A Library Primer eBook

John Cotton Dana
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 142 pages of information about A Library Primer.
argued from the standpoint that, because the house she was to take charge of had only seven rooms instead of twenty she needed to know nothing of cooking, sweeping, and the other details of household work, I am afraid that her house and her family would suffer for her ignorance.  So in many departments of library work the accident of size makes little or no difference; the work is precisely the same.  The difference lies in the fact that the head of a large library oversees and directs the work done by others, where the village librarian must, in many cases, do all of the work himself.  In the distinctly professional duties, such as the ordering, classifying, and cataloging of books, there is a difference only in amount between the greater and the less.  And it is precisely these professional duties of which the person untrained in library work is in most cases wofully ignorant.

It is inevitable that in starting a library there should be some mistakes made; but with a trained librarian in charge, these mistakes will be fewer in number.  For example, what does the novice know of classification?  He realizes that the books, for convenience in use, must be grouped in classes.  If he has had the use of a good library (as a college student would) he has some idea as to how the class divisions are made, and knows also that there must be some sort of notation for the classes.  Necessity being the mother of invention, he contrives some plan for bringing together books on the same subject.  But with the addition of books to the library and the demand which growth makes, he finds that constant changes have to be made in order to get books into their right places; and then some day he awakens to the fact that there is some perfectly well-known and adopted system of classification which will answer all his purposes, and be a great deal more satisfactory in its adaptability to the needs of his library than the one he has been struggling to evolve.  Then he exclaims in despair:  If I had only known of that at the beginning!  He feels that the hours which he has spent in rearranging his books, taking them out of one class and putting them into another, although hours of such hard work, are in reality so many hours of wasted time.  And he is right; for every minute spent in unnecessary work is so much lost time.  Not only that, but it is unnecessary expense, and one of the most important things which a small library has to consider is economy.

Is it not of value to the library that its librarian should know how best to expend the money given him to use? that he should not have to regret hours of time lost over useless experiments?  Surely if training teaches a librarian a wise expenditure of money and an economy of time, then training must be valuable.


Rooms, building, fixtures, furniture

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A Library Primer from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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