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(Conducted by JOHN J. OGLE.)

UESTIONS on the subjects included in the syllabus

of the Library Association's examinations, and on matters affecting library work generally, are invited from assistants engaged in the larger, and librarians of the smaller libraries. All signed communications addressed to Mr. J. J. OGLE, FREE Public LIBRARY, Bootle, will, as far as possible, be replied to in the pages of The Library Association Record. A pen name should be given for use in the “Corner".

[Librarians will greatly oblige by bringing the “Corner” under the notice of their Junior Colleagues.]

The Training of Assistants,

In a letter from the head of a large provincial library, received a few days ago, occurs the following paragraph :

“What do you think of the idea of drawing up lists of books for study; the books being adapted to the ages of the assistants ? Then, some method of examination (yearly or half-yearly) might be framed, and put into operation. At present, I fear that library assistants, who are a very poorly paid class as a whole, cannot afford to travel any distance for instruction, and are entirely helpless as to what course of study to pursue (even when the desire is present) with the view of bettering themselves, and increasing their chances of getting on.”

I very much respect my friend the librarian who penned these words, but I really rubbed my eyes and read them over and over again. Had he never heard of the labours of Messrs. Tedder and Thomas and others in the early days of the Association ? Did he not know of the information which Mr. Knapman has been scattering broadcast for several years past.-syllabuses of study, lists of text-books, particulars of examinations held in the provinces, as well as in London?

However, there is hope, at last, now that inquiry is afoot. I hope to have similar letters, that is if others are yet in darkness on this matter.

Northern Summer School.

This is to be held at Manchester on 14th to 16th June. The lectures are to stick closely to the syllabus of the Association's examinations in Cataloguing and in certain branches of Library Management, particularly Selection of Books, Aids to Readers, Administration and Binding. The recondite parts of bibliography are to be omitted from the programme for this session and probably taken up again next year. Syllabuses of the lectures are to be prepared and distributed, and it is possible the optical lantern will be brought into play as an auxiliary force in teaching the subjects which admit of it. Mr. G. T. Shaw of the Liverpool Athenæum is the energetic secretary of the committee. This work has the ardent support of the chief librarians of Liverpool and Manchester.


The conductor of this corner begs assistants and librarians of small places to discuss their difficulties with him : their names shall be strictly excluded from these pages in discussing any views that may be submitted, unless their wish is to the contrary. Compliments do not afford much help; to meet needs which one has to guess at is not the same as answering definite inquiries or giving reasons for differences of view. Surely some of the matters mentioned last month are sufficient to provoke some one to write upon them either in opposition or in support.

Good Books of 1898.

In answer to my first question I had only two replies; that signed “Civis " is the better of the two." Taquisara" by F. M. Crawford appeared in 1896 not in 1898. The nine novels remaining are certainly among the very best of the year. They are:

Dunton (T. Watts-), “ Aylwin”.
Black (W.), “ Wild Eelin”.
Munro (N.), "John Splendid”.
Zangwill (1.), "Dreamers of the Ghetto".
Crockett (S. R.), “ The Red Axe".
“Merriman (H. S.),” “Roden's Corner".
“ Hope (Anthony),

,” “Rupert of Hentzau ”. Parker (Gilbert), “ The Battle of the Strong". Weyman (Stanley), “Shrewsbury”.

This list does not contain the two books of fiction crowned by The Academy and referred to at page 73 of The Library Association Record. These are in “ Bibliophile’s ” list, which contains the following omitted from the list of “Civis” :

Ward (Mrs. H.), “Helbeck of Bannisdale".
Hewlett (M.), "The Forest Lovers ”.
Conrad (J.), “ Tales of Unrest ”.
Fowler (E. T.), “Concerning Isabel Carnaby".
“ Raimond (C. E.),” “The Open Question”.
Kipling (Rudyard), “The Day's Work".
“ Lyall (Edna),” “Hope the Hermit”.
Weyman (Stanley), “The Castle Inn".


There will be few public free libraries but what are able to purchase all the above-named books, and, with one or two doubtful exceptions, they ought certainly to be found in every one.

The non-fictional list sent in by “Civis” is excellent, though it contains one highly technical item. It may well be given in extenso :

Lee (S.), “Life of Shakespeare".
Robertson (G. S.), “Chitral”.
Bodley (J. E. C.), “ France," 2 vols.
Landor (A. H. S.), "In the Forbidden Land," 2 vols.
Walsh (W.), “The Secret History of the Oxford Movement”.
Frazer (R. W.), "The Literary History of India ”.
Bishop (Mrs.)," Korea and her Neighbours," 2 vols.
Duffy (Sir C. G.), "My Life in Two Hemispheres,” 2 vols.
Catalogus Codicum Manuscriptorum Bibliothecæ Bodleianæ.”

Dictionary of the Bible” (vol. i.), ed. by Hastings.

The list contributed by “ Bibliophile" contains two volumes of the Library Series, edited by Dr. Garnett, and a volume on “The Natural History of Digestion,” as to the merits of which I cannot pronounce an opinion; but the list as a whole shows a catholic taste highly creditable. Of wide general interest are :

“The Life of Tennyson,” by his son. “ The Life and Letters of Lewis Carrol'." The Autobiography of C. H. Spurgeon” (incomplete as yet); and Willert's monograph on Mirabeau ".

I did not intend in asking the question to receive names of such books as the Globe edition of Chaucer, which is not strictly a book of

the year.

Let me commend to my colleagues the select lists of some books of 1898 published in the “Literary Year Book” (1899). They make an excellent summary of good literature.

The Best Sixteenth Century Writers.

Question two brought three replies and it is hard to say which was the best. Here is a summary of the excellent choice of my correspondents. “Bibliophile” Sir Philip Sidney, “Arcadia ".

Richard Hooker, “ Ecclesiastical Polity”.
Rabelais, “ Pantagruel and Gargantua".

Montaigne, “Essais”.
“ Civis” Sir Thomas More, “ Utopia”.

Lord Bacon, “Essays," etc.

Rabelais and Montaigne as above. "Inquiro" Roger Ascham,“ Schoolmaster".

Hooker, Rabelais and Montaigne as above. I thought some one would have chosen Jean Calvin as one of the best writers of French prose in the sixteenth century.

Biographical Collections. The question relating to these was not very well answered. The best answer was sent in by “Bibliophile'. There was some carelessness of expression which I have in part amended, as under :

(1) “ The Dictionary of National Biography,” edited by Leslie Stephen (and Sidney Lee)..

This is without [doubt) the finest (collective biographical work) up to the present. The conscientious way in which it is done makes it far above all others. The lists of works of authors make it a good bibliography (also). It is more valuable to Englishmen (British) than to foreigners, but this is well because foreigners have the knack of looking after themselves (bravo patriot! haven't Englishmen?)

(2) “ Men and Women of the Time” [etc.]. This is very useful on account of its giving present day notices of · people whose lives do not come in the biographies of (earlier] date. It is a general dictionary dealing not only with authors, but (also with] eminent people in all states of life in this country and others.

(3) · The General Biographical Dictionary ...” by Alexander Chalmers, F.S.A., 1812 [-17] thirty-two volumes.

This is ... still useful as giving some foreign persons' biographies more fully than the bare notices in “Cassell's” and the “ Century Dictionary”[that is in the case of persons] not (named) in the "National Dictionary of Biography"[e.g.), Vanbrough (Sir John) in “Chalmers'” [has) four and a half pages, in “Cassell's "five lines, in the “Century” a bare notice.

“Civis” refers also to the valuable French work “Nouve lle Biographie Générale” which began to be published in 1855. I have found the “Biographie Universelle" of very great use. Every librarian ought to have at his elbow the Rev. Charles Hole's “Brief Biographical Dictionary”. A second edition of this appeared in 1866. There is great need of a new one. The preface is an admirable essay on biographical collections. Edward Edwards assisted the Rev. C. Hole in preparing his work, and according to The Library Chronicle (vol. 3, p. 102), these two men had prepared “ A Handbook to the Literature of General Biography,” which began to be published by Mr. G. H. Brittain of Ventnor in a limited edition of 250 copies at 35. 6d. per part. I hope some one will inform me whether this work was ever completed and if a copy is now to be obtained. Edwards gave great attention to the subject, and more than once made proposals to publishers for the publication of a handbook to collective biographies.

Boase's "Modern English Biography” is another work essential for all large reference libraries. “The Dictionary of National Biography” does not supersede it. The work is not yet completed.

Decimal Classification in Lending Libraries. My previous information under this head was incomplete. Peterborough and, I believe, two branch libraries at Newcastle must be added to the list of lending libraries in Great Britain which are classified on Mr. Dewey's system. This makes five according to my present knowledge.

The Peterborough system of charging is instructive. Mr. W. J. Willcock has kindly sent me a description of it which is appended in the hope that it may be useful to some :


“ The lending library here is ... worked in conjunction with a Cotgreave Indicator. Our plan of working is as follows: When a new book is received it is given the first number available in the stock book - this is the accession number and it becomes also the indicator number. This is the only number that affects the borrower. The Dewey notation marks are used on the label to denote the location of the book on the shelves and for the guidance of the library staff.

"For instance, a reader wanting Lockyer's Elementary Lessons in Astronomy' would see from the catalogue that its number was 2314 (indicator number). The assistant would take the indicator ledger and would see pencilled on a little label attached thereto the Dewey number

[blocks in formation]

, 520 being the Dewey number

and 58 the shelf number.

* This plan works exceedingly well with the Cotgreave Indicator, and I think it would work equally as well with any other.

" It would be interesting to know if any other library worked the Dewey System in conjunction with an indicator, and if any simpler method than the above is adopted.”

QUESTIONS. 1. What classes of Blue Books are of value in a public library, and why?

2. Name your favourite living poet, and give a few instances of what you regard as particularly harmonious or felicitous verses or phrases in his work.

3. Discuss briefly the value to a librarian of prefaces and introductory chapters. When are footnotes of value to him ?

Answers should reach me by the 12th of the current month. Comments may then be expected in next month's issue.

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