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COLLEGE

BEHMER POIN

OF THE

NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY

ASTOR, LENOX AND TILDEN FOUNDATIONS

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LIST OF WORKS IN THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY RELATING TO THE
GEOLOGY, MINERALOGY, AND PALEONTOLOGY OF NEW JERSEY

THE EUROPEAN WAR (RECENT ACCESSIONS)

RECENT BOOKS OF INTEREST ADDED TO THE LIBRARY

CIRCULATION STATISTICS FOR MAY

PRINCIPAL DONORS IN MAY

501

526

543

549

550

NEW YORK

1916

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PRINTED AT THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY

form p-5 [vii-3-16 14cl

COLLEGE

CAMBRIDGE, MASS.

BULLETIN

OF THE

NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY

ASTOR, LENOX AND TILDEN FOUNDATIONS

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I

THANK you for your invitation to speak here to-day, not only for the compliment that it involves, and the opportunity that it gives me to meet old friends and perhaps to make new ones, but also for a reason that would not have applied in the case of another speaker. To use Dante's reckoning, it is just half a lifetime since I began my library work in this institution, that is, in the Astor Library as it then was. That was the year for which Mother Shipton, at a safe number of centuries distant, prophesied the end of the world. It may be that she called the wrong number, or that the Fates were tempted by the possibility of this splendid Library, and its Library School, and this graduating class; at any rate the year 1916 finds the world still here and still awaiting the Millennium.

In one of those vivid Imaginary Conversations in which Landor recreates for us the mind of past ages, he presents two famous characters, Hooker the great divine, and Bacon after his tragic fall from power. Toward the end of the dialogue Bacon acknowledges that he has won a reputation for wide learning, and even for inspiring others to the pursuit of knowledge, but he adds that there is one subject of some importance that has almost escaped him. Hooker in surprise begs to know what this omitted subject may be, and the philosopher answers, in two words, which close the dialogue, “Francis Bacon."

The year 1776 marks a turning point in our political history not more important than the centennial year marks in our library development. The year 1876 saw the appearance of the great volume on Public Libraries in the United States, issued by the Bureau of Education; the founding of the American Library Association, with its first conference at Philadelphia; the opening numbers of the Library Journal, and that infant prodigy, the first edition of Mr. Dewey's Decimal Classification. During the forty years that have succeeded, the American library world has been not so much developed as transformed. Where before we reckoned in units, we now reckon in tens, or even hundreds, and that not merely in regard to the volumes in our libraries, but also in regard to their readers, their circulation, and their income. Our American librarians have had not only to achieve and superintend this enormous increase, but also to learn how to do it in the very process. They have had to construct for themselves a new library economy on a gigantic scale. It is as if one were to leave port in a schooner and were compelled while crossing the Atlantic to transform the vessel into an ocean liner without any interruption of its voyage, and at the same time to solve all the problems of engineering and navigation involved by the change. In the midst of the vastness and complexity of all these urgent demands, it would not be surprising if the librarian of my generation had been tempted or if you of the next generation should in your turn be tempted to overlook the human element in the situation, to forget the Librarian Himself.

It is because I believe this human element to be now and forever the most important, that I have taken this opportunity to remind you that as the future of society depends upon nothing so much as the character of those who are coming forward to be its men and women, so the libraries of America will depend for their success in the years to come, not so much on any other condition as the quality represented by you and the other young men and women who are preparing to take up the burdens which the librarians of to-day will ere long lay down. I have also a personal reason for the emphasis that I place on the Librarian Himself, namely, my pride in my profession. Having known such men of the past as Poole, and Winsor, and Cutter, and Billings — to cite only four — and my great contemporaries who have so nobly carried on their work, I should be unworthy of membership in their profession if I could be content to think of the responsibility for American libraries as in the future entrusted to a less worthy keeping. These men were in their day the equals of the leaders in any other profession. I cannot imagine a group of men in which Dr. Poole, with his splendid soldierly poise, Dr. Winsor, with his intellectual force, Mr. Cutter, with his modesty masking such a wealth of knowledge,

and Dr. Billings, with his stamp of leadership, would not have been welcome and honored. I refrain from strengthening my case by referring to the men whom I honor as my contemporaries. To mention only those whose records are closed will be enough to impress upon you the wealth of personality that has marked our profession, and your own obligation, so far as in you lies, to continue it.

What the librarian attains in this respect he attains not more for himself than for his library; and this truth will become so evident that I shall have no need to re-enforce it. Let us consider three respects in which it behooves the coming librarian to remember himself. The first is the fundamental one of the body; and my counsel may be summed in a single injunction: Keep a reserve of force to be drawn upon only on supreme occasions. This means that you will not allow yourselves to work up to the limit of your strength. Work done at the margin of endurance is never so efficient or satisfactory as work done at a safe distance below that margin. No man knows when he is going to be called upon for a supreme effort, and when the time of extra strain comes there should be extra strength to bear it. The strain may be personal, care, anxiety, or ill health; or it may come in the form of a sudden professional demand. Let me give you two illustrations, the first, outside the library field. A young broker of great talent had allowed himself to overwork. An opportunity arose for him to take part in a great enterprise. In order to do so he was obliged to keep himself up by artificial stimulation. When the work was done his strength gave way, and for the next two years he vainly pursued his lost health which was slipping further and further from him; but during this period of incapacity another and far greater opportunity arose for which he might well have neglected the first; and while the new enterprise was being successfully carried out by others, he could only watch them from his deathbed and lament his shortsightedness. The other and happier instance is taken from our own profession. One of our librarians, after a day's hard work, gave himself up to an evening's pleasuring, and returning home from a party at midnight, found upon his table a note directing him to bring to his office the next morning the complete sketch plan of a building for his library, showing size, capacity, and arrangement of rooms. Laying aside his festive attire, he applied himself to his task, from which he arose at breakfast time. At nine o'clock he appeared at his office with the plan as directed; and you all have or should have seen them in their successful realization. But a librarian who allows himself to work daily on the ragged edge of his strength could never have met successfully that sudden and crucial demand.

The librarian must also give heed to himself on the intellectual side. This

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