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libraries. Proof of this fact is furnished in the budget of the present year, which includes a sum of 50,000 marks (£2500) for the extension of these institutions.

In this matter Prussia has followed the example of several other German states, which have for years supported their libraries by annual grants. Wurtemberg, for instance, has for many years past devoted a sum of 3000 marks (£150) annually to the support of village libraries, and the Ministry of Instruction of Saxony since 1875 has made an annual allowance of 15,000 marks (£750), raised in 1892 to 18,000 marks (£900), and since again raised to 20,000 marks (£1000), for the same purpose.

The Government of the little Duchy of Brunswick manifested its interest in the movement a few months ago, by ordering a statistical report upon the people's libraries in that state to be prepared. The report furnishes striking evidence of the pitiable condition of these institutions, and will in consequence do much to propagate the opinion that much more importance should be attached to their extension than heretofore has been the case.

That report, by the way, is the first official return of people's libraries made in Germany, and it is to be hoped that it will encourage the other German states, especially the larger ones like Prussia, to go and do likewise.

The strongest interest in the people's library movement among the German states seems to be shown by Saxony. In 1876 the Government of that state published a “Standard Catalogue of Books for People's Libraries" (Muster Katalog für Volks-bibliotheken), of which a second edition appeared in 1882, a third being at the present moment in active preparation.

The Prussian Ministry are contemplating the preparation of a similar catalogue. It is a pity that such division of the forces should occur, since the best catalogue of which Germany can boast, and that has the greatest claim to recognition, emanates from the “Society for the Propagation of Popular Culture” (Gesellschaft für Verbreitung von Volksbildung); six editions have already been called for, and the seventh is to be issued shortly.

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Upon the whole, to this society must be given the greatest credit for the development of the people's library movement in Germany. Not only has it again and again come forward, and by its advocacy greatly assisted the movement, but it has rendered still greater service, perhaps, by the actual equipment of such libraries. Since August, 1892, it has devoted special attention to the collection and preservation of discarded literature—that is to say, of books for which the owners have no further use—more particularly magazine and juvenile literature—and which would otherwise perish to no purpose.

These volumes are collected and made up into small libraries for the poorer villages and smaller towns throughout Germany.

In this way the society has been instrumental within six years in establishing 413 libraries with 25,740 volumes, and in furnishing 535 existing people's, club, and school libraries with 16,454 volumes, giving a grand total of 42,194 volumes distributed since 1892. The libraries thus newly established or assisted are distributed over the whole German empire, more thickly in Brandenburg, Pomerania, West Prussia and Posen.

Besides the “Society for the Propagation of Popular Culture” and the “ Ethical Society," already referred to, there is yet another society which interests itself in the people's libraries— “ The Comenius Society" — founded originally in commemoration of Johann Amos Comenius, the famous Moravian educational reformer, who has done so much for the organisation of public instruction. It is true

. that this society stops short at the actual establishment of libraries, but it renders important service to the movement by means of a very effective propaganda which it carries on, especially in the learned circles. It is now planning a very important, and we will hope very successful, step in the near future.

It proposes shortly to submit to the German Town Councils “Rules for the Establishment of Free Public Libraries,” drawn up by professional librarians after the prototype of the English public libraries.

The particular interest and importance attaching to this circular is, that it will show to what extent the interest in such institutions has penetrated the circles of the German professional librarians, who, but a few years ago, were either openly opposed or indifferent to the movement. These librarians are to be invited to sign the "Rules," and I am inclined to think that the result will be of a gratifying nature, at least as compared with former times.


I am led to this conclusion from the fact that the Centralblatt für Bibliothekswesen, which, as is well known, has hitherto catered for the learned libraries exclusively, has decided to issue a supplement devoted to the public library movement, which will make its appearance towards the end of the present year, under the editorial direction of Dr. Arnim Graesel, author of “Grundzüge der Bibliothekslehre”.

The only paper of this kind which Germany has produced is the Volksbibliothek, a very ably edited little monthly, which has been appearing for the past two years as a supplement to the Bildungsverein, the organ of the “Society for the Propagation of Popular Culture".

Other periodicals are contemplating the rearrangement of their programmes, with a view to include a permanent column for the progress of the people's library movement. The Ethische Kultur, for instance, has for some time devoted space to the movement. Daily papers also show a constantly increasing interest in the subject, and it seems to me, the movement is making such rapid progress, that within a very few years we shall possess in Germany a number of libraries which as regards organisation, equipment, principles and aims will equal the public libraries of England and America.

Unfortunately, it is only too true that important and powerful foes will do all in their power to prevent such a development. Foremost, there is that formidable enemy of all progress, which places itself in the way of all new movements, oftentimes with disastrous results-indifference. Then there is the foolish fear which has taken hold of certain circles of the upper classes, especially among the great employers of labour: that a civilised people will not fulfil its task so well as an uncivilised one. Again, there is the opposition of the political parties—an element which should be at once and for all excluded from such questions. And

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finally, there are the Roman Catholic circles, whence considerable opposition is looked for. They dare not hope to succeed in any attempt to overthrow the movement, but they will place many obstacles in the way, in the hope of being able by those means to steer it in their own course.

This intention is clearly shown in a pamphlet recently published under the title “Public Reading-rooms” (Oeffentliche Lesehalle) by Dr. Philipp Huppert. It admits that the establishment of public libraries is not only desirable but necessary—but, of course, they must be “Catholic libraries and reading-rooms,” where the "good Catholic” may go without injury to his “soul”.

Let us hope that these particular views may not gain the upper-hand, and that they may be powerless to injure and retard the development of our “People's Libraries”.




T the present day there is one all-powerful patron of

literature—the general public. That the world of readers has multiplied beyond measure during the centur now at its close has become a commonplace truth. Basing his calculations upon what his public has hitherto accepted or rejected, the publisher has a fair idea how to deal with the immense masses of manuscript that are placed before his eyes. But in the last century, and to a certain extent during the earlier years of the present, public opinion was a broken reed for both author and publisher to rely upon. At either end of the social scale it was not uncommon to find ignorance reigning supreme. The country squire would not, and the artisan and labourer could not, read. The bookloving public was confined to a comparatively narrow circle of the aristocracy and the middle classes, and in not a few instances their taste was faltering and undecided.

The "patron ” system in reference to authors and their works is too well known to comment upon in an assembly such as this, but it was acting upon this idea that the more cultured minds of the time determined to found Societies of Literature. They considered, and reasonably too, that a corporation had as much right to become a patron of literature as an individual, the contention being obvious that impartiality in judging of the contributions of its members would be more likely to prevail under such a tribunal than in those cases where a nobleman or minister of state took upon himself to introduce an author to the world.

Literary academies have had a violent detractor in Lord Macaulay, and a steady and impartial advocate in Mr.

1 A paper read at the Annual Meeting of the Library Association, Southport, September, 1898.

2 Macaulay, “Miscellaneous Essays” (On the Royal Society of Literature).

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