred seventy-seven different 
periodicals are regularly filed and used in the periodical 


room at the Central Library, 110 in the Statistical, 
Music, and Fine Arts Departments and in the Children's 
Room, making with the 89 taken at the Branches, 1,676 
in all. These include all the leading periodicals of the 
world in every department of literature and science 
and in almost every language, all of which find ready 
readers in the periodical room. 

Frenchmen, Germans, Russians, Italians, Spaniards, 
Poles, Greeks and Scandinavians are among the con- 
stant readers who regularly come to the periodical 
room as the current numbers of those periodicals are 
received, and the workmen of various trades come 
regularly to read their trade journals which are not 
always accessible to them elsewhere. 

The periodical room is generally filled with readers, 
and the bound files of periodicals are also extensively 
used, the largest use being by students from colleges 
and other schools in the vicinity. Four hundred and 
seventy-seven different volumes were recently con- 
sulted in one day by students from a single college, 
and requests for information from bound volumes of 
periodicals made to the attendant in charge of the room 
cover a very wide range of subjects. The following 
recently made illustrate it: 

Ancient Babylon, its social and political condition; 
Modern Turkey and the social revolution there; Arti- 
cles relating to members of the Cabinet; Poems and 
pictures on special subjects; Secret Societies in China; 
Designs for and descriptions of Floral pageants; 
Psycho-therapy; What Jews have done to promote 

[ 34 ] 

civilization in England; The Course of noted Irishmen 
in the world; Technical information on various sub- 
jects; Recipes for condiments; Material for use in 
school and in college debates. 

Periodicals are also taken and on file in the different 
Branches, the largest number being 66 at the West 
End Reading-room, and the smallest 12 at Orient 


There is another work performed by the Public 
Library, which, although not extensive, is still impor- 
tant, and that is its participation in what is called the 
inter-library loans. It frequently happens that a per- 
son in another city or town desires a book which his 
local library does not have, but which the Boston 
Library has. In that case, if the local library makes 
application to the Boston Library the book will be lent 
to it upon its responsibility for its care and return, and 
thus the person who desires it in his own town or city 
can have the use of it. 

In this way there were lent to libraries during the 
year 1907 about 700 volumes, all of which were safely 
returned; and there were also lent to libraries outside 
Massachusetts about 180. On the other hand, a per- 
son by this arrangement can obtain from other libraries 
books which the Boston Library does not have in the 
same way, but, of course, the balance is very largely in 
favor of the outside library, only a small number of 


books being borrowed of them by the Boston Library 
for use by our citizens. 


The most interesting and, I think, one of the most 
useful departments in the Library, is required primarily 
because children are unable to use a catalogue under- 
standingly. Books for children must either be selected 
for them by some older person, or the children must 
see the books so that they can select for themselves. 

The beginning of this department was in a very small 
way, when the Central library was opened in the new 
building in Copley square, in 1895. Children did not 
much frequent the old Library building on Boylston 
street where there was no room for them and nothing 
to attract them. But when the new building was 
opened children came in large numbers and there was 
space for them to run about. They soon began to say: 
" Please give me a book," " Please, can I see a book?'' 
and interfere more or less with the working of the li- 
brary for others. As an experiment a large round table 
was put in a vacant room off Bates Hall and filled with 
books suitable for children. It was soon surrounded 
by a fringe of small heads of all colors intently examin- 
ing the books. Then another table with books was 
added, and still another, until the room was filled with 
them. This, of course, required an attendant for that 
room, and a competent woman was placed in charge 
of it to aid the children and to issue books to them 


if they had cards upon which they could take them 

Six months after, the Trustees spent about $3,000 in 
purchasing books for children, and placed them upon 
open shelves in this room. Since that time I think the 
room has been the most interesting part of the Library. 
Children of all nationalities use it, with perfect good 
order, and with a degree of attention to the books 
which many older persons might well emulate. 

Of course, the success of this experiment at the 
Central Library was followed by a demand for similar 
work at the Branches, and one Branch after another 
was fitted up with what is called a " Children's Room," 
a separate room where space will admit, and where 
space does not admit a part of the larger room set 
apart for the use of the children, until each Branch 
and Reading Room now has special accommodation for 
children, and special books and pictures for their use. 
At the Central Library the care of the Children's 
Room, issuing the books, answering questions for infor- 
mation, etc., requires the constant service of a most 
competent person. At the Branches and Reading 
Rooms this work for children is done by the Custodian 
and assistants. 

The following requests for help were made of the 
Custodian of the Children's Room at the Central 
Library in three days of December, and the proper 
books to meet their needs were recommended to the 
applicants. It is not always possible to furnish the 


best book on any required subject, as it may be out of 
the Library, and the books advised were from those 
available at the time : 

Story of the Wooden Horse. 


A Poeni about a boy pardoned by Lincoln. 

Five requests for material on both sides of a debate on Chinese 


Rules of order for presiding at a debate. 
Music as sound for a composition. 
Battle of Lexington. 

Information about the buildings and streets of Paris. 
Name of the present Secretary of State. 
Material on Zinc. 
Sir William Wallace. 

A request for " Geology " in which to look up ancestors. 
Story of Roland. 
Story of Bayard. 
Story of the golden touch. 

A story to read aloud to a group of children. 
Story of Massachusetts. 
Life of Lincoln. 

Number of deaths from tuberculosis each month for two years. 
Christmas plays. 
A piece to speak in school. 

A good book to give an elevator boy. 
A present to a little girl of six. 
Description of Christmas. 
Description of Murillo's paintings. 
The Poem, Night after Christmas. 
Many other requests for poems and stories about Christmas. 



When the Central Library was opened in its new 
building in 1895 the rare books, engravings and other 
treasures of the Library which had been before inacces- 
sible to the public, were placed upon exhibition in the 
Fine Arts Room from time to time. This was found 
to be of so much public interest that exhibitions of this 
character are now systematized and programmes of 
them published at the beginning of the winter season 
in connection with the programmes of lectures. 

The exhibitions of pictures are mainly arranged to 
illustrate the Library lectures, but outside lectures, such 
as those of the Lowell Institute, are also illustrated here 
when practicable, and events either of artistic, historical, 
or national importance are noticed. Many of the 
exhibits have been lent by friends of the Library, as 
Issues of the Kelmscott Press, Portraits of George 
Washington, Bookplates by Boston artists, Prayer 
Books, a collection of Valentines, Fine Book Bindings, 

Among the historical exhibits may be mentioned 
those in celebration of the anniversaries of Sebastian 
Cabot, Americus Vespucins, Hans Holbein, W. L. 
Garrison, H. W. Longfellow, John Milton, Transfer of 
the Bradford Manuscript, and among important events 
illustrated, the death of Pope Leo XIII., coronation of 
Edward VII., the War with Spain, visits to Boston by 
Admiral Dewey, by Prince Henry of Prussia, and by 
General Kuroki of Japan, also the Old Home Week 


of last year, the Grand Army Convention, and the 
Convention of American Medical Association. 

Exhibitions of pictures are also regularly held in the 
Branches and Heading 1 Rooms, the programme of them 
being published in the quarterly bulletin. The pictures 
are mainly furnished from the Central Library and 
hung upon rods in the Branches and Reading Rooms. 
They are designed to illustrate matters which are of 
immediate general interest to the public, like the cruise 
of the United States Fleet, which was illustrated each 
month by a different set of pictures of scenes in the 
different countries visited by the fleet; or subjects 
which are being studied at the time by persons using 
the Library. The following list of recent exhibitions 
at one Branch and one Reading Room may be taken 
as illustrative: 

Branch Exhibition. 
Mansions of England in the Olden 


Northern Mythology. 


The Atlantic Coast of the U.S. 
South America. 

Islands of the Pacific. 
New Zealand. 

Beading Room Exhibition. 

Historic Ornament. 

B.C. 150-A.D. 1154. 

1154-1485. The Plantagenets ; 
Lancaster and York. 

1485-1603. The Tudors. 

1603-1714. The Stuarts. 

1714-1900. The House of Han- 

Alaska and the Eskimaux. 

Northern Mythology. 


From twenty to twenty-five lectures are regularly 
given in the Lecture Hall of the Library every year, 


admission to which is free to all, and for which no 
compensation is paid to the persons who lecture. 
These lectures are mostly on subjects connected with 
the fine arts, and with special regard to the aesthetic 
development of cities. Courses have also been given 
on Civic Art, the Resources of the Library, Museum of 
Fine Arts, the three Museums of Harvard College by 
the Curators of each, the Harvard College Library by 
its Librarian, Library of Congress, etc. Some of the 
lecturers have been Charles W. Eliot, Thomas "W. 
Higginson, Edward Everett Hale, A. Lawrence 
Lowell, Dr. William Everett, and many of the leading 
Boston Architects. 

The course of lectures being delivered this season 
includes among others, "A Trip to Brazil," "Art in 
Photography, with special reference to Natural Color," 
" Modern City Planning," " Civic Centres and the 
Grouping of Public Buildings," " The Hill Towns of 
Italy," " The Building Up of Boston," " Constanti- 
nople,'' " A Tour through Greece," " Along the 
Dalmatian Coast," "On the Study of Art," and "John 


Strictly speaking the Library has no revenue as 
such. It has only receipts as follows, viz., in 1907-8: 

From sale of Catalogues, etc $102.96 

From pay telephone commission 93.79 

Sale of waste paper 75.19 

Money found 16.61 

Fines for detention of books 5,584.02 


Books are issued for home use either for seven or 
fourteen days. In order to secure their return within 
that time a fine of two cents a day is imposed after the 
expiration of the time, to be paid by the card holder 
before any more books are issued upon the card. The 
approximate number of persons paying such fines 
during the year 1907 was 63,060, who paid an average 
per person of 8.8 cents, amounting in the aggregate 
to $5,584.02. This was all paid into the City Treasury, 
as required by law, although the work of collecting 
and accounting for it in such small amounts was not 


JSTo supplies are purchased or repairs made without 
vote of the Trustees. At each weekly meeting the 
Librarian submits a list of these which, upon examina- 
tion and revision, is voted by the Trustees, and then 
transmitted to the Library Auditor as authority for 
the purchase and repairs. All orders for such supplies 
or repairs are in writing, signed by the Librarian, and 
numbered to correspond with the stub record, upon 
which is minuted the date of the list authorized by the 
Trustees on which the item appears, and the number 
of the item on that list. Bills rendered are checked 
up from the stub record, and the receipt of the goods 
or the completion of the repairs is certified by the head 
of the department to which the goods are delivered, 


or in which the work is done, or if the receipt is for 
supplies to be kept in stock their receipt is certified by 
the custodian of the stock room. The bill then goes to 
the Library Auditor, who certifies it as correctly fig- 
ured. It is then endorsed by the Librarian, presented 
to the Trustees, and its payment voted by them. A 
requisition is then drawn by the Library Auditor upon 
the City Auditor for the payment, which is signed by 
the President of the Trustees, and attested by the 
Clerk of the Corporation. 

Supplies are disbursed from the stock room only 
upon requisition by the head of each department for 
which any supply is needed, which must be approved 
by the Librarian, and is then honored by the custodian 
of the stock room, who keeps a record showing all 
purchases, from whom purchased, amount paid, dis- 
tribution by day, month and year to the several depart- 
ments of the Library, and at the end of each year 
makes a summary account showing under each depart- 
ment the amount and cost of the supplies furnished to 
it, itemized under the several articles. 

The originals of all contracts made are filed with the 
City Auditor, and a duplicate copy with the Library 
Auditor, and under the State law requiring it a copy 
of each contract is also deposited in the office of the 
City Clerk. 


The employees in the Binding and Printing Depart- 
ment are paid union wages and work union hours. 


All other employees who are classed either as " laborers, 
workmen or mechanics " are employed at wages prevail- 
ing in those employments and at hours fixed by the 
State law applicable to cities which have accepted its 
provisions, as Boston has, at " not more than eight 
hours in any one calendar day, or more than forty-eight 
hours in any one week." 

The other employees of the Library, constituting 
the regular Library staff, to which I have before 
referred, are two hundred nineteen in number. These 
employees are paid salaries fixed by votes of the Trus- 
tees, and of these employees 79 are males and 149 are 
females. The average compensation of all these per- 
sons, including the Librarian, Assistant Librarian and 
Heads of Departments, is $670.45 a year, the average 
of all the males being $853.90 and of the females 
$584.28 a year. 

Excluding the Librarian, Assistant Librarian and ten 
other persons employed as Heads of Departments, the 
average salary paid to the remaining 207 persons is 
$585.34 a year. Of these 207 persons, 78 are males 
who receive the average salary of $610.12 a year, and 
129 are females who receive the average salary of 
$575.22 a year. 

The Custodians of Branches, which are really libra- 
ries in themselves, are all women, and the highest 
salary paid to any one of them is $910 a year. 

A vacation without loss of pay is allowed to each 
employee in the regular force of two days in each 
month, or twenty-four days for each full year's service. 


One-half of this vacation is allowed to all other 
employees. Beyond this no person is paid while not 
actually on duty, except by special vote of the Trustees 
in an occasional case of extreme hardship from sickness. 
No person is added to the regular pay-roll, nor is 
the salary of any employee on the pay-roll increased, 
without a specific vote of the Trustees in the form of 
an order in each case, an attested copy of which is 
filed with the City Auditor. 


The following regular reports and official statements 
are made relating to the administration of the Library : 

1. A monthly report is made to the Mayor showing 
the receipts and expenditures for the current month. 

2. A complete statement must be made to the 
Mayor, for printing in a report issued May 1st in each 
year, showing the name, residence, rate of salary or 
wage and the kind of work done by each employee. 

3. An annual report is made by the Trustees to the 
Mayor, and with this are incorporated the reports of 
the Librarian and Library Auditor showing in detail 
the condition and operations of the Library for the 
year, and also the report of the Examining Committee. 
This annual report is printed and publicly circulated, 
sent to the press and to other libraries. 

4. The weekly pay rolls are made in duplicate, 
showing the name of each person employed, the char- 
acter of the service performed, the rate of salary or 


wage, and the amount payable to every such person for 
the week. These are prepared and signed by the 
Library Auditor, and after the approval attested by 
signature of the Librarian, must be signed and sworn 
to by the President of the Trustees. Each set of rolls 
requires 19 large sheets. They are sent to the State 
Civil Service Commission, and their certification of 
approval affixed, after which one set is sent to the City 
Auditor as the warrant for the weekly payment of the 
employees, and the duplicate set is filed in the office of 
the State Commission. 

5. Besides these regular reports and statements 
others are made from time to time as requested by the 
Mayor or other officials entitled to receive them. 

6. The bulletins, weekly lists of books added to the 
Library, special finding-lists issued from time to time, 
and other library publications also give information 
as to the work of the Library. 

An Examining Committee is also annually appointed 
of citizens residing in different parts of the City to 
examine the Library and report upon its condition and 
operation as required by the City ordinance. Their 
report is required to be printed with the annual report 
of the Trustees to the City government, and is of 
much value in the working of the Library. Our most 
eminent citizens have been willing to serve on this 
important Committee. Among others may be men- 
tioned Phillips Brooks, "William Byrne, Patrick A. 
Collins, Samuel Elliot, Henry L. Pierce, "William H. 
Prescott, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Alexander H. Rice, 


Benjamin F. Thomas, George Ticknor, Carroll D. 
Wright, Walbridge A. Field, Chief Justice of the 
Supreme Court, Robert Grant, Hasket Derby, Robert 
C. "Winthrop, and Lucius Tuttle. 



Substantially all the money which the Trustees can 
use for the maintenance and working of the library 
system comes from the annual appropriation by the 
City Council. The income from Trust funds, that is, 
property given to the Trustees in trust for the uses of 
the Library, amounts to about $16,000 a year. These 
funds are by law required to be invested by the City 
Treasurer under the direction of the Finance Com- 
mittee of the City, and are invested in the bonds of the 
City, which makes the income from them small. 

January 1, 1908, $418,350 of these Trust funds was 
invested in Citv bonds. Of this $10,500 bore three 

/ TT / 

per cent interest; $187,400 three and a half per cent; 
$219,450 four per cent; and $100 five per cent. The 
income received from them in 1907 was $15,702. This 
income can only be used for the specific purposes of 
the several .trusts under which it is held, which vary 
widely. Some are for the purchase of books for a 
separate branch; some for the addition of books to 
special collections, such as books on government and 
political economy, books in the Spanish and Portuguese 
languages, valuable rare editions of books, books of a 


military and patriotic character, books in memory of 
specific persons, and in one case only for books pub- 
lished before 1850. 

The appropriations by the City Council are made 
upon detailed estimates annually submitted by the 
Trustees to the Mayor, showing what they think will 
be required for the work of the Library during the next 
financial year. These estimates are made in detail, and 
show in parallel columns the amount expended in the 
previous year for each item of expense, as for instance, 
fuel, postage, salaries, printing, supplies, etc., and the 
amount estimated to be required for the same item the 
next year, with a specific note of the increase or 
decrease in each item. These estimates are transmitted 
to the City Council by the Mayor with his statement 
of the total amount he recommends should be appro- 
priated, and the City Council then appropriate a total 
amount which the Trustees are to spend upon the 
Library for the next year. 

You see, therefore, that the Trustees have no control 
over the amount of money which is to be made avail- 
able to them for the work of the Library. They must 
maintain and work the Library as well as they can 
upon the amount which the City Council appropriate. 
During the past eight years the estimates of the Trus- 
tees, the recommendations by the Mayor, and the 
amounts appropriated by the City Council have been 
as follows: 







$300 000 00 

$302 000 00 


310 144 67 

305 000 00 

300 000 00 


318 383.10 

305 500 00 

305 500 00 


320 414.00 

300 000 00 

305 000 00 

1905 . . . . . 


310 000 00 

310 000 00 



320 000 00 

324 550 00 


326 100 00 

325 000 00 

325 000 00 


332 800 00 

325 000 00 

310 000 00 

The percentage of increase in these appropriations 
during these years has been less than the percentage 
of increase in the population of the city during that 
time. But although the service of the Library has been 
extended in various directions for the public con- 
venience the Trustees have not been able lawfully to 
exceed the amount annually appropriated for it, nor 
have they received by transfer, or otherwise, anything 
from the city treasury in addition to the amount of the 
appropriation in each year. 

The principal increase in the expense of the adminis- 
tration of the Library since 1901 has been caused by the 
establishment of Reading Rooms and delivery stations, 
now in every case transformed into Reading Rooms, 
in different parts of the city, by means of which the 
people in outlying districts have the collections of the 
Central Library brought near to them, and may receive 


books therefrom, without the necessity of coming to 
the Central Library Building in Copley square. The 
work of the Branches and Reading Rooms, including 
important work with the schools of the city, is of much 
benefit to the various parts of the city in which they are 
located, and promotes the convenience of the public by 
extending their use of the library. 

The payments made from the city appropriations for 
the expenses of the Central Library, including the 
printing and binding departments, increased during 
the years 1901-1907 less than two per cent, while the 
payments from the same source for the expenses of 
Branches and Reading Rooms increased about twenty- 
five per cent. 


Boston expends annually for free public libraries 
$45.83 as against $54.17 expended in all the other 32 
cities in the Commonwealth combined, that is to say, 
with a population of only 41 5/10 per cent of the popu- 
lation in the other 32 cities combined, Boston spends 
annually for public library purposes 84 6/10 per cent of 
the entire aggregate expense of all the other 32 cities 
for similar purposes. Or, stated in another form, with a 
population four-tenths as large as the combined popu- 
lation of the other 32 cities combined, Boston expends 
for public library maintenance more than eight-tenths 
as much as the other 32 cities combined. 

Boston expends annually for public library purposes 
about 56 cents per capita of all its population; while 


the other 32 cities expend only 27 1/2 cents per capita 
for their entire combined population. 

The expense for public library purposes in the towns 
of the Commonwealth is not reported so as to be avail- 
able for comparison, but if such expense corresponds 
with the value of the property put to public library 
uses in the towns, which may perhaps be fairly 
assumed, it would appear that Boston, with less than 
20 per cent of the aggregate population of all the other 
cities and town^ in the Commonwealth, expends for 
public library purposes about 71 per cent of the expense 
for similar purposes by all the other cities and towns. 

In this connection it may be noted that Boston 
spends annually for all municipal purposes $26.69 per 
capita of its population, while the other 32 cities 
together expend annually for similar purposes only 
$13.97 per capita of their combined population. The 
average annual expense per capita for municipal pur- 
poses of all the cities including Boston is $17.70, vary- 
ing from $9.58 in Chicopee to $26.69 in Boston. 

If it is asked why the working of the Boston Public 
Library should be so much more expensive than the 
working of the libraries of other cities in Massa- 
chusetts the answer is obvious. First, because the 
Boston Public Library is much larger and is worked to 
a greater degree of efficiency than the other libraries. 
It has more to do with and it does more with what 
it has than the other libraries. It does more things 
to cause books and other library material to be 
conveniently and extensively used, and it works over 

[ 51 ] 

a very much larger area and with more different 
instrumentalities than the other libraries. 

Second, Because it is the only great free library 
for all the people of Massachusetts. The Common- 
wealth gave the City of Boston a considerable portion 
of the land upon which the Central Library building 
stands upon condition that the building erected thereon, 
and its contents, should at all times be free to the use 
of all citizens of the Commonwealth. The land thus 
given to the city for this purpose is now worth about 
$800,000 as land. The Library is also the only free 
scholars' library in Massachusetts, that is to say, it is 
the only free library where scholars can conduct 
scholarly research. It is situated at the center of a 
district containing at least a million and a half people 
who can by modern means of communication go to the 
Library and return to their homes each day, and many 
of them do so. The citizen of Lowell or of Taunton, 
or of any other place within no greater distance from 
Boston, who wishes to use a library in the preparation 
of a book, or in some matter of scholarly research, 
would not go to his local library because he would 
know that while he might find there some of the 
material required, he would not find sufficient for his 
purpose, and therefore he would go to the Boston 
Public Library, where he would find a larger amount 
of material than could possibly be given by any other 
free library in the Commonwealth. 

The result, therefore, is to throw upon the tax- 
payers of Boston not only the expense of working the 


books and material of its own library for the benefit of 
its own citizens, but also the expense of working much 
of its books and library material for the benefit of all 
the citizens of the Commonwealth who desire to use it. 
Every municipality within fifty miles of Boston governs 
its own library expenditures for buildings, books and 
maintenance by this fact. It knows that, as its people 
who require the most expensive books, the most valu- 
able library material for their use, will find them in the 
Boston Public Library, therefore it does not need to 
provide them itself. 

To illustrate, the town of Brookline, with ample 
means to build an expensive library building, did, as I 
am told, reduce the cost of the building to be erected 
to a much less sum than was originally proposed, 
because it was said that every inhabitant of Brookline 
could go and come from the Boston Public Library 
and use that. 

It is also true that the expense of working a large 
library system over a large area is proportionately 
greater than the expense of working a small library. 

One peculiarity of the working of a library system 
is that the expense and waste of the working increases 
disproportionately to the additions which are made to 
the collection. A library system is like a telephone 
system, where each additional subscriber dispropor- 
tionately increases the cost of working the whole 
system. The expense and waste of efficiently working 
a collection of a million books is more than ten times 
as great as the expense and waste of working one 


hundred thousand books, because each book is worked 
in connection with every other. 

As it is true that the Public Library System is of 
value only as it is used, and that to produce the 
utmost value from its use it should be used to the limit 
of its capacity, so it is equally true that the increasing 
use of it produces a disproportionately greater increase 
in the expense and waste of working. Books that 
are transported frequently and over a large area of 
use wear out proportionately faster than they would if 
they were transported less frequently and over a smaller 

Again, books for general use wear out very rapidly. 
Volumes that are purchased at an average cost of 
$ 1.03, which, as I have said, is the average price paid 
for books bought with appropriations by the City 
Council, are not only books which wear out because 
they are in constant use, but they are necessarily of 
such paper, typography, and binding as to wear out 
rapidly by use. The cost of replacing such books, 
either with new books of the same kind or with new 
editions or other books upon the same subject, is very 
great, and causes a great and constantly increasing 


The primary purpose of a free public library, sup- 
ported by taxation, is to give the use of good books 
and other educational library material to persons who 
might not otherwise enjoy such use. But it is also of 

SH" [54] 

great public importance that a library should within 
the means at its command afford opportunity for study 
and research by scholars and students. In doing 1 this 
our Library supplements the work of our public schools 
and of the university. It places the highest special 
knowledge at the service of all our citizens without 
charge and without unnecessary detail or formality. 
It touches the elementary and common need, and begins 
with the child who has just learned to read and aids 
him in the common school. To most of the graduates 
of our grammar schools who pass at once into active 
life, the Library stands in place of the high school, the 
academy and the college, and it is to them a university. 
In the aggregate of all its services, the Boston Public 
Library should be and I believe is in itself a system of 
education for all and free to all. 

The distinguishing characteristic of the education 
given by a public Library is that it is not imposed 
upon the person who has it. The education of the 
schools is to a greater or less extent imposed upon 
those who receive it, and it is necessarily general in 
its character, without regard, to any great extent, to 
the individual needs of the persons who receive it. 
The schools must educate persons in classes and upon 
general lines of knowledge. The Library, however, 
educates only in response to individual wants and 
demands. Everything that is done by it is done in 
response to requests from individuals who ask for that 
which they each want most. Every one of the million 
and a half volumes issued by the Boston Public 


Library in a year for direct home use is issued because 
some particular person wants that book. Every book 
consulted in the Central Library or its Branches or 
Reading Rooms, every newspaper consulted, every man- 
uscript, every picture furnished for use is furnished 
because some particular person asks for it, presumably 
because he needs it. It is obvious that education of 
this kind is likely to be more effective in the develop- 
ment of individuals along the lines of which they are 
each capable than any system of education which deals 
with individuals in classes, and imposes upon them cer- 
tain required courses of study and investigation. 

One of the most interesting things about the Boston 
Public Library is the extent to which it has been 
created, developed, and worked by voluntary and unpaid 

service. None of its Trustees has ever received any 
compensation, a large part of its collections have been 
given to it, while nearly five hundred citizens have 
served from time to time upon its important Examining 
Committee, many of whom have given much time and 
performed excellent service in that capacity. I am 
sure there is no similar institution anywhere which has 
been promoted and developed by more unselfish, con- 
stant, and effective civic effort. The City govern- 
ment representing the taxpayers has also been liberal 
in its appropriations for the support of the Library. 
In its appropriation for the erection of the Central 
Library building Boston has been munificent beyond 
any other American city. 

All this has been, I believe, because the Library has 


been a library for the people, free ta all, far fhe intelli- 
gent education of all. 

It was the original design of the wise, sagacious, and 
public-spirited citizens who promoted the foundation of 
this great Public Library that it should be a means oi 
education for all. Such has been the course of its 
development up to this time, and such, I believe, should 
be its future development. Of course, this means con- 
stantly increasing appropriations of money by the tax- 
payers. In my judgment the proper maintenance and 
working of the Library system as it is now maintained 
and worked as a means of popular education, for which 
taxation can be well justified, now requires an annual 
appropriation of not less than $350,000. Without this, 
the Library system will fail to be efficiently worked to 
its capacity for the education of our people, and its 
usefulness will surely decrease. The Library cannot 
pimply mark time. It must either march forward, or 
fall behind in its work. 

I know the sum I have named is a large sum of 
money, but it is only two one-hundredths of one per 
cent of the tax valuation of the City and only one and 
fifty-eight one-hundredths per cent of the annual tax 
appropriation. I believe it will be well spent in aiding 
to produce that intelligence of our people upon which 
security of person and property in a free state must 
ultimately depend. 

Cities and states are not made great by economy, 
but rather by judicious and even lavish expenditure 
for proper public purposes. It is true in civil as in 


personal affairs that "There is that scattereth and yet 
increaseth ; and there is that withholdeth more than 
is meet, but it tendeth to poverty." No money spent 
for the education of the people, whose intelligence is 
the only basis of good government, is ever wasted. 
Property in a civilized state is only a creation of the 
law of the state. Our title to our houses and lands, to 
the goods and wares in our shops and stores, to the 
stocks, bonds, and other obligations which we call 
investments, depends solely upon the law which secures 
us in the enjoyment of them and permits us to trans- 
mit them to our children and others by will. 

This law rests either upon that intelligence which 
creates just laws and causes them to be willingly 
obeyed, or upon force, which compels them to be 
obeyed. Security of property, therefore, depends upon 
education or upon force, and I believe that free public 
libraries worked for the education of the people are 
better safeguards of the rights of person and property 
than policemen and battalions. 

For Reference 

Not to be taken 
from this room 

For Reference 

Not to be taken from this room 


3 2128 00068 430 9