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EDUCATIONAL MATTERS OF INTEREST IN VARIOUS
Report for 1895–96, Hon. T. E. Dalton, superintendent of public instruction. The census of children has increased since the year 1895 to 16,936, lieing 1,027 more than in that year. Of this number 76 per cent attended the public schools some time during the year. The attendance at private schools added would raise to 82 per cent. The average of actual daily attendance, however, was only 45 per cent, a fact which, in the opinion of the superintendent, shows the need of an effective compulsory educational law.
The increase in the number of school districts during the year 1895 was 1, making the number now 223. Increase in number of teachers is 3, the whole number now being 224. Some reduction in wages has taken place. Duration of school term was 6.34 months, an increase of about one-third of a month. The nunber of new schoolhouses built in the biennium is 20. Table of receipts and expenditures is added.
At one of the meetings of the Territorial board of education (June 20, 1896), among the instructions given to teachers was the following interesting one regarding corporal punishment:
“Any teacher, before inflicting corporal punishment upon a pupil, must first notify the parents or guardian and one member of the board of trustees of his or her intention at least one day before such punishment is to be inflicted, stating the day and hour at which the punishment will be intlicted, and extending an invitation to such parent or guardian and one trustee to be present. The punishment must not be inflicted in the presence of the school."
The report urgently recommends a uniform course of studies in the entire Territory.
The report comments upon the fact that, notwithstanding the severe responsibilities of the superintendent of public instruction, his position is dependent upon one appointing power, which subtracts from its dignity. He contends that, as in other States and Territories, he should have control over county superintendents, trustees, and teachers, and be allowed an adequate salary. The matter is argued at some leugth. So it is with the provision of the school law which makes the county probate judges ex officio county school superintendents, whether or not they have had experience in teaching. Recommendation is made of some provision of law whereby the standards in grading in county schools by county board examiners may be brought at least to some nearer approximation to conformity. The report, indeed, advances the opinion that these boards should be abolished and their duties assigned to the county superintendent.
The new law for apportionment of school funds, although liable to some objections, has proven to be in the main satisfactory. Some carelessness in the too rapid increase in the number of school districts is complained of, as well as the inefficiency of the existing compulsory school law which the attorney-general las decided to be "inoperative and void."
Report for 1895–96, Superintendent Junius Jordan. While the value of property in general has dwindled, taxes for school purposes have been maintained. The work of the county normal schools has served to increase greatly competency among teachers and bring about a better system of gra.ling: There has been a notable improvement in schoolhouses, apparatus, and other school appointments. Appeal is made for greater force in the superintendent's office, because of the increased number and burthen of its duties. Notwithstanding the urgent calls from every county in the State in that behalf, the superintendent was enabled to visit only about one-fourth. Chango is earnestly asked in the matter of school directors, many of whom are wholly incompetent, some using the office mainly for the purpose of putting in favorites, and many of whom neglect even the nominal work of making official rules required by law at their hands. It is claimed that present conditions make change from the districts to the town system indispensable.
The report asks for abolition of the oflice of county examiners and creation of that of county superintendent, with liberal salary. If the former is to remain it is recommended that it be elective, in order to remove it from tho influence of politics, candidates being required to stand examination before the State superintendent.
The country schools, although yet far behind what it is desirable they should become, have improved under the iniluence of the county normal schools. The report recommends advance in the programme of all common schools.
By an act of the general assembly of 1895 a normal school was required to be established for every county in the State, to continue in session for one month. This has been a notable success. Among many things said by the report upon this subject is the following:
“I feel authorized in saying that the money appropriated by the uormal for the two years past has done more good for the public schools of Arkangas than all other movements of like nature that have been set on foot. Nor can we afford to stop wliere we are. The two years were osperimental years, but the results show such gratifying success that I feel it my duty to urge on the legislature a continuation of the appropriation for two years more. At the end of that time the State will be able and tlio necessity apparent for the establishment of one or two permanent normals.”
The reports of county examiners, in the opinion of the superintendent, show more and inore the inefficiency of the system of directors.
The money received from tho Peabody fund, which was $2,750 in 1893 and in 1894 $3,300, las been “utilized in normal work, supplementing the State appropriation in those counties when the attendance was so largo and important as to require one or more teachers and in extending, in some instances, the session of one month allowed by the State to five or six weeks, as the case demanded.” Normal schools were held for three months in five towns--Jonesboro, Prescott, Hope, Normal, and Forest City, the last two of negro faculties.
The question of uniformity of text-books which prevails in some States is discussed at some length, the superintendent's views being adverse to it beyond the schools that are under the control of their own special boards of control. In view of the great differences in teachers as to culture, habits of thought, and methods of teaching, it would seem impracticable to attempt to carry it throughout the State.
On the whole, what has been done in the matter of education in the State since the beginning of the public system is to be highly commended and is auspicious of happy consequences. It requires inuch time for a people, however unembarrassed by public, social, domestic, and individual constraints, to become familiar with a policy of great universal importance which has been newly introduced into their life. Such familiarity was necessarily prolonged during the throcs of political reconstruction after a disastrous war and tho financial struggles, which over since its passing bare been continuous. It is most noteworthy that the people have cheerfully submitted to the taxation necessary for the prosecution of a purpose whose value las year after ycar been more clearly recognized.
GREAT PUBLIC LIBRARIES IN THE UNITED STATES.
By EDWARD S. HOLDEN.'
The present decade las witnessed the foundation of sereral great libraries and the reorganization of others. The movement has not come too soon. Library organization in the United States has been studied with success, and we have a school of librarians whose intelligence and fitness is beyond praise. By their congresses and by their printed papers the main principles, and more especially the details, of their work have received a thorough examination. It might seem that there was little left to be said on matters of organization and policy. But a great library has to meet tho wants of a very varied constituency, and it may not be impertinent for one of the outsiders and tax payers to present a few considerations, from the nonteclinical point of view, which relate rather to principles than to details. I recollect a sight-scer at the Naval Observatory of Washington who asked to be furnished with a volumo which had cost the Government $8 to print. He was highly indig. nant when his request was denied. He was a tax payer, he said, and demanded
the volume as his right. Admiral Rodgers made a short calculation on his blotting pad and came to the conclusion that, as one of 50,000,000, his visitor's share was less than 5 cents, and thereupon tendered that coin in payment. There are 75,000,000 of us now, and the share of each is small. But each one has a right to be heard at least.
The 75,000,000 people do not all want nor need the same thing. There are 14,000,000 school children, for instance, with special needs. It is vital to our continuance as a nation that they shall be taught to comprehend the fundamental principle of all government-liberty with order-but it is not necessary, nor practicable, nor desirable, that they should all be instructed in the higher walks of literature or science. The gates are open to all; but only a few will enter--can enter.
The school child absorbs. He does not add to knowledge, though he may do so. This chanco must be kept in mind and he must be considered as a possible creator. The first duty of some libraries is to reach everybody in the community, beginning with the lowest minds and going as high as may be. This is precisely in keeping with American ideas at present, and the duty is not likely to be forgotten. The scores of libraries (of which the Boston Public Library, with its 575,000 volumes, is perhaps the best known type) that provide every possible convenience for their constituents make it certain that tho library will soon be brought to every door. The humblest has only to ask. The college library regards tlie wants of a different class, and, in general, provides for them admirably. The libraries of Harvard (474,000 volumes), Chicago (280,000), Yale (215,000), Columbia (160,000), are excellent examples. A large and increasing proportion of the men who are to shape the fate of the Republic in the next century will be furnished by the colleges. Fino scholarship, balanced character, originality, open and flexible intelligence, directive power, are fostered in academic shades. Enlightened public opinion is essential in the Republic. This will always be formed lyy ideas originated by a very small number of thinkers and subsequently adopted by millions of citizens. It is indespeusable to educate the whole mass of voters intelligently to select and receive their standards of action, but it is vital to encourage by every practicable means the creation of such standards by the comparatively few.
In every great city- Washington, New York, Chicago, San Francisco—at least one great library should be maintained whose first duty is to meet the wants of the very highest class of students, and to create and foster insight and distinction of character. Just as we maintain the public school as a great conservative force--a reservoir of intelligent citizens-so we shonld, in a proper proportion, cherish all influences which tend to the production of the very highest type. And a great library is a mighty influence of this sort. It is taken for granted in this place that both ideals can not bo perfectly subserved by a single organization; that it is fundamental to determine at the outset what the ideal is to be; whether to begin at the highest and work down, or at the bottom and work upward. If the assumption is doubted, I ask any teacher of experience to say whether it is or is not essential to grade our children in the public schools into classes of liko accomplishments; whether it is not advantageous to dissociate tho older from the younger students in college; whether a mixture of very different elements is not likely to degrade the higher proportionally more than it will raise the lower; whether learning has not a more intense spirit in the upper levels. The readers in a library are, of course, not brought into close association like the students of a school. But it is of the highest importance which ideal is held up by tho fundamental organization. An example will illustrate this. It has been proposed, first, to make the National Library at Washington strictly a library of reference-primarily for scholars; and second, to make it a lending library for Congress and for city readers. Is it indifferent wbich plan is adopted? Will the library be the same institution a century hence in the two cases? Will it have had the same effect upon the life of the country? It is a matter that can be debated which of the two plans is better. The present point is that they will lead to very different results in the end, and that the right plan must be chosen at the outset.
The main argument of this paper is that there is pressing need for influences which will create and preserve the highest scholarship and culture, and a prospective danger unless our coming leaders are trained; that it is not sufficient to train the followers; and finaily, that a few libraries, one in each great city, should be organized in the interest of scholars, primarily, sacrificing whatever must be sacrificed to attain this end. One of the strangest phenomena of our democracy is its Tage for uniformity and conformity. Variety, originality, and independence must be deliberately fostered, as well as prized. The effect in this regard of the old Astor Library in New York, with its dignified hospitality to serious students-making their higher interests its own-has been simply incalculable. Taking a single instance, it is impossible for me to remember without gratitude the weeks I spent as a lad, a generation ago, in its alcoves whero the whole resources of its magnificent
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collections were freely opened. I had been introduced as a student, and no further recommendation was neeiled. Not long since I had occasion to make a short research in a large library iu the East conducted in a different spirit. There were telephones, branches, a microscopic shelf classification, pneumatic deliveries, and everything “modern." The reader was taken charge of, and every part of the business" was done like the manual of arms, but finally it was business and not scholarship. It was a surprise to escape from the automatic mill without a pink ticket containiug an abstract by the library assistant) of the books I had consulted. Iu its way it was all admirable, but the high spirit was absent. Of course "business methods" are essential and these were intended to encourage, not to deter. The only just eriti. cism is that the assistant (and the reader) was obsessed by them. This result need not follow, but it points to a danger in the newest" methods; which is t) fail to see the forest by virtue of looking too intently at the trees. The difference iu tliese two libraries arose simply from a difference in ideal-in fundamental plau.
Under its new direction the Astor Library, one of the constituent parts of he New York Public Library (which comprises the Astor, Tiiden, and Lenox foundations), is still to be faithful to its old traditions. Its relations to scholars will remain as before, and it will leave to other departments of the public library the care for the general interest. If the argument of this paper is correct it will be necessary to draw the lines of demarcation sharply. These problems have hardly yet arisen on the Pacific coast, but they will arise, for they are fundamental. The direction of our future development will depend in no unimportant degree on the solution that we adopt in the Sutro Library and other great foundations of the sort.
There is a widespread fallacy with regard to the use of libraries which is “moderu," and all the more dangerous because it is partly true. It is assumed that any and every library is doing its best service when its books have the maximum circulation.
Elaborate statistical tables are printed to show how many volumes have been dira in this year as against last year, etc. The more drawn, the more fully is the library performing its function. This is not always so. Take the special case of a public-school library, for example. Is it better for the community that a high-school lad should read a dozen volumes of Jules Verne's in a six-month, or that he should spend the same time over a single volume of Plutarch or Froissart? The statistical tables try to cover such cases by dividing the books issued into classes (history, fiction, philosophy, etc.). But even here the point is missed. The usefulness of the library depends solely on the benefit the readers derive from the books they draw. This may well be greater when few books are drawn than when twice the number are issued. Reailing is no virtue in itself; and if it were, the value of reading is certainly not proportional to the number of pages read. The trivial attitude of mind which is fostered by the multitude and cheapness of modern newspapers, mag. azines, and books has impressed everyone. A trivial-minded child makes a trivial. minded citizen. The library must not measure its usefulness by the multitude of its issues. All these points are obvious enough-oven trite--but a caution against such fallacies, bolstered by statistics, may not be wasted. Many librarians, and more boards of trustees, are still disposed to accept mero movement for advance.
Another popular fallacy relates to the kind of knowledge which makes a competent librarian. Roughly speaking, he is supposed to know everything. The last man who knew everything was Dante. Since his time all living scholars have had to specialize. They should know at least one thing supremely well, which will insura their power to learn other things for themselves, and their ability to put students in general on any desired track. It is nothing short of absurd to expect a scholar to-day-either in science or literature---to be a master in more than one or two departments. All that can be asked is a thorough knowledge of one part, a thorough acquaintance with its relation to other parts, and a minute familiarity with the bibliographic aids by which books are sifted and compelled to yield what they contain, the whole of this informed with the scholar's enthusiasm, method, and desire to communicate. Living among books gives an astonishing acquaintance with small details which may serve to impress the inquirer or the library trustee; but c:aring for them and using them gives the spirit of research which is the sole important matter.
It is not a little remarkable that so few of our librarians are themselves authors. It would seem, as the materials for authorship lie all about them, and as their attention is daily called to books which are needed and not yet written, that they would be inwardly compelled to supply the lacks they see. The explanation of this aridity of a learned profession in the United States (it is not so in foreign countries) is that our librarians are overworked. They tend to become, not scholars, but clerks of high degree. If this is a correct explanation of an undoubted fact the matter calls for a remedy.
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of the Encyclopædia Britannica contains contributions from nineteen scholars of the staff of the British Museum on the widest range of subjects. This is precisely as it should be. Our own National Library in Washington shonld bo reorganized with anch a staff of specialists, each presiding over his own department. Every important book in each department of knowledge will be recommended for purchase by a competent judge. The bibliography of each special subject can be kept up to date. The whereabouts of rare books which the National Library does not own will be known. No such book can be offered for sale without the knowledge of the Librarian. Questions from any citizen in the whole country on any conceivable subject can be referred to the persons best qualitied to reply to them, or at least to set the inquirer on the proper track. Such an organization as this can serve the whole cowtry, not merely a group of citizens, and will make the library veritably national, not simply local.
A great library, to be ideally complete, should contain every book that may be called for by any student. But practically there is no such collection on earth, nor will there ever be. A library must content itself with the possible, aud use its resources in seeking after the most useful. This principle has an immediate application and a very striking one in the case of the National Library at Washington, which has just moved into its splendid home. If any collection in the country should be complete this should be. But all around it are the special libraries of the diferent Government Departments, each one of which has been most carefully supplied with the very best special books, chosen by experts. There are more than a score of such Department libraries in Washington (Light-House Bureau, SurgeonGeneral's Office, Patent Office, etc.), and they contain in the aggregate nearly 410,000 volunies (many duplicates). It seems clear that what is required is not a reduplication of such volumes in the National Library, but rather a complete catalogue of these 400,000 departmental books always on hand in the central library. The making of such a catalogue might well be undertaken by the National Library for its own use, and its buying of new books controlled by the knowledge that such a catalogue would give. Every book that can be obtained should be available in the capital, but of two books not in the National Library that one should be purchased which is not to be found in one of the Departments. This very simple policy can not be carried out until such a catalogue as is described has been made, and the time is ripe to provide it.
One of these Department libraries—that of the Surgeon-General's Office (104,000)has taken the problem into its own hands and carried it to the extreme limit of perfection. Under the leadership of Dr. Billings the library has been treated as if it were a vast book-a single work--and indexed as such, page by page. The subject index is printed in 16 large quartos. Such an elaborate index is a magnificent contribution to pure science, but it is not needed in most cases. A simple list of the books would be sufficient. We have a right to expect bibliographic contributions of the sort from the staffs of the great libraries of the country. Though much has been done the lacks are very far from being supplied.
Just as special libraries, like those of the Washington Departments, are of immense value when they surround the general collection, so it is important that the general librarian should be himself surrounded by specialists. This necessity is recognizel abroad, as has been said. At the British Museum or in the national libraries of Berlin and Paris an inquirer can have, at the shortest notice, an expert opinion on a point in umismatics, Arabian history, art, science, mediæval metaphysics, the economics of the Roman Empire, or last year's movement of commerce in tho Manchester ship canal. Where can we point in America to such a stati ? Our scholars are dispersed throughout the faculties of our colleges. There is no central institution of the sort; por are our library statt's organized so as to attract specialists. Many scholars are indeed to be found in our libraries, but they are generally overworked and underpaid. Our tendency has been to use the library income in perfecting the details of a system, and to proportionately neglect the one important matter, which is to encourage scholarship.
in the matter of copyright books a small change in our system-one often proposed-wonld produce a great benefit. At present the Government gives its protection to authors in return for two copies of each work printed. Both of these copies are deposited in the National Library. In England five copies are called for, which are placed in five different libraries (London, Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Dublin). If the United States required three copies instead of two (not a very heavy tax when we consider what is given in return), one of these might be deposited in Washington, one in Chicago, one in San Francisco, with manifest advantage to the author, to learning, and to the public. It would be thereafter certain that the risks of fire and publie eneinies would not endanger all three examples of a printed book. The present system makes everything depend on a single repository
We shall soon be in a position to defy public enemies at the national capital; but the risk of fire and accident always remains.