To the Editor,
Sir, —Regarding the meeting of subscribers to the Library held on Thursday there is one characteristic of it I hope the large number of Dissenters in Ashburton will not lose sight of if they would prevent the Ashburton Public Library from becoming an outhouse of St. Stephen’s Church. I know that many will say this remark is gratuitous and uncalled for, and that in making it I am dragging into connection with the Library an element of denominationalism that does not belong to it, and which has no connection with it. I do not wish to raise denominational strife over the Library’s affairs, but I do wish to apprise the Dissenters of the town of the fact that as the matter now stands they are nowhere, and that if they want to exercise any influence on its conduct, the sooner they join the ranks of its membership the better for themselves and the institute. 1 was not actually present at the meeting last night, in fact I had only reached the door and looked in when I saw that every soul there was a churchman. The election of office-bearers resulted in churchmen from the pastor down taking the seats, and this condition of things does not speak well for the interest Dissenters take in the Library health of the community. When I say there is a danger of the Library becoming an outhouse of St. Stephen’s Church, I am not wholly without support, for the two parish meetings that have been held since I came to Ashburton, have been held in the Library, and I have never yet heard of the subscribers’permission for such meetings being obtained. I have often heard the institute set down as an establishment belonging to a few of the leading Churchmen in the town, and that those who did not belong to that particular church, have no share in the conduct of its affairs. It is quite a fact that such is the case, but the blame rests with Dissenters themselves, audit it to their shame that I point out to them that not a single Dissenter could I see of all the sixty or more subscribers who took part in the general meeting. In their own interests I appeal to them to join the Library ; their absence from itshowsa painful want of interest in literature, and I know that were the energy and go that many of them display in other matters thrown in to help the cause of literature as represented in the Public Library, there would very soon be a different tale to tell of the condition of the institute.—l am, &c.
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