[Public Libraries, June, 1897]
In your community are a number of literary clubs; if there are not, it lies within the power of the librarian to create them: an evening club composed of men and women; a ladies’ club for the study of household economics; a young ladies’ club for the study of music or some literary topic; a club for young men in which to study sociology; a novel club for the study of the world’s great fiction. For constitutions suitable for such clubs, account of administration, organization, etc., consult the Extension bulletin no. 11 of the university of the state of New York, and Bulletin no. 1, June, 1896, of the Michigan State library, and List of books for women and girls and their clubs.
The study club is one of the best means of extending the influence of your library; of securing the attention and hold of the people. It awakens thought, arouses discussions, puts into circulation books which otherwise might stand idle on the shelves.
It is necessary to study carefully the courses of study of the different clubs, and to do this the programs must be on file in the library. If they are printed (and encourage this) so much the better; if in manuscript they can be used with small inconvenience.
If the program is prepared week by week only, make arrangements to have it sent immediately to the library; also watch your local paper for notices.
No doubt the officers of the various clubs come to you for suggestions when arranging the course of study for the year, and to inquire as to the resources of the library on the subject in hand, in order that every effort may be made to fill the gaps in the library collection. When a request of this kind comes, suggestions and assistance may be obtained from the two bulletins mentioned above, as, in addition to information along the lines of organization, they contain outlines of study.
Harper’s bazaar devotes a page each week to club women and club work. University-extension bulletins and courses of study offer numerous suggestions.
The literary clubs of the smaller towns without libraries, within a radius of a few miles of your own small town, copying after their more pretentious sister along literary lines, should have your encouragement and assistance. Lend all the books that you can spare on as easy terms as are compatible with your rules; in short, institute traveling libraries on a small scale.
Museums, lectures, etc.
A museum in connection with the library, either historical or scientific, or an art gallery, may be made a source of attraction, and of much educational value. The collecting of antiquities, or natural history specimens, or rare bindings, or ancient books or manuscripts, is generally taken up by societies organized for such purposes. The library should try to bring these collections into such relations with itself as to add to its own attractiveness, and to make more interesting and instructive the collections.