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[p. 89]

The smallness of Medford's appropriation prevents its library from doing as much good as it otherwise could. It has for some time sent carefully selected collections of books each month to the public schools, with very gratifying results as shown in the better class of books called for by the children when they come to the library. But it is to be regretted that for lack of funds it cannot supply its patrons with many books in the fields of art, literature, and science well worth the reading. Few people are aware how much more valuable is even the smallest library with an exhaustive catalogue of its contents. In the report of the Bureau of Education, speaking of the Boston Public Library, the writer says that ‘its peculiar advantage lies less in the great number of its books than in the fact that exhaustive catalogues guide the student to just the book he wants; he is not compelled to swell the statistics of circulation by taking out ten books that were not wanted in order to find the volume of which he stands in need.’ During the last nine or ten years the effect of the modern library movement has been more manifest in this place. The progress of the library up to 1890, as can be seen, was slow, and the trustees felt that something more was needed to make the people acquainted with the wealth of literature at their command, and to have the library do the most effective work. Up to this date the library of about 15,000 volumes had not been classified. Some attempt had been made to furnish extra books for the use of the High School pupils, but very little reference work, on any special subject in a library, can be advantageously done with books arranged only according to size, and new measures were necessarily taken. The first change made under the new conditions was to remove the open-work screen between the library and the people; then upon shelves in the delivery room were put the newer and more desirable books to allow the patrons to handle and to make their selection from them instead of from the catalogue. Gradually people were admitted to

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1890 AD (1)
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