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[302] and intellectual improvement, should be furnished in such numbers of copies that many persons, if they desired it, could be reading the same work at the same time; in short, that not only the best books of all sorts, but the pleasant literature of the day, should be made accessible to the whole people at the only time when they care for it, i e. when it is fresh and new. I would, therefore, continue to buy additional copies of any book of this class, almost as long as they should continue to be asked for, and thus, by following the popular taste,—unless it should demand something injurious,—create a real appetite for healthy general reading. This appetite, once formed, will take care of itself. It will, in the great majority of cases, demand better and better books; and can, I believe, by a little judicious help, rather than by any direct control or restraint, be carried much higher than is generally thought possible.


After some details, of no present consequence, developing this idea, the letter goes on:—

Nor would I, on this plan, neglect the establishment of a department for consultation, and for all the common purposes of public libraries, some of whose books, like encyclopedias and dictionaries, should never be lent out, while others could be permitted to circulate; all on the shelves being accessible for reference as many hours in the day as possible, and always in the evening. This part of the library, I should hope, would be much increased by donations from public-spirited individuals, and individuals interested in the progress of knowledge, while, I think, the public treasury should provide for the more popular department. . . . .

Intimations of the want of such public facilities for reading are, I think, beginning to be given. In London I notice advertisements of some of the larger circulating libraries, that they purchase one and two hundred copies of all new and popular works; and in Boston, I am told, some of our own circulating libraries will purchase almost any new book, if the person asking for it will agree to pay double the usual fee for reading it; while in all, I think, several, and sometimes many copies of new and popular works are kept on hand for a time, and then sold, as the demand for them dies away.

Omitting other details, now of no importance, the letter ends as follows:—

Several years ago I proposed to Mr. Abbott Lawrence to move in favor of such a library in Boston; and, since that time, I have occasionally

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