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his parents, the refinement, or lack thereof, in his home; aye, even the very air he breathes, all of these add to or detract from his elevation of character.
How great the impress of the teacher mind upon the future man! The three great means of education are the schools, the churches, and the libraries, or the teacher, the preacher, and the librarian, and if the medium and higher grades of education be considered, the library in its broader sense is far the greatest. How vast the effect of the food fed to the minds by a single book oft times!
When this is multiplied by hundreds and by thousands and by thousands upon thousands, as the many books are, who can estimate or begin to com
prehend the vast and noble influence exerted by the libraries of the world in a single year? What glorious inheritances of the past we have in the libraries.
"The old books, the old books, the books of long ago!
"The old books, the old books, the mother loves them best;
Libraries correctly measure the intelligence of the people. Point to the libraries of the world and you point to the civilization of the world. The civilization of the world is the strength of the world. Civilization is progressive and aggressive. The nations of the greater enlightenment are in our age overturning the world and fast making it unnecessary to say the civilized world, as the world and the civilized world are rapidly becoming synonymous terms. Suppose it were possible to destroy all the libraries in the world, both public and private, what greater calamity could come to man? How utterly impossible to replace the loss.
The great educating means are the schools, the churches, and the
libraries, and yet the first and second would be of little value without the third. Indeed, we can almost say that the library so overshadows and controls the others that it is the one factor. The libraries, with their relations and influences so great and far-reaching, are, as we all well know, advancing, progressing, improving. The public library in our own land is one of the most potent factors in the true life of the people, and at least co-ordinate with the schools and churches.
A library has been defined as a collection of books kept for use and not as merchandise. This is rather an old definition. The modern library is more. It contains books of the greatest possible assortment, and as many other articles, the contemplation and study of which educate, as it is possible to collect.
From the earliest dawn of history man has been a sociable being and imbued with social tastes and habits, and ever possessed with a
desire for better and nobler things. The very institution of Freemasonry is founded to satisfy these desires, and the rapid strides of our nation in more recent years towards a higher civilization and towards giving the oppressed of the world that freedom and enlightenment which we ourselves enjoy come in a very considerable measure from the glorious principles inculcated by our ancient craft. We teach from mouth to ear, and yet how much more do we teach by our books. That Mason who knows only what he gains from the ritual in the tiled-lodge is woefully narrow.
In our day and time wonderful progress is being made. In this progress the library has its full share. Today new libraries are being established and new library buildings built. Many communities heretofore without a public library are awaking to the necessities of the day and are now seeking to lay the basis for the proper enlightenment and education of their generations present and to come. Indeed, it is fast becoming so that the public library is the rule in the smaller as well as the larger communities. Knowledge is power, and the more knowledge gained by our people the more power the nation possesses. At no time in the history of this people has there been so rapid an acquirement of knowledge as during the past three years, and current therewith has our people gained more power in the world than ever before possessed. Our nation is fast becoming the greatest; nay, many say now is the greatest of nations. This surely comes from education, enlightenment, and refinement, and without these attributes no nation can hope to long hold its ascendency.
Progress is ours. American libraries are very largely the growth of the last twenty-five years. The Congressional library at Washington, the public library of Boston, the public library of Chicago, the Masonic library of the Grand Lodge of Iowa, the Masonic library of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, the Masonic library of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, the Masonic library of the Grand Lodge of New York, the Masonic library of the Grand Lodge of California, the Masonic library of the Grand Lodge of South Dakota, and many, many public libraries have quadrupled in the last twenty-five years. The literary era in America has hardly reached its dawn, and who can foretell what advancement will be made in twenty-five years to come?
Masonry is a progressive science, and as we advance in knowledge our duties to ourselves and brethren correspondingly increase. The Grand Lodge having been established in 1844, the Grand Lodge Library was established the same year, and a report thereon was rendered by the Grand Secretary in 1845, covering Proceedings received from other Grand Lodges and magazines received, and the same year
(1845), acting upon the recommendation of the Grand Master, it was resolved for an appropriation of $5.00 to be expended under the direction of the Grand Secretary for procuring such information as he might see proper. In 1846 the Grand Secretary reported that under the above resolution he had procured "a copy of the Trestle Board; one of the Masonic melodies, by Brother Powers, Past Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, and a copy of the Book of Masonic Constitutions, published under authority of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania," etc. From this small and modest beginning, increased the next session by an appropriation of $10.00, has grown our present Library, the largest Grand Lodge Library in the world, although its cost has ever been held to the minimum to the Grand Lodge, so that in the first thirty years the aggregate cost to the Grand Lodge was less than $3,000 for books, binding, etc.
The only Librarian the Grand Lodge Library has ever had is our beloved Grand Secretary, Theodore S. Parvin. From the incipiency of the enterprise, when the first appropriation of $5.00 was made, it has been his untiring zeal, his great friendship for the Library, his broad attainments, and long list of friends and acquaintances that has sustained the undertaking. His personal contributions have been greater than those of any other person; and all along the later years, when his strength has been lessening, he has been more than ably assisted by his son, Brother Newton R. Parvin, his efficient Deputy.
Of the present Grand Lodge Library of Iowa, Brother John W. Brown, in a recent article, among other interesting and truthful things, says:
"Turn to books. On the first floor are the cases largely devoted to Masonic periodical literature. History and treatises on Masonry are most numerous, and then there are complete files of well-bound monthly and quarterly publications devoted to the craft, in American and English, and in the Italian, Spanish, Norwegian, French, German, Danish, and other foreign languages. Many of these volumes are very old and rare, and in no other library is there as large a collection of the kind. The whole range of Masonry is covered in histories before you, reaching into hundreds, written in all tongues, a very mine of information for members of the Order. Freemasonry in the various nations, and the development of the Order in the several states, fill book after book, while hundreds of others are devoted to special subjects and incidents from the infancy of Masonry down to the present. A remarkable collection is formed from pamphlets, addresses, reviews, poems, programs of exercises, dedicatory, funeral, and otherwise that portion devoted to Iowa being very comprehensive. In this feature is noticed one of the characteristics of the entire Library, the accumulation and preservation of historic scraps that, now so valuable, would have been scattered to the winds had not a thoughtful hand reached out for their preservation.
"Great as is this assemblage of Masonic literature, fully as wonderful are the contents of the cases devoted to secret societies of ancient times, especially of the middle ages. These works, kindred in nature to Masonry, cover a field of such absorbing interest that those outside of the Order are also delighted with them. Of the exposition of
mythology there are volumes, sere with age, that treat the subject from the standpoint of the Dervishes, the Druids, the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Norsemen, and other early races and tribes. In the languages of the dim past, these mythological doctrines are considered by the great writers of their times, and there are given not only peculiar religious tenets, but the strange religious ceremonies of long ago. Here and there noted volumes attract you, such as the Talmud, the Koran, works on Buddah, the aspirations of Confucius, sacred books of the far east, chronicles of India, traditions of Greece, religious myths, and rows of shrivelled looking old tomes wherein are the elementary teachings of some of the hundreds of religions that men have sought to establish, or that are devoted to the crusades or to chivalry.
"Books purely Masonic, books semi-Masonic, books devoted to societies that centuries ago were founded on myths, constructed their own gods, and formed secret organizations in which to worship them; books of the past, several hundred years, books of recent days taking the widest view of all that had developed before on these subjects."
The Grand Lodge Library building was erected in 1884, and at that time the Library consisted of little else than books, and the entire museum has since been added. At this time the Library contains some fifteen thousand to seventeen thousand volumes of Masonic reports and miscellaneous Masonic works, and about seven thousand other books of a miscellaneous nature, and over twenty thousand specimens in the museum.
The value of the ground, the building, the books, the specimens, and the antiquities is many times what it has cost the Grand Lodge. Private donations to the Library in a single year have often exceeded in value the current appropriation made by the Grand Lodge. The Morton collection, for example, is of priceless value, and the Morton loan consists of a case full of most valuable reference books.
Your committee has been an occasional visitor to the Library for a dozen years or more, and he felt that he had a fair knowledge of the contents of the Library. Upon a recent visit, however, he was more than ever impressed with the fact that the Library must have more room. The books are crowded in all departments, the reference library is crowded into the basement, which is not a suitable place for it; there are hundreds of valuable parchments, certificates, etc., in drawers which are not exhibited for want of space, and which the casual caller never finds; there is no space for the suitable hanging of valuable pictures which are being donated to the Library. Not only is there lack of space for what we have, but lack of space prevents further donations. Masonic brothers and other persons having valuable books, specimens, or curios naturally seek a safe place for them where they may be on exhibition with suitable mention of the name of the donor or lender. If the Library was more commodious, so that there was more suitable space for articles, there would certainly be a natural augmentation of the present superb collection. A collection of "three-men" Chinese guns, probably the only ones of