HANOVER STREET READING ROOM.
The annual meeting of the Committee who manage the above room was held in the vestry room of the Hanover street Baptist Church last night, the Rev. A. North presiding. Mr Meggett, hon. secretary and treasurer, read a report for the eight months ended December last. The reading room was opened by a public meeting on the 16th of April, and almost from that date the attendance had been increasing. At one time during the winter months the daily average attendance was considerably over 100, and at the present time there were always to be found from ten to twelve men in the room at one time. The visitors paid strict attention to the rules of management, no complaints having been made since the opening day. The City Council had allowed an extra discount of 60 per cent, over and above the usual 20 per cent, for gas. A money box had been placed in the room marked “ Free contributions,” the result being that up to the present time 5s 2d had neen received from that source, and L2 19s lid for waste paper. During the year the tables had been well supplied with colonial, intercolonial, and foreign newspapers and magazines; and the Committee would like to tender their hearty thanks to the large nnmber of ladies end gentlemen for their kindness in donating papers and magazines for the use of the reading room, and also to request them to continue to help in the same way during the coming year. At the request of the Committee the H.S.Y.M. Society held a concert in aid of the reading room, the sum of L 5 5s being realised. The room had been well looked after by the caretaker (Mr Stably), assisted from time to time by various members of the Committee. The * Daily Times,’ Evening Stab, and ‘Herald’ had helped with newspapers. The Committee considered the reading room was well appreciated by working men round about the district. The treasurer’s statement showed the receipts from all sources to have been L 27 15s, including about LlB from subscriptions and L 5 5s from a concert. The expenditure was L 22, and the outstanding liabilities were nearly L 3. About L2O would be required to carry on the room this year. The Rev. Mr North, in moving the formal adoption of the report, said that the success of the reading room had been moat gratifying; it had more than answered the expectations of its promoters. He desired to say very emphatically that, whilst necessarily the management of the room was kept in the hands of the members of the Hanover street congregation, the utmost care had been taken that it should in no sense be used as a proselytising agency. As far as access to it and the use of it go the institution is literally public. When the reading room was instituted it was hoped that other like rooms would be opened in different parts of the City, and this has been done by St. Andrew’s Chnroh in Walker street. It is hoped that others will yet follow. The thing really needed, however, is a large central free reading room and library. In many of the smaller towns there are such reading rooms, public in every sense, and it was a humiliating thing for a visitor to such places from this City to reflect that Dunedin was so very far behind. He desired to add his testimony to the admirable conduct of the men frequenting the room. The Committee had thrown them upon their honor in the matter. No surveillance had been maintained, and the result was that the men had carefully abstained from any abuse of the privilege. No ground whatever of complaint existed, whereas in subscription reading rooms the abstraction and mutilation of papers and magazines were far from unknown—they were unknown in the Committee’s experience. He added that he would be specially glad to see magazines of the best order upon the tables ; for example, the 1 Contemporary ’ would be a welcome gift, and he could conceive of no better use which those who snbacribed to such periodicals could make of them, after they had read them, than by handing them over to the Committee. He conld promise that they would be read and re-read many times over. Mr North referred in grateful terms to the very many donors of papers and serials, making special mention of the large contributions received through the Ethnin® Star office, and through Mr Hastings, secretary of the Chamber of Commerce.
Mr A. Sligo endorsed what had fallen from the chairman as to the want that the reading room hid supplied. He thought it was matter for hearty congratulation that the frequenters of the room had conducted themselves in the way described, and that the advantages of the room were so much appreciated. It was no uncommon thing for large institutions of the kind to have their books abstracted and their files of papers injured; so that this room stood well by comparison. Mr Outeam, as a constant visitor, said that the men who used the room were admirably behaved, and cheerfully obeyed the rules of management. He was also able to testify that the men were very thankful for the opportunity given them for reading and writing. Mr Cohen asked to be allowed to say that he had made it his business to visit the room at odd hours, and he could endorse what had been said as to the orderliness of those who frequented it, and to their appreciation of the benefit of the room. As an outsider, he might also say that the Committee of the church were to be commended for stepping into the breach and supplying an admitted public want. He felt sure if the good done by the room were more widely known, the Committee’s list of donors would be materially increased. The following were appointed a committee of management for the current year:— Messrs Outram, Wilson, Haigb, Sligo, Walker, Maitland, Thompson, Voller, and Meggett, with the Rev. Mr North as president. Mr Meggett was reappointed secretary and treasurer. Votes of thanks were accorded to the Visiting Committee, to the caretaker, to the Church’s Young Men’s Society for their donation to the funds, and to the donors of magazines and papers. The Chairman, in acknowledging a vote of thanks to himself, said he recognised the fact, which the outside public did not, that in giving the use of the reading room the congregation were really suffering a privation. On certain occasions the use of the room appeared to them almost necessary; but he was delighted to find that when the proposal was made that the room should be given up for a free reading room there was not a dissentient voice. The proposal was adopted with enthusiasm, and had been supported ever since. The congregation as a body were worthy of commendation on that account, and he trusted that other churches would do what they could in a like matter. One of the great advantages flowing from a reading-room, from his point of view, was that it brought to the minds of men some recognition of the fact that the churches cared for them. A lot of men had the opinion that because they were poor and their clothes were very indifferent, they were uncared for and not wanted. He, however, was quite sure that the poorer man was and the greater straits he was in, the officers of the church were the more glad to see him about the place—either in the reading room or in the church.
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HANOVER STREET READING ROOM., Evening Star, Issue 7907, 15 May 1889
HANOVER STREET READING ROOM. Evening Star, Issue 7907, 15 May 1889
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