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SCHOOL LIBRARIES

HOW THEY MAT BE. FOSTERED. The following interesting report, on the above matter, has been prepared by the .City Librarian (Mr W. B. M'Ewan) for 'presentation to the Library Committee of the City Council: — ' In accordance with instructions received, I have the honor to submit the following report on the school libraries of Dunedin, 1 and the question of supplementing them with books from the Public Library. Before dealing with the question I have thought it advisable to place on record for the information of the committee some outline of what is done in other countries in the direction of providing good reack ing for their young people. In Great Britain any boy or girl 10 years of age and upwards may obtain books from the municipal library. Branch libraries in the larger cities are provided with a special room for the juvenile department, and these branches, being situated in the residential areas, afford means of distribution. In some instances selections are made from the stock of the library departments and supplied to the schools; but the general feature of the administration is much on the same lines as has been adopted here. Owing to the lack of funds, many of the libraries have been forced to limit the good" work of the juvenile departments, and the question of finance requires the most earnest consideration beioro any scheme of extending our juvenile work is thought of. In the leading libraries of Scotland, such as are found in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, and Aberdeen, juvenile departments are provided. In Glasgow nearly all the 16 branches have their special juvenile room.- These children's libraries are very successful, and they differ very little from the Dunedin department, embracing the same features—reading room and lending library combined—and in some districts lectures to juveniles, which _ have been so successfully established here, form part- of their activities. Generally speaking, so far as Scotland is concerned the work is limited to the providing of good books for home reading, with a selection of the best periodicals and magazines in the reading room. Some of the libraries provide the 'Graphic,' ' London News/ ' Punch,' and ' Sphere,' while ' Chambers's Journal,' ' Strand Magazine,' and ' Windsor Magazine ' will also be found on the tables in addition to what are usually recognised as juvenile magazines. A difference in administration which may be cited in comparison is that' these juvenile rooms are open later in the evenings, and a teacher in a public school may become guarantor for the safe return of books, instead of a ratepayer, as is required in Dunedin. In England, particularly in the large centres, such as the Finsbury and Islington Libraries in London, the libraries of Manchester and Newcastle, more activity is being shown in developing the juvenile department, and there has probably been no greater advance in library work than that connected with the provision and circulation of juvenile literature. In addition to lectures, some of the libraries have story hours, picture collections, and reading circles, many of which ideas have been fostered by the interest and help of the co-opted members, but the common exEerience is the difficulty of securing such elp, though, once it is obtained, the results are excellent. As already indicated, however, the want of funds is a big handicap in bringing their efforts to a successful issue. So far as Great Britain is concerned, the palm of advanced ideas in children's j libraries must be given to Cardiff, where I all the above-mentioned features are emi braced in the work of the public library, and in addition there has been in operation for a period of 15 years a scheme of school libraries whereby the scholars of the public schools are supplied with books for home reading. The arrangement may be briefly described as follows:—Each school has a permanent collection of books, both for lending and reference purposes, which collection is increased on application being made to the Library Committee. In addition selections are made from a stock of books set aside for the purpose, and are interchanged throughout the different schools. A box containing 20 to 30 volumes is sent to a school for three or four weeks, and it is then returned to the library and another selection takes its place. Since the inception of the scheme in 1899 the circulation of books has in- i creased from 40,695 in the first year to 315,405 in 1912-13, while the total stock stands at 25,898. These figures show the ; progress that has been made, and are taken, from the report of the Library Committee for the year 1912-13. Other figures of interest are that it was found necessary to rebind 3,970 volumes, to withdraw 2,799, and to renew 3,149 volumes, and the number of books lost during the year covered by the report was 223, while the number of scholars who benefitted by the scheme amounted to 7,953. Unfortunately there is no return showing the cost of establishing the libraries, or of the amount of money expended each. year. It may not be out of place, however, to mention that Cardiff enjoys a large income from special sources, levies in the £ on the rates, and that the sum of £7,862 19s 5d was set aside for library purposes in the year 1912-13. Turning from Great Britain to her neighbor, France, it is found that school libraries are a prominent feature of their library administration. It has to be confessed that as a nation they are far behind in respect to their municipal libraries, but they are distinctly ahead of the average British library in catering for their school children. Since 1860 all public primary schools have been furnished with a lending library for scholars, of the cost of maintenance being bone by the municipalities, but the greater part by the Government. In America practically every school has its library, which is supervised by the public library authorities. In each library branch the school work is assigned to a special assistant, .whose business it is to become acquainted with every teacher in the schools of the district. Special training colleges have been established, where a library assistant who wishes to specialise in the particular branch, receives instruction, and assistants are selected for their ability to address an audience, not only of children, but of adults. Thegrait majority of these special assistants or supervisors, as they are called, are females who have shown marked ability in i h e juvenile departments. The scope of the work includes special reference Jibrare.o for teachers and scholars, and a wishing to impress the scholars in i.ny special lesson can arrange to have oictures, diagrams, portraits*, supplied, also a list of books in the lending library bearing on the subject. To such an extent has tn* children's library been established in America, that the children are allowed, and even urged, to prepare their lessons at the publio library. Every encouragement is given to them in the use ot* the library for study purposes. Generally sneaking, the education ami library authorities act in co-operation; in fact, it may be asserted that the « lucation boards regard the public libraries a* part of the educational system --»f the country, and owing to the liberal financial arrangements are enabled to e.uend their activities in directions undreamt of in other countries. Children's rooms under supervisors and specially-trained «• sistants, travelling school libraries, special libraries for teachers, lectures, reading circles, story hours, picture collections ana museums are some of the main features of the attitude of the public library to the child in America. In New Zealand, the Wellington Public Library Committee are endeavoring- to adopt in a modified form the American system of school libraries. The classes in each school in the Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Standards are provided with a selection of books, allowing one book to each child, the teachers having sole control of the books. The scheme has not been long in operation, and it is too soon yet to arrive at a definite conclusion as to the future. In the Christchuroh Library the children have a specially-con-structed department fitted as reading room and lending library combined. The stock of books numbers about 2,000 volumes, and good work is being done. In Auckland a charge of 5s per annum is made for the juveuOe landing library, and this J , naturally limits the 4 scope of the work. tho «sd of the year the books art it-1

turned and exchanged. In Dunedin a juvenile department has been successfully established, including reading room, lending library containing about 2,500 volumes for home reading, 50 volumes specially selected for reference purposes, and a series of winter lectures have been a feature of the work done during the past two years. The question of extending its activities in the direction of supplementing the school libraries in the City is the purpose of this minute. To give the committee first-hand information a number of schools have been visited, and, through the courtesy of the liead masters, an inspection has been made of the libraries under their control. .On the whole, it must be confessed that I am disappointed with the class of books in the school libraries. Many of them are -old and out of date, and no attempt has been made to provide books of a reference character. Ihe libraries, too, are very unequal. At one school practically nothing has been done, at another a model collection. has been made for classes 5 and 6, and m yet another it was found they had advanced so far as to have a collection of books for each class, even the very small children having «i library. Whether it is the duty or function of the City Council to supplement these libraries is open to question, but, whether or not, the whole resolves itself into a matter of cost. If books are to be provided for the schools, it must be understood that a special department, separate altogether from the present juvenife room, would require to be established, aa the stock of books in the Juvenile Library is still inadequate for our readers. If it were possible to provide, say, oW volumes to each school, it is estimated they would cost about £75; that is, buying the volumes in the well-known drivers', binding. The wear and tear being a heavy item, the books should be procured in this binding from the inception. I have a strong feeling, however, that the first duty of the committee is to provide for the ratepayer and adult reader, and I would rather see branches with juvenile departments established in the residential areas. It will be found that in the various countries referred to, with the exception of Fraace, branch libraries were all well established before the movement was extended to the juvenile readers, and school libraries are the outcome of the success attending the children's departments. Reference has already been made to the cost, and it seems to me to be the duty of the Government to undertake the maintenance of school libraies. Further powers, I believe, are given to school committees and educational authorities in the new. Education Act to expend larger sums than heretofore for this purpose, but if full advantage were taken of existing i conditions gooa libraries ior all the classes would gradually, be established" in the 'achoolf. ,

I need only say in conclusion that it will be a pleasure to me at any time to assist or advise any of the schools in the selection of their books, and lists are now in existence that would be helpful to anyone interested in the work of encouraging children to read and inculcating a love for good books, whiob is the primary object of the school library.

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Bibliographic details

SCHOOL LIBRARIES, Evening Star, Issue 15683, 23 December 1914

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SCHOOL LIBRARIES Evening Star, Issue 15683, 23 December 1914

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