A Librarian's Open Shelf
by Arthur E. Bostwick
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The man who desires to own books but who can afford only a small and select library can not do better than to make his selection on this basis—to get together a collection of well-loved books any one of which would give him pleasure in re-reading. Why should a man harbor in his house a book that he has read once and never cares to read again? Why should he own one that he will never care to read at all? We are not considering the books of the great collectors, coveted for their rarity or their early dates, for their previous ownership or the beauty of their binding—for any reason except the one that makes them books rather than curiosities. These collections are not libraries in the intellectual or the literary sense. Three well thumbed volumes in the attic of one who loves them are a better library for him than those on which Pierpont Morgan spent his millions.

This advice, it will be noted, implies that the man has an opportunity to read the book before he decides whether to buy it or not. Here is where the Public Library comes in. Some regard the Public Library as an institution to obviate all necessity of owning books. It should rather be regarded from our present standpoint as an institution to enable readers to own the books that they need—to survey the field and make therefrom a proper and well-considered selection. That it has acted so in the past, none may doubt; it is the business of librarians to see that this function is emphasized in the future. The bookseller and the librarian are not rivals, but co-workers. Librarians complain of the point of view of those publishers and dealers who regard every library user as a lost customer. He is rather, they say, in many cases a customer won—a non-reader added to the reading class—a possible purchaser of books. But have not librarians shared somewhat this mistaken and intolerant attitude? How often do we urge our readers to become book-owners? How often do we give them information and aid directed toward this end? The success of the Christmas book exhibitions held in many libraries should be a lesson to us. The lists issued in connection with these almost always include prices, publishers' names, and other information intended especially for the would-be purchaser. But why should we limit our efforts to the holiday season? True, every librarian does occasionally respond to requests for advice in book-selection and book-purchase, but the library is not yet recognized as the great testing field of the would-be book owner; the librarian is not yet hailed as the community's expert adviser in the selection and purchase of books, as well as its book guardian and book distributor. That this may be and should be, I believe. It will be if the librarian wills it.

Are we straying from our subject? No; for from our present standpoint a book bought is a book reread. My ideal private library is a room, be it large or small, lined with books, every one of which is the owner's familiar friend, some almost known by heart, others re-read many times, others still waiting to be re-read.

But how about the man whose first selection for this intimate personal group would be a complete set of the works of George Ade? Well, if that is his taste, let his library reflect it. Let a man be himself. That there is virtue in merely surrounding oneself with the great masters of literature all unread and unloved, I can not see. Better acknowledge your poor taste than be a hypocrite.

The librarian can not force the classics down the unwilling throats of those who do not care for them and are perhaps unfitted to appreciate them. There has been entirely too much of this already and it has resulted disastrously. Surely, a sane via media is possible, and we may agree that a man will never like Eschylus, without assuring him that Eschylus is an out-of-date old fogy, while on the other hand we may acknowledge the greatness of Homer and Milton without trying to force them upon unwilling and incompetent readers. After all it is not so much a question of Milton versus George Ade, as it is of sanity and wholesomeness against vulgarity and morbidity. And if I were to walk through one city and behold collections of this latter sort predominating and then through another, where my eyes were gladdened with evidences of good taste, of love for humor that is wholesome, sentiment that is sane, verse that is tuneful and noble, I should at once call on the public librarian and I should say to him, "Thou art the man!" The literary taste of your community is a reflection of your own as shown forth in your own institution—its collection of books, the assistants with which you have surrounded yourself, your attitude and theirs through you toward literature and toward the public.

But, someone asks, suppose that I am so fortunate and so happy as to sit in the midst of such a group of friendly authors; how and how often shall I re-read? Shall I traverse the group every year? He who speaks thus is playing a part; he is not the real thing. Does the young lover ask how and how often he shall go to see his sweetheart? Try to see whether you can keep him away! The book-lover reopens his favorite volume whenever he feels like it. Among the works on his shelves are books for every mood, every shade of varying temper and humor. He chooses for the moment the friend that best corresponds to it, or it may be, the one that may best woo him away from it. It may be that he will select none of them, but occupy himself with a pile of newcomers, some of whom may be candidates for admission to the inner group. The whole thing—the composition of his library, his attitude toward it, the books that he re-reads oftenest, the favorite passages that he loves, that he scans fondly with his eye while yet he can repeat them by heart, his standards of admission to his inner circle—all is peculiarly and personally his own. There is no other precisely like it, just as there is no other human being precisely like its owner. There is as much difference between this kind of a library and some that we have seen as there is between a live, breathing creature with a mind and emotions and aspirations, and a wax figure in the Eden Musee.

Thus every book lover re-reads his favorites in a way of his own, just as every individual human being loves or hates or mourns or rejoices in a way of his own.

One can no more describe these idiosyncrasies than he can write a history of all the individuals in the world, but perhaps, in the manner of the ethnological or zoological classifier, it may interest us to glance at the types of a few genera or species.

And first, please note that re-reading is the exact repetition of a dual mental experience, so far at least as one of the minds is concerned. It is a replica of mind-contact, under conditions obtainable nowhere else in this world and of such nature that some of them seem almost to partake of other-worldliness. My yesterday's interview with Smith or Jones, trivial as it is, I can not repeat. Smith can not remember what he said, and even if he could, he could not say it to me in the same way and to the same purpose. But my interview with Plato—with Shakespeare, with Emerson; my talk with Julius Caesar, with Goethe, with Lincoln! I can duplicate it once, twice, a hundred times. My own mind—one party to the contact—may change, but Plato's or Lincoln's is ever the same; they speak no "various language" like Byrant's nature, but are like that great Author of Nature who has taken them to Himself, in that in them "is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." To realize that these men may speak to me today, across the abyss of time, and that I can count on the same message tomorrow, next year and on my death bed, in the same authentic words, producing the same effect, assures me that somewhere, somehow, a miracle has been wrought.

I have said that one of the minds that come thus into contact changes not, while the other, the reader's, is alterable. This gives him a sort of standard by which he can measure or at least estimate, the changes that go on within him, the temporary ones due to fluctuations in health, strength or temper, the progressive ones due to natural growth or to outside influences.

In his "Introduction to Don Quixote," Heine tells us how that book, the first that he ever read, was his mental companion through life. In that first perusal knowing not "how much irony God had interwoven into the world," he looked upon the luckless knight as a real hero of romance and wept bitterly when his chivalry and generosity met with ingratitude and violence. A little later, when the satire dawned upon his comprehension, he could not bear the book. Still later he read it with contemptuous laughter at the poor knight. But when in later life, he lay racked on a bed of pain his attitude of sympathy returned. "Dulcinea del Toboso," he says "is still the most beautiful woman in the world; although I lie stretched upon the earth, helpless and miserable, I will never take back that assertion. I can not do otherwise. On with your lances, ye Knights of the Silver Moon; ye disguised barbers!"

So every reader's viewpoint shifts with the years.

Our friend who welcomes George Ade to his inner sanctuary may find as the years go on that his reaction to that contact has altered. I should not recommend that the author be then be cast into outer darkness. Once a favorite, always a favorite, for old sake's sake even if not for present power and influence. Our private libraries will hold shelf after shelf of these old-time favorites—milestones on the intellectual track over which we have wearily or joyously traveled.

There will always be a warm spot in my heart and a nook on my private shelf for Oliver Optic and Horatio Alger. Though I bar them from my library (I mean my Library with a big L) I have no right to exclude them from my private collection of favorites, for once I loved them. I scarcely know why or how. If there had been in those far-off days of my boyhood, children's libraries and children's librarians, I might not have known them; as it is, they are incidents in my literary past that can not be blinked, shameful though they may be. The re-reading of such books as these is interesting because it shows us how far we have traveled since we counted them among our favorites.

Then there is the book that, despite its acknowledged excellence, the reader would not perhaps admit to his inner circle if he read it now for the first time. It holds its place largely on account of the glamour with which his youth invested it. It thrills him now as it thrilled him then, but he half suspects that the thrill is largely reminiscent. I sometimes fancy that as I re-read Ivanhoe and my heart leaps to my mouth when the knights clash at Ashby, the propulsive power of that leap had its origin in the emotions of 1870 rather than those of 1914. And when some of Dickens' pathos—that death-bed of Paul Dombey for instance—brings the tears again unbidden to my eyes, I suspect, though I scarcely dare to put my suspicion into words, that the salt in those tears is of the vintage of 1875. I am reading Arnold Bennett now and loving him very dearly when he is at his best; but how I shall feel about him in 1930 or how I might feel if I could live until 2014, is another question.

Then there is the book that, scarce comprehended or appreciated when it was first read, but loved for some magic of expression or turn of thought, shows new beauties at each re-reading, unfolding like an opening rose and bringing to view petals of beauty, wit, wisdom and power that were before unsuspected. This is the kind of book that one loves most to re-read, for the growth that one sees in it is after all in oneself—not in the book. The gems that you did not see when you read it first were there then as they are now. You saw them not then and you see them now, for your mental sight is stronger—you are more of a man now than you were then.

Not that all the changes of the years are necessarily for the better. They may be neither for better nor for worse. As the moving train hurries us onward we may enjoy successively the beauties of canyon, prairie and lake, admiring each as we come to it without prejudice to what has gone before. In youth we love only bright colors and their contrasts—brilliant sunsets and autumn foliage; in later life we come to appreciate also the more delicate tints and their gradations—a prospect of swamp-land and distant lake or sea on a gray day; a smoky town in the fog; the tender dove colors of early dawns. So in youth we eagerly read of blood and glory and wild adventure; Trollope is insufferably dull. Jane Austen is for old maids; even such a gem as Cranford we do not rate at its true value. But in after life how their quiet shades and tints come out! There is no glory in them, no carnage, no combat; but there is charm and fascination in the very slowness of their movement, the shortness of their range, their lack of intensity, the absence of the shrill, high notes and the tremendous bases.

Then there is the re-reading that accuses the reader of another kind of change—a twist to the right or the left, a cast in the mental eye, or perhaps the correction of such a cast. The doctrines in some book seemed strange to you once—almost abhorrent; you are ready to accept them now. Is it because you then saw through a glass darkly and now more clearly? Or is your vision darker now than it was? Your rereading apprizes you that there has been a change of some sort. Perhaps you must await corroborative testimony before you decide what its nature has been. Possibly you read today without a blush what your mind of twenty years ago would have been shocked to meet. Are you broader-minded or just hardened? These questions are disquieting, but the disturbance that they cause is wholesome, and I know of no way in which they can be raised in more uncompromising form than by re-reading an old favorite, by bringing the alterable fabric of your living, growing and changing mind into contact with the stiff, unyielding yardstick of an unchangeable mental record—the cast of one phase of a master mind that once was but has passed on.

Here I can not help saying a word of a kind of re-reading that is not the perusal of literature at all with most of us—the re-reading of our own words, written down in previous years—old letters, old lectures, articles—books, perhaps, if we chance to be authors. Of little value, perhaps, to others, these are of the greatest interest to ourselves because instead of measuring our minds by an outside standard they enable us to set side by side two phases of our own life—the ego of 1892, perhaps, and that of 1914. How boyish that other ego was; how it jumped to conclusions; how ignorant it was and how self-confident! And yet, how fresh it was; how quickly responsive to new impressions; how unspoiled; how aspiring! If you want to know the changes that have transformed the mind that was into the very different one that now is, read your own old letters.

I have tried to show you that pure literature is an art and like other arts depends primarily upon manner and only secondarily upon matter. That the artist, who in this case is the author, uses his power to influence the reader usually through his emotions or feelings and that its effects to a notable extent, are not marred by repetition. That on this account all good literature may be re-read over and over, and that the pleasure derived from such re-reading is a sign that a book is peculiarly adapted in some way to the reader. Finally, that one's private library, especially if its size be limited, may well consist of personal favorites, often re-read.

When the astronomer Kepler had reduced to simple laws the complicated motions of the planets he cried out in ecstacy: "O God! now think I Thy thoughts after Thee!" Thus when a great writer of old time has been vouchsafed a spark of the divine fire we may think his divine thoughts after him by re-reading. And Shakespeare tells us in that deathless speech of Portia's, that since mercy is God's attribute we may by exercising it become like God. Thus, by the mere act of tuning our brains to think the thoughts that the Almighty has put into the minds of the good and the great, may it not be that our own thoughts may at the last come to be shaped in the same mould?

"Old wine, old friends, old books," says the old adage; and of the three the last are surely the most satisfying. The old wine may turn to vinegar; old friends may forget or forsake us; but the old book is ever the same. What would the old man do without it? And to you who are young I would say—you may re-read, you first must read. Choose worthy books to love. As for those who know no book long enough either to love or despise it—who skim through good and bad alike and forget page ninety-nine while reading page 100, we may simply say to them, in the words of the witty Frenchman, "What a sad old age you are preparing for yourself!"


[8] Read before the New England Society of St. Louis.

In one of his earlier books, Prof. Hugo Munsterberg cites the growing love for tracing pedigrees as evidence of a dangerous American tendency toward aristocracy. There are only two little things the matter with this—the fact and the inference from it. In the first place, we Americans have always been proud of our ancestry and fond of tracing it; and in the second place, this fondness is akin, not to aristocracy but to democracy. It is not the purpose of this paper to prove this thesis in detail, so I will merely bid you note that aristocratic pedigree-tracers confine themselves to one line, or to a few lines. Burke will tell you that one of the great-great-grandfathers of the present Lord Foozlem was the First Baron; he is silent about his great-grandfather, the tinker, and his great-grandfather, the pettifogging country lawyer. Americans are far more apt to push their genealogical investigations in all directions, because they are prompted by a legitimate curiosity rather than by desire to prove a point, American genealogical research is biological, while that of Europe is commercial.

An obvious advantage of interest in our ancestors is that it ought to make history a more vital thing to us; for to them, history was merely current events in which they took part, or which, at least, they watched. This linking up of our personal ancestral lines with past events is done too seldom. Societies like the New England Society are doing it, and it is for this reason that I have chosen to bring the subject briefly before you.

It has been noted that our historical notions of the Civil War are now, and are going to be in the future, more just and less partisan than those of the Revolution. This is not because we are nearer the Civil War; for nearness often tends to confuse historical ideas rather than to clear them up. It is because the descendants of those who fought on both sides are here with us, citizens of our common country, intermarrying and coming into contact in a thousand ways. We are not likely to ignore the Southern standpoint regarding the rights of secession and the events of the struggle so long as the sons and daughters of Confederate soldiers live among us. Nor shall we ever forget the Northern point of view while the descendants of those who fought with Grant and Sherman are our friends and neighbors.

It is otherwise with the Revolution. We are the descendants only of those who fought on one side. Of the others, part went back to their homes in England, the rest, our old neighbors and friends, we despoiled of their lands and drove across our northern border with execrations, to make new homes in a new land and view us with a hatred that has not yet passed away. If you doubt it, discuss the American Revolution for fifteen minutes with one of the United Empire Loyalists of Toronto. It will surprise you to know that your patriot ancestors were thieves, blacklegs and scoundrels. I do not believe that they were; but possibly they were not the impossible archangels of the school histories.

Of one thing I am sure; that if the descendants of those who fought against us in '76 had been left to mingle with our own people, the historical recollections of the struggle would have been surer and truer on both sides than they are today. Here is a case where ancestry has perverted history, but simply because there has been an unnatural segregation of descendants. Let me note another where we have absolutely forgotten our ancestral predilections and have gone over to the other side, simply because the other side made the records. When we read a Roman account of encounters between the legions and the northern tribes, where do we place ourselves in imagination, as readers? Always with the Roman legions. But our place is not there; it is with our hardy and brave forefathers, fighting to defend their country and their firesides against the southern intruders. How many teachers of history try to utilize race-consciousness in their pupils to make them attain a clearer knowledge of what it all meant? Should we not be proud that we are of the blood of men who withstood the self-styled rulers of the world and won their freedom and their right to shape their own personal and civic development?

I should like to see a book tracing the history and development of an imaginary Anglo-Saxon American line of ancestry, taking it from the forests of Northern Germany across to Britain, through the Norman conquest and down the stream of subsequent English history across seas to America—through savage wars and Revolution, perhaps across the Alleghenies, to settle finally in the great West. I would try to make the reader realize that here was no fairy tale—no tale of countries and races with which we have naught to do, but the story of our own fathers, whose features and whose characteristics, physical and mental, have been transmitted by heredity to us, their sons and daughters of the year 1913.

It is unfortunate perhaps, for our perceptions of racial continuity, that we are rovers by disposition. Who runs across the sea, says the Latin poet, changes his sky but not his mind. True enough, but it is difficult for some of us to realize it. It is hard for some of us to realize that our emigrant ancestors were the same men and women when they set foot on these shores as when they left the other side some weeks before. Our trans-Atlantic cousins labor under the same difficulties, for they assure us continually that we are a "new" country. We have, they say, the faults and the advantages of "youth." It would be interesting to know at just what point in the passage the education and the habits and the prejudices of the incoming Englishman dropped off. Change of environment works wonders with habits and even with character; we must of course recognize that; but it certainly does not make of the mind a tabula rasa, on which the fresh surroundings may absolutely work their will.

I must say that our migrations within the limits of our own continent have not been productive of so much forgetfulness. I have been struck, for instance, since I came to St. Louis, with what I may call the source-consciousness of our western population. Everyone, whether he is particularly interested in genealogy or not, knows that his people came from Vermont or Virginia or Pennsylvania. He may not be able to trace his ancestry, or even to name his great-grandfather; but with the source of that ancestry he is always acquainted. I believe this to be the case throughout the Middle West. From this point of view the population is not so well mixed as it is in the East. No one in Massachusetts or Connecticut can point out to you, offhand, the families that came from particular counties in England. And yet in England, a migration from one county to another is always recognized and remembered. A cousin of mine, visiting on an English estate, was casually informed by his host, "Our family are newcomers in this county. We moved in only about 300 years ago." From this point of view we are all newcomers in America. It is to be hoped that as the years go on, the elements of our western population will not so thoroughly lose sight of their sources as have the Easterners. It is not likely that they will, for those sources are more accessible. We have Virginia families who still keep up friendly intercourse with the old stock; Vermont families who spend each summer on the old homestead; and so on. The New Englander did not and could not keep up similar relations with Old England. Even the Southerner, who did it for a time, had to drop it. Our inter-communication with Europe has grown enormously in volume, but little of it, if any, is due to continuous ancestral interest, although a revived general interest has sprung up and is to be commended.

I fear, however, that the greater part of this interest in sources, where it exists, is very far from an intelligent connection with the body of historical fact. When a man is proud of the fact that an ancestor took part in the famous Boston Tea Party, has he taken any pains to ascertain what actually took place on that occasion? If he claims descent from Pocahontas, can he tell us just how much of what we currently believe of her is fact and how much is myth? If he knows that his family came from Cheshire, England, and was established and well-known there for centuries, what does he know of the history of Cheshire and of the connection of his ancestors with it? Our interest, when it exists, is concentrated too much on trivial happenings. We know and boast that an ancestor came over in the Mayflower without knowing of the family doings before and after that event. Of course, connection with some one picturesque event serves to stimulate the imagination and focus the interest, but these events should serve as starting points for investigation rather than resting points where interest begins and ends. Historical students are beginning to realize that it is not enough to know about the battle of Hastings without understanding the causes and forces that led to it and proceeded from it, and the daily lives and thoughts of those who took part in it, from captain to spearman.

This failure to link up family history with general history is responsible for many sad losses of historical material. Many persons do not understand the value of old letters and diaries; many who do, keep them closely in the family archives where they are unknown and unappreciated. Old letters containing material that bears in any way on the events, customs or life of the time, should be turned over to the local historical society. If they contain private matter, seal up the packet and require that it shall remain sealed for a century, if you wish; but do not burn it. The feeling that destroys such documents is simply evidence that we are historically valuing the individual and the family above the community, just as we still are in so many other fields of thought. I cannot tolerate the idea that we shall ultimately think only in terms of the common good; the smaller units, the man, the family must not lose their influence, but the connection between them and the general welfare must be better understood and more generally recognized; and this must be done, in the first place, in all that relates to their historical records and to our historical consciousness.

Ancestral feeling should, in this way, always be historical, not individual. A man is right to be personally proud of his own achievements, but it is difficult to see how he can properly take the same kind of pride in that of others, whether related to him by blood or not. But there are other kinds of legitimate pride—family pride, racial pride, group pride of all sorts, where the feeling is not personal. If any member of a family, a profession or any association, has so conducted himself that credit is gained for the whole body, it is proper that this kind of group pride should be felt by each member of the body, and in the case of a family, where the bond is one of blood, the group feeling should be stronger and the group pride, if it is proper to feel it at all, may be of peculiar strength, provided it be carefully distinguished from the pride due to personal achievement. And when the member of the family in whom one takes pride is an ancestor, this means, as I have said, that feeling should be historical, not individual. And anything that tends to lift our interest from the individual to the historical plane—to make us cease from congratulating ourselves personally on some connection with the good and great and substitute a feeling of group pride shared in common by some body to which we all belong, is acting toward this desirable end. The body may be a family; it may be the community or the state; it may be as broad as humanity itself, for we may all be proud of the world's greatest. Or it may be a body like our own, formed to cherish the memories of forebears in some particular line of endeavor, in some particular place or at some particular era. Our ancestry is part of our history; so long as our regard for it is properly interwoven with our historical sense, no one can properly charge us with laving the foundation for aristocracy. We are rather making true democracy possible, for such is the case only when the elements of a community are closely united by ties of blood, interest and knowledge—by pride in those who have gone before and by determination that the standard set by these men and women of old shall be worthily upheld.


[9] An address on Flag Day made in St. Peter's Church, St. Louis.

The most important things in the world are ideas. We are so familiar with the things that are the material embodiment of ideas—buildings, roads, vehicles and machines—that we are prone to forget that without the ideas that gave them birth all these would be impossible. A house is a mass of wood, stone and metal, but all these substances, collected in a pile, do not suffice to make a house.

A locomotive is made of steel and brass, but although the ancient Romans had both the metal and the alloy, they had no locomotives.

The vital thing about the house—the thing that differentiates it from other masses of the same materials—is the idea—the plan—that was in the architect's mind while wood and stone and iron were still in forest, quarry and mine. The vital thing about the locomotive is the builder's idea or plan, which he derived, in turn, from the inventor.

The reason why there were no locomotives in ancient Rome is that in those days the locomotive had not yet been invented, and when we say this we refer not to the materials, which the Romans had in abundance, but to the idea or plan of the locomotive. So it is with the whole material world about us. The things that result, not from man's activities, but from the operations of nature, are no exceptions; for, if we are Christians, we believe that the idea or plan of a man, or a horse, or a tree, was in the mind of the great architect, the great machinist, before the world began, and that this idea is the important thing about each.

A man, a house, an engine—these are ideas that lead to things that we can feel, and see and hear. But there are other ideas that have nothing of the kind to correspond to them—I mean such ideas as charity, manliness, religion and patriotism—what sometimes are called abstract qualities. These are real things and their ideas are even more important than the others, but we cannot see nor feel them.

Now, man likes to use his senses, and it is for this reason that he is fond of using for these abstract ideas, symbols that he can see and feel. We of St. Louis should appreciate this to the full just now, for we have just set before the world the greatest assemblage of symbolic images and acts, portraying our pride in the past and our hope and confidence for the future, that any city on this earth ever has been privileged to present or to witness.[10] Whether we were actors or spectators; whether we camped with the Indians, marched with De Soto or La Salle and felled the forests of early St. Louis with Laclede and Chouteau, or whether we were part of that great host on the hillside, we can say no longer that we do not understand the importance of the idea, or the value and cogency of the visible symbols that fix it in the memory and grip it to the heart.

[10] The Pageant and Masque of St. Louis, 1915.

The Church of Christ always has understood and used this property of the visible and tangible symbol to enforce the claims of the abstract idea.

We revere the cross, not because there is anything in its shape or substance to make us venerate it, but because it is the symbol of the Christian religion—of all that it has done for the world in the past and all that it may do in the future. That is why we love and honor the flag—not because it is a piece of cloth bearing certain figures and colors, but because it is to us the symbol of all that our country has meant to our fathers; all it means to us and all that it may mean to our children, generation after generation.

A nation's flag did not always mean all this to those who gazed upon it. In very old times the flag was for the soldier alone and had no more meaning for the ordinary citizen than a helmet or a spear. When the soldier saw it uplifted in the thick of the battle he rallied to it. Then the flag became the personal emblem of a king or a prince, whether in battle or not; then it was used to mark what belonged to the government of a country. It is still so used in many parts of Europe, where the display of a flag on a building marks it as government property, as our flag does when it is used on a post office or a custom-house. Nowhere but in our own country is the flag used as the general symbol of patriotic feeling and displayed alike by soldier and citizen, by Government office and private dwelling. So it comes about that the stars and stripes means to us all that his eagles did to the Roman soldier; all that the great Oriflamme did to the medieval Frenchman; all that the Union Jack now means to the Briton or the tri-color to the Frenchman—and more, very much more, beside.

What ideas, then, does the flag stand for? First, it stands for union. It was conceived in union, it was dipped in blood to preserve union, and for union it still stands. Its thirteen stripes remind us of that gallant little strip of united colonies along the Atlantic shore that threw down the gage of battle to Britain a century and a half ago. Its stars are symbols of the wider union that now is. Both may be held to signify the great truth that in singleness of purpose among many there is effective strength that no one by himself can hope to achieve. Our union of States was formed in fear of foreign aggression; we have need of it still though our foes be of our own household. If we are ever to govern our cities properly, hold the balance evenly betwixt capital and labor, develop our great natural resources without undue generosity on the one hand or parsimony on the other—solve the thousand and one problems that rise to confront us on every hand—we shall never accomplish these things by struggling singly—one man at a time or even one State at a time, but by concerted, united effort, the perfect union of which our flag is a symbol, and which we need to-day even more than we did in 1776 or 1861.

We stand on the threshold of an effort to alter our city government. Whether that effort should or should not succeed, every citizen must decide for himself, with the aid of such intelligence and judgment as it has pleased God to give him. But if he should decide in its favor, be certain that his individual vote at the polls will go a very little way toward bringing his desires to pass. We are governed by majorities, and a majority is a union of many. He who would win must not only vote, but work. Our flag, with its assemblages of stripes and stars, is a perpetual reminder that by the union of the many, and not merely by the rectitude of the individual, are policies altered and charters changed.

Again, our flag stands for love. It is a beautiful flag and it stands for a beautiful land. We all love what is our own, if we are normal men and women—our families, our city, our country. They are all beautiful to us, and it is right that they should be.

I confess that the movement that has for its motto "See America First" has my hearty sympathy. Not that the Rockies or the Sierras are necessarily more beautiful than the Alps or the Missouri fairer than the Danube; we should have no more to do here with comparisons than the man who loves his children. He does not, before deciding that he will love them, compare them critically with his neighbors'. If we do not love the Grand Canyon and the Northern Rockies, the wild Sierras and the more peaceful beauties of the Alleghenies or the Adirondacks, simply because leaving these all unseen we prefer the lakes and mountains of foreign lands, we are like a man who should desert his own children, whom he had never seen, to pass his time at a moving-picture show, because he believed that he saw there faces and forms more fair than those of his own little ones. When we sing in our hymn of "America"

I love thy rocks and rills Thy woods and templed hills,

we should be able to do it from the heart.

It is indeed fitting that we should love our country, and thrill when we gaze at the old flag that symbolizes that love. Does this mean that when our country makes an error we are to shut our eyes to it? Does it require us to call wrong right and black white?

There is a sentiment with which you are all familiar, "My country, may she ever be right; but, right or wrong, my country!"

Understood aright, these are the noblest and truest of words, but they are commonly misinterpreted, and they have done much harm. To love and stand by a friend who has done wrong is a fine thing; but it would be very different to abet him in his wrong-doing and assure him that he had done right. We may dearly love a son or a brother who is the worst of sinners, without joining him in sin or persuading him that he is righteous.

So we may say, "Our country, right or wrong" without forfeiting the due exercise of our judgment in deciding whether she is right or wrong, or the privilege of exerting our utmost power to make her do right.

If she is fighting for an unrighteous cause, we should not go over to the enemy, but we should do our best to make her cease and to make amends for the wrong she has done.

Another thing for which the flag stands is freedom or liberty. We all are familiar with the word. It means different things to different persons. When hampering conditions press hard upon a man, all that he thinks of for the moment is to be rid of them. Without them he deems that he will be free. The freedom of which our fathers thought, for which they fought and which they won, was freedom from government by what had become to them a foreign power. The freedom that the black man longed for in the sixties was freedom from slavery.

To-day men and women living in intolerable industrial conditions are panting for freedom—the freedom that seems to them just now more desirable than aught else in the world. All this the flag stands for, but it stands for much more. Under its folds we are entitled to live our own lives in the fullest way compatible with the exercise of the same privilege by others. This includes political freedom, industrial freedom, social freedom and all the rest. Despite much grumbling and some denials, I believe that it is all summed up under political freedom, and that we have it all, though we may not always take advantage of it. The people who groan under an industrial yoke do so because they do not choose to exert the power given them by law, under the flag, to throw it off. The boss-ridden city is boss-ridden only because it is satisfied to be so. The generation that is throttled by trusts and monopolies may at any time effect a peaceful revolution. The flag gives us freedom, but even a man's eternal salvation cannot be forced upon him against his will.

Another thing for which the flag stands is justice—the "square deal," as it is called by one of our Presidents. To every man shall come sooner or later, under its folds, that which he deserves. This means largely "hands off," and is but one of the aspects of freedom, or liberty, since if we do not interfere with a man, what happens to him is a consequence of what he is and what he does. If we oppress him, or interfere with him, he gets less than he merits; and if, on the contrary we coddle him and give him privileges, he may get more than his due.

Give a man opportunity and a free path and he will achieve what is before him in the measure of his strength. That the American Flag stands for all this, thousands will testify who have left their native shores to live under its folds and who have contributed here to the world's progress what the restraints and injustice of the old world forbade then to give.

This sense of the removal of bonds, of sudden release and the entry into free space, is well put by a poet of our own, Henry Van Dyke, when he sings,

So it's home again, and home again, America for me! My heart is turning home again, and there I long to be, In the land of youth and freedom beyond the ocean bars, Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars.

I know that Europe's wonderful, yet something seems to lack: The Past is too much with her, and the people looking back, But the glory of the Present is to make the Future free— We love our land for what she is and what she is to be.

Oh, it's home again, and home again, America for me! I want a ship that's westward bound to plough the rolling sea, To the blessed Land of Room Enough beyond the ocean bars, Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars.

Finally, the flag stands for the use of physical force where it becomes necessary.

This simple statement of facts will grieve many good people, but to omit it would be false to the truth and dishonorable to the flag that we honor today.

Its origin, as we have seen, was in its service as a rallying point in battle. We are still battling, and we still need it. And at times our contests still inevitably take the physical form. One may earnestly pray for peace; one may even pay his dues to the Peace Society and still realize that to preserve peace we may have to use the sword.

Northward, across the Canadian border, good men[11] are striving even now to keep us in peace and to assure peace to a neighbor severely torn by internal conflict. Can any of us doubt that our good friend and fellow-citizen—nay, can anyone doubt that our neighbors of the Southern Continent—are doing their best to save human lives, to preserve our young men and the young men of Mexico to build and operate machines, to raise crops and to rebuild and beautify cities, instead of sending them to fill soldiers' graves, as our bravest and best did in the "sixties?" And yet, should they succeed, as God grant they may, who can doubt that what will give strength and effect to their decisions will be the possibility of force, exerted in a righteous cause, symbolized by the flag? Who can be sorry that back of the flag there are earnest men; nay, that there are ships there, and guns? One need not be a Jingo; one can hate war and love peace with all one's heart and yet rejoice that the flag symbolizes authority—the ability to back up a decision without which the mind itself cannot decide in calmness and impartiality.

[11] United States and "A-B-C" Commissions on the State of Mexico.

Surely, to say that the flag stands for the exertion of force, is only to say that it stands for peace; for it is by force only, or by the possibility of it, that peace is assured and maintained.

These are a few of the many things for which our flag of the Stars and Stripes stands. We are right to doff our hats when it passes; we are right to love it and to reverence it, for in so doing we are reverencing union, patriotism, liberty and justice. That it shall never become an empty symbol; that it shall never wave over a land disunited, animated by hate, shackled by indifference and feebleness, permeated by injustice, unable to exert that salutary strength which alone can preserve peace without and within—this is for us to see and for our children and grandchildren. We must not only exercise that "eternal vigilance" of which the fathers spoke, but we must be eternally ready, eternally active. The Star-Spangled Banner! Long may it wave over a land whose sons and daughters are both free and brave—free because they are brave, and brave because they are free, and both because they are true children of that eternal father without whom both freedom and bravery are but empty names.


[12] Read before the Chicago Woman's Club. January 6, 1915.

The change that has come over the library in the last half century may be described, briefly but comprehensively, by saying that it has become predominantly a social institution; that is, that its primary concern is now with the service that it may render to society—to the people. Books, of course, were always intended to be read, and a library would have no meaning were it never to be used; yet in the old libraries the collection and preservation of the books was primary and their use secondary, whereas the modern institution exists primarily for public service, the collection of the books, their preservation, and whatever is done to them being directed to this end. To a social institution—a family, a school, a club, a church or a municipality—the persons constituting it, maintaining it, or served by it are all-important. A family without parents and children, a school without pupils, a club without members, a church with no congregation, a city without citizens—all are unthinkable. We may better realize the change in our conception of the public library by noting that it has taken its place among bodies of this type. A modern library with no readers is unthinkable; it is no library, as we now understand the word; though it be teeming with books, housed in a palace, well cataloged and properly manned.

It is no longer possible to question this view of the library as a social institution—a means of rendering general service to the widest public. We have to deal not with theories of what the library ought to be, but, with facts indicating what it actually is; and we have only to look about us to realize that the facts give the fullest measure of support to what I have just said. The library is a great distributing agency, the commodities in which it deals being ideas and its customers the citizens at large, who pay, through the agency of taxation, for what they receive. This democratic and civic view of the public library's functions, however, does not commend itself to those who are not in sympathy with democratic ideals. In a recent address, a representative librarian refers to it as "the commercial traveler theory" of the library. The implication, of course, is that it is an ignoble or unworthy theory. I have no objection to accepting the phrase, for in my mind it has no such connotation. The commercial traveler has done the world service which the library should emulate rather than despise. He is the advance guard of civilization. To speak but of our own country and of its recent years, he is responsible for much of our improvement in transit facilities and hotel accommodations. Personally, he is becoming more and more acceptable. The best of our educated young men are going into commerce, and in commerce to-day no one can reach the top of the ladder who has not proved his efficiency "on the road." Would that we could place men of his type at the head of all our libraries!

We need not think, however, that there is anything new in the method of distribution by personal travel. Homer employed it when he wished his heroic verse to reach the great body of his countrymen. By personal travel he took it to the cross-roads—just as the distributor of food and clothing and labor-saving appliances does to-day; just as we librarians must do if we are to democratize all literature as Homer democratized a small part of it. Homer, if you choose to say so, adopted the "commercial-traveler theory" of literary distribution; but I prefer to say that the modern public library, in laying stress on the necessity of distributing its treasures and in adopting the measures that have proved effective in other fields, is working on the Homeric method.

Now, without the people to whom he distributed his wares, Homer would have been dead long ago. He lives because he took his wares to his audience. And without its public, as we have already said, the public library, too, would soon pass into oblivion. It must look to the public for the breath of life, for the very blood in its veins, for its bone and sinew. What, then, is the part that the community may play in increasing the efficiency of a public institution like the public library? Such an institution is, first of all, a medium through which the community does something for itself. The community employs and supports it, and at the same time is served by it. To use another homely illustration, which I am sure will not please those who object to comparing great things with small, this type of relationship is precisely what we find in domestic service. A cook or a housemaid has a dual relation to the mistress of the house, who is at the same time her employer and the person that she directly serves. This sort of relation does not obtain, for instance, in the case of a railroad employe, who is responsible to one set of persons and serves another. The public library is established and maintained by a given community in order that it may perform certain service for that same community directly. It seems to me that this dual relationship ought to make for efficiency. If it does not, it is because its existence and significance are not always realized. The cook knows that if she does not cook to suit her mistress she will lose her job—the thing works almost automatically. If the railroad employe does not serve the public satisfactorily there is no such immediate reaction, although I do not deny that the public displeasure may ultimately reach the railroad authorities and through them the employe. In most public institutions the reaction is necessarily somewhat indirect. The post office is a public institution, but public opinion must act on it generally through the channels of Congressional legislation, which takes time. Owing to this fact, very few postmen, for instance, realize that the persons to whom they deliver letters are also their employers. In all libraries the machinery of reaction is not the same. In St. Louis, for instance, the library receives the proceeds of a tax voted directly by the people; in New York City it receives an appropriation voted by the Board of Apportionment, whose members are elected by the people. The St. Louis Public Library is therefore one step nearer the control of the people than the New York Public Library. If we could imagine the management of either library to become so objectionable as to make its abolition desirable, a petition for a special election could remove public support in St. Louis very soon. In New York the matter might have to become an issue in a general election, at which members of a Board of Apportionment should be elected under pledge to vote against the library's appropriation. Nevertheless, in both cases there is ultimate popular control. Owing to this dual relation, the public can promote the efficiency of the library in two ways—by controlling it properly and by its attitude toward the service that is rendered. Every member of the public, in fact, is related to the library somewhat as a railway stockholder, riding on a train, is related to the company. He is at once boss and beneficiary. Let us see first what the public can do for its library through its relation of control. Besides the purse-strings, which we have seen are sometimes held directly by the public and sometimes by its elected representatives, we must consider the governing board of the institution—its trustees or directors. These may be elected by the people or appointed by an elected officer, such as the mayor, or chosen by an elected body, such as the city council or the board of education.

Let us take the purse-strings first. Does your public library get enough public money to enable it to do the work that it ought to do? What is the general impression about this in the community? What does the library board think? What does the librarian think? What do the members of his staff say? What has the library's annual report to say about it? It is not at all a difficult matter for the citizen to get information on this subject and to form his own opinion regarding it. Yet it is an unusual thing to find a citizen who has either the information or a well-considered opinion. The general impression always seems to be that the library has plenty of money—rather more, in fact, than it can legitimately use. It is probably well for the library, under these circumstances, that the public control of its purse-strings is indirect. If the citizens of an average American city had to go to the polls annually and vote their public library an appropriation, I am sure that most libraries would have to face a very material reduction of their income.

The trouble about this impression is that it is gained without knowledge of the facts. If a majority of the citizens, understanding how much work a modern public library is expected to do and how their own library does it, should deliberately conclude that its management was extravagant, and that its expenditure should be cut down, the minority would have nothing to do, as good citizens, but submit. The citizens have nothing to say as directly as this, but the idea, so generally held, that libraries are well off, does operate in the long run to limit library appropriations and to prevent the library from doing much useful work that it might do and ought to do.

It is then, every citizen's business, as I conceive it, to inform himself or herself of the work that the public library is doing, of that which it is leaving undone, and of the possibilities of increased appropriations. If the result is a realization that the library appropriation is inadequate, that realization should take the form of a statement that will sooner or later reach the ears, and tend to stimulate the action, of those directly responsible. And it should, above all, aid in the formation of a sound public opinion. Ours is, we are told, a government of public opinion. Such government will necessarily be good or bad as public opinion is based on matured judgment or only on fleeting impressions.

Inadequacy of support is responsible for more library delinquency than the average citizen imagines. Many a librarian is deservedly condemned for the unsatisfactory condition of his institution when his fault is not, as his detractors think, failure to see what should be done, or lack of ability to do it, so much as inability to raise funds to do it with. This is doubtless a fault, and its possessor should suffer, but how about the equally guilty accessories? How about the city authorities who have failed to vote the library adequate support? How about the board of trustees who have accepted such a situation without protest? And what is more to our purpose here, how about the citizens who have limited their efforts to pointing out the cracks in the edifice, with not a bit of constructive work in propping it up and making possible its restoration to strength and soundness?

In conversation with a friend, not long ago, I referred to the financial limitations of our library's work, and said that we could add to it greatly and render more acceptable service if our income were larger. He expressed great surprise, and said: "Why, I thought you had all the money you want; your income must be all of $100,000 a year." Now, our income actually is about $250,000, but how could I tell him that? I judiciously changed the subject.

Let us look next, if you please, at the library board and examine some of its functions. There appears to be much public misapprehension of the duties of this body, and such misapprehension assumes various and opposing forms. Some appear to think that the librarian is responsible for all that is done in the library and that his board is a perfunctory body. Others seem to believe that the board is the direct administrative head of the library, in all of its working details and that the librarian is its executive in the limited sense of doing only those things that he is told to do. Unfortunately there are libraries that are operated in each of these ways, but neither one relationship nor the other, nor any modification of either, is the ideal one between a librarian and his board. The board is supreme, of course, but it is a body of non-experts who have employed an expert to bring about certain results. They ought to know what they want, and what they have a right to expect, and if their expert does not give them this, the relation between him and them should terminate; but if they are men of sense they will not attempt to dictate methods or supervise details. They are the delegated representatives of the great public, which owns the library and operates it for a definite purpose. It is this function of the board as the representative of the public that should be emphasized here. Has the public a definite idea of what it wants from the public library, and of what is reasonable for it to ask? If so, is it satisfied that it is represented by a board that is of the same mind? The citizens may be assured that the composition of the library board rests ultimately upon its will. If the board is elective, this is obvious; if appointive, the appointing officer or body would hardly dare to go counter to the expressed desire of the citizens.

What has been said above may be put into a very few words. The public library is public property, owned and controlled by the citizens. Every citizen, therefore, should be interested in setting standards for it and playing his part toward making it conform to them—in seeing that its governing body represents him in also recognizing those standards and trying to maintain them—in laboring for such a due apportionment of the public funds as shall not make an attempt to live up to such standards a mere farce.

So much for the things that the citizen can and should do in his capacity of library boss. His possibilities as a beneficiary are still more interesting and valuable.

Perhaps you remember the story of the man who attempted to board the warship and, on being asked his business, replied, "I'm one of the owners." One version of the tale then goes on to relate how the sailor thus addressed picked up a splinter from the deck, and, handing it to the visitor, remarked: "Well, I guess that's about your share. Take it and get out!"

I have always sympathized with the sailor rather than with his visitor. Most of us librarians have had experiences with these bumptious "owners" of public property. The fact has already been noted that in a case like this the citizen is both an owner and a beneficiary. He has duties and privileges in both capacities, but he sometimes acts the owner in the wrong place. The man on the warship was doubtless an owner, but at that particular moment he was only a visitor, subject to whatever rules might govern visitors; and he should have acted as such. Every citizen is a part owner of the public library; he should never forget that fact. We have seen how he may effectively assert his ownership and control. But when he enters the library to use it his role is that of beneficiary, and he should act as such. He may so act and at the same time be of the greatest service to the institution which he, as a member of the public, has created and is maintaining.

I know of no way in which a man may show his good citizenship or the reverse—may either demonstrate his ability and willingness to live and work in community harness, or show that he is fit for nothing but individual wild life in the woods—better than in his use of such a public institution as a library. The man who cannot see that what he gets from such an institution must necessarily be obtained at the price of sacrifice—that others in the community are also entitled to their share, and that sharing always means yielding—that man has not yet learned the first lesson in the elements of civic virtue. And when one sees a thousand citizens, each of whom would surely raise his voice in protest if the library were to waste public money by buying a thousand copies of the latest novel, yet find fault with the library because each cannot borrow it before all the others, one is tempted to wonder whether we really have here a thousand bad citizens or whether their early education in elementary arithmetic has been neglected.

Before the present era there were regulations in all institutions that seemed to be framed merely to exasperate—to put the public in its place and chasten its spirit. There are now no such rules in good libraries. He who thinks there are may find that there is a difference of opinion between him and those whom he has set in charge of the library regarding what is arbitrary and what is necessary; but at any rate he will discover that the animating spirit of modern library authority is to give all an equal share in what it has to offer, and to restrain one man no more than is necessary to insure to his brother the measure of privilege to which all are equally entitled.

Another way in which the citizen, in his capacity of the library's beneficiary, can aid it and improve its service is his treatment of its administrators. Librarians are very human: they react quickly and surely to praise or blame, deserved or undeserved. Blame is what they chiefly get. Sometimes they deserve it and sometimes not. But the occasions on which some citizen steps in and says, "Well done, good and faithful servant," are rare indeed. The public servant has to interpret silence as praise; so sure is he that the least slip will be caught and condemned by a vigilant public. No one can object to discriminating criticism; it is a potent aid to good administration. Mere petulant fault-finding, however, especially if based on ignorance or misapprehension, does positive harm. And a little discriminating praise, now and then, is a wonderful stimulant. No service is possible without the men and women who render it; and the quality of service depends, more than we often realize, on the spirit and temper of a staff—something that is powerfully affected, either for good or for evil, by public action and public response.

Years ago, at a branch library in a distant city, a reader stood at the counter and complained loudly because the library would not send her a postal reserve notice unless she defrayed the cost, which was one cent. The assistant to whom she was talking had no option in the matter and was merely enforcing a rule common, so far as I know, to all American public libraries; but she had to bear the brunt of the reader's displeasure, which she did meekly, as it was all in the day's work. The time occupied in this useless business spelled delay to half a dozen other readers, who were waiting their turn. Finally, one of them, a quiet little old lady in black, spoke up as follows: "Some of us hereabouts think that we owe a great debt of gratitude to this library. Its assistants have rendered service to us that we can never repay. I am glad to have an opportunity to do something in return, and it therefore gives me pleasure to pay the cent about which you are taking up this young lady's time, and ours." So saying, she laid the coin on the desk and the line moved on. I have always remembered these two points of view as typical of two kinds of library users. Their respective effects on the temper and work of a library staff need, I am sure, no explanation.

In what I have said, which is such a small fraction of what might be said, that I am almost ashamed to offer it to you, I have in truth only been playing the variations on one tune, which is—Draw closer to the library, as it is trying to draw closer to you. There is no such thing, physicists tell us, as a one-sided force. Every force is but one aspect of a stress, which includes also an equal and opposing force. Any two interacting things in this world are either approaching each other or receding from each other. So it should be with library and public. A forward movement on the one hand should necessarily involve one to meet it.

The peculiarity of our modern temper is our hunger for facts—our confidence that when the facts are known we shall find a way to deal with them, and that until the facts are known we shall not be able to act—not even to think. Our ancestors thought and acted sometimes on premises that seem to us frightfully flimsy—they tried, as Dean Swift painted them in his immortal satire, to get sunbeams from cucumbers. There are some sunbeam-chasers among us to-day, but even they recognize the need of real cucumbers to start with; the imaginary kind will not do. I recently heard a great teacher of medicine say that the task of the modern physician is merely to ascertain the facts on which the intelligent public is to act. How different that sounds from the dicta of the medicine of a past generation! It is the same everywhere: we are demanding an accurate survey—an ascertainment of the facts in any field in which action, based on inference and judgment, is seen to be necessary. Now the library is nothing more nor less than a storehouse of recorded facts. It is becoming so more truly and more fully every day, thereby adjusting itself to the modern temper of which I have already spoken. The library and its users are coming more closely together, in sympathy, in aims and in action, than ever before—partly a result and partly a justification for that Homeric method of popularizing it which has been characterized and condemned as commercial. The day when the librarian, or the professor, or the clergyman could retire into his tower and hold aloof from the vulgar herd is past. The logical result of such an attitude is now being worked out on the continent of Europe. Not civilizations, as some pessimists are lamenting, but the forces antagonistic to civilization are there destroying one another, and there is hope that a purified democracy will arise from the wreckage. May our American civilization never have to run the gantlet of such a terrible trial! Meanwhile, there can be no doubt that the hope for the future efficiency of all our public institutions, including the library, lies in the success of democracy, and that depends on the existence and improvement of the conditions in whose absence democracy necessarily fails. Foremost among these is the homogeneity of the population. The people among whom democracy succeeds must have similar standards, ideas, aims and abilities. Democracy may exist in a pack of wolves, but not in a group that is half wolves and half men. Either the wolves will kill the men or the men the wolves. This is an extreme case, but it is true in general that in a community made up of irreconcilable elements there can be no true democracy. And the same oneness of vision and purpose that conduces to the success of democracy will also bring to perfection such great democratic institutions as the library, which have already borne such noteworthy fruit among us just because we are homogeneous beyond all other nations on the earth. And here progress is by action and reaction, as we see it so often in the world. The unity of aims and abilities that makes democracy and democratic institutions possible is itself facilitated and increased by the work of those institutions. The more work the library does, the more its ramifications multiply, and the further they extend, the more those conditions are favored that make the continuance of the library possible. In working for others, it is working for itself, and every additional bit of strength and sanity that it takes on does but enable it to work for others the more. And if the democracy whose servant it is will but realize that it has grown up as a part of that American system to which we are all committed—to which we owe all that we are and in which we must place all our hopes for the future—then neither democracy nor library will have aught to fear. Democracy will have its "true and laudable" service from the library, and the library in its turn will have adequate sympathy, aid and support from the people.

It is no accident that I make this appeal for sympathy and aid to a club composed of women. The bonds between the modern public library and the modern woman's club have been particularly strong in this country. The two institutions have grown up together, making their way against suspicion, contempt and hostility, aided by the same public demand, and now, when both are recognized as elements in the intellectual strength of our nation, they are rendering mutual service. The club turns to the library daily. Hitherto the library has turned to the club only in some emergency—a bill to be passed, an appropriation to be made, an administration to be purified. I have tried to show you how, apart from these great services, which no one would think of minimizing, the women of this country, as citizens, can uphold the hands of the library daily. Ours is a government of public opinion, and in the formation of that opinion there is no more powerful element than the sentiment of our women, especially when organized in such bodies as yours.

"To be aristocratic in taste and democratic in service," says Bliss Perry, "is the privilege and glory of the public library." In appealing thus to both your aristocracy and your democracy, I feel, then, that I have not gone astray.


[13] Read before the New York Library Association at Squirrel Inn, Haines Falls, September 28, 1915.

The modern American mind, like modern America, itself, is a melting pot. We are taking men and women of all races and fusing them into Americans. In the same way we are taking points of view, ideas, standards and modes of action from whatever source we find them, combining them and fusing them into what will one day become American thoughts and standards. We are thus combining the most varied and opposing things—things that it would seem impossible to put together. Take our modern American tendency in government, for instance. Could there be two things more radically different than despotism and democracy?—the rule of the one and the rule of the many? And yet I believe that we are taking steps toward a very successful combination of the two. Such a combination is essentially ancient. No despotism can hold its own without the consent of the governed. That consent may be unwilling and sooner or later it is then withheld, with the result that a revolution takes place and the despot loses his throne—the oldest form of the recall. Every despotism is thus tempered by revolution, and Anglo-Saxon communities have been ready to exercise such a privilege on the slightest sign that a despotic tendency was creeping into their government.

It is not remarkable, then, that our own Federal government, which is essentially a copy of the British government of its day, should have incorporated this feature of the recall, which in England had just passed from its revolutionary to its legal stage. It was beginning to be recognized then that a vote of the people's representatives could recall a monarch, and the English monarchy is now essentially elective. But to make assurance doubly sure, the British government, in its later evolution, has been practically separated from the monarch's person, and any government may be simply overthrown or "recalled" by a vote of lack of confidence in the House of Commons, followed, if need be, by a defeat in a general election. We have not yet adopted this feature. Our President is still the head of our government, and he and all other elected Federal officers serve their terms out, no matter whether the people have confidence in them or not. But the makers of our Constitution improved on the British government as they found it. They made the term of the executive four years instead of life and systematized the "recall" by providing for impeachment proceedings—a plan already recognized in Britain in the case of certain administrative and judicial officers.

As it stands at present we have a temporary elective monarch with more power, even nominally, than most European constitutional monarchs and more actually than many so-called absolute monarchs such as the Czar or the Sultan. In case he should abuse the power that we have given him, he may be removed from office after due trial, by our elected representatives.

In following out these ideas in later years, we are gradually evolving a form of government that is both more despotic and more democratic. We are combining the legislative and executive power in the hands of a few persons, hampering them very little in their exercise of it, and making it possible to recall them by direct vote of the body of citizens that elected them. I think we may describe the tendency of public thought in governmental matters as a tendency toward a despotism under legalized democratic control. It may be claimed, I think, that the best features of despotism and democracy may thus be utilized, with a minimum of the evils of each.

It was believed by the ancients, and we frequently see it stated today, that the ideal government would he government by a perfectly good despot. This takes the citizens into account only as persons who are governed, and not as persons who govern or help to govern. It is pleasant, perhaps, to have plenty of servants to wait upon one, but surely health, physical, mental and moral, waits on him who does most things for himself. I once heard Lincoln Steffens say: "What we want is not 'Good Government'; it is Self-Government." But is it not possible to get the advantage of government by a few, with its possibilities of continuous policy and its freedom from "crowd-psychology," with its skillful utilization of expert knowledge, while admitting the public to full knowledge of what is going on, and full ultimate control of it? We evidently think so, and our present tendencies are evidence that we are attempting something of the kind. Our belief seems to be that if we elect our despot and are able to recall him we shall have to keep tab on him pretty closely, and that the knowledge of statecraft that will thus be necessary to us will be no less than if we personally took part in legislation and administration—probably far more than if we simply went through the form of delegating our responsibilities and then took no further thought, as most of us have been accustomed to do.

Whether this is the right view or not—whether it is workable—the future will show; I am here discussing tendencies, not their ultimate outcome. But it would be too much to expect that this or any other eclectic policy should be pleasing to all.

"The real problem of collectivism," says Walter Lippmann, "is the difficulty of combining popular control with administrative power.... The conflict between democracy and centralized authority ... is the line upon which the problems of collectivism will be fought out."

In selecting elements from both despotism and democracy we are displeasing the adherents of both. There is too much despotism in the plan for one side and too much democracy for the other. We constantly hear the complaint that concentrated responsibility with popular control is too despotic, and at the same time the criticism that it is too democratic. To put your city in the hands of a small commission, perhaps of a city manager, seems to some to be a return to monarchy; and so perhaps it is. To give Tom, Dick and Harry the power to unseat these monarchs at will is said to be dangerously socialistic; and possibly it is. Only it is possible that by combining these two poisons—this acid and this alkali—in the same pill, we are neutralizing their harmful qualities. At any rate this would seem to be the idea on which we are now proceeding.

We may now examine the effects of this tendency toward eclecticism in quite a different field—that of morals. Among the settlers of our country were both Puritans and Cavaliers—representatives in England of two moral standards that have contended there for centuries and still exist there side by side. We in America are attempting to mix them with some measure of success. This was detected by the German lady of whom Mr. Bryce tells in his "American Commonwealth," who said that American women were "furchtbar frei und furchtbar fromm"—frightfully free and frightfully pious! In other words they are trying to mix the Cavalier and Puritan standards. Of course those who do not understand what is going on think that we are either too free or too pious. We are neither; we are trying to give and accept freedom in cases where freedom works for moral efficiency and restraint where restraint is indicated. We have not arrived at a final standard. We may not do so. This effort at mixture, like all our others, may fail; but there appears to be no doubt that we are making it. To take an obvious instance, I believe that we are trying, with some success, to combine ease of divorce with a greater real regard for the sanctity of marriage. We have found that if marriage is made absolutely indissoluble, there will be greater excuse for disregarding the marriage vow than if there are legal ways of dissolving it.

Americans are shocked at Europeans when they allude in ordinary conversation to infractions of the moral code that they treat as trivial. They on the other hand are shocked when we talk of divorce for what they consider insufficient causes. In the former case we seem to them "frightfully pious"; in the latter, "frightfully free." They are right; we are both; it is only another instance of our tendency towards eclecticism, this time in moral standards.

In some directions we find that this tendency to eclecticism is working toward a combination not of two opposite things, but of a hundred different ones. Take our art for instance, especially as manifested in our architecture. A purely native town in Italy, Arabia, or Africa, or Mexico, has its own atmosphere; no one could mistake one for the other any more than he could mistake a beaver dam for an ant hill or a bird's nest for a woodchuck hole.

But in an American city, especially where we have enough money to let our architects do their utmost, we find streets where France, England, Italy, Spain, Holland, Arabia and India all stand elbow to elbow, and the European visitor knows not whether to laugh or to make a hasty visit to his nerve-specialist. It seems all right to us, and it is all right from the standpoint of a nation that is yet in the throes of eclecticism. And our other art—painting, sculpture, music—it is all similarly mixed. Good of its kind, often; but we have not yet settled down to the kind that we like best—the kind in which we are best fitted to do something that will live through the ages.

We used to think for instance that in music the ordinary diatonic major scale, with its variant minor, was a fact of nature. We knew vaguely that the ancient Greeks had other scales, and we knew also that the Chinese and the Arabs had scales so different that their music was generally displeasing to us. But we explained this by saying that our scale was natural and right and that the others were antiquated, barbaric and wrong. Now we are opening our arms to the exotic scales and devising a few of our own. We have the tonal and the semi-tonal scales and we are trying to make use of the Chinese, Arabic and Hindu modes. We are producing results that sound very odd to ears that are attuned to the old-fashioned music, but our eclecticism here as elsewhere is cracking the shell of prejudice and will doubtless lead to some good end, though perhaps we can not see it yet.

How about education? In the first place there are, as I read the history of education, two main methods of training youth—the individual method and the class method. No two boys or girls are alike; no two have like reactions to the same stimulus. Each ought to have a separate teacher, for the methods to be employed must be adapted especially to the material on which we have to work. This means a separate tutor for every child.

On the other hand, the training that we give must be social—must prepare for life with and among one's fellow beings, otherwise it is worthless. This means training in class, with and among other students, where each mind responds not to the teacher's alone but to those of its fellow pupils.

Here are two irreconcilable requirements. In our modern systems of education we are trying to respond to them as best we may, teaching in class and at the same time giving each pupil as much personal attention as we can. The tutorial system, now employed in Princeton University, is an interesting example of our efforts as applied to the higher education.

At the same time, eclecticism in our choice of subjects is very manifest, and at times our success here seems as doubtful as our mixture of architectural styles. In the old college days, not so very long ago, Latin, Greek, and mathematics made up the curriculum. Now our boys choose from a thousand subjects grouped in a hundred courses. In our common schools we have introduced so many new subjects as to crowd the curriculum. Signs of a reaction are evident. I am alluding to the matter here only as another example of our modern passion for wide selection and for the combination of things that apparently defy amalgamation.

What of religion? Prof. George E. Woodberry, in his interesting book on North Africa, says in substance that there are only two kinds of religion, the simple and the complex. Mohammedanism he considers a simple religion, like New England Puritanism, with which he thinks it has points in common. Both are very different from Buddhism, for instance. Accepting for the moment his classification I believe that the facts show an effort to combine the two types in the United States. Many of the Christian denominations that Woodberry would class as "simple"—those that began with a total absence of ritual, are becoming ritualized. Creeds once simple are becoming complicated with interpretation and comment. On the other hand we may see in the Roman Catholic Church and among the so-called "High Church" Episcopalians a disposition to adopt some of the methods that have hitherto distinguished other religious bodies. Consider, for example, some of the religious meetings held by the Paulist Fathers in New York, characterized by popular addresses and the singing of simple hymns. As another example of the eclectic spirit of churches in America we may point to the various efforts at combination or unity, with such results as the Federation of the Churches of Christ in America—an ambitious name, not yet justified by the facts—the proposed amalgamation of several of the most powerful Protestant bodies in Canada, and the accomplished fact of the University of Toronto—an institution whose constituent colleges are controlled by different religious denominations, including the Roman Catholic Church. I may also mention the present organization of the New York Public Library, many of whose branch libraries were contributions from religious denominations, including the Jews, the Catholics and the Episcopalians. All these now work together harmoniously. I know of nothing of this kind on any other continent, and I think we shall be justified in crediting it to the present American tendency to eclecticism.

Turn for a moment to philosophy. What is the philosophical system most widely known at present as American? Doubtless the pragmatism of William James. No one ever agreed with anyone else in a statement regarding philosophy, and I do not expect you to agree with me in this; but pragmatism seems to me essentially an eclectic system. It is based on the character of results. Is something true or false? I will tell you when I find out whether it works practically or not. Is something right or wrong? I rely on the same test. Now it seems to me that this is the scheme of the peasant in later Rome, who was perfectly willing to appeal to Roman Juno or Egyptian Isis or Phoenician Moloch, so long as he got what he wanted. If a little bit of Schopenhauer works, and some of Fichte; a piece of Christianity and a part of Vedantism, it is all grist to the mill of pragmatism. Any of it that works must of necessity be right and true. I am not criticizing this, or trying to controvert it; I am merely asserting that it leads to eclecticism; and this, I believe, explains its vogue in the United States.

It would be impossible to give, in the compass of a brief address, a list of all the domains in which this eclecticism—this tendency to select, combine and blend—has cropped out among us Americans of today. I have reserved for the last that in which we are particularly interested—the Public Library, in which we may see it exemplified in an eminent degree. The public library in America has blossomed out into a different thing, a wider thing, a combination of more different kinds of things, than in any other part of the world. Foreign librarians and foreign library users look at us askance. They wonder at the things we are trying to combine under the activities of one public institution; they shudder at our extravagance. They wonder that our tax-payers do not rebel when they are compelled to foot the bills for what we do. But the taxpayers do not seem to mind. They frequently complain, but not about what we are doing. What bothers them is that we do not try to do more. When we began timidly to add branch libraries to our system they asked us why we did not build and equip them faster; when we placed a few books on open shelves they demanded that we treat our whole stock in the same way; when we set aside a corner for the children they forced us to fit up a whole room and to place such a room in every building, large or small. We have responded to every such demand. Each response has cost money and the public has paid the bill. Apparently librarians and public are equally satisfied. We should not be astonished, for this merely shows that the library is subject to the same laws and tendencies as all other things American.

Hence it comes about that whereas in a large library a century ago there were simply stored books with no appliances to do anything but keep them safe, we now find in library buildings all sorts of devices to facilitate the quick and efficient use of the books both in the building and in the readers' homes, together with other devices to stimulate a desire to use books among those who have not yet felt it; to train children to use and love books; to interest the public in things that will lead to the use of books. This means that many of the things in a modern library seem to an old-fashioned librarian and an old-fashioned reader like unwarranted extensions or even usurpations. In our own Central building you will find collections of postal cards and specimens of textile fabrics, an index to current lectures, exhibitions and concerts, a public writing-room, with free note-paper and envelopes, a class of young women studying to be librarians, meeting places for all sorts of clubs and groups, civic, educational, social, political and religious; a bindery in full operation, a photographic copying-machine; lunch-rooms and rest-rooms for the staff; a garage, with an automobile in it, a telephone switchboard, a paintshop, a carpenter-shop, and a power-plant of considerable capacity. Not one of these things I believe, would you have found in a large library fifty years ago. And yet the citizens of St. Louis seem to be cheerful and are not worrying over the future. We are eclectic, but we are choosing the elements of our blend with some discretion and we have been able, so far, to relate them all to books, to the mental activities that are stimulated by books and that produce more books, to the training that instils into the rising generation a love for books. The book is still at the foundation of the library, even if its walls have received some architectural embellishment of a different type.

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